Spring practice is two months away but several teams will have quarterback questions that need to be answered. First of all, the two teams that played for the SEC title will be in good shape. Auburn returns Nick Marshall with Jeremy Johnson backing him up while Missouri will have sophomore Maty Mauck who was 3-1 as a starter last season.
South Carolina, Mississippi State and Ole Miss look to be in very good position with their quarterbacks. The teams that have question marks are Alabama, Texas A&M and Tennessee, who all need a guy to emerge. Georgia, Florida and LSU are looking for starters to establish themselves as the clear-cut leader of the offense. This is just one aspect of what needs to be settled on the gridiron in March.
Mark Richt hit a home run with the hire of Jeremy Pruitt at Georgia. I got a chance to visit with Pruitt in California and came away very impressed with him. I was surprised he left Florida State after just one season, but after hearing him talk about his friendships on staff at Georgia, it made sense. Will Friend was his college roommate and is currently the offensive line coach. Mike Bobo was also instrumental in getting the word to Richt about Pruitt’s interest.
I think the biggest win is for the Georgia players who gave Pruitt a standing ovation. They know he just won a championship with elite talent and many had seen him on the recruiting trail. There is no doubt the young Georgia defense will benefit from having a new man in charge.
This and That
The coaches will get back on the road after the AFCA coaching convention in Indianapolis and continue to try and add top recruits to their classes. The SEC has six of the top 10 classes already according to 247Sports.com rankings.
The league has 63 early entries, which will help teams replenish their rosters for spring football. Many are high school kids who generally don’t make a strong impact right away. The junior college kids are brought in at places with positions of need by coaches to hopefully make an impact right away.
Tennessee led the way with 14 early arrivals but only a couple of juco kids that will help them on the offensive and defensive line. It has been an impressive first full year of recruiting for Butch Jones and his staff. Last year the SEC had 73 early enrollees and I wanted to look back and see which high school kids made the most impact in 2013. To my surprise there weren’t many that showed up at the skilled positions like I would have thought. Most of the guys that did show up made an impact later in the season.
Biggest impact: OJ Howard, tight end, Alabama.
Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry was all conference freshman but did not enroll in the spring.
Good Impact: Kelvin Taylor, running back, Florida, Derrick Henry, running back, Alabama.
Quarterbacks: Anthony Jennings at LSU won a bowl game. The rest of the list which included three at Alabama made zero impact.
Biggest defensive impact: Cory Vereen, defensive end Tennessee.
Had a knee injury in camp that forced him to miss three games, but he will be a really good one.
Injury missed season: Reggie Wilkerson, cornerback, Georgia.
Wilkerson was the starter at one corner; he is big and athletic and will be a nice addition to the Bulldogs secondary in 2014.
Interesting revelation: Only one early enrollee (Kelvin Taylor, Florida) made the SEC all-freshman team.