The SEC blog over at ESPN has ranked the SEC's top quarterbacks from top to bottom. In this rankings, they have Connor Shaw listed as the number six quarterback heading into the 2012 season.
How does this make you feel Gamecock fans?
It's easy to understand why some of the names are higher up on the list than Connor Shaw. The first quarterback listed is Arkansas' Tyler Wilson. We all know what the big, strong-armed quarterback can do. The number two quarterback is Georgia's Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs' quarterback is the prototypical star quarterback. He's taken the SEC by storm in his career so far and could be even better this year.
Tyler Bray from Tennessee checks in at number three. He's a similar sized player like Wilson and has the big arm to put up big numbers in that offense. Alabama's A.J. McCarron is at number four and his team probably puts him high on the list. He's got the talent to run the show for Nick Saban. Newcomer James Franklin of Missouri checks in at number five. He's the dual-threat workhorse for the Tigers and had a big year in 2011.
All great quarterbacks. But are some of these guys better than Connor Shaw?
Let's look at this in another way.
James Franklin is a perfect example.His stats are based on the Big 12, where defense is an option. Here in the SEC, defense is a must. He may be talented and put up similar statistics this year in their first run against the SEC but at least Connor Shaw has proven his talents at this level. I'd give Shaw the edge over Franklin right now.
Another player Shaw is probably better than at this moment is Tyler Bray. Bray has injury concerns and missed half of 2011. Tennessee is also in a "do-or-die" year for Coach Derek Dooley. This team has struggled when Bray returned from injury in 2011. Wideout Da'Rick Rodgers may not last the whole season and Justin Hunter returns from serious injury. If those two aren't there, it'll be tough for Bray to lead the way. They also need Bray to step in more focused this year and that alone doesn't tell me he's better than Connor Shaw. No one outworks the Gamecocks' quarterback off the field and this should give Shaw the edge over Bray.
I'll give the SEC blog Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray. Both quarterbacks are future first-round NFL draft picks and have done enough to prove they should be ranked higher than Shaw at this time. A.J. McCarron may not be a "better" quarterback than Shaw but what he did last season, leading Alabama to a national title, gives him an edge.
Right now, I'd probably list Shaw as the number four quarterback in the SEC. There is just so much more this quarterback can do for the Gamecocks and the ability he showcased towards the end of last season gives you an idea of what he can do every week.
When South Carolina shows themselves as a threat in the SEC this year, Connor Shaw will be a big reason why.