Vanderbilt Archives

Was Ole Miss 2013 recruiting class worth the money?

If Ole Miss is found out more guilty than imposing losses of double-digit football scholarships between 2015-18 (inclusive), then let’s be honest: This team has certainly been worth the money.

Under Hugh Freeze’s tutelage, which started in 2012 (although 2013 was the first class), Ole Miss brought in one of the greatest recruiting classes ever assembled in Rebs’ history in 2013, including DT Robert Nkemdiche, O-Lineman Laremy Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell, and S Tony Conner. 3 out of 4 of those assembled players went in the NFL first round, and Conner’s still in school after suffering injuries.

Saw three players not only go to the NFL, but go in the first. Treadwell grabbed the headlines for the right reasons (coming back from injury etc etc etc), while Tunsil’s gasmask and the thoughts that Nkemdiche might be out of mind were also slightly “unusual”. OK, they weren’t great.

On the field, the recruiting class that Freeze put together:

  • Owns a two-game winning stream over Alabama (the longest current winning streak over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide).
  • Has beaten Mississippi State in back-to-back Egg Bowls.
  • Has beaten LSU 2 out of the last three games.
  • The only team they never solved in the SEC was Auburn, who has beaten them 2 out of the last 3 years (but not in 2015).
  • Finished with an continually-improving 27-12, The record improved incrementally year-on-year. And in the SEC over the course of that time, they went 14-12. The last Ole Miss coach finished with a winnning SEC record was David Cutcliffe.

And it’s not over yet. But Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche leaving are going to be massive, massive losses.

But we can say this for certain: Ole Miss definitely got what it paid for.

Roll Tide Out? Top Alabama Player Arrested

Top Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson was arrested on felony weapons charges alongside teammate Laurence “Hootie” Jones” – a safety in the early hours of Tuesday morning, adding another name to what has been a horrible offseason for Nick Saban and his Alabama program.

6-6, 325lb junior Robinson and Jones were charged with possession of a stolen firearm, as well as misdemeanour drug possession and carrying a weapon in the presence of narcotics.

The incident happened after an officer approached a car containing Robinson and Jones. There was a smell of marijuana in the car and a handgun was spotted, and after a search of the car and other gun was found, ESPN reported.

“We are aware of the situation involving Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson and are in the process of gathering facts to determine what internal action needs to be taken,” said Saban in a statement.

Shockingly for an arrest involving handguns and ‘narcotics’, the bail bond was only set at $750.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?

First of all: We don’t know what the handgun was. If it was a BB Gun, then it’s better than a Magnum .44. Was that the reason why the bond was so low at $750?

Secondly: How stupid do you want to be? You’re one year for playing for many, many millions in the NFL because you’re probably the best at your position. All you had to do one off-season was sit there and play FIFA or Madden. And do nothing else. No gasmasks, no visits from girls that you no idea what age they are, nothing. Hey, maybe you could get ahead on your studies and learn to, you know, read.

Thirdly: It will be an indictment of Saban – who only recently kicked off O-Lineman Charles Baldwin – if he keeps Robinson on the program. Guns and drugs are the sort of thing that would get ANY player booted off a team, right? Listen, he’s probably NOT going to get booted, but Alabama may well be without a starting tackle for 6 games. We’re sure Saban’s language wasn’t pretty when he heard about the incident. This will affect Alabama at the start of the season. Thank God they don’t start with an evil schedule.

Fourthly (And whisper this): Better weed than a crack pipe.

 

Saban tops CBS Top 25 College Football Coaches Poll

This isn’t the most surprising news in the world, but Nick Saban’s just topped the CBS Sports Top 25 College Football Coaches Poll.

The Alabama coach beat Ohio State’s Urban Meyer to the No.1 spot, with TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio rounding out the Top 5.

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, LSU’s Les Miles, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Stanford’s David Shaw and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh rounded out the Top 10.

 

Other SEC coaches include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (13), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) (21), and Bret Bielema (Arkansas) (22).

The whole poll is here.

Alabama defensive line coach and top recruiter expected to leave

Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis is expected to leave or resign due to possible recruiting violations, the Tuscaloosa News has reported. 

Apparently Davis was being looked into not only internally but also by the NCAA into the possible transgressions. It is not known which players he was recruiting at the time that the possible transgressions took place.

If Davis left, it wouldn’t be his first departure from Alabama. Davis was hired in 2007 then left after the 2010 season for Texas, stayed 3 years in Austin and then came back in 2014, where he has been ever since.

Both Nick Saban and players have been nothing but complimentary about their coach.

When Davis departs, it could set off a college football-wide domino effect – especially as Alabama is the biggest name in college football and would be a top spot for any top recruiter or defensive line coach.

Ed Orgeron, anybody?

 

Knoxville Police called Jones about rape investigations

A report from The Tennessean seems to show that police informed Tennessee coach Butch Jones that two of his players – AJ Johnson and Michael Williams – were being investigated for the rape of a female student.

Both Johnson and Williams were later charged.

The paper said: “The players first heard the news from their Tennessee football coaches — in Johnson’s case, four hours before police showed up at the scene of the alleged crime to question him“, quoting sources.

According to the report, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and another detective called Jones out of professional courtesy. Rausch has said that such a call in commonplace at Tennessee when there has been a potential crime involving an athlete, but has denied that such a call would tarnish an investigation — even though there are several ways in which it could do.

In this case, it gave the accused players the time to make a series of calls to each other, to potential witnesses, and to obtain lawyers, according to sources,” the paper said, adding that a representative of Knoxville Police Department called Jones at 8.40 am to alert him of the Johnson investigation. Two minutes later  – and five hours before the police arrived – Jones called Johnson.

The Tennessean added: “Rausch called Jones at 8:38 a.m. — the first of four calls between the Knoxville police chief and the head UT football coach that day. Law enforcement experts not associated with the investigation called the calls “unusual” and said they were cause for concern.”

 

Spring Game Round-Up: Florida, Auburn, South Carolina

The round-up from the first two Spring Games in the SEC are this: Florida and South Carolina seem to have their starting quarterbacks in place, and Auburn doesn’t.

GATORS CHOMPING WITH DEL RIO

Florida fans are suddenly excited that in the post-Grier and (thankfully) post-Harris world, they suddenly looked as they have a starter for 2017: Luke Del Rio. And while Del Rio is hardly a new face in college football – he walked on at Alabama, transferred to Oregon State, then transferred to Florida in 2014, where he sat out a year. He’s now a graduate, and suddenly the face of Gators football. Del Rio went 10-11 for 176 yards and 2 TDs. Sure, the defense wasn’t exactly vintage Florida, but it still made the fans in The Swamp smile.

Also making fans smile is that the Gators seem to have a good ‘un in Kyle Trask, too. The three-star freshman threw for 74 yards and looked comfortable.

NOT making fans smile was Feliepe Franks, who was much-heralded after his decision to spurn LSU to come to Gainseville. Now, it’s a bit early to start discussing transfer papers with the kid, but the fanbase was hardly in adoration of his three interception effort. That puts him at the back of the line.

AUBURN NEEDS AN OFFENSE

Listen, we know that Auburn’s got talent….on the defensive side of the ball. Bruce Feldman on the Fox Sports College Football Podcast (which is awesome, by the way), said that Auburn’s defensive front three –  led by Carl Lawson – is among the best in the nation.

But offensively, they are a struggle.

At Auburn’s A-Day it was pointed out that neither Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or new arrival Jonathan Franklin separated themselves in the scrimmage. “I’m not concerned about nobody separating themselves on a day like this,” Malzahn said in a press conference. Which might be good for Gus, but not good for Tigers fans, who – the Montgomery Advertiser noted – saw the offense have NINE three-and-outs.

Some of that was blamed at the fact that quarterbacks couldn’t be tackled, meaning that Franklin couldn’t show his considerable speed outside of the pocket. The non-tackle rule on quarterbacks also annoyed many at Oklahoma, who watched former Texas A&M QB Kyler Murray drop jaws during the Spring Game. We also think that they were disgruntled because Murray’s not going to be eligible to play until 2017, either.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S EXCITED ABOUT THEIR FRESHMEN

South Carolina fans are pretty excited about their freshmen offensive players. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain lit up the Garnet and Black Game in Columbia, throwing for 169 yards and 2 TDs. What’s also got to excite new coach Will Muschamp and Carolina fans about McIlwain – who recruited as the second-best dual-threat quarterback, according to 24-7Sports, is the fact that there were no interceptions. Devin Dingle had over 70 yards receiving on just two receptions. Bryan Edwards had two touchdowns. Suddenly, Carolina’s looking good on that side of the ball, right?

Defensively, we don’t know much about this team. We know that they were awful in 2015 at stopping people – and was the offensive contribution due to that? The writers think not. David at Garnet & Black Attack said the Defensive Line actually gives him hope for the first time in years.

The one thing we missed was Steve Spurrier, who was probably watching golf at Augusta.

 

Former Vandy player found guilty of rape

Former Vanderbilt player Corey Batey was found guilty of the aggravated rape of a woman late on Friday night.

Batey had been convicted of the rape – which happened in 2013 – in an initial trial in 2015, but the decision was overturned and he was tried again this year. He was found guilty once again this year, and immediately taken into custody.

His teammate – Brandon Vandenburg – who also had his guilty conviction turned over in 2015 – will be re-tried in June. Two others – Brandon Banks and Tip McKenzie – have all been charged but it is not known when they will be tried, the Tennessean says. All four players were booted from the Vanderbilt team when the charges emerged by then-coach James Franklin.

Batey had been charged on seven counts of aggravated rape, and was found guilty of that as well as ‘lesser’ charges of aggravated sexual battery. We would go into details, but seriously – click on the link. It’s grotesque. Especially when you think that the woman that Batey did it to was unconscious at the time.

Batey’s lawyer, Courtney Teasley blamed the fact that he had been drinking and said that he had no memory of the incident, and then blamed Vandenburg for orchestrating the event, even calling him a “puppet master”. She pleaded leniency to the jury, who ignored her pleas.

Batey could be sentenced for 15-25 years. As could Vandenburg, Banks and McKenzie.

In the first trial, James Franklin – the then-coach at Vandy – testified at the first trial that he had originally told players that he had seen the video, but then – through his attorney – confessed that that was a lie. Franklin is now the head coach at Penn State.

 

NCAA bans Satellite Camps

wThe SEC and four other major conferences have voted against the idea of having satellite camps, securing dominance in some of the biggest recruiting lands in the USA.

The SEC, Big XII, Pac-12 and ACC all voted against the idea of the camps, which would see colleges be able to spread their wings to other states than their own in an effort to expand their footprint – like Michigan proposed doing with their satellite camp idea, which was going to host high school players around the states.

The new rule will not allow FBS schools to conduct camps ANYWHERE other than their “school facilities or facilities reguarly used for competition”, according to the Seattle Times.

The SEC wants to ensure the recruiting strongholds of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas are all focused towards them, while the Big XII also wants to make sure Texas will be virtually ‘safe’ from the recruiting attacks of a Michigan or Ohio State, as both schools look south to gain their advantages. The ACC keeps Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida and Virginia to themselves, while the Pac-12 keeps California.

A satellite camp by Michigan – and ones following up by an Ohio State would have hurt their strongholds – regardless of what the teams would have said.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said at a press conference: “”I’m really not even thinking that it has that much value. What would be a more interesting question for you to research — and I can’t answer this — the teams that have done them, what value does it serve? How many players did they get? They had some players commit to them and some of those players decommitted, and I know they even wanted to drop some of those players when they found out they could get better players.”

He added: “”If everybody has a satellite camp, every player will have 62 camps to go to,” he said. “I don’t know how that works. The way it is right now if a player is interested and comes to your camp, he gets to see your campus, he gets to meet players, gets to work with your coaches a little bit more because he’s in your camp at your place. I think there’s a lot of value.”

Of course, you’d argue that if Michigan and Ohio State – and other B1G schools like Penn State and Maryland DID set up satellite camps – someone like Saban – would grudgingly get involved with an arms race….and probably win it. So would 13 other SEC schools, who have more money than any other conferences.

There has been the argument that the people who lose out on the satellite battle are the players – according to two Alabama high schools (Bob Jones and Prattville) that would have hosted Michigan camps. “Well, obviously it’s disappointing for us,” said Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose. “Because I thought it was a great opportunity for kids in north Alabama to get some exposure in front of the Michigan coaching staff. Maybe get an opportunity to earn a scholarship.” One of Bob Jones’ most famous recent alumnus is Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, who’s almost certainly going to be a Top 10 pick in this year’s NFL draft. Prattville had 13 players on Division 1-A rosters in 2015.

Who will win the SEC West QB battles?

Here are the QB battles from each of the SEC teams – even when they’re unwarranted (we see you, Ole Miss) before spring practices begins on March 1st.

Alabama

Blake Barnett vs Cooper Bateman vs David Cornwell 

The biggest conversation in college football will be about the Crimson Tide’s quarterback battle, and Barnett’s the big favorite to win it. He’s got the arm, and according to former QB Greg McElroy, played well on the scout team. Bateman’s speed gives the Tide options, too. Whatever happens, Lane Kiffin’s going to turn this QB into something special. Call him the QB whisperer.

Projected Winner: Barnett

Auburn

Jeremy Johnson vs Sean White vs Woody Barrett vs John Franklin III

After an awful quarterbacking season for Gus Malzahn’s quarterbacks, it’s not surprising when the head coach has said the competition is “wide open.” Frankly, we think that Johnson will get another chance to start, although Franklin’s track speed (he runs a 4.38 40) could be something to watch out for. Certainly he thinks so: “I feel like my speed alone seperates me from a lot of quarterbacks. The fact I have a cannon and can throw the ball a mile because I’ve been playing baseball all my life really helps, so I feel I’m the true definition of a dual-threat quarterback.” So he’s humble, too.

Projected Winner: Johnson

Arkansas 

Austin Allen vs Rafe Peavy vs Ty Storey vs Ricky Town

This is one of the most intriguing battles – especially with the talent on offer. Allen – brother of Razorbacks starting QB Brandon – has some monster assets, including a great arm. According to Saturday Down South, he’s already drawing comparisons to former UA great Ryan Mallett (hopefully this won’t continue to his professional career!). We love the battle that’s going to go on between Allen and Town, who couldn’t get the starting job at USC so promptly came south. Town was a former Alabama commit who decided to play for the Trojans. He was a four-star recruit – the 6th-ranked pro-style QB in the country by 24-7 Sports. If the two player as a dual pair, we hope to be hearing one of our favorite Billy Joel tunes….

Projected Winner: Town

LSU

Brandon Harris vs Danny Etling

It was thought that Harris would battle himself for the LSU starting job. But now Danny Etling’s transferred from Purdue via the graduate transfer, at least the battle’s medium (it’s certainly not hot). If Harris is awful in Spring Training, Etling’s job is his to lose. And if both are awful, they could lose Les Miles his job.

Projected winner: Harris

Ole Miss

Chad Kelly vs Shea Patterson

Kelly, last season’s incumbent, was one of the best quarterbacks in college football last season, so it’ll be difficult to see if this will be so much a battle as Patterson watching to see what Kelly does and learning from him. Oh, and rookie Patterson’s a five-star recruit and will fill in nicely next year. Talk about depth, Hugh Freeze. Last year’s competitors Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade have both left the school, with Buchanan deciding to concentrate on academics and Kincade off to Grambling State.

Projected Winner: Kelly

Mississippi State

Damian Williams vs Nick Fitzgerald vs Elijah Staley vs Nick Tiano

Replacing Dak Prescott is going to be really difficult for the Cowbellers. We all know that. Williams is seen as an early favorite thanks to his 6-1, 228lb build- which according to blog “For Whom The Cowbell Tolls” – compares him more to Dak’s predecessor Chris Relf or any imposing running back out there – while Fitzgerald’s a tiny 6-5, 227lb. Staley also plays for MSU’s basketball team. The blog hints that Fitzgerald should win the job, but God knows.

Projected Winner: Williams 

Texas A&M

Nick Starkel vs Jake Hubenak

Wow. This was very different a few months ago, when we could wait for the Spring battle between Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen. Unfortunately, Jake Spavital managed to enrage both camps, and they both transferred. Sumlin’s move of getting rid of Spavital was too late. Spavital’s now at Cal, so good luck Bears. Anyway, Starkel was a three-star QB while Hubenak has the in-game experience, having played 5 games for the Aggies, including starting the bowl loss to Louisville, where he had an OK game (302 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, QB rating of 58.3). Hubenak might be the favorite in most camps because he’s got the experience, but Kevin Sumlin’s pretty good at throwing in freshmen…

Projected Winner: Hubenak

 

Jones denies Bowles allegations

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones has denied allegations that he called former wide receiver Drae Bowles a “traitor” for helping a female student who was allegedly raped by two of his Volunteers teammates.

Jones said in a statement:The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false. To the contrary, I did all I could to assist the former student in question. During the course of the judicial process, campus officials, as well as the young man’s own words, will clearly establish that I have done nothing wrong. I will fight all of these false attacks on my character, and I know that once this process has been completed, my reputation will be affirmed.

 

 

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