ryan-mallettWhen you think of the SEC, you think of speed. You think of blazing runners, powerful linemen who also run 4.7 40s. You think the best conference in D1 football. (The National titles of late supports this). But can you name the starting Quarterbacks at all SEC schools? I bet you can name the Florida signal caller – the ultra-human Tim Tebow. A Heisman trophy, 2 national titles and the best motivational speech encased in Swamp folklore. Tebow tops the list of Qbs in teh SEC, and even without his bruising running and strong arm, his leadership and importance to the team has him on top. But who comes next?

Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead sits at #2 in this ranking. In his first year after transferring from Texas, Snead was a revelation, enjoying the ride of Houston Nutt’s big first year at the helm of the Rebels. With speed to burn around him Snead was well-supported, and now, a strong Junior season may see Snead being well supported – financially – by a nig NFL contract. We will see if he can follow up the ’08 season now that the Rebels, the only team to knock off Tebow and the Gators, are on the SEC radar.

He has yet to take a snap in the SEC, but Ryan Mallett (pictured) is next on this list. Another transfer, Mallett brings his big body and huge arm to Fayetteville to spearhead Bobby Petrino’s Razorback offense. Casey Dick wasn’t the weapon Petrino wanted, but Mallett is the prototypical Pro-style QB. Mallett would be starting in Ann Arbor if UM hadn’t handed over the reigns of their program to Rich Rodrqiguez and the spread. Mallett has had an off-field complication this off-season, so he will need to be squeaky clean to ensure he reaches his potential, which is on what this high-ranking is based,

Another unproven player to get a high ranking is LSU’s Jordan Jefferson. His outstanding game in the bowl-season against Georgia Tech has Tiger fans fired-up, especially knowing that in-coming athlete Russell Shepherd can now be exploited in a host of ways without having him as the #1 signal-caller. Jefferson displayed a top-shelf arm and poise to go along with his athleticism and running ability. Look for LSU to ride Shepherd back into SEC title contention, at least in the West.

Stephen Garcia is an enigma. Maybe without Spurrier shuffling him and Chris Smelley, he will have the chance to live up to expectations. The highly-touted Garcia hasn’t live up to the billing yet, but truly possesses big-time attirbutes. He also possesses an infuriating habit for making poor decisions. Can the ol’ ball coach reign him in?

When Vandy’s QB sits at #6 on the list, you know it is a development year for the SEC QB crop, but Mackenzi Adams warrants this spot regardless. He helped Vanderbilt to their best season in forever in 2008 and will have to do even more following the loss of key defenders, part of the unit that gave Adams and the Vandy offense a chance.

Georgia, Alabama, Auburn (by system mostly) and Mississippi State are all but starting again with new starters, and Kentucky are not a huge threat with Hartline unless he improves his consistency. Don’t even get started with Tennessee under Crompton.

Who will emerge as the next big thing under center (or in the gun) in the SEC? All eyes will be glued on the South to see if they can make it 4 National titles in a row!

Oregon Spring FootballOregon QB Justin Roper (their QB not built like a FB – see Jeremiah Masoli) has lost out in the QB race for the ducks under new HC Chip Kelly and is set to transfer. Masoli won the job in the spring and with 2 years to play, Roper is looking elsewhere.  Roper’s likely destination – possibly a mid-major D1 school unless he wants to start immediately and heads the FBS route. See the article here.

sanchez baywatchHis GQ magazine photoshoot with girlfriend Hilary Rhoda was a topic of conversation and jibes from teammates at Jets OTAs, but it was his less than stellar performance in practice that had the media folks talking about with Mark Sanchez.

The rookie continues to take snaps with the #2 Offensive unit and until he settles into a rhythm, Kellen Clemens retains the #1 hat. It will be a short leeway Sanchez is given by the NY media and fans who demand instant gratification, but patience is required, and it is early days. I am not ready to make any snap judgements.

49ERS CHARGERSFormer #2 Overall Draft Bust QB Ryan Leaf has again kept his legacy intact, this time indicted on drugs charges. Last heard from coaching QBs at West Texas A & M, Leaf continues to be the name most associated with draft busts. See the full story here.

marvejgAccept a scholarship from Purdue, or walk-on at Tennessee? Those were the two choices at the forefront of Robert Marve’s transfer decision over the past week. Miami’s condition of transfer were pretty clear – no Florida schools, no Tennessee, no LSU. But Marve could of course could’ve ignored the scholarship chance to play at a school that Miami had vetoed (eg. UT). The Volunteers make football sense for Marve, with a Pro Style offense that could allow the former Florida Mr Football to maximise his 2 years of remaining eligibility, but to go the walk-on route seems extreme. Plenty have noted the Marve family is hardly cash-strapped and the tuition wouldn’t have posed a problem, but ultimately it will end up being a football decision that seems to have Marve headed for Indiana. Purdue will welcome Marve into the QB situation, comfortable enough with Elliot at QB for this year following the dismissal of Justin Siller from the team. Marve would sit this year, learn the system under new Head Coach Danny Hope and be the frontrunner to start in 2010. Marve needs to keep is head down at Purdue and try to remove and lingering off-field concerns, hopefully West Lafayette offering less distractions than downtown Miami.

ncaa-football-09-wii-screenshot-2_656x369Former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller has hit the headlines this week. Not for a lucky break in getting into the NFL, but for being the figurehead of a huge class-action lawsuit against EA Sports and the NCAA. Keller, and his co-plaintiffs argue that the NCAA and EA unlawfully use player’s likeness in their video games. Anyone who has played an NCAA game knows these unnamed players are infact supposed to be the players that they resemble. (#10 QB for Clemson…hmm, I wonder who that could be. I don’t want to  harp-er on it).  Ironically I remember playing NCAA Football with ASU and Keller at QB. Of course I needed the special downloaded rosters available online to get the names in the game.  The NCAA and institutions making money out of its athletes? Never! What do the players get out of commercial relationships? No cash or payment, as they often complain about – a fair enough argument from some perspectives – but collegiate athletes, however ‘exploted’ they might be, need to remember that the NCAA forum gets them a $100,000 education and covers living costs for 3-5 years of their life, as well as provide them with some of the best resume-filling exposure imaginable, whether for a future on the field in the NFL, or in whatever profession they move on to. Keller may have just opened up a can of worms that is going to be mighty difficult to deal with.

Dog Days Behind Vick?

May 17, 2009

michael_vickFormer Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick (pictured wearing his old uniform, not his current orange jumpsuit) has not given up his NFL ambitions and plans to begin working out as he exits prison to complete the final 23 months of sentence under home detainment. In his prime, Vick was an exciting player with star qualities and enormous physical tools. He never managed to prove himself as a pure NFL passer before his off-field dramas, but now, with years passed, surely his legs won’t be as valuable as they once were, scouts going to have to consider whether his arm, and the heavy weight of baggage are worth a shot. Will teams be prepared to give this opportunity? Off-field issues are high on Commissioner Gooddell’s agenda, and he has yet to formally state whether Vick would even be reinstated. I hope the NFL has moved on. There are enough talented-QBs in the league to not risk Vick. Maybe Canada, maybe Japan could be Vick’s best bet. All I know, is that I won’t be hoping he ends up on my local team.

luke-mccownTampa Bay spent a first-round pick on Josh Freeman, by all measures still developmental project, but Luke McCown has put his hand up to steer the Bucs ship until then, claiming the Tampa QB job is his to lose. Byron Leftwich might have something to say about that, but you have to applaud McCown’s moxie. Not sure where the need to publicly state this came from, perhaps a radio interview tangent, but Raheem Morris will give the QBs in camp a competitive environment to prove themselves worthy. Leftwich’s inconsistency will surely be a factor, so which one will show up in Tampa – the first round talent, or the erratic first-round bust? McCown has a genuine shot, but perhaps somewhat premature claiming it.

shaunhillAlex Smith and Shaun Hill are the two candidates vying for the starting job in San Francisco. How exciting. San Francisco fans are feeling a reincarnation of Steve Young and Joe Montana. Or not. I would even feel better if they brough Steve Young in off his ESPN desk to start in the Bay than Hill or Smith. Smith, the former first overall pick bust and Hill, the upstart who has earned opportunities due to hard work and ineptitude ahead on the depth chart, are all coach Mike Singletary has to work with, oh and late round draftee Nate Davis. The Niners failed to aggressively pursue a better option. They didn’t enter the Jay Cutler sweepstakes, did due diligence on Mark Sanchez but didn’t trade up to get him, ignored Josh Freeman and didn’t seriously look at any of the viable trade or free agency possibilities. So what possibilities are left? I don’t believe the current depth makes anything possible, so look for hope elsewhere…anywhere. What about Cleveland? With Quinn and Anderson on the roster and a capable backup in Brett Ratliff, surely there is room to wiggle. Once Mangini picks his starter, the other will become a commodity and the Niners have to be the highest bidder. Whichever one of these two are possible, will definitely be an upgrade.  Heck the Niners could have brought back Garcia as a more viable alternative but let him sit across the Bay in Oakland.  One thing is for certain. When you are in the same division as the Cardinals, you have to be able to score to keep up. With the current QB crew in San Francisco, there is little hope on that horizon.

cromptonAt least that what it looks like. After running off former UT commit Tajh Boyd, and failing to sign a single QB for this class, Lane Kiffin will bring his pro-style offense to Knoxville and hand over the keys to Jonathon Crompton. Even the most ardent Volunteer fan will be left wondering about that. Sure Crompton has the tools, but can he really be trusted to mentally and emotionally keep up? Kiffin has scared away 11 UT players since his arrival, but Crompton remains, determined to ensure his tenure in orange is not remembered for his past ineptitude. As positive as Kiffin is likely to be, one has to wonder how much more comfortable he would be with say Ryan Mallett, Dayne Crist or any number of other untested guys who have pro tools. We will wait eagerly his success in bringing in a freshman QB or 3 in 2010 to turn his vision into a reality.