June 16, 2024

Ranking the SEC’s best quarterbacks of 2024

SEC's best quarterbacks of 2024

Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava throws a pass downfield during the first quarter of the Cheez-It/Citrus Bowl against Iowa Monday January 1, 2024 at Camping World Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

It’s the Almighty SEC, where the passion, tradition and gameday atmosphere just means more.

The talent, speed, and physicality of defenses in the SEC is at an all-time high, which means quarterbacks will have a slim margin for error this upcoming season. With traditional bluebloods Texas and Oklahoma now in the conference, the league can tap into new markets.

These quarterbacks all have an opportunity to take advantage of the spotlight this fall, and a couple of them are already receiving Heisman hype. Regardless of the matter, it’s no mystery that the SEC will field the best collection of gunslingers as we approach uncharted territory in College Football.

16. Brock Vandagriff, Kentucky: The former five-star prospect has spent the past three seasons at Georgia, where he played behind Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck. Vandagriff only played in eight games last year, which was the most action he had as a Bulldog, and he made the most out of his opportunities. He got off to a hot start, with a 21-yard touchdown pass in the opener against Tennessee-Martin. Vandagriff completed four of his five passes for 37 yards against UAB. Not to mention he completed five of his seven passes, including a seven-yard touchdown against Kentucky. The Georgia native put together a solid performance in Kentucky’s spring game, with two touchdown tosses.

15. LaNorris Sellers, South Carolina: The 18-year old played behind Spencer Rattler as a true freshman last season, but gained valuable experience. Sellers completed all four of his passes for a season-high, 86 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Furman. He was impressive throughout the spring too. Sellers led the offense on two scoring drives in the first half of the spring game. The former three-star prospect completed nine of his 11 passes for 70 yards, and added 38 on the ground. For his heroics Sellers was named the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the spring. Now Sellers is going to try to improve a unit that finished tenth in the SEC, and 81st nationally in total offense last year.

14. Taylen Green, Arkansas: The Texas native has spent the past three seasons at Boise State, and put up some decent numbers. Green started 10 games for the Broncos in 2022, and threw for 2042 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He also has dangerous mobility, with 1,024 yards on the ground, and 15 rushing scores over the past two years. Green threw for 11 touchdowns in 2023. The only knock on Green is his 15 interceptions over the past two seasons, and he’ll have a slim margin for error in the SEC. However, he was hand-picked by new Offensive Coordinator Bobby Petrino, who’s a quarterback guru. Green completed 17 of his 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game.

13. Jackson Arnold, Oklahoma: The former five-star prospect was Dillon Gabriel’s backup as a true freshman last season, but showed promise. Arnold started fast out of the gates, after he completed all 11 of his passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Arkansas State. He threw a 50 yard touchdown at Tulsa. The Texas native received his first career start in the Alamo Bowl against Arizona. Arnold completed 26 of his 45 passes for a season-high, 361 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions against the Wildcats. The six-foot-one, 212-pounder left a lasting impression in the Sooners’ spring game, after he completed 10 of his 20 throws for 233 yards and two scores.

12. Payton Thorne, Auburn: The 22-year old is one of the most experienced signal-callers in the country. Thorne put together a memorable campaign with Michigan State in 2021, when he threw for 3,240 yards and 27 touchdowns. In 2022 Thorne posted 19 touchdown passes with the Spartans. Last season Thorne threw for 16 scores, and was Auburn’s second-leading rusher. He also led the Tigers to bowl eligibility. Thorne passed for two touchdowns apiece in victories at California and Vanderbilt. The former three-star prospect had three touchdown passes apiece against Mississippi State and Arkansas. Throne completed nine of his 13 throws for 133 yards and a score in the spring game.

11. Conner Weigman, Texas A&M: The former five-star prospect started the Aggies’ first four games last year before he suffered a season-ending foot injury. Weigman was impressive during his time behind center though. He threw for 236 yards, and a jaw-dropping, five touchdowns in the opening victory over New Mexico. Weigman passed for 336 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions at Miami. His 337 passing yards against Louisiana-Monroe were a season-high. Weigman suffered his foot injury against Auburn, but is back fully healthy. The 20-year old completed five of his 14 passes for 47 yards in Texas A&M’s spring game. Now Aggie fans want to see Weigman spread his wings.

10. Blake Shapen, Mississippi State: The 23-year old has spent the past three seasons at Baylor. Shapen helped the Bears capture a Big 12 Title in 2021. He threw for 2,790 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 2022. Although Shapen missed four games last season, he posted stellar numbers. The former three-star prospect threw for 293 yards, and scored two touchdowns in the victory at UCF. His 324 passing yards against Texas Tech were a season-high. Shapen passed for 253 yards, and a season-high, four touchdowns at Kansas State. Now he’s playing under offensive guru Jeff Lebby. Shapen completed 18 of his 22 passes for 312 yards and three scores in the spring game.

9. Garrett Nussmeier, LSU: The former four-star prospect has backed up Jayden Daniels for the past two years. Nussmeier gained valuable knowledge from the Heisman winner though, and made the most out of his opportunities last season. He completed four of his six passes for 48 yards against Grambling. Nussmeier threw a 51-yard touchdown in the victory over Army. The Louisiana native threw for 53 yards against Alabama. Nussmeier dazzled when he started the bowl game against Wisconsin. The 22-year old completed 31 of his 45 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns, which were all season-highs. Nussmeier picked up where he left off, with two touchdown tosses in the spring game.

8.Diego Pavia, Vanderbilt: The former three-star prospect has started 23 games over the past two seasons at New Mexico State. Pavia was the Quick Lane Bowl MVP in 2022. Last year he led the Aggies to 10 wins, which were the most in the program since 1960. Not to mention he was named the Conference-USA Offensive Player of the Year. Pavia tied for 15th nationally with 26 touchdown tosses. His 317 passing yards against Western Illinois were a season-high. Pavia threw for 201 yards, and three touchdowns in the victory at Auburn. The New Mexico native also had three touchdown passes, to go along with a rushing score against Liberty. Pavia will have an immediate impact on Vanderbilt’s offense.

7. Graham Mertz, Florida: The 23-year old is very experienced, and started for three seasons at Wisconsin. Mertz threw for 5,332 yards, 38 touchdowns and 26 interceptions during that span. He also led the Badgers to three-straight bowl games. Mertz was able to spread his wings as a passer in the SEC last year. The Illinois native drastically improved his accuracy. Mertz led the league, and finished third nationally in completion percentage. Not to mention he was fifth in the conference, and 17th in the FBS in passing efficiency. Mertz threw for a season-high, 423 yards in the win over South Carolina. The six-foot-two, 215 pounder completed 15 of 27 passes for 243 yards, and a score in the spring game.

6. Nico Iamaleava, Tennessee: Rocky Top hasn’t had this much hype surrounding a quarterback since Peyton Manning was behind center. After all, Iamaleava put together a promising campaign as a true freshman last season. He backed up Joe Milton, but shined when his number was called. Iamaleava completed five of his nine passes for 86 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Connecticut. The Californian passed for 66 yards against Vanderbilt. Iamaleava received his first career start in the bowl game against Iowa, threw for 151 yards, and scored four total touchdowns. Iamaleava completed seven of his nine passes for 96 yards and a score in the Orange and White Game.

5. Brady Cook, Missouri: The former three-star prospect has been the Tigers’ starter for the past two seasons. During that span Cook has thrown for 6,056 yards, 36 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and been Missouri’s second-leading rusher. He led the Tigers to 11 wins last season, which were the most in the program since 2014. His 3,317 passing yards were the eighth-most in the program for a single-season. Cook ranked 22nd in the FBS in completion percentage. The 22-year old has arm talent after finishing fourth in the SEC in passing efficiency. Cook ranked fourth in the league, and 26th nationally in total offense. The St. Louis native threw for a season-high, 411 yards against LSU.

4. Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss: The 21-year old started three games at USC in 2021. That year Dart threw for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. He has been the Rebels’ starter for the past two seasons. Dart has passed for 43 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and rushed for 1,003 yards during that span. The Utah native led Ole Miss to 11 wins last year, which were the most in school history. Dart finished 11th nationally in passing efficiency, and 16th in total offense. His 3,364 passing yards were the fifth-most for a Rebel in a single season. Not to mention Dart ended 2023 on a high note with 379 passing yards, and scored four total touchdowns in the Peach Bowl victory over Penn State.

3. Jalen Milroe, Alabama: Although Nick Saban played musical chairs with his quarterbacks in non-conference play last season, Milroe was his starter in every SEC game. After all, Milroe was a team captain, who led the Crimson Tide to an SEC Title, and Playoff berth. He scored 35 total touchdowns, and earned AP second-team, All-SEC honors. Milroe finished second in the SEC, and fifth in the FBS in passing efficiency. The former four-star prospect led Alabama with 12 rushing scores. Milroe threw for three touchdowns apiece in victories over Texas A&M, Kentucky and Chattanooga. Everyone remembers his game-winning, 31-yard touchdown pass on fourth down in the win at Auburn.

2. Quinn Ewers, Texas: The former five-star prospect is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he led the Longhorns to 12 wins and a Big 12 Title for the first time since 2009. Ewers threw for 3,479 yards, which were the fourth-most in a single-season for a Texas player. He finished 10th nationally in completion percentage, 13th in total offense, 14th in yards through the air, and 16th in passing efficiency. His 452 passing yards in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma State were a career-high. He had three touchdown passes apiece in wins over Rice and Alabama. Ewers can’t afford to get comfortable though, after Arch Manning’s performance in the spring game.

1. Carson Beck, Georgia: The former four-star prospect was able to gain valuable knowledge when he played behind Stetson Bennett in 2022, the year the Bulldogs took home the National Title. Beck led Georgia to a 13-1 campaign in 2023, including an undefeated regular season. His 3,941 passing yards were the second-most in a single-season by a Bulldog quarterback. Beck led the SEC, and ranked third nationally in passing yards. The 21-year old finished fourth in the FBS in completion percentage, eighth in passing efficiency, and 15th in total offense. Beck capped off his stellar campaign with second-team, All-SEC honors. He even threw for 301 yards, and two touchdowns on G-Day last month.

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