Which quarterback should you trust with the game on the line in the SEC?
The conference is brimming with returning stars and a few potential superstar transfers, which makes it not seem so outlandish to go outside the box and select Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson or Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Both have exceptional game-breaking abilities when plays break down or, in Jefferson’s case, as a bruising runner between the tackles, but the sample size on Richardson is too small after playing sparingly last season as a backup and Jefferson benefitted greatly last season with an All-American type of receiver in Treylon Burks.
Whoever starts for Ole Miss — Luke Altmyer or USC transfer Jackson Dart — will put up big numbers, but we’ve yet to see them in crunch time in the SEC and neither have been tested in late-game situations in the conference. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker has a lively arm and is perfect for Josh Heupel‘s deep-shot offense, and while some are eager to push him to the top of the heap, he’s too inconsistent within the yard markers. Can he be counted on to hit receivers within the sticks on a sustained, late-game drive? He’s not even in my top three in that category.
So, despite all those great names, the pick here is easy. Alabama’s Bryce Young is the SEC’s best quarterback with the game on the line. He led the Crimson Tide to an SEC championship against Georgia, then lost a national title in the rematch against the Bulldogs, and won the Heisman Trophy last season, but those three moments don’t stick out in my mind. Well, go back to the Iron Bowl when he shook off a half dozen sacks and led Alabama on a 97-yard drive in 95 seconds to force overtime on the road at Auburn. He converted a fourth down and two third-and-longs to lead Alabama to its game-tying touchdown.
Yes, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett hoisted the national championship trophy with a win against Alabama (and was tremendous in the College Football Playoff with five touchdowns and zero turnovers), but Bryce Young lifted the Heisman as the top player in the country for his consistency, week-to-week performances and late-game heroics– and if his that’s not enough to be trusted in the final moments of the game, go ahead and take a chance on the other QBs in the SEC who have never faced such high- pressure moments and delivered under a time crunch.
Brandon Marcello is a national college football reporter for 247Sports.