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Ranking the best QB from each SEC program in the 21st century

Since the year 2000, there has been no shortage of talent at the quarterback position. The SEC has produced some of the more elite signal-callers in the NFL as well.

Several programs like Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Florida have each sent multiple quarterbacks to the league over the last decade.

The quarterback development has been second to none for quite a while in the conference. Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and Jake Spavital have each found their footing by coaching up quarterbacks across the league.

Roll Tide Wire ranks the best quarterback from each SEC program since the turn of the 21st century.

Stephen Garcia - South Carolina

Career Stats: 57.7 CMP% / 7,597 Passing Yds / 47 Passing TDs / 41 INTs / 329 Carries / 777 Rushing Yds / 15 Rushing TDs

South Carolina finally found its footing under Steve Spurrier when Stephen Garcia took over as the team’s starting quarterback in 2009. Garcia helped the Gamecocks knock off ranked opponents like No. 22 Georgia, No. 24 Florida, and No. 1 Alabama in 2010. The trajectory of the program changed under the direction of Garcia at quarterback. However, Garcia did not do quite enough to lead the Gamecocks to an SEC Championship title or a national title. That is a large reason for having Garcia at No. 14 on my list.

Will Levis - Kentucky

(Photo by <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/334802" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Eakin;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Eakin</a> Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

Career Stats at Kentucky: 65.7 CMP% / 5,232 Passing Yds / 43 Passing TDs / 23 INTs / 179 Carries / 269 Rushing Yds / 11 Rushing TDs

One of Kentucky’s greatest quarterbacks in program history was on campus this past season. Will Levis transferred to the program in 2021 after spending several seasons at Penn State. He was regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the conference last season. The concern with Levis is the turnover rate. Levis threw 23 interceptions in two seasons with the Wildcats. He possesses a strong arm and can make all the throws. If he can clean up the turnovers, he is poised to be a starter in the NFL in the near future.

Jay Cutler - Vanderbilt

Career Stats: 57.2 CMP% / 8,697 Passing Yds / 59 Passing TDs / 36 INTs / 453 Carries / 1,256 Rushing Yds / 17 Rushing TDs

It has been two decades since Jay Cutler was on a college campus. Cutler was the heart and soul of the Commodores in the early 2000s. He was the program’s starting quarterback for four seasons. Cutler possessed a losing record but put up quite the numbers. With a shortage of true talent surrounding him, he managed to create enough value for himself to be drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.

Ryan Mallett - Arkansas

Career Stats at Arkansas: 57.8 CMP% / 8,385 Passing Yds / 69 Passing TDs / 24 INTs 

After starting his college career at Michigan, Ryan Mallett elected to transfer to Arkansas to play for offensive guru Bobby Petrino. In 2010, Mallett finished seventh in the Heisman voting. His raw arm talent was put on display early and often in Fayetteville. Mallett helped lead the Razorbacks to 18 wins in two seasons.

Drew Lock - Missouri

Career Stats: 56.9 CMP% / 12,193 Passing Yds / 99 Passing TDs / 39 INTs / 202 Carries / 437 Rushing Yds / 9 Rushing TDs 

The face of Missouri football over the last two decades has been Drew Lock. In four seasons, Lock passed for over 12,000 yards and came one touchdown short of throwing for 100 passing touchdowns. Lock was a two-time captain in Columbia and was named a member of the First-Team All-SEC team in 2017. In each season that Lock was the Tigers’ starting quarterback, the team’s record steadily improved.

Hendon Hooker - Tennessee

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Career Stats at Tennessee: 68.8 CMP% / 6,080 Passing Yds / 58 Passing TDs / 5 INTs / 270 Carries / 1,046 Rushing Yds / 10 Rushing TDs

Tennessee had been struggling at the quarterback position until quarterback guru and Vols head coach Josh Heupel was hired. A key reason for Tennessee’s success in recent years stemmed from the play of Hendon Hooker at the quarterback position. The Virginia Tech transfer starred in Heupel’s offensive scheme. His ability to make any throw while being effective with his legs saw him lead Tennessee to one of its best seasons in the 21st century last season.

Stetson Bennett - Georgia

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 65.0 CMP% / 8,429 Passing Yds / 66 Passing TDs / 21 INTs / 141 Carries / 530 Rushing Yds / 14 Rushing TDs

Georgia fans will likely argue that Matthew Stafford should be on this list over Stetson Bennett. However, Bennett won two national titles as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback and changed the culture of the program in Athens. The Bulldogs’ success came through the play of its extraordinary defense as well as the play of Bennett at the quarterback position. He was a key reason why Georgia is now considered a blue-blood program.

Eli Manning - Ole Miss

Career Stats: 60.8 CMP% / 10,119 Passing Yds / 81 Passing TDs / 35 INTs

Ole Miss had not had a lot of success at the quarterback position outside of Arch Manning prior to his son’s arrival in 2000. Eli received a plethora of awards during his college career. He won the Davey O’Brien Award in 2001 which is given to the nation’s top quarterback. In 2003, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Manning led the Rebels to a nine-win season as a senior.

Dak Prescott - Mississippi State

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 62.8 CMP% / 9,376 Passing Yds / 70 Passing TDs / 23 INTs / 536 Carries / 2,521 Rushing Yds / 41 Rushing TDs 

Mississippi State saw a majority of its success come in 2013 and 2014 under the leadership of quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott thrived in Starkville and helped lead the program to an Orange Bowl appearance in 2013. For four weeks in 2013, Mississippi State was ranked No. 1. Prescott accounted for 111 touchdowns in his college career. He finished his college career ranked third in SEC history in total yards and fourth in touchdowns.

Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M

Career Stats: 68.9 CMP% / 7,820 Passing Yds / 63 Passing TDs / 22 INTs / 354 Carries / 2,169 Rushing Yds / 30 Rushing TDs

Johnny Manziel was a household name during his college career. Manziel was a generational talent at quarterback. His strong arm and playmaking ability at quarterback led to him winning the Heisman Trophy award in 2012. In two seasons as the Aggies‘ starting quarterback, Manziel had a 20-6 record. Some would likely say that Manziel was one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the 21st century. I think that is a fair assessment given Manziel’s collegiate success.

Cam Newton - Auburn

Career Stats: 65.4 CMP% / 2,908 Passing Yds / 30 Passing TDs / 7 INTs / 285 Carries / 1,586 Rushing Yds / 20 Rushing TDs

Auburn has had a handful of promising quarterbacks throughout the history of the program but none of them compare to Cam Newton. The Florida transfer solidified himself in Auburn’s legacy after helping the Tigers win a national title in 2010. Not to mention, he also won the Heisman Trophy in 2010. As a junior, Newton was awarded the Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and Maxwell Award. His presence and success came at a pivotal point for the Tigers football program.

Joe Burrow - LSU

Career Stats at LSU: 68.5 CMP% / 8,565 Passing Yds / 76 Passing TDs / 11 INTs / 243 Carries / 767 Rushing Yds / 12 Rushing TDs

There have been several quarterbacks that have seen a wealth of success at quarterback in Baton Rouge over the years. None of them saw the amount of success that Joe Burrow had as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. During his senior season, Burrow helped LSU win a national title and was awarded the Heisman Trophy as well. Burrow threw for 60 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His ability to use both his legs and arm makes him one of the top quarterbacks in the conference in the 21st century.

Bryce Young - Alabama

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Career Stats: 65.8 CMP% / 8,356 Passing Yds / 80 Passing TDs / 12 INTs / 139 CAR / 162 RuYds / 7 RuTDs 

There is no denying the generational talent that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young possesses. Young was quite the x-factor for the Crimson Tide in two seasons as the starting quarterback. He was a magician and made every throw look effortless. As a result of his success, he won a number of different awards. As a sophomore, Young won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, and Manning Award. Alabama may not have had the talent that it has had in years past, but Young made it seem that way. He was a bunch of games as Alabama’s starting quarterback.

Tim Tebow - Florida

Career Stats: 66.4 CMP% / 9,285 Passing Yds / 88 Passing TDs / 16 INTs / 692 Carries / 2,947 Rushing Yds / 57 Rushing TDs

Tim Tebow may be one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time. Tebow just seemed to always find a way to win and was the perfect example of the prototype at quarterback at the turn of the 21st century. He was a two-time national champion and won the Heisman Trophy in 2007. That is not all though. Tebow was also named a First-Team All-SEC selection three times. He was a two-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year as well. Gators head coach Urban Meyer was fortunate to have one of the best quarterbacks the conference has ever seen behind center.

Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire