Here are the 5 most intriguing SEC quarterback battles exiting spring practice | Toppmeyer

Blake Toppmeyer
USA TODAY NETWORK

More than half of the SEC’s starting quarterback spots are settled, but that leaves a handful of teams that have two- or three-man competitions that will continue into the summer.

Here’s my read on the five most interesting quarterback battles in the SEC.

LSU

Contenders: Myles Brennan, Jayden Daniels, Garrett Nussmeier

The skinny: Daniels, the Arizona State transfer, offers the running ability that many of Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame quarterbacks have exhibited. That mobility would be especially useful if LSU struggles in pass protection like last year. But Daniels showed unpolished passing skills during LSU’s spring game. Brennan is a sixth-year senior, armed with accuracy and poise, and Kelly applauded his knowledge of the offense and his ball control. His biggest blemish has been an inability to stay healthy the past two seasons. Nussmeier presents a strong-armed gunslinger. Kelly said he doesn’t want to rein in Nussmeier too much, but the redshirt freshman must ensure his aggressiveness is an asset and doesn’t lead to turnovers.

Starter projection: Brennan

Coach speak: “I’d much rather just play one quarterback and try to fit the offense to their traits over somebody else. The two-quarterback situation is so difficult to manage.” – Kelly

[ MORE LSU FOOTBALL ANALYSIS:What I liked – and didn't like – from Tigers' spring game | Toppmeyer ]

Auburn

Contenders: Robby Ashford, Zach Calzada, T.J. Finley

The skinny: Ashford, a dual-threat transfer from Oregon, outperformed Finley during the spring game. That might prove a moot point, because Calzada was unavailable while continuing to recover from shoulder surgery. Finley failed to win the starting job both at LSU and Auburn. His inconsistency as a passer makes him more of a career backup. Ashford’s athleticism is tantalizing, but how does that translate to Bryan Harsin’s pro-style offense? Calzada has a strong arm and moxie, displaying both last season with Texas A&M in its upset of Alabama. When healthy, Calzada profiles as the soundest choice, despite some inconsistencies with the Aggies.

Starter projection: Calzada

Coach speak: “In fall camp, we’re going to have to start making a decision. ‘Here’s our top two guys. Here’s the guys that are going to work with the No. 1 offense.’” – Harsin

[ MORE AUBURN FOOTBALL ANALYSIS:What I liked — and didn't like — in Tigers' A-Day spring game | Toppmeyer ]

Texas A&M

Contenders: Max Johnson, Haynes King, Conner Weigman

The skinny: The spring showed the Aggies have a three-man race rather than a head-to-head battle between King, the returner, and Johnson, the LSU transfer. Weigman is showing the promise Jimbo Fisher teased on signing day, when Fisher called Weigman the nation’s best quarterback signee. King is a former blue-chip prospect whose 21-yard touchdown run in the spring game demonstrated how he’s recovered from breaking his leg last September. But King completed just 33% of his passes amid windy conditions. Johnson is the experienced choice and the safest bet. He offers a lower ceiling, but less risk. And coaches are generally risk averse.

Starter projection: Johnson

Coach speak: "People always think (Johnson is) a pocket passer, but he has a lot of mobility, a good feel in the pocket and he can run." – Fisher

Ole Miss

Contenders: Luke Altmyer, Jaxson Dart

The skinny: Lane Kiffin’s choice may come down to what type of quarterback he desires for his offense. Dart boasts arm strength, and he’s not seen a downfield pass he doesn’t like. But he struggled in the spring game, where the Southern Cal transfer’s aggressiveness turned to recklessness with a pair of interceptions. Altmyer, the team’s backup last year, doesn’t have the same big arm, but he might fare better at keeping the Rebels out of trouble. Altmyer performed OK in limited relief appearances last season. Knowing where to go with the ball in Ole Miss’ up-tempo offense is as important as anything in deciding this competition.

Starter projection: Dart

Coach speak: "Jaxson made some mistakes early (in the spring game), and Luke seemed to play really consistent and not force things." – Kiffin

[ MORE OLE MISS FOOTBALL ANALYSIS:Grove Bowl: What I liked – and didn't like – from Rebels' spring game | Toppmeyer ]

Missouri

Contenders: Brady Cook, Tyler Macon

The skinny: The silver lining of Missouri’s bowl loss to Army in December is that Cook dazzled in his first career start by completing 27 of 34 passes for 238 yards. He would seem to have inside positioning over Macon, a running threat with a smaller sample size than Cook. Four-star signee Sam Horn should spice up the competition after his summer arrival, and Missouri remains an attractive landing spot for a transfer seeking a chance at the starting job. The Tigers pursued Georgia transfer J.T. Daniels, but he selected West Virginia.

Starter projection: Cook

Coach speak: "We’re not actively seeking (a transfer), but we’re not actively shying away from it, either." – Coach Eliah Drinkwitz

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.