When I was asked to vote on a preseason All-SEC team, it was a process of elimination.
The SEC is loaded with such across-the-board talent that you're picking one great player over another great player at most positions.
And then I got to quarterback.
The pickings are slim – at least by past SEC standards.
Going into the season, it's a two-man race between Bo Wallace of Ole Miss and Nick Marshall of Auburn. While they're both good quarterbacks, they don't have quite the cachet we have come to expect out of the SEC.
We've been spoiled. Over the last two decades, the SEC has had an embarrassment of riches at quarterback. As a junior in 1996, Peyton Manning was relegated to second-team All-SEC. Why? Because Danny Wuerffel was busy winning the Heisman Trophy at Florida.
Three SEC quarterbacks have won the Heisman in the last seven years – Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel. Since 1998, six SEC quarterbacks have been the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Last season's SEC quarterback crop produced four NFL draftees – Manziel, AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray.
Now we're in a period of transition. Going into the season, at least half the SEC teams have serious concerns about the quarterback position due to inexperience, questionable talent or both. I can't remember a year where the position was this unsettled at so many SEC programs.
Amid such uncertainty, it's only a matter of time before youth is served. In the post-Manziel era, Texas A&M could turn to freshman Kyle Allen. LSU coach Les Miles is a notorious gambler so would anybody be surprised if he rolled the dice with Brandon Harris, another first-year player?
Ole Miss and Auburn face no such questions. They're set at quarterback.
Wallace, from Pulaski, Tenn., capped his junior season by throwing for 256 yards and running for 86 more – producing three touchdowns in the process – in the Rebels' Music City Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. With his shoulder finally healed, he should be even better in the passing game.
Marshall quickly mastered Gus Malzahn's offense and directed Auburn to the national championship game last season. While he still lacks polish as a passer, Marshall is a gifted runner (1,068 rushing yards in 2013) and has a flair for the dramatic as evidenced by his 73-yard touchdown heave to Ricardo Louis to beat Georgia.
Only a half-step behind Wallace and Marshall is Dak Prescott. Much of the nation hasn't heard of Prescott. It's their loss. Despite playing through injuries last season, he ran for 947 yards in a Mississippi State offense that is based on the zone option.
The drawback on Prescott is his accuracy. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen brought in Brian Johnson as quarterbacks coach and Prescott showed improvement in the spring. If that continues, he could be the most productive quarterback in the league.
After those three, there is much uncertainty. But that doesn't necessarily mean quarterback play will be weak in the SEC this season. A number of talented quarterbacks have been waiting for the chance to step into a full-time role.
Maty Mauk is an example. As a redshirt freshman at Missouri last season, he started four games in place of the injured James Franklin and put up nice numbers. Now he gets a chance put his own stamp on Gary Pinkel's quick-hitting, spread offense.
Dylan Thompson has spent most of his South Carolina career stepping in when Connor Shaw was injured. With Shaw gone, Thompson, a fifth-year senior, gets the full attention – and the accompanying criticism -- of Steve Spurrier. He'll do just fine.
Hutson Mason, another fifth-year senior, has waited his turn at Georgia. With Murray now in the NFL, Mason gets his shot to run Mark Richt's quarterback-friendly offense.
The transition doesn't stop there. Jacob Coker was stuck behind Jameis Winston on the depth chart at Florida State and relocated to Alabama. With the Crimson Tide's strong running game, Coker won't be under pressure to do too much, too soon.
At Florida, Jeff Driskel should benefit from the arrival of Kurt Roper as offensive coordinator. Roper is a disciple of David Cutcliffe, who is known for his ability to get the most out of quarterbacks. The Gators offense has been retooled to take advantage of Driskel's strengths.
Vanderbilt and Tennessee are among the SEC teams that are still trying to identify their starters. The Commodores will choose from among Johnny McCrary, Patton Robinette and new arrival Stephen Rivers. McCrary had a slight edge coming out of spring practice.
At UT, senior Justin Worley is trying to hold off sophomore Josh Dobbs, with Nathan Peterman also in the picture. Spotty quarterback play is one of the reasons the Vols have lost altitude in the SEC East over the last several years. A program that once had a quarterback succession plan of Andy Kelly to Heath Shuler to Peyton Manning to Tee Martin to Casey Clausen has fallen on hard times.
So who is the best of the SEC quarterback bunch? I picked Wallace on my preseason All-SEC team.
Please note: It's the postseason All-SEC team that really matters.