The 2021 college football season was without a doubt a successful one for the SEC with Alabama and Georgia playing in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. It was also a big year when it comes to quarterback play in the conference. The conference saw new stars emerge at the position, and records were broken. It also saw an underdog get the storybook ending. It was a season that showed the future is bright at the most important position. Some of the top passers will be returning for the 2022 season. We take a look at who were the top five quarterbacks in the SEC in 2021.
Top Five SEC Quarterbacks in 2021
#5: Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
It was quite a renaissance for the Tennessee offense from what they were in 2020. Under first-year head coach Josh Heupel the Volunteers went from the SEC’s 11th ranked offense to third in 2021. Hendon Hooker was at the center of it all. He did not start as the main signal caller though. Hooker started the season as the backup behind Michigan transfer Joe Milton. When Milton went down with a leg injury in the second game against Pitt, Hooker took full advantage. Despite losing that game he showed the Tennessee staff he was the guy. On the season he threw for 2,945 yards and 31 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He was also a threat on the ground with 620 yards and five touchdowns. One of Hooker’s more impressive games of the season came in the controversial Music City Bowl loss to Purdue. In Nashville, Hooker passed for 378 yards and five touchdowns in the 45-48 overtime loss. The Volunteers should be able to take some momentum into the 2022 season with Hooker returning to the team.
#4: Will Rogers, Mississippi State
After a disappointing first season for Mike Leach in Starkville, some around the conference might have wondered could his offense work in the SEC. It was proven in year two under Leach that his offense can work in the conference. The Bulldogs improved from 4-7 in 2020 to 7-6 in 2021. Second-year quarterback Will Rogers was a big reason why. Rogers finished first in the SEC with a completion percentage of 73.9 and was second in yards (4,739) and touchdowns (36). The standout performance for Rogers was in the comeback victory over Auburn late in the season. The Tigers had built a 28-3 first-half lead over the Bulldogs before Rogers led a furious comeback. Rogers passed for 415 yards and six touchdowns as Mississippi State scored 40 unanswered points for the 43-34 victory.
#3: Stetson Bennett, Georgia
If a sequel to the film American Underdog is ever made, the story of Stetson Bennett will just write itself. His journey has been well documented before and after the Bulldogs won their first National Championship since 1980. Bennett was one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC after taking over for an injured J.T. Daniels early in the season. He finished fifth in the conference with 2,862 yards and was fourth with 29 touchdown passes. Of course, the numbers are lower than some on this list due to two factors. Outside of the SEC Championship loss to Alabama, Georgia ran away from all their opponents. The second reason is that the Bulldogs present a more traditional offense and feature the run game more than the pass. When it pertains to his best performance of the season it is unquestionably the National Championship win over Alabama 33-18. In the title tilt, Bennett passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Not the most impressive numbers but in the fourth quarter, he was clutch to deliver the title to the Bulldogs.
#2: Matt Corral, Ole Miss
There is one quarterback on this list that will not be back in 2022, and that is Matt Corral. The Ole Miss quarterback will be taking his talents to the NFL and is projected by most to be a first-round draft pick. His play in 2021 proves he is worthy to be the face of an NFL franchise. Corral was third in the SEC in passing yards (3,349) and completion percentage (67.9). He threw for just 20 touchdowns on the season but added 11 on the ground. He was not just the leader of the offense; at times he was the offense for Ole Miss. One great improvement he made from the 2020 season was taking care of the football. He went from throwing 14 interceptions to just five in 2021. Another record broke was most wins by Ole Miss in the regular season with ten victories. Unfortunately, his season did not end as he would have wanted with an injury against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. His best game of the season was a mid-October game against Tennessee where he had a total of 426 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss won the highly contested game 31-26.
#1: Bryce Young, Alabama
To close out the top five quarterbacks in the SEC in 2021 is no doubt the Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. The first-year starter had a lot to live up to following the season Mac Jones had in 2020. Young showed a lot of poise for a quarterback being a first-time starter. He really showed no signs of any moment being too big or ever getting rattled in big games. He led the SEC with 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns. Both of those are now Alabama school-record passing Jones in yards and Tua Tagovailoa in touchdown passes. Alabama had more close games than what they are used to in previous seasons under Nick Saban, and most of the time Young came through in the clutch. His best game of the season was the Crimson Tide’s 41-24 SEC Championship Game victory over Georgia. Alabama went into the game with their backs against the wall, and the weight of the offense on Young’s shoulders. He passed for 421 yards and three touchdowns against a feared Georgia defense. In 2022, Young returns for his junior season and will aim to bring another championship to Tuscaloosa.