Archive for February, 2013

SEC Spring Game: Full Diary

The SEC has released all the dates of Spring Games – and when practice begins. Here’s to the athletes getting prepped for it already.

All SEC schools and Pro Days start practice between March 2nd and March 27th.

Here are the Spring Games in April:

April 6th: Florida, Georgia

April 13th: Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

April 20th: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee

‘Bama Four’ Booted by Saban

The University of Alabama has announced that the four freshmen that were arrested a few weeks ago have been dismissed from the program.

Linebackers  DJ Pettaway and Tyler Hayes were both charged with second degree robbery, and Brent Calloway, an H-Back, were charged with credit card fraud.

Eddie Williams – a safety – was charged with both crimes. And things will look to get worse for Williams, who was also charged on Sunday with carrying  a gun without a license.

According to a report on ESPN’s website, Deborah Lane, associate vice president for university relations said: “UA’s judicial review has been completed. The four students involved in the robberies on campus are no longer enrolled in UA.”

Coach Nick Saban said: “Based on all the information we’ve received and going through and trying to determine the future of the four guys that got in trouble, those guys are no longer associated with the football program. Their actions do not reflect the spirit and character that we want our organization to reflect. It’s obviously very disappointing and unacceptable what happened.”

He added: “They’re not associated with the football program, that’s the way I’d put it…Some people learn by words. Some people can learn by consequences. Some people can’t learn.”

It is not known if all four players will play for other colleges again – or will go to jail.

Alarmingly, Calloway tried to defend himself over Twitter about the event.

 

Six reasons why Jadeveon Clowney WON’T to sit out 2013

Many congratulations, Tom Sorenson. You wrote an article about why Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the 2013 season, and you set yourself alight in the Twittersvere, the Facebookvere, and certainly, in the SEC.

In his article, Sorenson basically said that he should sit out South Carolina’s 2013 season, because a) if it was any other sport, he’d be professional by now, and b) if he gets injured, he’ll cheat himself out of a big-time NFL contract, that’s definitely going to come to him in the draft of 2014.

The reason why he’s got to play three years is the fact that the NFL’s rule “stipulates that a player must be at least three years removed from high school before he’s eligible for the draft.

Let’s be honest, I don’t expect Jadeveon Clowney to sit out the 2013 season because of ‘forward-thinking money issues’. Moreover,  I don’t expect Steve Spurrier to say: “Hey Jadeveon, you’ve done really well for the last two years. Please – as the lynchpin of our defense and our SEC Championship hopes – don’t play the next season.” And I don’t expect South Carolina fans say that, either.

Having said that, we can imagine Georgia and Florida fans certainly trying to direct Clowney that way! And don’t expect a lawyer Dawgs fan to be actively lobbying the NFL for a change to their three-year rule.

But shall we quickly get back to the point  – does anyone really expect Clowney not to play the 2013 SEC season? No. Here’s why:

1) Firstly, Clowney is still pretty raw. He’s not the perfect product. He still needs another year in the Lorenzo Ward system, and if you watch the LSU game, you’ll know that when more intelligent quarterbacks/ offensive schemers read his aggressiveness, they can pass it with screens and slants.

2) The pride thing. Clowney’s got more pride than to simply refuse to play a year.

3) The money thing. Does anyone honestly believe that NFL owners/GMs/head coaches will say: “Hey, don’t worry about the 2013 season. You were great for two years. Here’s $21m.” Or the marketing men who will make Clowney the face of the young NFL? Or the agents who will find it difficult to sell two years of Clowney rather than three.

4) The Carolina/SEC thing. South Carolina fans and boosters would be absolutely enraged with the decision. So would Steve Spurrier.

5)  The SEC thing. After all, Clowney’s become a bit of a poster boy for how the SEC dominates other conferences. I wish I was the marketing guy at the SEC. I would do a film of Clowney’s tackle against Michigan and then put out this script: “Welcome to SEC country, other conferences.” They certainly don’t want Clowney to be a poster boy for sitting out to save his money.

6) The precedent thing. Should Clowney sit out, this could well trigger a precedent in college football, where players who believe that they are good enough to only play two years in college and go to the pros sit out their third year with the line: “I just don’t want to get injured”. It would then become bad for college football – and the game itself.

 

One of the ‘Alabama accused’ tweets his defense

Brent Calloway, one of the ‘Alabama Accused’, has defended himself on Twitter.

The linebacker, charged of credit card fraud by Alabama police, tweeted his defense to Cardinals catcher Kyle Lamb:

 “First it wasn’t a credit card and 2 I wasn’t even awake during the robbery you don’t kno what happened so dont try me dude”.

In essence, Calloway is denying that he and his friends used a credit card (in fact, it probably wasn’t a credit card but an Alabama student card that students put money on and then they can insert it into a candy machine and get snacks from it) and has added that he wasn’t awake when the robbery happened.

Interestingly enough, Calloway isn’t being charged – or accused – of the battery that took place. That’s being blamed on Eddie Williams, TJ Pettaway and Tyler Hayes.

All four players have been suspended by coach Nick Saban.

 

Four Alabama players arrested, suspended

Four Alabama Crimson Tide freshman football players have been arrested on robbery and credit card fraud charges.

Linebackers  DJ Pettaway and Tyler Hayes were both charged with second degree robbery, and Brent Calloway, an H-Back, were charged with credit card fraud.

Eddie Williams – a safety – was charged with both crimes. And things will look to get worse for Williams, who was also charged on Sunday with carrying  a gun without a license.

All four players have been indefinitely suspended, said Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Saban told a press conference: “The young men charged are indefinitely suspended as we continue to gather information and talk to the appropriate people.”

According to The Tuscaloosa News, Pettaway, Hayes and Williams assaulted a student and “victim’s backpack, which contained his Apple laptop computer.

Then, Williams punched another student in the face and “stole the student’s wallet and later used his student identification card to buy snacks from a vending machine in the football player’s dorm.”

In other words, this wasn’t just an isolated assault -which would be bad enough – this was a rampage.

Here are the faces of the players. 

SB Nation has noted that if convicted, the charges go from two to 20 years.

Williams was a five-star recruit, and Hayes, Calloway and Pettaway were all four-star recruits. All of them had some playing time during Alabama’s 2012-3 National Championship Season.

Interestingly, Nick Saban has always noted that Alabama has had a great relationship with the Tuscaloosa police and City authority figures since 2008. According to a source, Alabama has always had Tuscaloosa police visiting practice and increasing relationships with the players.

Most intriguing SEC players at the NFL Combine

To any outsider, you now understand why most good high school players want a chance to prove themselves at the SEC.

If you’re good – and good enough to go pro – then you might get invited to the NFL Combine. 74 SEC players were asked to come.

Thanks to Gamedayr for the list, without which this article wouldn’t have made it up here.

Alabama (10)

  • Quinton Dial, DE
  • DJ Fluker, OT
  • Nico Johnson, ILB
  • Barrett Jones, OL
  • Eddie Lacy, RB
  • Robert Lester, FS
  • Dee Milliner, CB
  • Damion Square, DE
  • Chance Warmack, OG
  • Jesse Williams, DT
MOST INTRIGUING: Eddie Lacy could be seen as the next Trent Richardson – particularly if he performs as well as he did in the SEC Championship Game, where he took the ball over. We’re also going to be intrigued by Barrett Jones (who could well be one of the steals of the draft at center when he gets picked), as well wondering whether the injuries that Jesse Williams was carrying at the end of the year will raise questions amongst NFL GMs.

Arkansas (6)

  • Alvin Bailey, OG
  • Dylan Breeding, P
  • Knile Davis, RB
  • Chris Gragg, TE
  • Cobi Hamilton, WR
  • Tyler Wilson, QB
MOST INTRIGUING: Knile Davis has a lot to make up for after a poor 2012 (actually, that goes for a lot of the Arkansas players, if we’re honest), and Tyler Wilson’s going to have a lot asked about his leadership skills – particularly as he didn’t excite anybody at the Senior Bowl.

Auburn (3)

  • Corey Lemonier, DE
  • Phillip Lutzenkirchen, TE
  • Onterio McCalebb, RB
MOST INTRIGUING: McCalebb’s been a real playmaker throughout his years at Auburn. Can he show it off at Combine level? Lutzenkirchen can expect a lot of injury questions.

Florida (10)

  • Jon Bostic, ILB
  • Matt Elam, FS
  • Josh Evans, FS
  • Sharrif Floyd, DT
  • Mike Gillislee, RB
  • Jelani Jenkins, LB
  • Lerentee McCray, OLB
  • Xavier Nixon, OT
  • Jordan Reed, TE
  • Caleb Sturgis, K
MOST INTRIGUING: How many can we pick? Most of the players are extremely athletic, but expect Matt Elam to rocket up in people’s estimation if he has an incredible Combine. He’s the best safety in the draft, after all. 

Georgia (11)

  • Marlon Brown, WR
  • Sanders Commings, CB
  • Kwame Geathers, NT
  • John Jenkins, DT
  • Abry Jones, DE
  • Jarvis Jones, OLB
  • Tavarres King, WR
  • Alec Ogletree, ILB
  • Bacarri Rambo, SS
  • Cornelius Washington, OLB
  • Shawn Williams, SS
MOST INTRIGUING: Jarvis Jones might need an exceptional combine to stop his slide down the pecking order after questions are starting to get asked about his ability to block the run. There will be also questions from GMs about his spine – although after a relatively injury-free SEC season, should there be any questions? Also, expect Rambo and Ogletree to raise some eyebrows about their characters.

Kentucky (1)

  • Larry Warford, OG
MOST INTRIGUING: Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Warford isn’t considered to be a first round pick, so a good Combine could at least get him on the radar – unlikely though it is.

LSU (13)

  • Lavar Edwards, DE
  • Chris Faulk, OT
  • Michael Ford, RB
  • Bennie Logan, DT
  • PJ Lonergan, C
  • Tyrann Mathieu, DB
  • Barkevious Mingo, DE
  • Kevin Minter, ILB
  • Sam Montgomery, DE
  • Eric Reid, FS
  • Tharold Simon, CB
  • Spencer Ware, RB
  • Brad Wing, P
MOST INTRIGUING: Easy. Mathieu. Yes, we know that he’s been out of the game for a year. But the kid was a gamechanger in 2011, and don’t think the GMs have forgotten. And staying with Patrick Peterson’s family in Florida might just have saved his professional life. We can’t wait to see what the scouts say about him in Indianapolis.

Mississippi State (3)

  • Johnthan Banks, CB
  • Josh Boyd, DT
  • Darius Slay, CB
MOST INTRIGUING: Banks. He was a shutdown corner for MSU this season, and it wasn’t his fault that their season collapsed. He’s a projected first rounder, and we can’t wait for him to move up the pecking order after a good Combine.
Missouri
  • Zaviar Gooden, OLB
  • TJ Moe, WR
  • Sheldon Richardson, DT
MOST INTRIGUING: TJ Moe. If his SEC Media Day was anything to go by, anyway.

South Carolina (7)

  • Justice Cunningham, TE
  • DeVonte Holloman, OLB
  • TJ Johnson, C
  • Marcus Lattimore, RB
  • Ace Sanders, WR
  • DJ Swearinger, SS
  • Devin Taylor, DE
MOST INTRIGUING: Marcus Lattimore because of his knee, Ace Sanders because of his pure speed. Everyone in the college football world will be praying Lattimore gets through Indianapolis unscathed. Every little victory, and all that.

Tennessee (5)

  • Tyler Bray, QB
  • Justin Hunter, WR
  • Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
  • Mychal Rivera, TE
  • Dallas Thomas, OT
MOST INTRIGUING: Everyone’s talking about Patterson being the No.1 receiver in the draft, and after his 2012, this is no surprise. We hope that he’ll prove himself at the Combine.

Texas A&M (6)

  • Luke Joeckel, OT
  • Christine Michael, RB
  • Damontre Moore, DE
  • Sean Porter, OLB
  • Jonathan Stewart, ILB
  • Ryan Swope, WR
MOST INTRIGUING: Swope because he might be a bit slow and people will make some dumb comments (when those who have actually watched Texas A&M this season will know that Swope was one of the most sure-handed receivers in college football). Oh, and Demontre Moore because some people are talking about him being a potential No.1 pick. Him and Joeckel, anyway.

Vanderbilt (1)

  • Zac Stacy, RB
MOST INTRIGUING: Obviously – with only one player – Stacy. But guys, don’t look down on Stacy. Stacy broke records at Vanderbilt, and he was definitely dangerous against SEC opposition, too. What could a good combine do?

 

National Signing Day (SEC East): Florida rules, but Georgia, do we have a problem?

There might have been a lot of headlines out west about the National Signing Day classes that Alabama and Ole Miss put together, but guess what? Florida’s was pretty darned amazing. Will Muschamp has the reputation as one of the best recruiters in the land, and he proved it with an excellent class. However, there are some deep questions about Georgia to answer, folks…

CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP! THE MUSCHAMP EFFECT

Among other thoughts from UF brass, Will Muschamp was hired to Florida for two reasons: 1) He’s a great defensive coach 2) He’s a great recruiter. After a fantastic 2012-3 season (marred slightly by an ignominious loss to Louisville), Florida needed to add some more depth on both sides of the ball, and by God, did they do it.

First of all, there’s a lot of love for Vernon Hargreaves, who stayed in-state to play for the Gators. People are using the words “lock-down corner” about him, so there’s room to get excited, Gators fans. Also helping Hargreaves in the secondary will be Keanu Neal (Replacements or Point Break, movie fans?!) and Marcell Harris, who will try and fill the hole left by Matt Elam (if that’s at all possible). He also brought in Caleb Brantley, Daniel McMillan and the amazingly-named Alex Anzalone (who opted for Florida sun rather than Notre Dame cold). You’ve guessed it, folks. Muschamp’s Gators are going to be STACKED in defense, if all goes to plan.

But let’s be honest, the Gators were poor on the other side of the ball last year, but the pick-up of highly-touted running back Kelvin Taylor (as well as RB Adam Lane), wide receivers Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey and Marqui Hawkins, and QB Max Staver is going to give Muschamp’s offense some speed.

WHAT’S HAPPENED TO GEORGIA?

The Great State of Georgia must have too much talent in its high schools to all attend the University of Georgia to go around, because the Dawgs signed 32 recruits, had a top-10 class, and STILL people are grousing. Can Mark Richt not win in Athens?

After the departure of Baccari Rambo to the NFL, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on corner Shaq Wiggins and safety Tray Matthews to show if they can feasible replacements. Alex Ogletree’s gone too, but Johnny O’Neal and Tim Kimborough will be asked to do the job.

On the other side of the ball, the decision by QB/offensive God Aaron Murray to stay hasn’t darkened the heart of Brice Ramsey, who spurned Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss and Ohio State to stay in-state and become a dawg. Let’s hope he behaves himself.

But there’s still annoyance from the Georgia sidelines – even internally. Offensive lineman Chris Burnette tweeted: “Dang why everybody leaving the state?” Maybe that was a call to recruits, or maybe that was a cry of despair. Georgia fans are still annoyed that Derrick Henry decided to go to Alabama, and were even more annoyed on National Signing Day after Montravius Adams decided on Auburn and Laramey Tunsil went to Ole Miss to be with Robert Nkemdiche – who also comes from Georgia. Have we finished? Reuben Foster (Bama), Matthew Thomas (Florida State – although he was pursued hard by Miami), and Alvin Kamara (Bama) apparently all looked at Athens before going to their SEC foes (apart from Thomas, obviously).

For us the big thing that’s hurting Georgia (and despite a Top 10 class, this is a step down from back-to-back great NSD years for the Dawgs) is the status of defensive co-ordinator Todd Grantham, who’s being considered for NFL jobs as we speak, and there’s no certainly he’ll stay, despite what Mark Richt says. Although we’ve got our reservations about Grantham coaching at the next level (UGA’s ‘D’ this season despite its talent was a disappointment, we believe), NFL coaches don’t. And they know better than this mere blog.

SPURRIER SOLID IN SOUTH CAROLINA

We believe that Jadeveon Clowney should have been used more as a recruiting tool. South Carolina should have said: “Come play for us. If you’re good enough this year, you’ll play on the D-Line with THIS GUY this year, and it’s going to be some fun.” It didn’t, and Carolina had a pretty uneventful year. It’s weird, because despite another excellent year for USC, South Carolina fans believe that not going to the SEC Championship Game was yet another disappointment for them. That’s the Spurrier effect, right?

Anyway, Carolina needed some running backs after the departure of Marcus Lattimore (he goes with everyone in college football’s blessing) and they got them in David Williams and Jamari Smith. Both of them will battle Mike Davis for the starting job now Kenny Miles has gone, too. The Connor Shaw/Dylan Thompson forced experiment at QB was a resounding success for the visor, but getting Conor Mitch won’t hurt Gamecocks fans, either. Don’t be shocked if Shaw doesn’t start on Game 1 because of his foot injury after foot surgery, but Thompson’s so capable that Mitch will just have to wait a while. The departure of punt returning ace Ace Sanders to the draft will mean that more pressure will be heaped on Bruce Ellington to perform, but he’ll have the added help of Jasper Sasser. They could have done with another receiver, though. DJ Park, Alan Knott, J.P. Vonashek and Na’Ty Rogers will provide much-needed cover on the offensive line, which is looking a little thin suddenly, according to this depth chart.

On the other side of the ball, Clowney can’t do everything. DT Kelsey Griffin – offered by both Florida and Georgia – opted to play in Columbia – and could immediately fight Kelcy Quarles for a starting job (albeit unlikely). Linebackers Larenz Bryant, David Johnson and Skai Moor could also start immediately with the lack of depth at the position for the ‘Cocks, but this is a really solid class by The Visor.

JAMES FRANKLIN – UNDERCOVER HERO?

There is no doubt that James Franklin’s got one of the most difficult jobs in the SEC. It’s not the fact that Vanderbilt is historically seen as a joke by the SEC schools because of a) it’s horrible record and b) the fact that no-one really goes to games so it’s the perfect away-day for visiting fans, but it’s the fact that Vanderbilt’s academic standards are higher than most in college football.

But we love Franklin. We love his energy, we love his outspokenness (I mean, who else would ‘accidentally’ call Nick Saban ‘Nick Satan’  live on videoed banquet – and then call and apologise?), and we love that he’s bringing Vanderbilt from an also-ran/SEC carpet into something that vies for bowl games (they’ve made two in two years, folks!).

Anyway, the Commodores will be hoping that the big upside that people were talking about with WR Jordan Cunningham will come to fruition, as well as DeAndre Woods and Carlos Burse. They should partner Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause in the wide receiver position. And now that Jordan Rodgers has graduated (we wish him luck), new arrivals Chad Kanoff and Johnathon McCrary will battle it out with Austyn Carta-Samuels and Paton Robinette to see who’s going to throw the ball to them. Brandon Vandenberg at tight end will also provide some much-needed pass protection, although Vanderbilt’s offensive line has got a lot of experience already.

Running the ball, Raphael Webb will help to fill the hole left by much-loved running back Zak Stacy – even though the ‘Dores are pretty set in that position (expect Webb to redshirt, folks!).

Defensively, Jay Woods and Landon Stokes could start immediately if they impress as much as they did recruiters. Woods spurned offers from Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss to play for Vandy, while Stokes ignored Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Clemson to play in the SEC East.

THE NON-SIGNING HIGHLIGHTS TENNESSEE DAY

It’s not been a great 12-14 months for Tennessee. After being touted as a possible winner of the SEC East, Tennessee then proceeded to fail to make a bowl, and promptly fired Derek Dooley. They then lost Cordarelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, DA’ Rick Rogers and QB Tyler Bray to the draft, hired Butch Jones from Cincinnati, and then announced that they were $240m in debt- which is sad but unsurprising if you consider the lack of success at Neyland Stadium in recent years. Anyway, it was all capped off by National Signing Day, where the Twitter-verse exploded with news that Newfound Savior of the Tennessee Defense Vonn Bell had signed for Tennessee. Immediately, tweets were sent out abusing Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes, proclaiming Tennessee was back, and touting SEC dominance. Well, Bell announced that he was actually going to bring his talents to Ohio State. And more sickeningly than that, Bell’s a self-proclaimed UT fan.

Tennessee will lose a lot of wide receiver product after the departures of Patterson, Hunter and Rogers, and Marquez North, Ryan Jenkins, (and to a lesser extent Cameron Sutton, Paul Harris and Joshua Smith) will immediately be asked to produce. Their quarterback will be Justin Worley, unless he gets overtaken in the Spring by Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs (although Dobbs can also play DT). On the running front, Jabo Lee is the only running back brought in by Jones – so expect a bit of ‘Air Former Bearcat’ in Neyland this year. Offensive tackle Austin Sanders has been added for some solidity.

On the other side of the ball, Corey Vereen and Jaylen Miller add some defensive depth to the Vols, who desperately need it. However, the Vols were killed by turnovers last year, and if they managed to cut those out, you never know. Jones has made silver purses out of sow’s ears before.

A YEAR AFTER THE NATION’S TOP RECRUIT, WHAT NOW FOR MIZZOU?

Missouri’s 2012/3 season wasn’t so much a disappointment as it was a brutal introduction to life in the SEC. Although they won their first SECs game in their history by beating Kentucky and Tennessee in back-t0-back SEC games, much was expected of Dorial Green-Beckham, but he really did nothing until the Tennessee game apart from get arrested. We can’t wait to see the fruits of the nation’s former No.1 recruit in 2013- this should be fun. After the graduation of TJ Moe, we expect Gary Pinkel to give DGB a ton more catching time – if he doesn’t get arrested again.

Anyway, Missouri’s class of 20 in 2013 underwhelmed many (they are 38th in ESPN’s Top 40 – last in the SEC), but it didn’t seem to have a problem keeping talent in-state, with four-star players Chase Abbington, LB Eric Beisel and RB Anthony Sherrils all deciding to play in yellow and black. They also beat Ole Miss, Cal and a host of Big Ten schools to defensive tackle Josh Augusta, who’s a man mountain.

And while Dorial Green-Beckham will expect to receive passes from James Franklin or Corbin Berkstresser this season, adding Trent Hostick and Eddie Printz could liven up the battle for the QB position.

OH, AND KENTUCKY….

Mark Stoops has arrived, and while we don’t expect miracles immediately for the Wildcats, it was pleasing to see that Kentucky wasn’t the worst team in the SEC from a recruiting point of view.

From Wildcats’ fans point of view, Stoops well-known recruiting excellence was highlighted when he managed to persuade Louisville native DE Jason Hatcher to stay in-state instead of playing for Southern California (although it helped UK’s cause that Monte Kiffin decided to leave LA, too!). Also coming in from on the DE side is juco Za’Darius Smith, who was also recruited by Texas A&M, Florida State, Texas, Auburn and Ole Miss, which is going to help immensely on a team that hasn’t really recovered from the loss of leaders Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy before last season. Four-star Jaleel Hytchye (that last name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?), who was recruited by a number of schools nationwide, will help the Wildcats at cornerback, too.

On the offensive side (and let’s face it, Kentucky needed help EVERYWHERE last year), Juco WR Javess Blue is seen as being a real pick-up by Stoops and the gang. Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Arizona State and West Virginia certainly thought his speed and playmaking ability would be an addition to the team – they all offered him. Running back Jojo Kemp may well see time at running back, particularly if he can impress in the Spring. Kentucky’s not exactly deep – or strong – at that position.

National Signing Day Round-Up (SEC West): Ole Miss rules, but Alabama’s excellence shines

This year was yet another banner year for SEC recruiting, with every side

A year ago, you would say that there was no way on God’s green earth that Ole Miss would have had a recruiting day like this one. But Hugh Freeze took over, took the team to an excellent year which included breaking a SEC losing streak, beating your biggest rival, taking LSU, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M to the last second, and thundering through a bowl game – as favorites.

HUGH FREEZE FRIES IT UP IN OXFORD

Well, there seems to be some belief about the Ole Miss program, because No.1 player in the nation – defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, plus highly-touted offensive tackle Laremie Tunsil, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and Antonio Conner, all decided that they would like to play for the Rebels.

Why? We ask. The Twittersvere has sniped about Ole Miss putting dollars in players pockets, but we think it’s a factor of four things: Firstly, Freeze is a great recruiter and a great coach – see Ole Miss’ 2012 season. Secondly, Nkemdiche’s decision to go to Ole Miss – and the fact that the top players all visited Oxford on the same weekend – meant that they would “all play together”. They probably had a lot of “imagine what we could do for this school” conversations. Thirdly, there’s the Alabama factor: They probably wouldn’t have gotten the playing time as freshmen at Alabama, and there would be far more competition for a starting job. You can guarantee that all these players – bar injury, arrest or disastrous spring practices – will start for Ole Miss’ 2013 team. And fourthly, this is the SEC . They didn’t want to go anywhere else, and making a difference to a program like Ole Miss (which let’s fact, has been long-suffering) is bigger news that making a difference to team like Alabama or LSU, who have won National Championships recently.

ALABAMA SLAMMERS

As predicted, one of the best recruiters in the country, Nick Saban, put together probably the best recruiting group of the year…again. The draw of National Championships, the fact that Saban’s players win Championships and – particularly on the defensive side- go on to riches in the NFL, and the fact that Saban’s one of the best coaches in the country simply can’t be argued with. The ‘why would you want to go somewhere else?” argument crops up, and recruits simply nod their head and say: “You’re right”.

What’s interesting about these recruits is that while only one them (running back Derrick Henry) are five-star athletes, the rest of them are solid four-star players, and we like Dee Liner (great name!), Tim Williams and Jonathan Allen. They also stole DT A’Shawn Robinson from Texas, too, who was a long-time Longhorns recruit. Add in wide receiver Robert Foster, and another stablemate for T.J. Yeldon in Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Altee Halfpenny and here’s the news: The Crimson Tide are absolutely loaded. It’s frightening.

LES MILES REBUILDING?

The off-season wasn’t kind for Les Miles’ team. If you were a junior, you had a chance at going pro and you played in purple and gold, it seemed as though you’d walk. It’s weird, because a bunch of the players of this year’s Tigers team would probably have benefitted from another year in college, but that’s just our opinion.

Anyway, LSU picked up defensive athlete Kendall Beckwith, two quarterbacks in Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings (which provides cover and competition for Zach Mettenberg), and four-star cornerback Jeryl Brazil, who – if he’s good enough – could start immediately after Eric Reid walked. The offensive line, which is going to need a little beefing up after a pretty poor 2012, will be helped by Ethan Pocic, who was offered by almost of LSU’s SEC rivals.

TEXAS AM-AZING?

If Ole Miss’ 2012 was great, Texas A&M’s 2012 was out of this world. Finished by drubbing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, the Aggies also beat Alabama and should have beaten both LSU and Florida. Johnny Manziel won a nickname and a Heisman, and suddenly College Station was the place in Texas players wanted to be – not Austin.

Anyway, after the departure of sure-handed wide receiver Ryan Swope to the NFL draft (personally, he was the SEC’s best out-going WR last year, and should go and play with Ryan Tannehill at Miami if the ‘Fins have any sense (they won’t, and will instead go for Justin Hunter!), the signing of Ricky Seals-Jones and Sebastian LaRue is definitely going to help. Let’s hope they’re as good as their rankings promise, eh? Oh, and to back up Manziel, I really, really like the signing of Kenny Hill, a QB out of Southlake, TX. We were privileged to go and see him on the first game of the Texas high school football season, and all we could think was: “This kid’s got an arm and legs, folks”. He is the next Johnny Football, if given the chance. Check out what A&M fans think of him. There’s also a lot of love for Kohl Stewart, a QB who was also signed, but will he simply go and play baseball (Hill’s also like that, but if Kohl goes, he could decide to stay and start after Manziel graduates/leaves early for the NFL).

Sumlin sure signed a lot of players in this round of recruiting – 34.

AUBURN’S SOLID

The Lord did not listen to Gene Chizik or Mrs Chizik about Auburn’s 2012, and Mr Chizik was booted, and replaced by offensive co-ordinator supremo Gus Malzahn.

Under a lot of people’s noses, he stacked up the defense, picking up DEs Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel, DTs Montravious Adams, and Ben Bradley (JC), and linebacker Cameron Toney, who was also offered by Alabama and LSU.

Offensively, the Tigers were also goddawful, but the signing of QBs Jeremy Johnson- who could well start with the lack of a good QB in Auburn’s system at the moment (Clay Travis in his pre-season QB rankings for last season said that ‘air’ was better than Kiehl Frazier – and he proved to be right). Auburn fans are also hoping that the character resurrection Malzahn helped with Cam Newton will also help for  former Georgia QB Nick Marshall, who was booted out of Athens after a ‘violation of team rules’ (see: stealing money ). If this works, Marshall could be an incredible asset. If not, he could be an incredible pain and the next Michael Dyer for Tigers fans. Wide receivers wise, we like the picks of Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker, which will give some kind of receiving talent to Auburn. Oh, and Peyton Barber, who also visited Tennessee and Ole Miss, opted to play in Auburn.

MISSISSIPPI ROLL? 

It’s funny, Mississippi State stole the headlines the day before Signing Day, and their hated rival stole the headlines ON Signing Day. WR Chad Bumphis stunned/told everyone what they already knew when he told recruits on Twitter on February 5th: “With NSD near, recruits listen. DON’T go with the money! After its gone ur stuck at a place you probably don’t even like for 3-5 years!” We all started wondering who he was talking about….

Anyway, Mississippi State still managed to get a class of 24 together, including a stablemate for Bumphis in Chad Ross and Jeremey Chappelle from juco. Defensively, they improved immediately (if this works out!) with defensive end Chris Jones and athlete Ashton Shumpert. Our big question with Ashton: Will he be able to dunk as will as Iman in Madison Square Garden?

The problem for Dan Mullen on National Signing Day is that automatically he’s going to get it in the ear from the Cowbellers. They’re furious that Ole Miss has put together an immense class (on paper), and they’re still furious about losing to Ole Miss – and Northwestern. If you don’t believe us, we think Mullen’s on the hot seat already. Sorry, Dan.

ARKANSAS=MAD

The term ‘Hog Wild’ is a great term, but after hearing Arkansas’ recruiting story today, we’ll just go with “Wild”. The nuttiest story was around recruit Alex Collins, who saw his own mother confiscate her son’s recruiting papers on accounts that she’d rather he stayed in native Florida (ie Miami) rather than go to Arkansas. True, it’s a hell of a trip to Fayetteville. Is it up there with Petrino’s motorcycle exploits, or John L. Smith’s press conferences? No, but it’s still pretty wild. Bret Bielma will be praying that the issue with the big-time running back will be sorted soon.

Anyway, after a slow recruiting season (funny what happens when your team has an interim head coach and your team is a major disappointment), Bielma showed that he can recruit – and recruit fast. Local boys Hunter Henry (TE), QB Austin Allen, LBs Brooks Ellis and Martrell Spaight all opted to stay in-state, and he beat ‘The U’ to offensive tackle Devon Kirkland , too.

Look, it’s not a fantastic class, but it’s one that Bielma can grow – especially with Allen, who may well start if Brandon Mitchell proves to be a poor replacement for the much-missed Tyler Wilson.