SEC quarterback rankings: The top 8 in the league for the 2017 season

We begin our series of SEC player rankings by looking at quarterbacks, the most important player on the field.

Too often this decade, SEC fans have had to hang their heads in shame when discussion turned to quarterbacks. Oh, sure, there was high-level play by one or two quarterbacks per season, but overall quarterback play in the league, top to bottom, has been mediocre to poor. That’s not the case this season.

It’s always difficult to put together the SEC quarterback rankings. But for the first time in a long while, it’s difficult this season because there actually are a lot of talented guys; usually, it’s simply a case of who’s less bad.

We’re ranking the top eight quarterbacks in the league, and all eight are among the top 25 to 30 quarterbacks nationally. And there’s not that much difference between the quarterback ranked second and the guy we have eighth.

As for the quarterback we rank first, some of you are going to shake your head and maybe even laugh. For those of you who are laughing, hey, we’re confident we’ll have the last laugh.

Here are the top eight quarterbacks in the SEC for the 2017 season.

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NICK FITZGERALD, by Matt Bush/USA Today Sports

1. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald

Particulars: 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, junior
Recruiting background: 3-star prospect in 2014 signing class, from Richmond Hill (Ga.) High
The skinny: If he makes the same type of jump this season that he made last season, 4,500 yards of total offense is a legit goal. Fitzgerald led the SEC in total offense last season with 3,798 yards; he threw for 2,423 yards and 21 TDs and rushed for 1,375 (second-most in the league) and 16 TDs (led the league). Fitzgerald completed 33 passes as a high school senior – 33 total – because his high school near Savannah ran the wing-T. He redshirted as a true freshman in 2014, then barely played in 2015 (23 rushes, 14 passing attempts) before bursting on the scene last season. Fitzgerald is deceptively fast and more physical than he looks. If he makes the strides as a passer that coaches expect, his numbers could skyrocket.

RELATED: Is Mississippi State in position to capitalize on the tough times at Ole Miss?

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