2017 SEC football: Most intriguing spring performers

SEC championshipSpring football wrapped up in April, and now there’s a less than four months until the start of the 2017 season.

But before anyone starts a countdown to the season, let’s take a final look at what happened this spring, specifically the spring games.

Yes, some might say what happens in spring football is irrelevant. Some of the players at the top of the spring stat sheets might not even be starters. Some might not even play this fall. Yet there are still some takeaways to mull until the preseason camp begins.

Not all of the following are observations on the best SEC football performances from the best SEC football players. Yet some of these might spark your interest.  Just call them the most intriguing.

SEC Offense

Quarterbacks

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa: The freshman White team quarterback, an early enrollee, passed for a game-high 313 yards and three touchdowns while completing 17 of 29 passes while throwing one interception. He is trying to knock Jalen Hurts (301 yards passing in the same game) out of his starting spot. This is the same Jalen Hurts who was one victory away from a national championship in his freshmen year.

Finally, as could be expected, Coach Nick Saban was not impressed with either.  “I think all of our quarterbacks are better passers than they were a year ago – first, second and third team guys,” said Saban. ”I think that was encouraging. But it really is not. We’ll do the stats when we grade the film because we’ll say, ‘OK, we ran the ball 27 times, and we gained 86 yards.’ What is that? Three yards a carry? Not good enough.”

I see. Well, good luck with that Tua and Jalen.

Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady: In the race to replace quarterback and team leader Josh Dobbs, Dormady took a giant step filling in Dobbs’ shoes. Dormady finished a perfect 10 for 10 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Seems like the only time Dormady missed his target was at the halftime quarterback challenge, which he still won. But Coach Butch Jones insists the competition isn’t over.  Dormady’s  competition, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, was decent, going 4 of 5 for 41 yards.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham: The celebrated Baylor transfer didn’t disappoint at the Tigers’ spring game, earning offensive MVP honors by completing 16 of 20 passes for 267 yards (furthermore, he added a 1-yard rushing touchdown after recovering a fumble). “The goal this spring was to have an understanding of the base offense,” Stidham said. “Throughout the spring, I wanted to get more comfortable with it. Today we ran what we thought we were good at and moved the ball well. I feel really comfortable with it so far.”

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks: Franks completed 8 of 14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown pass to lead his Orange squad to a 31-0 rout of the Blue.  The 6-foot-6, 219-pound redshirt freshman didn’t waste any time showing off his arm strength and touch, lofting a 46-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond on the game’s first series to set up a touchdown. Most noteworthy, Franks threw a 16-yard scoring strike to junior wideout Antonio Callaway. “He’s ahead,” Coach Jim McElwain said of Franks, who’s in the QB race with Kyle Trask. “No doubt about it.”

Keep it moving

Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson: In his first spring game as the starter, Shea Patterson completed 21 of his 30 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns in the Grove Bowl. Furthermore, Patterson seemed to fit nicely into Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s offense, which is expected move even faster than previous Rebel offenses. Longo’s Sam Houston State offense in 2016 averaged 79 plays per game, compared to Ole Miss’ 72.6.

Battling backup

Kentucky quarterback Gunnar Hoak: Hoak, who is battling for the spot to backup Stephen Johnson, completed 12 of 18 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns while leading the second-team offense against the first-team defense. Perhaps especially relevant, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal, out of Hoak’s completions for the White team nine were to players who have yet to catch a pass in an actual game for Kentucky.

Click here for SEC Most Intriguing performances from running backs, receivers

Click here for SEC Most Intriguing performances from defenders

Anyone you found intriguing this spring? Let us know in the comments below

COMING SOON: ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 spring performances

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