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SEC Headlines 4/9/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on the team’s Sunday night opener against Utah State: “We’re very, very excited about that. It’s also a great opportunity to perform on the SEC Network.”

2. Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley and Riley Ferguson took first- and second-team reps, respectively, on Tuesday.

3. Georgia and Notre Dame reportedly working on a home-and-home series starting in 2018. A.D. Greg McGarity: “We talk with a lot of institutions about future scheduling and Notre Dame is one of them.”

4. Bulldogs turn to fans for playcalling help?

5. Judge says Auburn fan was guilty of disorderly conduct when he stormed the field following the Iron Bowl. His attorney asks why his behavior was any different than thousands of others.

6. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s message to his team: “The big thing is we needed to be more physical.”

7. Florida coach Will Muschamp on quarterback Jeff Driskel: “He’s throwing the ball very accurately.”

8. Over the weekend, Alabama coach Nick Saban mentioned three quarterbacks by name.  Yesterday, he left one of them out.

9. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason on Aaron Murray: “I think one of the great things is he kind of just passed the torch,”

10. Injuries taking their toll on spring practice at Missouri.  Coach Gary Pinkel: “We had to cut our reps back a little bit…”

11. South Carolina All-SEC freshman kicker Elliot Fry is now on scholarship. ”It’s awesome, obviously. Love it.”

12. Mississippi State’s Justin Cox is moving back to safety.  “I can see the field. Free safety was my first love.”

13. Arkansas linebacker Otha Peters is changing numbers.  “Five, I felt like, was a curse,”

14. Ole Miss had its spring game early in order to get a full month with the strength and conditioning coordinator.

15. The long-time PA announcer at Neyland Stadium has died.  Bobby Denton had been battling cancer.

16. Steve Spurrier and the advantages of living close to Augusta, Georgia.

SEC/NFL

17. Big turnout expected today at LSU’s pro day. Seventeen players on display with all 32 NFL teams expected in attendance.

SEC Basketball

18. Tim Sullivan on John Calipari rumors: “Was Rex Chapman wrong? Too soon to say.”

19. Regardless of how many players Kentucky loses to the NBA draft, expectations will still be high in Lexington next season. Wildcats at 12-1 to win it all in 2015.  Arizona the favorite at 6-1.

20. Arkansas guard Dee Wagner is transferring.

21. Missouri assistant coach Mark Phelps leaving for a job on the Marquette staff.

Extra

22. UMass guard Derrick Gordon says he’s gay.

23. Are you ready for the AJ McCarron/Katherine Webb reality television show?  

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DE Carter Stays Close To Home, Picks Georgia

PLAYER UPDATEThe fourth best player in the state of Georgia will stay home and wear the silver britches.  Lorenzo Carter — a 4-star defensive end from Norcross — was also considering Florida, LSU, Florida State and Notre Dame.

Carter’s LOI should lock the Dawgs onto most recruiting services’ top 10 lists.

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Updated Recruiting Rankings From 3 Different Sources

As faxes continue to fly and ball caps continue to be placed on prospects’ heads, the folks who make their living grading recruits continue to shuffle their national rankings.

Below are the most recent rankings from Rivals, Scout and 247sports…

 

  Rank   Rivals   Scout   247
  1   Alabama   Alabama   Alabama
  2   LSU   Florida State   LSU
  3   Ohio State   LSU   Ohio State
  4   Florida State   Tennessee   Florida State
  5   Tennessee   Ohio State   Texas A&M
  6   Texas A&M   Notre Dame   Tennessee
  7   Florida   Texas A&M   Auburn
  8   Georgia   Auburn   Florida
  9   Notre Dame   Florida   Georgia
  10   Auburn   Miami (FL)   Notre Dame

 

Outside the top 10, Rivals ranks Kentucky #14, Ole Miss #20 and South Carolina #25.  Scout lists Georgia #15, Ole Miss #17 and Kentucky #20.  Finally, 247sports ranks Ole Miss #14, Kentucky #21 and South Carolina #24.

 

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Rivals.com Updates Its Recruiting Rankings

rankingsThe folks at Rivals.com continue to update their recruiting rankings.  Their latest top 10 is as follows:

 

1.  Alabama

2.  Ohio State

3.  Tennessee

4.  Texas A&M

5.  LSU

6.  Florida State

7.  Florida

8.  Georgia

9.  Notre Dame

10.  Auburn

 

That’s seven SEC schools in the top 10.  Two other league members — Kentucky (#14) and Ole Miss (#16) — are currently in Rivals’ top 20.

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Surprise, Surprise… Athlete McKenzie Picks Georgia

PLAYER UPDATESunshine State prospect Isaiah McKenzie has elected to play his football in the SEC, but not with his homestate Gators.  The RB/WR prospect has said this morning that he’ll ink with Georgia.

The Bulldogs beat out fellow SEC rivals Ole Miss, Tennessee, and the aforementioned Florida as well as Oregon, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech for McKenzie’s services.  Big get for Mark Richt and company.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Texas A&M Lands Legacy Cunningham

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxTexas A&M received good news Thursday when defensive end Qualen Cunningham from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., committed to the Aggies.

Cunningham, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 22 defensive end by ESPN RecruitingNation, chose Texas A&M over offers from such schools as Oklahoma, Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Washington.

Cunningham will follow in the footsteps of his father, Rick Cunningham, who played on the offensive line at Texas A&M from 1988-89. Qualen Cunningham told ESPN he was glad to go ahead and make a decision.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I had my list narrowed down to schools I felt comfortable with,” Cunningham said. “It just seemed like the best situation for me, individually, being able to play in the SEC. It’s a great school, and I’m really excited for it.”

Cunningham is the second 2014 defensive line prospect to commit to Texas A&M in the last week. Defensive end Myles Garrett committed to the Aggies last week. Texas A&M has a total of four defensive linemen committed to the 2014 class.

“I know the players that are going to be on the field are going to be the best players,” Cunningham said. “I just have to step up and compete, and at the end of the day, that’s all it’s about.”

Texas A&M’s 2014 class is quickly turning into one of the best in the nation. The Aggies’ class is ranked No. 7 in the country and fourth in the SEC by Rivals. Texas A&M’s 16 commitments is the fewest total of any school ranked in the top 10.

The news of Cunningham’s commitment was met with excitement by Texas A&M quarterback commit Kyle Allen. The fellow Arizona native has pushed publicly for Cunningham to commit to the Aggies. Allen tweeted:

“Q!!!! My boy you finally came to your senses ahah! Congrats man so happy for let’s ball out! #gigem”

Texas A&M added to its 2015 class earlier this week when defensive tackle Daylon Mack from Gladewater (Texas) High School committed to the Aggies.

Mack, whose offer list also includes LSU, Florida State, Miami, Oregon and Texas, is expected to be one of the highest-rated prospects in the 2015 class. He’s confident he will help Texas A&M as soon as he arrives in College Station.

“I really just feel like I can come in and help from day one,” Mack told Rivals. “I wouldn’t mind fighting for a starting job. I think I would win, too.”

It’s another in-state recruiting win for Texas A&M. All four of the Aggies’ 2015 commitments are from in-state prospects. Allen and Cunningham are the only two commitments in the 2014 class who live outside the state of Texas.

 

South Carolina lands a quarterback

Quarterback Michael Scarnecchia from Fleming High School in Orange Park, Fla., committed to South Carolina this week.

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“Battle At Bristol” Already Doing What It’s Supposed To Do For Tennessee

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY VIRGINIA TECH AND TENNESSEEYesterday, officials from Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Bristol Motor Speedway announced that on September 10th, 2016, the Volunteers and Hokies will meet halfway between their two campuses at the celebrated NASCAR facility.

Such a gridiron matchup between the two schools has been discussed for years, but only now has a contract been signed.  Plans to quickly convert the track from a racing facility (in August of 2016) to a football facility (in September of 2016) have already been put to paper.

And the hype has already very much begun:

 

Battle at Bristol – University of Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway

 

The so-called “Battle at Bristol” is being promoted as the biggest college football game ever.  With 150,000 expected to attend, it should easily become the best-attended college football game in history (the current record is about 115,000).

The game will also bring in a nice chunk of money for both schools.  The Knoxville News Sentinel (paywall) nabbed the contract between UT and the folks in Bristol and found that the teams could make between four and five million dollars by playing in the game.

But new Tennessee coach Butch Jones isn’t having to wait until 2016 to reap the rewards of this deal.  He’s already getting exactly what he wants and needs: publicity.  The Volunteers are a surprising #2 nationally in Rivals.com’s current recruiting rankings.  We have the Vols listed as #3 in the SEC in our latest commitment comparator.  Obviously, Jones has already created quite a bit of momentum for a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2009.

Now he’s got the national media helping his spread the word about Tennessee’s “big” game to recruits:

 

The Washington Post

SI.com

CollegeFootballTalk.com

SportingNews.com

CBSSports.com

FoxSports.com

ESPN.com

 

ESPN’s NASCAR broadcaster Dr. Jerry Punch even weighed in on the event last evening while speaking in Mobile, Alabama:

 

“You’ve got to believe what a huge recruiting tool this will be.  I know both those schools already had wallpaper printed up with the logo on it — ‘Biggest Ever.’  So when the recruits walk in, they walk by that wallpaper and all they’ve got to say is, ‘Hey, you want to be a part of the biggest game in college football history, you come here.’  That’s pretty cool if you’re a kid.  You say, ‘You know what?  You want to play in front of 150,000 people?  It ain’t going to happen anywhere else.  It ain’t going to happen at USC or Texas or Oklahoma or Notre Dame or Michigan.  It’s going to happen right here.’  So it’s a great recruiting tool for both sides.”

 

As Punch also pointed out, no other NASCAR track is laid out quite like Bristol Motor Speedway… which is why no other NASCAR facility will likely be able to surpass the venue in ticket sales.  That means Tennessee and Virginia Tech should set and hold onto the attendance record for a while.

And that also means that Jones has a pretty good recruiting tool to use a full three years before the game will even be played.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Will Sims Help Alabama Recruit Louisiana?

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxAlabama hopes its commitment from Cameron Sims is just the beginning of a strong run in Louisiana.

Sims, who attends Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, La., is ranked the nation’s No. 6 wide receiver and the No. 9 prospect in Louisiana by ESPN RecruitingNation. He committed to Alabama this week over offers from schools like Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Southern California.

Alabama has turned its interest to Sims’ list of friends, which includes offensive lineman Cameron Robinson from West Monroe (La.) High School and safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones from Neville High School in Monroe.

Sims said on ESPN he’s spoken to Robinson about joining him at Alabama.

“Hopefully big Cam comes where I’m at,” Sims said. “We talked about it a lot. Hopefully he can come be with me at Bama nation. Big Cam, you need to come with me.”

There’s reason to be optimistic Sims can help the Crimson Tide land Robinson. The two are good friends, according to Sims, and Robinson has shown a strong interest in Alabama.

“We’re real close,” Robinson said. “I grew up with Cameron. Growing up, we lived maybe 30 seconds away from each other. He was like my little brother. We played basketball and football together growing up. I talk to him almost every day.”

Robinson, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle by ESPN, will announce his decision on Wednesday. It looks like an Alabama-LSU battle for Robinson, who has visited both schools multiple times.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune ranked Robinson behind only running back Leonard Fournette in its “Nifty 50″ in the state of Louisiana.

“Making an argument for Robinson being No. 1 is very feasible here. After all, he is at one of most valued positions in all of football, offensive tackle, and Fournette is a running back, which is generally viewed as less valuable for various reasons. Add in the fact Robinson is a tremendous tackle prospect with a rare blend of size, attitude and athleticism and you have a real race on your hands for the No. 1 prospect in the state.”

The hype surrounding Robinson shouldn’t imply Sims was offered a scholarship just to land his friend. Sims is a talented receiver who believes he can help Alabama right away.

“Seeing Amari Cooper and Kenny Bell do that, it makes me believe I can go out there and play as a freshman,” Sims said. “I can do big things like they did.”

Alabama’s class will have the potential to do big things if it continues the momentum its built in recruiting. The Crimson Tide has the nation’s top-ranked class by Rivals.

Prospects like Robinson and Harris will be key in Alabama going for another recruiting national championship. Like Robinson, Harris has strong interest in Alabama and LSU.

“Alabama and LSU are the top two for me right now,” he told Rivals. “It’s pretty much just them, but I like TCU. I don’t really know when I will make my decision. I’ll commit whenever it hits me. I talk to Alabama a lot more than I talk to anyone. I don’t know if you can say they are recruiting me the hardest, but I do talk to them more. Alabama and LSU are pretty much equal.”

 

Receiver Bone chooses Kentucky

The Wildcats might have pulled off a steal when they convinced wide receiver Blake Bone from Woodruff (S.C.) to commit to Kentucky this week.

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SEC Headlines 8/23/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp doubles down on his defense of Johnny Manziel: “I’ve seen things that other folks can’t see. And it didn’t happen. It did not happen.” Report: Nate Fitch hires an attorney.

2. Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Davis is transferring to Tyler Junior College. Johnny Manziel’s backups are junior Matt Joeckel and incoming freshman Kenny Hill.

3. Georgia’s 2012 class had 17 members.  Nine of them are projected starters.

4. Arkansas allowed almost 286 passing yards per game a year ago but expect their safeties to be a strength this year.

5. South Carolina wide receiver Damiere Byrd is the fastest guy on the team, doubles as a sprinter on the track team.

6. Ole Miss has added freshman Laquon Treadwell to a deep receiving corps led by Donte Moncrief. Expect them to create plenty of match-up issues.

7. Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game could feature brothers in opposing uniforms.

8. James Franklin’s message to Vanderbilt fans: ”There is nothing like going to a game.”

9. Who will step up to replace Chad Bumphis in the Mississippi State receiving corp? Mississippi State released its Egg Bowl uniforms Thursday.

10. Who’s going to fill the void at Missouri left by the departure of defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson?

11. Kentucky players get iPads – digital playbooks won’t be loaded though. Kentucky’s defensive ends: ”Those two, those are a tandem of monsters rushing the quarterback.”

12, AJ McCarron’s father tells the story of what the quarterback told him after getting to play the last minute of the Auburn game back in 2010.  ”Dad, that was the best damn 51 seconds of my life.’

13. Alabama will wear “something on the helmet” to honor the late Mal Moore.  

14. CBSSports.com new series - “Chasing The Devil” will focus on coaches trying to unseat Nick Saban.

15. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on quarterback Nick Marshall: “He’s extremely tough on himself, which is usually a really good sign.”

16. Last time Tennessee had a new coach, it was Year Zero.  This isn’t Year Zero.

17. LSU has usually a veteran at middle linebacker.  Not this year – “the ‘Help wanted’ sign was hung out last spring…”

18. In this list of ten impact freshmen in college football, five are from the SEC.  No. 1 on the list?  Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson.

Practice Reports

19. Missouri center Evan Boehm had a boot on his left foot Thursday.  ”It’s just precautionary.”

20. Alabama still tweaking its offensive line. Arie Kouandjio moving back to left guard.

21. Auburn’s Justin Garrett returned to practice Thursday - recovering from a sprained foot. Expect to see defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson in the booth and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee on the sidelines this fall.

22. Auburn quarterback-turned-safety Kiehl Frazier is competing for a spot on the two-deep depth chart.

23. Freshman wide receiver Ryan Timmons is battling for playing time at Kentucky.

24. Tackle Kolton Houston is one of eight Georgia offensive lineman who could see playing time against Clemson.

25. A practice glimpse at a possible offensive depth chart for Tennessee. Final test run at Neyland Stadium this afternoon for the Vols.

26. After tearing his ACL twice, Florida linebacker Ronald Powell was inspired by Adrian Peterson. Will Muschamp confirms running back Matt Jones and lineman Jon Halpaio won’t play against Toledo.

27. Barry Brunetti is the “solid” No. 2 quarterback at Ole Miss.

SEC Basketball

28. Incoming McDonald’s All-American freshman Chris Walker not enrolled at Florida.  Reportedly still working on NCAA requirements.

29.  Lot of talk about an undefeated season at Kentucky. “I think that 40-0 is going to be much more difficult to achieve that Big Blue Nation realizes.”

30. Poll: 87 percent of coaches think Kentucky is a title team.

31. What about Kentucky and Louisville playing football AND basketball on the same weekend?

32. Basketball court at LSU gets a makeover.

SEC/College News

33. A painful flashback for Missouri fans.  Fifth-down game against Colorado called “ Biggest Fail in College Football History.”

34. Notre Dame has its eyes on SEC country. Coach Brian Kelly:  ”If there’s a kid in Louisiana who fits the Notre Dame profile, we better know about them and have a shot at them.”

35. Concussion lawsuit against NCAA could be headed for a settlement.

Media

36. ESPN pulls out of  investigative project with “Frontline” about concussions.  Pressure from NFL thought to be the reason why.

37. ESPN releases Jadeveon Clowney “The Freak” video.

 

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: LSU Targets In-State Prospects

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxLSU’s in-state recruiting received a boost this weekend when wide receiver Trey Quinn from Barbe High School in Lake Charles, La., committed to the Tigers.

Quinn, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 3 wide receiver by ESPN RecruitingNation, chose LSU over Auburn, Ole Miss, Clemson and Texas Tech, along with several other offers. He believes he’s joining an elite class at LSU.

“It’s awesome to have an opportunity to be part of what could be a great class,” Quinn said. “It’s like the Miami Heat. When you build something special, everyone wants to be a part of it. It’s really exciting to have so many of us from Louisiana.”

Eight of LSU’s 14 commitments are from Louisiana with several other highyl-touted in-state prospects remaining on the Tigers’ board.

Those top targets include wide receiver Malachi Dupre from River Ridge, running back Leonard Fournette and athlete Speedy Noil from New Orleans and offensive lineman Cameron Robinson from West Monroe.

How much talent is in the state of Louisiana for the 2014 class? Quinn is ranked the No. 37 prospect in the nation but only the seventh best in his own state.

The eighth-best player in the state of Louisiana is quarterback Brandon Harris, according to ESPN. Harris, who committed to LSU in July, was constant in his attempt to help the Tigers land Quinn.

“He’s been texting me nonstop since then,” Quinn told TigerBait.com. “He’s been saying he wanted to play together with me; we’ve got to go to the same college. Going to camp and catching balls from him was great. He’s a great athlete, great quarterback with a strong arm with a bright future.”

LSU’s future will become even brighter if it’s able to land more of the top in-state talent. Fournette is an important target for the Tigers. A commitment from him could help influence other top prospects in the state to stick with LSU.

Fournette confirmed to 247Sports this week that he’ll take official visits to LSU, Alabama, Florida, Miami and possibly Michigan. But it looks like an Alabama-LSU battle for Fournette, according to St. Augustine High School assistant coach Adrian Burnette.

“When you are dealing with a talent like this, it is always going to come down to the top two – Alabama and LSU,” Burnette said. “As far as him leaning to one or the other, this might be hard to believe, but I really think at this point and time that it is 50/50.”

Alabama will continue to recruit other prospects from Louisiana, including Robinson and Monroe safety Laurence Jones. Quinn’s commitment to LSU is a good sign for the Tigers, says ESPN’s Gary Laney. But they still have work to do with key in-state prospects.

“It is possible LSU can win the majority of the state’s top prospects, but miss the biggest prizes and thus end up having the 2014 class feel like a loss. But the more pieces that fall into place, the more optimistic the Tigers can be about the rest of the class.”

 

Georgia pushing for Kendarius Webster

Georgia is still in the running for cornerback Kendarius Webster from Stockbridge (Ga.) High School.

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