Where Does Jeremy Johnson Rank Among SEC Quarterbacks?

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Oct 12, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) throws a pass against the Western Carolina Catamounts during the second half at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Catamounts 62-3. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The pseudo starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers is Jeremy Johnson, a sophomore signal caller from Montgomery, Alabama. I call him the “pseudo starter” because Nick Marshall is the team’s actual starting quarterback, yet Marshall ran into some legal trouble this summer and, according to head coach Gus Malzahn, will not start the season opener August 30.

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Johnson, however, has not yet been named the starter for that game. When asked about it following Wednesday’s morning scrimmage, Malzahn said, “We’re not even going to go there yet. We’ll wait and in time we’ll make sure and tell everybody how we’re going to go about it. Obviously we have a lot of confidence in him, and like I’ve said before, in his skills and what he can do. Then the fact that he played last year and played pretty effectively.”

However, it would be difficult to believe that Johnson won’t be the first quarterback behind center against Arkansas. While Jonathan Wallace started four games in the 2012 season, and is perhaps the best third-strong quarterback in the SEC, Jeremy Johnson could be a star. The sophomore started once in 2013 and played sporadically the rest of the season. He completed 29 of 41 passes for 422 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

But, where does Jeremy Johnson rank among SEC Quarterbacks?

If you missed our top five SEC quarterbacks, check it out here. We’ve already determined Nick Marshall to have the edge among conference QBs, followed by Bo Wallace of Ole Miss, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, a healthy Jeff Driskel and new Georgia starter Hutson Mason. As for the next five:

6. Maty Mauk, Missouri

Mauk saw valuable playing time last season when starter James Franklin was injured. Among the first-year starters in the SEC, Mauk has the biggest upside. He is talented enough to shoot up this list over the course of the season, but his supporting cast is a concern because the Tigers must replace their top three receivers from 2013.

In four starts last year, Mauk went 3-1 with wins over Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky and an overtime loss to South Carolina. He also came off the bench to secure victory over Georgia, who was ranked in the top ten at the time.

The sophomore is a playmaker, and draws comparisons to Brett Farve and Johnny Manziel for his gun slinging tendencies. Mauk completed 68 of 133 passing attempts over the course of the season, which equates to an underwhelming 51.1% completion percentage. However, he did a pretty good job taking care of the football and only threw two interceptions. Mauk finished with 1,071 passing yards and 11 touchdowns, and ran for 229.

 

7. Dylan Thompson, South Carolina

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  • Another first year starter, Dylan Thompson has seen the field plenty over the last three seasons. Because of Connor Shaw’s all-out playing style, Thompson entered many games after Shaw was shaken up. He also has starting experience, including one game last season.

    Thompson saw his largest portion of playing time as a sophomore in 2012, when he threw for 1,027 yards, ten touchdowns and two interceptions. Last season, he completed 52 of 89 passes (58.4%) for 783 yards, four scores and was picked off three times. He started against UCF, and as head coach Steve Spurrier has often pointed out, was the only starting quarterback to beat the Knights last year.

    Unlike Mauk, Thompson has a terrific supporting cast. The Gamecocks have three speedsters returning at wide receiver in Damiere Byrd, Shaq Roland and Pharoh Cooper, as well as one of the best running backs in the SEC in Mike Davis. He has also been in the same system for four years, and now as a fifth-year senior, will have a full season to show what he can do.

    8. Jacob Coker, Alabama

    There are big expectations for this transfer from Florida State. Like Johnson at Auburn, Coker has not officially been named the starter for Alabama’s season opener, but it only seems like a matter of time.

    Last season, Coker reportedly finished an eyelash behind eventual Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston when the two competed for the Seminoles’ starting spot in fall camp. The junior would go on to play in mop up duty behind Winston for the national champs. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 250 yards and one interception, which is hardly eye-popping. Coker also added 55 yards rushing on ten carries, including a touchdown.

    However, Coker was arguably the most important recruit of the off-season, and he chose to return to his home state for a shot to become the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. He has a very strong arm, is mobile in the pocket, and has tremendous upside. It would not be a shock to see Coker move towards the top of this list by the end of the season.

    9. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

    Oct 12, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Jeremy Johnson (6) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

    From a pure talent standpoint, it is very difficult to see Jeremy Johnson outside of the top ten. He has prototypical size for a quarterback at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and an extremely strong arm. He could start at several schools in the SEC today, and at most schools across the country. Yet, he will wait his turn behind Nick Marshall for now.

    Johnson hasn’t done much on the field just yet, though he has done more than Jacob Coker. The sophomore saw extended action against Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic. He started against the Catamounts – in his first collegiate action – and was 17-for-21 passing for 201 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson completed ten of 16 passes for 192 yards and two scores against FAU.

    Neither opponent compares to what Johnson would face across a full season SEC schedule, but it was impressive nonetheless. So impressive, in fact, that Gus Malzahn has pledged multiple times to keep Johnson involved in the offensive game plan, whether Marshall is suspended or not.

    10. Justin Worley, Tennessee

    Worley makes the list less for his talent, but more for his experience and supporting cast. As a senior, we can expect to see better quarterback play from Worley this season. He completed 109 of 196 passes last year for 1,239 yards, ten touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he missed a large chunk of the year – including the final four games of the season – with a thumb injury.

    There is optimism for Worley and the Tennessee offense in 2014. Marquez North returns as one of the best wide receivers in the SEC, and the solid recruiting efforts of head coach Butch and company added five-star running back Jalen Hurd and wide receiver Josh Malone, in addition to junior college standout Von Pearson. There is considerably more speed and talent on the roster this year, and with a healthy Worley leading the way, the offense should improve.

    The Best of the Rest:

    Brandon Allen, Arkansas – The junior is the returning starter for the Razorbacks. He struggled last season, but similar to Worley, should improve with experience and a better set of playmakers.

    Kyle Allen, Texas A&M – Allen was generally considered to be the nation’s best pocket passing quarterback prospect in the last recruiting class. Under the direction of head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, he could but up huge numbers for the Aggies.

    Brandon Harris, LSU – The Tigers are undecided between true freshman Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings. Harris put the pressure on Jennings this spring as an early enrollee and played well enough to be considered the favorite to win the job.

    Anthony Jennings, LSU – Jennings took over for LSU at the end of last season when Zach Mettenberger went down. He led the Tigers to a win over Arkansas in the season finale and then beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl. He is talented, but Harris has a stronger arm and is more mobile, which will be difficult to overcome.

    Blake Sims, Alabama – Everyone seems to have forgotten than Jacob Coker is competing with Sims for the starting QB job in Tuscaloosa. Sims struggled this spring, but has an edge over Coker in experience. He even outperformed Coker on the field last year, as he completed 18 of 29 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns for the Tide.

    Patrick Towles, Kentucky – Most people assumed that Drew Barker would start as a true freshman for the Wildcats, but Towles has made that no certainty. The two are locked in a battle for the spot to replace the transferred Jalen Whitlow and oft-injured Maxwell Smith.

    Kenny Hill, Texas A&M – The Aggies have not settled on a quarterback either. Hill has the experience edge over Allen as he appeared in four games last year as a true freshman. Hill completed 72.7% of his 22 passes, threw for 183 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 39 yards on seven attempts.

    Stephen Rivers, Vanderbilt – With Jennings and Harris locked in a dual for the starting role this spring at LSU, Rivers decided to transfer to Vanderbilt. There, the 6-foot-7 junior became the immediate favorite to start for first-year head coach Derek Mason.

    Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee – Worley is expected to be the starter for the Vols, but it would not be a shock to see Dobbs overtake him at some point this season. Dobbs gained valuable experience last year while Worley was on the shelf. He started four games, threw for 695 yards, and was actually the team’s third leading rusher with 189 yards on the ground.

    Jonathan Wallace, Auburn – If there was an award for the best third-string quarterback in the nation, it could go to Jonathan Wallace. He appeared in only a handful of games last season, and obviously lost ground as the backup when the coaching staff decided to burn Johnson’s redshirt for him to start against Western Carolina, but Wallace has starting experience, and provides great depth.

    Drew Barker, Kentucky – There is a very interesting battle brewing at Kentucky now that Patrick Towles has improved, and Barker looked shaky this spring. Barker was a huge recruit in the 2014 class, and appears to be the QB of the future in Lexington, but he may not be ready just yet.

    Patton Robinette, Vanderbilt – Until Rivers transferred to Vanderbilt, Patton Robinette was the leader in the race to replace Austin Carta-Samuels. The pre-med student helped lead the Commodores to wins over Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee in 2013, but has lost ground in the competition with Rivers (and Johnny McCray).

    Skyler Mornhinweg, Florida – There are more talented quarterbacks on Florida’s roster backing up Jeff Driskel – true freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris, specifically – but Mornhinweg performed aqequately for the Gators last season, under the circumstances. He completed 42 of 61 passes for 477 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Expect Grier and Harris to redshirt, and the coach’s son to be the primary backup.

    Johnny McCray, Vanderbilt – A redshirt freshman, Johnny McCray has great upside for the Commodores and is still a factor in the starting quarterback competition for Vanderbilt. A raw talent, McCray has both speed and arm strength and could be the QB in Nashville by the end of the year.

    Connor Mitch, South Carolina – Spurrier has said that he would prefer Dylan Thompson, though capable of running and scrambling, do much less of it than Connor Shaw. The reason? Mitch, a true freshman has yet to earn the trust of his head coach that Thompson had as a backup over the last three seasons.

    Brice Ramsey, Georgia – Third on the depth chart in Athens behind Mason and Faton Bauta, Ramsey should be the favorite to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs in 2015. A former top-five quarterback prospect, the redshirt freshman has big talent.