The summer or next eight weeks can be key to a team's success. This is where hard work is put in and bonds within a team are formed. Coaches will be working on camps and taking some time off, so the strength staff becomes essential to the success of any football program. Leadership also develops during this time as quarterbacks and receivers get together and throw. Much was made of Johnny Manziel's summer this past month, but the fact remains the Heisman winner reported for summer school and workouts like the rest of his team June 1. Manziel will likely miss a week in July for a QB camp, but he like the rest of the league will be working out with his receivers for the upcoming season. I thought I would rate the quarterbacks in the SEC from 1-14 based on leadership qualities this week.
Forget numbers etc. these guys command the respect of their team and are without question running summer workouts.
- Aaron Murray, Georgia. Too many knocks on him about the big game, he's beaten Florida more than Peyton Manning ever did.
- AJ McCarron, Alabama. You get the sense he will take the reins now as his team and re-focused on the task at hand.
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. No doubt he can lead a team, but I don’t think he is as mature as the two guys in front of him.
- Connor Shaw, South Carolina-Shaw has worked very hard to win the confidence of Steve Spurrier. Dylan Thompson will play as we know, but it is still Shaw's job to lose.
- Zach Mettenberger, LSU. Cam Cameron has instilled the confidence in this kid that he has been lacking. With the departures of leaders on defense he is “the guy” now.
- Jeff Driskel, Florida. Like Mettenberger he becomes more of a leader with the losses on defense. He has stepped up in early summer and become more vocal.
- Tyler Russell, Mississippi St. He had an opportunity to call plays in the spring and that will serve him well in the fall. This is his team and they will go as far as he takes them.
- James Franklin, Missouri. After winning an “open “quarterback battle in the spring he has emerged this summer as the guy Tiger teammates saw two years ago. Remember last year he was coming off an injury riddled off season.
- Bo Wallace, Ole Miss. He is coming off an injury but is without doubt the quarterback of the Rebels. I just don't get the sense he knows how important that is just yet.
- Brandon Allen, Arkansas. He won the job in the spring and now looks to become a more assertive leader this summer.
- Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt. I almost put incomplete here because of the fact that James Franklin does not like to close the door on any position. I think it would serve Carta Samuels well in the opener if Franklin comes out and says” he’s our guy”.
- Incomplete-Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn.
***SEC quarterbacks threw just (147 or 10.5 per team) interceptions last season.
This and that...
- Coaches are agreeing not to make any more booster club jokes out of opponents. Not that it's because they want too, but more in light of the extensive media coverage given to these events as opposed to 10 years ago. Every website is looking for content and now public speaking has become something of interest. So in the future don't your favorite coach to get riled up and take a shot at his arch rival or conference opponent in his opening dialogue. However if they need some good icebreaker jokes, I have a few.
- I talked with two quarterback coaches in the league last week and they both told me that their quarterback must run summer drills. The coaches both said they sit down with guys at the end of spring and map out a plan. Of course the players are always welcome to come by the office and watch film on their own, however cut ups and teaching video is often readily available to guys on their ipad’s. Technology has come a long way especially with video instruction.
- We are six weeks away from arriving in Birmingham for Talkin Football and voting on who we think will win the SEC this season. The Birmingham news which is one of the best reads for college football anywhere published their annual survey of sports information directors. While they went with the safe bet of a rematch in the title game between Georgia and Alabama, I think that is far from being a lock. One thing that I believe that goes unnoticed is the East has closed the gap on the West. I think with the top three they can match up with anyone and Vanderbilt is on the rise. If Tennessee can get back on track, expect the East to be the dominant division in the future.