But it ain’t exactly a walk in the park, either.
Over the past 20 years, 15 SEC quarterbacks have started at least half of their team’s games as a true freshman. Only five of those quarterbacks saw their teams finish with a winning SEC record: Georgia’s Quincy Carter (1998), Tennessee’s Casey Clausen (2000), Florida’s Chris Leak (2003), Tennessee’s Erik Ainge (2004) and Arkansas’Mitch Mustain (2006).
Ainge is the only true freshman quarterback over the past 20 years to win an SEC division title. When Arkansas won the SEC West in 2006, Mustain began the year as the starter and later got benched.
Carter holds the SEC record for passing yards by a true freshman quarterback (2,484). He was 21 years old at the time because he had been playing minor league baseball.
When Quincy Carter is your gold standard, I’d say there’s every reason for Kirby Smart to proceed with caution.