SEC Quarterback Power Rankings: Day 6

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comMay 25, 2014 

Anthony Jennings led a game-winning drive to beat Arkansas last season. But holding off early enrollee Brandon Harris could be a far bigger challenge.

BILL HABER — Associated Press

Editor's note: The 2013 season was an incredible year for quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference. There was a Heisman winner (Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel), the conference's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (Georgia's Aaron Murray) and a two-time national champion (Alabama's AJ McCarron). Then there was Auburn's Nick Marshall, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Missouri's James Franklin. Nearly all of those aforementioned signal-callers have departed, however. Still, someone will rise to the occasion to fill those spots, and that's why we're here to take stock of them as we head into the summer, counting them down from 14 to 1. Note that proven performers, even if they were not the unquestioned starter last season, figures heavily into these rankings. We continue with Day 6 of the countdown.

9. LSU

When Les Miles jumped on the Southeastern Conference's coaches teleconference last month, he didn't make anyone guess about how the team's two-man quarterback battle went this spring.

"Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris both had marked improvement in the spring, but neither one played well enough to be the starter," Miles said. "Both have the ability to be very, very quality quarterbacks in this conference, and both are doing everything they can to improve and show leadership."

Makes it pretty simple, huh?

Jennings, at least, can fall back on the experience he was able to gain last season. When Zach Mettenberger went down against Arkansas, Jennings stepped in and led the game-winning, 99-yard touchdown drive. The drive ended in spectacular fashion, as he hooked up with Travin Dural on a 45-yard touchdown pass with just 1:15 remaining.

But that proved to be the high point for Jennings. Starting against Iowa in the Outback Bowl, he struggled mightily, completing only seven passes for 82 yards. It didn't help Jennings' case that Harris enrolled in January and wasted no time acclimating to the college game. Harris played well from the get-go and capped it with a fantastic performance in the spring game, where he tallied 270 yards (195 passing, 75 rushing) of total offense and four touchdowns by himself.

Jennings, on the other hand, had a forgettable spring game, tossing a pair of interceptions. Perhaps even more troubling for Jennings? Harris was set to spend the month of May fine-tuning his game with noted quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. as well as former Tiger signal-caller Craig Nall.

Even if Miles declined to say either of the two candidates has a lead at the end of the spring, Jennings' less-than-stellar showings versus Iowa and in the spring game can't bode well.

The smart money says Harris will solidify himself as the starter during fall camp.

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