Keeping quarterbacks a challenge in the SEC

Georgia five-star freshman Justin Fields (1) enrolled in January and competed this spring with sophomore Jake Fromm, who guided the Bulldogs to last season's Southeastern Conference title. (Andy Harrison/Georgia Photo)

When the 2017 Southeastern Conference football season kicked off, Jacob Eason was Georgia's starting quarterback, as was Quinten Dormady at Tennessee and Shea Patterson at Ole Miss.

Now, none of those three reside in the SEC, with Eason having transferred to Washington, Dormady to Houston and Patterson to Michigan. Seeking new locales is nothing new for college quarterbacks, but the frequency at which such exits are occurring is making the math tougher and tougher for coaches.

"Obviously you can see what we're going through now and what other people are going through - it's the same thing," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a news conference this week at the SEC's spring meetings in Destin, Florida. "A lot of these young quarterbacks are doing the same thing in high school. They're positioning from the eighth grade to ninth grade and, 'Where can I be the quarterback in ninth grade?'

"They go shopping and searching and find a place to go, and a lot of them start for three or four years.