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Gunner Stockton committed to Georgia in January.

2022 quarterback recruiting is taking the SEC arms race to another level

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2022 quarterback recruiting is taking the SEC arms race to another level

When you hear people talk about an arms race and the SEC, it usually has to do with the upkeep of facilities. You can look at the impending completion of new football buildings at Georgia and Auburn as evidence of that.

But in this case, there is a literal arms race when it comes to the recruitment of top-flight quarterbacks in the 2022 recruiting cycle.

As of this writing, there are nine quarterbacks who rank among the top-100 overall prospects — using the 247Sports Composite — in the 2022 class. Seven of them have already made their public commitments. Of those seven, five are headed to SEC schools.

That number jumped from three to five over the course of the weekend, as Alabama landed 5-star quarterback Ty Simpson on Friday and Missouri landed 4-star quarterback Sam Horn on Sunday.

Those two join 5-star Georgia commit Gunner Stockton, 5-star LSU commit Walker Howard and 4-star Texas A&M commit Conner Weigman.

If all five prospects remain committed to their programs and ranked among the top-100 prospects, it would be the most ever in a recruiting cycle since the 247Sports rankings came into existence starting with the 2010 cycle for the SEC.

With the 2022 recruiting cycle, it just means more elite quarterback prospects for the SEC.

A conference landing this many high-profile quarterbacks isn’t uncommon, as the PAC-12 accomplished this feat in 2018. The SEC also has landed four top-100 quarterbacks as recently as 2016.

One key difference as of now though with this class comes with its 5-star commitments. Should Stockton, Howard and Simpson all retain their rankings, it would be the first time that three 5-star quarterbacks signed with the same conference.

Stockton is Georgia’s representative on the list and he checks in as the No. 2 ranked quarterback in the class. He flipped his commitment from South Carolina to Georgia.

Related: Gunner Stockton: The must-read stories on the 5-star who will ‘unleash hell’ on the field

It’s the second-straight cycle that Georgia has landed a 5-star quarterback, as Georgia signed Brock Vandagriff last cycle. The only other time that has happened was when Texas A&M landed Kyle Allen in the 2014 cycle and Kyler Murray in the 2015 cycle.

As for why Georgia has been able to recruit the position so well, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart shared his thoughts on the matter.

“Quarterbacks want to play at Georgia. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they enjoy playing at Georgia,” Smart said. “Criticism is going to be there in everything we do, but the opportunity to play at the University of Georgia and be a quarterback—I can just start naming all the quarterbacks who have played here who been really good, and who those kids look up to and idolize, a No. 1 overall pick [Matthew Stafford].

“Those kids want the opportunity to do that. They want the opportunity to win championships, and you putting yourself in the conversation about being able to win championships is always going to put you at the forefront of every quarterback’s in the country list.”

It should also be noted that both Vandagriff and Stockton committed to Georgia after the Bulldogs brought in offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The early returns on Monken once JT Daniels became the starting quarterback showed what a great talent can do in the Georgia offense.

Related: ESPN explains why Georgia should be ‘genuinely optimistic’ about the future at quarterback

As for Alabama, it seems it no longer matters who the offensive coordinator is. There seems to be a trust in who Saban brings in as the new offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien replaced Steve Sarkisian in January and the Crimson Tide were still able to land Simpson, over a school like Clemson.

With the Tigers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the Tigers land consecutive top-100 prospects after Joe Brady’s lone season at LSU. By comparison, LSU landed just one top-100 quarterback from 2010 through 2020.

Alabama’s 2020 offense and LSU’s in 2019 have shown that to win the league you need great quarterback play. Gone are the days of the ground and pound offenses in this conference. You need to be able to score and do it in bunches if you’re going to win. Alabama’s two closest games in terms of margin of victory in 2020 were the games when its defense gave up 48 and 46 points.

That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the league landing top-flight quarterback prospects. The SEC has consistently recruited at a higher-level than any other conference. Now that more and more teams are playing the type of offenses that attract elite quarterbacks, it only makes sense to see the recruits follow.

Now for all the talk about recruiting success, it’s not guaranteed that Stockton, Simpson and the other recruits pan out, much less finish their careers at their current schools. The 2016 class that saw the league land four top-100 quarterbacks also saw all four of those players finish their careers elsewhere.

As we’ve seen with Georgia, recruiting isn’t the problem. Since 2010, Georgia has signed six top-100 quarterback prospects. Only Alabama and USC have landed more in that span.

Yet none of those quarterbacks have been able to lead Georgia to a national championship. The Bulldogs are going to need to develop Vandagriff, Stockton and any future quarterbacks if Georgia is going to win that elusive national championship.

It won’t be getting any easier based on the incoming quarterback talent it won’t be any easier. Since the 2018 recruiting cycle, nine of the 13 other SEC schools have signed or currently have a top-100 quarterback prospect.

Georgia might have landed the top prospect arm in the conference in the 2021 and 2022 recruiting cycles, but the rest isn’t exactly bringing a bunch of Uncle Rico’s either.

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