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An interesting season it was in the SEC East, and quarterback play was the topic of discussion for most teams in the division. Heading into 2022 spring practice, a few teams won’t be freaking out about their QB room, while others will have a few decisions to make in regards to the future.
Let’s take a quick look at where things stand, now that the 2021 season has wrapped up and preparations for 2022 have begun.
I don’t think a better story could’ve been written about the Georgia quarterback room during the 2021 season. Though most folks thought JT Daniels would lead the Bulldogs this season, an injury to the transfer quarterback allowed Stetson Bennett to take over and win a national championship. Bennett has the option of coming back next season, which could make things interesting when it comes to Daniels, especially with Brock Vandergriff and Gunner Stockton waiting for their opportunity as well. Either way, it feels as though the Bulldogs will be just fine, especially if the Mailman returns to Athens. The key question would then be who returns, besides Bennett.
The Vols are in great shape heading into 2022 spring practice, with Hendon Hooker returning for another season. The Tennessee quarterback threw for 2,945 yards and 31 touchdowns this season after coming off the bench against Pittsburgh. His versatility helped the Vols reach seven wins in Josh Heupel’s first season. Hooker is getting some returning help, now that Cedric Tillman has decided to stay for another season. We will see how the rest of the room takes shape, with Joe Milton and incoming QB Tayven Jackson on the roster. Either way, the quarterback situation won’t be something the coaching staff will have to think about much, compared to previous regimes.
One of the most polarizing stories in the SEC East this season was the quarterback situation in Gainesville. The Gators started the season with Emory Jones, but once Dan Mullen let fans get a glimpse of Anthony Richardson, the conversation changed. It was an up and down year for the room, with Jones getting most of the playing time and Richardson starting against Georgia. As for the 2022 season, Richardson decided to stay in Gainesville after Billy Napier was hired, and it was announced on Friday by Napier that Emory Jones is enrolled for classes this Spring. We will see how Napier decides to use Jones this Spring, who had entered the portal, but has now decided to stay for the time being. The newly hired coach was able to secure former Ohio State QB Jack Miller, who backed up CJ Stroud last season in Columbus. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in winter workouts and spring practice, as the Gators now have a few options and a few key players returning.
The Wildcats received pretty good news just over three weeks ago when Will Levis announced his decision to return to Lexington for another season. In the regular season, Levis threw for 2,593 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, and rushed for 387 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was helped out tremendously by Wan’Dale Robinson, who declared for the NFL Draft. But, with running back Chris Rodriguez returning, Levis will have some star power in the backfield.
The quarterback situation for Eli Drinkwitz was thought to have been an easy one this past season. Connor Bazelak returned and the Tigers were hopeful for sustained success on offense with him leading the way. Turns out, things didn’t go according to plan, and Bazelak and Brady Cook split some time on the back end of the schedule. It just wasn’t clicking this season between Drinkwitz and Bazelak, and the former starter then entered the transfer portal after the season. The Tigers gave Brady Cook an opportunity to get a head start on the 2022 season, but they might have bigger plans. The true gem of Eli’s first class at Missouri, Tyler Macon, is still learning the system, but could give Brady Cook a run for his money during spring practice. Don’t forget about Sam Horn, a highly touted quarterback who will arrive in the middle of a QB battle. So don’t expect Drinkwitz to rush him out on the field if he doesn’t need to.
Well, the Gamecocks welcomed a familiar name from the transfer portal to their QB room. Spencer Rattler transferred from Oklahoma and will now be fighting for the starting position in Columbia. This was a huge addition for Shane Beamer, who was looking to make a splash at the position. The Gamecocks will have Luke Doty returning, who is coming off a foot injury, but he will be ready to go for spring practice. The Gamecocks will also have 2022 signee Braden Davis on the roster, who was the 22nd best QB of the class, according to 247Sports. Either way, thanks to Zeb Noland and Jason Brown helping this team out during the 2021 season and leading the Gamecocks to seven wins, the future looks a little brighter in Columbia.
The Dores were back and forth during the 2021 season in regards to the QB position. When Ken Seals was announced as the starting quarterback, many thought he would run away with the job. But after a sluggish start to Seal’s sophomore season, Mike Wright ended up playing a good amount during the year, creating some controversy. Vanderbilt will have AJ Swann coming in from the 2022 class, and he’s known for his gunslinger mentality and arm strength. We will see how this all plays out over the next few months and which QBs are still on the roster when practice begins.
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