With most of the seasoned quarterbacks heading to the NFL Draft, the quarterback position has many question marks going into the 2014 season. Even when it looks like a program may have found its starter at the end of spring ball, there are no guarantees once fall camp starts and freshmen/transfers arrive. This top-five list is the biggest mixed bag when it comes to rankings. I say that because you could ask anyone in a room who their top five quarterbacks would be and you most likely will get a different answer every time.
Now let’s take a look at the SEC quarterback mixed bag:
5. Hutson Mason, Georgia (Sr.)
Hutson Mason steps into the 2014 season without the pressure of having to score 40-plus points per game because of the great hire of Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and the return of some key defensive players. Add the return of Todd Gurley in the backfield and Mason may have the Dawgs in contention for the first College Football Playoff games. According to Mark Richt, Mason’s only flaw is his technique, which he’s had plenty of time to work on this offseason. Last year Mason threw for 958 yards, five touchdowns and three INTs while Aaron Murray was out. Hutson Mason’s improvements will be tested out of the gate with South Carolina and Clemson back-to-back to start of the year.
4. Maty Mauk, Missouri (Soph.)
Maty Mauk is a game changer…flat out. He can take the Mizzou offense to a whole other level just based off of his talents alone. That said he needs to work on his short to medium throws and put a bit of touch on the ball. If last year’s performance of 1071 yards, 11 touchdowns, two INTs and 229 yards for another TD on the ground are any indication of what’s to come in 2014, watch out! He loses a lot of talent around him—L’Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Henry Josey to name a few—so he will be asked to do a lot more.
3. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (Jr.)
Dak Prescott has proven he fits Dan Mullen’s system very well after being given the reigns of the offense last year. The offense developed and Prescott managed to secure the season for the Bulldogs. Still, Dak has the largest upside than any other quarterback on this list with the number of offensive threats that are returning around him. Even though he shared reps, Dak managed to throw for 1940 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven INTs while running for another 829 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has the makings of being Tim Tebow 2.0 with a better arm. The Bulldogs will be looking to make some serious noise in the toughest division in all of college football this year and with Dak Prescott at the helm I look for them to do just that.
2. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (Sr.)
Bo Wallace dealt with shoulder injuries each of the last two seasons and appears to be healthy heading into 2014. Despite throwing 27 total INT’s over the course of those last two years, Wallace was able to compensate with 40 passing TD’s and another 14 on the ground. He’ll enter the 2014 season ranked second in Ole Miss history in total offense (7,085), second in passing yards (6,340), third in completions (518), sixth in attempts (805), first in completion percentage (64.3%), first in passing efficiency (140.2), fourth in passing TD’s (40) and second in 300-yard passing games (7). Can he actually turn statistics into wins this year? Can the Rebels hit double digit wins for the first time in the Hugh Freeze era? The answer there is absolutely they can but Wallace’s red-zone efficiency will have to get better.
1. Nick Marshall, Auburn (Sr.)
Marshall and the Auburn Tigers caught everybody in the SEC off-guard last season. Nobody will take the Tigers lightly in 2014 and Marshall will have his work cut out for him with a larger-than-life target on his back. He has off-the-charts athletic ability, as we saw in his running ability (1023 rushing yards), and has worked on honing his passing game during the off-season. Look for the 1,976 yard passer to leave his mark in the SEC this fall with a bevy of talented WRs and RBs joining him. Marshall will once again be looked at to lead this explosive Tigers’ offense in 2014 as they navigate through one of the toughest schedules in college football.
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