2012 Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List Proves Future Is Bright at QB in the SEC

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 7, 2012

Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
Arkansas QB Tyler WilsonWesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is presented annually to the top college quarterback who encapsulates all that is positive in college spots, and you will see many of the usual suspects in this year's watch list.

Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Jordan Rodgers from Vanderbilt and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson all made the cut and are contenders for the award.

But it wasn't the names on the list that caught my attention, it was the names that were left off.

Missouri's James Franklin, Tennessee's Tyler Bray and South Carolina's Connor Shaw were all excluded.


They aren't even eligible yet.

To be eligible for the award, you must be completing college eligibility (a senior) or be a fourth-year junior and on schedule to graduate with your class.

The list tells me that not only will 2012 be a quarterback-driven season in the SEC, but that trend will likely continue beyond this season.

I know, I know, defense wins championships. That's a cliche, but it's also accurate. 

That will hold true in the immediate future, but don't be surprised if some of these quarterbacks that aren't up for the Golden Arm Award make some noise in the near future.

Franklin is as big of a dual-threat weapon that the SEC has seen since...well...Cam Newton and Tim Tebow, and both of those guys took home plenty of hardware. I'm not saying that Franklin will have that kind of season, but he certainly possesses similar skills.

At 6'6" with a rocket arm, Bray has perhaps the best pro potential of any quarterback in the SEC. He hasn't played a full season yet—partly due to injury and coaching decisions during his freshman season —but he has the size and arm strength to be a star.

Shaw isn't the bruiser that Franklin is, but he's still a dual-threat weapon that emerged as a playmaker  when he averaged 219 passing yards and 80 rushing yards over the last three games of the season. That was without running back Marcus Lattimore behind him, and Lattimore's return should only help Shaw in 2012.

It's all cyclical, but the names on and off the 2012 Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List indicate that the future of the quarterback position in the SEC is bright.