Blog Entry

SEC quarterback recruiting more misses than hits

Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:06 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer

Look up and down the depth charts of NFL teams and you'll find five starting quarterbacks from SEC schools. 15% of the league seems like a good number but for a conference that has won five straight national championships and is widely considered to be home to the best football in the country, it's much smaller than you'd expect. After all, one school - USC - has three starting quarterbacks in the league and one was a career backup in college.

In light of the so-so quarterback play around the SEC this year (apart from Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and generally from Georgia's Aaron Murray), the question should be asked: Why can't SEC teams recruit great quarterbacks? There's not a single SEC quarterback in the top 20 in passing efficiency and a signal-caller has thrown for more than 350 yards in a game this season just twice. Twice. They play great defense in the league but that doesn't explain why Jarrett Lee throws up easy interceptions from time-to-time or the position is an open door at schools like Ole Miss.

One reason the league has struggled to churn out good quarterbacks is schools generally don't find many good ones in their own backyards. Tennessee feels great about their (now injured) quarterback Tyler Bray but remember he's from California. Of those starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Matthew Stafford is from Texas and Jay Cutler played high school football in Indiana. Both had solid careers in college but have blossomed at the next level while Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has struggled to produce at the next level. Is it conservative coaching (or lack of any good QB coaching), systems, too much defense or something in the water? States like Florida have been known to produce a good quarterback from time-to-time but it's just not a strength of the region. In the end, it comes down to recruiting a quality player and there just haven't been enough of them headed down South.

This season for example, Alabama lost out on five-star quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and in-state prospect Jameis Winston. Sure a big time quarterback commits to an SEC school from time-to-time but generally, you don't have top high school players at the position flocking to play at schools in the league. Meanwhile, Pac-12 and Big 12 schools, among others, keep churning out great passers. Increasingly, it seems, the high-flying offenses elsewhere have attracted the good ones and resulted in diminished play at SEC schools. Even when they do grab a big name, such as Florida's John Brantley, things just haven't worked out. Russell Shepard went to LSU with great fanfare but is now a play-making wide receiver as another example.

In the class of 2012, Auburn has the highest rated prospect at the position in Zeke Pike but there are plenty of questions about his mechanics, arm strength and maturity. Newcomer Texas A&M might have the best recruit in dual-threat Matt Davis. In 2011 the Gators grabbed two of the best in the country but we'll see how they play down the road after being thrown to the wolves as freshmen. One of them, Jeff Driskel, is the first consensus top quarterback to go a league school in years. Recruiting is an inexact science - look at powers like Texas struggle to find "the guy" - but it seems like more schools have a QB lab with issues in the SEC.

It's tough to succeed with great defenses but you can't fault lack of skill position on offense for lack of production if look at the rosters and incoming classes. There are plenty of reasons why each school in the SEC has struggled with quarterback play over the years - from development to playing against tough defenses - but ultimately it comes down to recruiting the right guys. There is a secret to success and conference schools have seemingly found it at every position but one. We'll see if things improve going forward but for now, no one is confusing the SEC as the cradle of quarterbacks.

Since: Nov 10, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 12:29 pm

SEC quarterback recruiting more misses than hits

I must take exception to a few remarks in this article. Passing efficiency is a dubious standard, as in pure recognition of good QBs, as the level of competition is very pertinent and is not reflected in PE. Also many of the higher rated QBs did not play against the best CBs and Safetys in the better conferences. Many of the top PE rated QBs pass the ball 50 and 60 times a game enhancing their chances of being a top rated quarterback.

The Houston and Boise quarterback efficiency rating would drop dramatically if they played against big conference teams on a regular basis. They would be more prone to injuries having to face top notch defenses and they would have their timing performance levels greatly altered. There has been several failures in the NFL who have come in to the league from the MAC conference, with astronomical PE ratings. 

Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Tyler Bray of Tennessee, and Aaron Murray of Georgia are all likely future NFL quarterbacks. Bobby Petrino, Gene Chisik-Gus Malzahn, Mark Richt, and future QB signees with the new regime at Florida will once again be flowing. Watch for Brandon Allen for Arkansas in two years and he will be another top quarterback. 

High school QBs like NFL rookies QBs many times come in highly touted because of their bloated statistics but the proving of their caliber is on the playing field against the best teams around. Passing efficiency ratings are many times mis-leading.  

Since: Sep 22, 2011
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:39 am

SEC quarterback recruiting more misses than hits

The conference has gone back to more of a conservative run and throw as needed offense as evidenced by LSU and Alabama.  These two are the two best teams and they are mirror images of each other on both sides of the ball. Because of the great defenses of LSU and Alabama where speed is all over these teams., the spread offense is less successful unless you have a Cam Newton who can do anything. 

I know LSU has won two national championships this decade and both of these teams were led by smart quarterbacks Matt Mauke and Matt Flynn , who managed and controlled the offense to stay away from major mistakes. Alabama won their championship with the same type QB that LSU had, as McElroy basically did the same things.   

Rarely do teams the center on the pass only win consistently, you must be balanced in order to be a champion. I don't know of any college team that has won a National Championship lately that was a passing offense centered team.  Too many bad things can happen with a passing team only.   

Since: Jul 30, 2008
Posted on: November 10, 2011 11:22 am

SEC quarterback recruiting more misses than hits

Whoa! I'll take the National Titles w/o good quarterbacks but just think what if we had so-called "Great Quarterbacks"? There's Football then there's SEC Football!

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