New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has quarterback Jalen Hurts, running back Bo Scarbrough and receiver Calvin Ridley to build around. Junior college transfer Isaiah Buggs, a defensive end, already has caught the eye of coach Nick Saban as the Crimson Tide moves on from the Jonathan Allen era.
Quarterback Austin Allen has had to find new options in the passing game following the loss of receivers Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan, and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. On defense, the Razorbacks are transitioning from the 4-3 to the 3-4 under new coordinator Paul Rhoads. Austin Capps and Bijhon Jackson have cemented themselves as 1 and 1A at nose tackle.
Jarrett Stidham was brought in to become Auburn’s starting quarterback. While he didn’t officially win the job this spring, all signs point to that happening. Stidham perhaps found a go-to receiver in sophomore Nate Craig-Myers in the A-Day game. With Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson returning at running back, the offense has few questions aside from the line. On defense, it isn’t clear whether the Tigers will easily replace Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson, though sophomores Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown have talent.
Feleipe Franks was the front-runner at quarterback heading into the Gators’ spring game. And his performance did nothing to change that, as he was 8-of-14 for 119 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Gators want to find a terrorizing presence off the edge, and sophomore Antonneous Clayton, a former five-star prospect, shined this spring.
Senior Stephen Johnson had an edge in the quarterback battle at the end of the spring, though redshirt freshman Gunnar Hoak played better in the spring game. Drew Barker also is expected to rejoin the battle when his injured back heals. Early enrollee Clevan Thomas emerged as a dependable route runner. Defensive tackle Kordell Looney and linebacker Jamar Watson also played well this spring.
The Tigers must replace a tremendous amount of production on defense, as lineman Davon Godchaux, linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley, and backs Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White are preparing for the NFL draft. Pass-rush specialist Arden Key also hasn’t been with the team this spring as he takes care of a personal issue. Cornerback Saivion Smith has been a bright spot.
With Nick Fitzgerald entrenched as the starting quarterback, the Bulldogs used the spring to solve other problems. One was finding a backup to Fitzgerald. They found him in early enrollee Keytaon Thomas. They also believe they found a potential star in defensive back Cameron Dantzler, who redshirted last season. The offensive line remains a question mark as injuries forced shuffling this spring.
The Tigers had one of the SEC’s worst defenses last season, ranking near the bottom of most major categories. But Missouri has returned to the attacking, aggressive scheme that helped it lead the conference in sacks in 2013 and 2014, and in tackles for loss from 2013-15. Despite the loss of Charles Harris, the defensive line could be strong next season. With Drew Lock at quarterback, the SEC’s top offense last season should remain explosive in 2017.
One thing the Rebels haven’t had to worry about since Hugh Freeze took over is offense. This spring, the line showed it was deep, while the receivers will give quarterback Shea Patterson plenty of targets. The defense is more unsettled. First-year defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff installed a “less is more” scheme, hoping it will allow players to read and react rather than think. All newcomers who arrive this summer will have a chance to play, according to McGriff.
Sophomore Jake Bentley continued to make the progress expected of one of the SEC’s better young quarterbacks. A raw, but gifted, core surrounds him. On defense, the Gamecocks didn’t improve the way coach Will Muschamp had hoped this spring. He said players who arrive this summer will be asked to immediately contribute in the coming season.
Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano are battling to replace Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. The most positive news for the Volunteers this spring has been the play of cornerback Justin Martin and safety Nigel Warrior. Their improvement has eased the coaching staff’s concerns about the defensive backfield, one of the team’s bigger question marks entering the spring.
Jake Hubenak, Kellen Mond, Connor Blumrick and Nick Starkel are the contenders to succeed Trevor Knight at quarterback. Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford showed they could be a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back, while Kwame Etwi also should contribute. At defensive end, Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson have the task of trying to step in for Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall.
The Commodores had few questions at their skill positions on offense this spring, as starting quarterback Kyle Shurmur, running back Ralph Webb and their top seven pass catchers return from last season. Vanderbilt likely will start two redshirt freshmen on the offensive line. On defense, replacing All-American linebacker Zach Cunningham will be tough.