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SEC football rankings: quarterbacks

1. Georgia: The group of Southeastern Conference quarterbacks is down as a whole this season, but Georgia’s Aaron Murray is the best of the bunch. Murray impressed as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns compared to only eight interceptions. A.J. Green will be sorely missed this season and, with an unproven running back group, Murray will have to make some adjustment this fall. However, he’s easily the top quarterback in the conference.

2. Arkansas: This could be a stretch, but in terms of potential, Tyler Wilson has the highest among the starting quarterbacks in the conference. A redshirt junior, Wilson appeared in six games last season, completing 34 of 51 passes for 453 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions. Wilson stepped in against Auburn in 2010 when Ryan Mallett was injured and threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in a 65-43 loss. He’ll be helped out by a legitimate rushing threat in Knile Davis.

3. Mississippi State: Senior Chris Relf was one of the most improved quarterbacks in the conference in 2010, throwing for 1,776 yards and 12 touchdowns, while also rushing for 701 yards and five more touchdowns. He should excel after another season in Dan Mullen’s offense.

4. South Carolina: Assuming senior Stephen Garcia comes off yet another suspension, which he most likely will, the Gamecocks should be in good shape at the position. An extremely frustrating player, Garcia threw 20 touchdowns in 2010, but also had 14 interceptions, in addition to his off-the-field problems. He’s a true boom or bust player, but he will be helped by having the best receiver in the conference to throw to in Alshon Jeffrey. Backup Connor Shaw will likely see action as well.

5. Tennessee:  Sophomore Tyler Bray started the last five games of the 2010 season and showed that he has one of the brightest futures of any quarterback in the conference. He finished the year with 1,849 yards through the air with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Bray has plenty of offensive weapons to work with, including receiver Justin Hunter. Senior Matt Sims and true freshman Justin Worley provide depth.

6. LSU: Tiger fans are hoping this is the year that senior Jordan Jefferson finally puts it all together. Jefferson split time last season with fellow Jarrett Lee and threw for 1,411 yards and seven touchdowns, but also 10 interceptions. Lee returns as well for his senior season and sophomore Zach Mettenberger, a transfer from Georgia, looms as well.

7. Florida: Senior John Brantley struggled to fit into Urban Meyer’s spread offense last season, but seems to be a much better fit in new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s pro-style offense. Brantley threw for 2,061 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago, but also had 10 interceptions. Freshman Jeff Driskel was rated the No. 1 quarterback nationally according to Scout.com and Rivals.com, and has the chance to be an elite quarterback.

8. Alabama: Gone is the steady Greg McElroy and in his place are sophomore AJ McCarron and redshirt freshman Phillip Sims. McCarron looks to have a leg up in the competition at this point, but both players are unproven at this point. McCarron threw for 389 yards and three touchdowns in limited action in 2010.

9. Kentucky: Mike Hartline’s Kentucky career is finally over, although it seemed to last 10 years. In his place is junior Morgan Newton. Newton threw six touchdowns as a freshman in 2009, but struggled with consistency and was the backup to Hartline in 2010. Newton started the bowl game for the Wildcats in 2010, completing 21 of 36 passes for 211 yards in a 27-10 loss to Pittsburgh.

10. Ole Miss: With Jeremiah Masoli gone, Ole Miss turns to a trio of untested players to try and determine their starting quarterback. Sophomore Barry Brunetti, a transfer from West Virginia, is the leader at this point and is the only one who has taken a division one snap, completing 4 of 9 passes in mop-up duty last season. Redshirt junior Randall Mackey started spring practice on fire, but cooled off considerably toward the end. Both are dual-threat quarterbacks, while junior college transfer Zack Stoudt is a pure pocket passer, but also missed the spring game due to academic issues.

11. Auburn: The Tigers must replace last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, but have options waiting in the wings. Junior Barrett Trotter and sophomore Clint Mosley have been on campus the longest, but highly touted true freshman Kiehl Frazier is a perfect fit for Auburn’s offense and could sneak in and earn the job this fall.

12. Vanderbilt: Senior Larry Smith returns after throwing for 1,262 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. He has battled inconsistency throughout his career, but has also had arguably the worst supporting cast of any quarterback in the conference.