The SEC experienced a “Jeckyll and Hyde” season for quarterbacks. Many of the SEC’s top passers struggled to find consistency, matching multiple touchdown performances with plenty of turnovers.
Midway through fall camp several teams are still conducting QB battles while few have a clear cut signal caller poised to enjoy a breakout season in a conference lacking star power at football’s most important position.
With the college football season just 15 days away, here’s a look at the SEC’s top-5 quarterbacks for 2015.
5. Maty Mauk, Missouri
Remember that thing about SEC quarterbacks lacking consistency? Mauk was no exception to that.
He opened the season strong with 14 passing touchdowns — one rushing — and four interceptions in his first four appearances. But things changed once he faced SEC competition.
During his first three conference games, Mauk’s quarterback rating was never higher than 68. He went 27-of-73 on passing attempts averaged 83 yards and recorded five interceptions and zero touchdowns.
The sophomore never threw for 300 yards in any conference game and only had multiple passing touchdowns against three teams (Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee).
Mauk did show signs of improvement in Missouri’s final seven games. He threw 11 touchdowns and four interceptions while rallying the Tigers to a first place division finish and a Citrus Bowl victory against Minnesota.
Mauk is 14-4 as a starter including a 3-1 record as an incumbent to Franklin as a freshman, which is really all Missouri could ask for during its back-to-back SEC East division title winning seasons. Even with his struggles, the junior is one of the conference’s top returning veteran QBs and should be solid in 2015.
4. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
Allen is projected to be one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, but is he worth the hype? The rising sophomore gave a glimpse of his potential after earning the Aggies’ starting job over Kenny Hill midway through the season.
Allen threw for 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 118-of-192 passing in nine appearances. But hype is something that’s followed him since his recruitment as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 10 overall prospect for the 2014 recruiting class.
It also shouldn’t hurt his chances playing with one of the SEC’s most talented wide receiver groups. The Aggies wideouts include Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones, all former blue chip prospects that have already made an impressive impact at College Station.
3. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
Like Allen, Dobbs is a returning starter with a small sample size and big expectations. He led Tennessee to its first winning record since 2009 after going 4-1 as a starter in the team’s final five games.
In six games, Dobbs threw for 1,206 yards (201 per game) on 112-of-177 with nine passing touchdowns and rushed for 469 yards (78.2 per game) with eight scores — the most among Tennessee’s roster — and a rushing two-point conversion. He also helped the offense average 431 yards and 36.7 points per game during his five starts.
Not to mention he’s an Aerospace Engineering major who is capable of of reciting Pi up to the 48th digit who could someday work for NASA. But for now he’ll shares a backfield with the likes of Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, throw to one of the SEC’s top wide receiving groups and play behind an improved offensive line to lead a resurgent program back to prominence.
2. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Midway through his junior season, Dak Prescott seemed poised to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Despite falling short, he still managed to have the most prolific season by a quarterback in school history.
Prescott led Mississippi State to its first No. 1 overall ranking and a second-place finish in the SEC West. He recorded 3,449 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 244-of-396 passing and 986 yards and 14 touchdowns on 210 rushing attempts.
Despite many predicting an early entry to the NFL draft, Prescott decided to return to Starkville for his senior season. Even with just four returning starters on offense, the senior should be among the nation’s best quarterbacks and reclaim his spot as one of the few stars at the position in the SEC.
1. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
All aboard the Jeremy Johnson for Heisman campaign train.
Johnson enters his first season as a full-time starter with high expectations. In 2014, he threw for 858 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions on 57-of-78 passing in 11 appearances.
Sure he’s talented, but why is he the SEC’s top quarterback despite a small sample size? Easy, the perfect scheme and plenty of weapons.
At 6-5, 240, Johnson takes over Gus Malzahn’s uptempo offense with a a similar frame and skill set to former Auburn quarterback and Heisman winner Cam Newton, albeit somewhat less explosive yet more polished as a passer.
He’ll also have one of the SEC’s most talented offenses including D’haquille Williams, Ricardo Louis, incoming four-star wide receivers Darius Slayton and Ryan Davis and a pair of potential star running backs in former four-star prospect Roc Thomas and No. 1 overall JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson.