#1 Georgia Bulldogs
Not only does Georgia have the best returning QB in the SEC East in Aaron Murray (3893 yds passing, 36 TD), they also have the deepest and most talented group in the entire SEC as a whole. Back-up Hutson Mason took a red-shirt last year to put a year between him and Murray. Behind Mason the Dawgs have Christian LeMay (Scout.com #8), Faton Bauta (Scout.com #24) and early enrollee Brice Ramsey (Scout.com #7).
#2 South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier and his quick hook doesn’t make it easy to be a QB for the Gamecocks. That might be one of the reasons Spurrier hasn’t recruited an elite level high school QB in recently memory. Despite the lack of recruiting, the Gamecocks still have one of the better QB groups in the SEC East. Connor Shaw is a gamer and more importantly he’s a dual threat (1956 yds passing, 17 passing TD, 67.5% completions, 435 yds rushing). If we are just talking SEC East starters, after Aaron Murray, Shaw is the guy I would want running my team. Dylan Thompson will be his back-up and despite only completing 52% of his passes he had a couple of very good games last year against Clemson and East Carolina and also had two TDs in just ten attempts against Michigan in the Outback bowl.
#3 Florida Gators
As a first year starter in 2012, Jeff Driskel struggled. He finished 11th in passing yardage in the SEC and 10th in passer rating. In his second year in Brent Pease’s offense it will be interesting to see how much of a step he takes forward this season. Jacoby Brissett is transferring which leaves Tyler Murphy as the inexperienced back-up.
#4 Missouri Tigers
Moving to the SEC didn’t help James Franklin. In 2011 he threw for 2872 yards with 21 TD and escaped injury. In 2012 he threw for 1562 yards with 10 TD (vs 7 INT) and only played in 9 games. Franklin has to stay healthy and the Tigers have to do a better job protecting him. Rising sophomore Corbin Berkstresser played in ten games and threw for over 1,000 yards but had more INT than TD. They also have Maty Mauk (Scout.com #14 in 2012) waiting in the wings.
At this point you can throw Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in a blender, spin them around (add a lot of booze for their fanbases) and draw them out at random to finish out the ratings.
#5 Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky has options in Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow. Smith played in four games last season before suffering a season ending injury and put up pretty decent stats (975 yds passing, 68.7% completion, 8 TD vs 4 INT). Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles struggled as freshmen last year but they have talent and could develop into good QBs with the right tutelage.
#6 Vanderbilt Commodores
Jordan Rodgers has run out of eligibility and that leaves the Commodores with a lot of question marks. Former Wyoming Cowboys QB Austyn Carta-Samuels will probably be the guy under center for Vandy this year. He played in six games last season but only threw 25 passes in 2012, but he was a two year starter for the Cowboys in 2009 and 2010. After Carta-Samuels, the Commodores have Patton Robinette (Scout.com #38) and early enrollee Johnathon McCrary (Scout.com #46).
#7 Tennessee Volunteers
Tyler Bray made a head scratching decision when he declared for the NFL draft and in the process also left Butch Jones with an empty QB cabinet. Justin Worley looks like the guy who will inherit the QB job (Scout.com #38) but he only threw 38 passes in 2012 and had two INT vs zero TD. The other option looks to be Nathan Peterman (Scout.com #18) but he didn’t throw a pass last year as he took a red-shirt.
That is our early look at the quarterback position in the SEC East. We would like to thank Kevin for his great write-up and make sure to check out his College Football Zealots website. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter @CFBZ.