Most experts believe that this year’s national title will go through Tallahassee and that’s a sound theory as the 2013 champs return their Heisman winning quarterback and a ton of depth everywhere else. There weren’t a ton of people who believed the ‘Noles with redshirt freshman Jameis Winston could run the table a season ago.
We’re going to look at a few new starting quarterbacks who could make a similar impact as Winston and lead their teams to a national title.
Jacob Coker, Alabama
Sure, Nick Saban has been coy about who his starting quarterback will even be but many people in the know are aware that Coker is the most talented signal caller and will ultimately claim the job. Coker nearly beat out Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston last season at Florida State and has a cannon for an arm. Coker’s set of skill players is among the best in the nation and he shouldn’t have to win many games with his more than capable right arm, instead his objective will be “don’t screw it up.”
Coker may have the best supporting backfield of any quarterback in the nation when you consider how deep the Tide is at running back. He has some game experience (mostly in mop-up duty) and the coaching staff and support system to be successful.
Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
Although many experts and analysts have been fooled by bowl game results, it’s impossible to ignore what Oklahoma’s Knight accomplished against Alabama in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Knight shredded one of the best defenses in the nation en route to an upset victory.
Although Knight is missing some wide receiver talent from last year, he still has Sterling Shepard and former OU starting quarterback Blake Bell back at tight end. With one of the best defenses in the Big 12 and a schedule that’s navigable, the Sooners starter is the Vegas favorite to win the Big 12 and potentially get to the “Final Four.”
Hutson Mason, Georgia
The Georgia signal caller has some enormous shoes to fill as he’s replacing SEC all-time passing leader Aaron Murray. The good news is that Mason has some game experience and helped lead the team from a 20-point deficit to a comeback victory against Georgia Tech.
Hutson Mason has been in the system for four years and there have been no significant adjustments in the offensive coaching staff at Georgia during that time. It’s impossible to think that Mason will simply step in and pick up right where Murray left off but he will have a fine set of receivers and a talented supporting cast overall. Mason will get to lean on Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and won’t be asked to do too much. The SEC East is very winnable and if Hutson Mason can lead the ‘Dawgs to that title, he’ll be playing for the SEC title and a berth in the “Final Four.”
Dylan Thompson, South Carolina
Thompson sat behind South Carolina legend Connor Shaw for much of last season but Steve Spurrier is quick to remind anyone that asks that Thompson was the only quarterback in the nation to beat UCF last season.
Thompson is a dual-threat quarterback who’s surrounded by excellent talent on both sides of the ball. He will rely heavily on running back Mike Davis and put his faith in the Ole Ball Coach and Co. Like Mason at Georgia, Thompson plays in a winnable SEC East and if they can win it they will be playing for an opportunity to get into the “Final Four.”