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, figure heavily into these rankings. We continue with Day 12 of the countdown.
3. Ole Miss
Bo Wallace is the top returning passer in the SEC after throwing for 3,346 yards last season. In two seasons as a starter, he's already established himself as one of the best quarterbacks the Rebels have ever had, ranking second in school history in total offense (7,085) and 300-yard passing performances (seven). With another 3,000-yard season, Wallace will move past Eli Manning in terms of total offense. Manning finished with 9,984 yards from 2000-03. And with four more 300-plus yard passing games, Wallace will surpass Manning's record of 10.
He's already first in one category: career completion percentage (64.3). He was, however, a bit underwhelming in that department last year. Sure, he threw 18 touchdowns, but he also tossed 10 interceptions. There's reason to think Wallace will be far more accurate this fall, though. For the first time in three years, Wallace should be in near-perfect health.
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In 2012, Wallace injured his shoulder in the third game of the season. Instead of taking time off to let it heal, he played through it. At the end of the year, he finally had surgery on it. But as Wallace told renowned SEC writer Tony Barnhart earlier this month, the rehab hindered his ability to participate in conditioning.
That came back to bite him.
"I really couldn't lift and get my whole body in shape to handle the grind of an SEC season,” Wallace told Barnhart. “As the season went along I could feel my arm getting weaker. If you watch the tape you can see my arm starting to drop instead of throwing over the top. It was an ugly thing to watch.”
Given what's been mentioned so far — his improved health and the numbers he's put up the past two years — some may be wondering why he's not higher on the list.
Simply put, Wallace is held back by two factors: First, the Rebels will need to find a replacement for the departed Donte Moncrief at receiver to complement rising sophomore sensation Laquon Treadwell. Second, Ole Miss is dangerously thin upfront, losing seven offensive linemen since the end of last season. The most recent was Austin Golson, who announced earlier this month he would transfer to Auburn in order to be closer to his sick grandparents.
If he can surmount those obstacles, Wallace might just be able to deliver on the sky-high expectations people have for the Rebels thanks to their epic 2013 recruiting haul.