The most notable player to run the 40 was T.J. Yeldon. The former Alabama running back ran a 4.61 at the combine, 14th best among the running backs there. On Wednesday, he shaved nearly a tenth of a second off that time as one NFL scout clocked him in the low 4.5 range.
Yeldon also excelled in the passing drills, running routes out of the backfield. He's projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round.
The NFL scouts are out in full force for Alabama's pro day. pic.twitter.com/mwwyK2CKe3— Greg Ostendorf (@GregO_ESPN) March 11, 2015
Though no official 40 times were released, the fastest player at Alabama's pro day looked to be former wide receiver DeAndrew White, who was clocked in the low 4.4 range. He ran a 4.44 40 at last month's combine.
White isn't getting as much attention as his teammate Cooper, but Alabama coach Nick Saban believes the "underappreciated" White has a high ceiling at the next level.
"He has a lot more ability than maybe what his production maybe has been here," Saban said Wednesday. "Whether it's because of injuries or whatever that he's battled through. He's got great speed. He's got great size. He's been a great special teams player for us, and if you're not a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver on a team, you're going to have to play special teams.
"I think he's going to be a real value for somebody. They're going to get a guy who has great ability that probably could really develop into something special."
The other notable pass-catchers from Alabama's pro day included wide receiver Christion Jones, tight end Brian Vogler and even quarterback Blake Sims. That's right. Sims, who spent most of the day throwing the ball, took a turn running routes and catching passes by request from a number of NFL teams who see Sims as a running back or slot receiver at the next level.
"I'm no Amari Cooper," Sims joked afterwards. "It was kind of different. Six weeks ago I was throwing touchdowns, and now I'm running routes."
But Sims happily obliged, adding that it was just another opportunity for him to reach his dream of playing in the NFL. Still, playing quarterback remains his first choice.
In all, 17 draft-eligible Tide players participated at pro day, and that doesn't include former running back Dee Hart, who returned to Tuscaloosa to take part in the event. Hart transferred to Colorado State prior to last season.
At least five teams -- Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and South Carolina -- will be breaking in new quarterbacks, while three others -- Florida, LSU and Vanderbilt -- could potentially have new signal-callers under center thanks to intriguing quarterback battles. Then, you have Arkansas and Missouri, which must have better play at quarterback if those teams are going to make championship runs in 2015.
Ten SEC teams have some sort of serious quarterback question, but there's good news for most: There are quality running backs to help carry the load. Those backfield bulls are back to help push when quarterbacks can't. There are safety nets all around the league that could help quarterbacks needing a boost this fall.
For instance, look at Georgia. The Bulldogs return a bevy of talent on both sides of the ball, but for the second straight year will be breaking in a new starting quarterback. The difference in 2015 is that the Dawgs are dealing with both youth and inexperience. But whichever quarterback makes the final cut will have the pleasure of handing the off to Heisman Trophy candidate Nick Chubb, who might have been the SEC's best running back last year, rushing for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns with only eight starts.
Turn your attention a little southwest of Athens, and you'll find an Alabama team wondering if Jake Coker can finally take over this team or if some youngster will be thrown in the fire. The good thing about that fire is that rising junior Derrick Henry is there to fan the flames. Despite being second in carries last year (172) Henry led Alabama with 990 rushing yards and had 11 touchdowns. Like Chubb, Henry is a freight train with his 6-foot-3, 241-pound frame and track star speed. Couple that with the eventual return of home-run threat Kenyan Drake (leg) and some talented youngsters, like freshman Bo Scarbrough, and Alabama's next quarterback has quite the stable to work with and relieve some of the pressure.
Auburn is an interesting case because Nick Marshall is gone, but the more pass-savvy Jeremy Johnson is the runaway favorite at quarterback. Still, he's a new starter, and the Tigers lost SEC-leading rusher Cameron Artis-Payne (1,608 yards). Sophomore Roc Thomas has loads of potential, and junior college transfer Jovon Robinson could be a star in the making. Auburn has owned the SEC's top rusher in each of Gus Malzahn's first two years as the Tigers' head coach so don't be shocked by another dominant running game.
For Arkansas and Missouri, it's about making sure their returning starting quarterbacks are, well, better. Brandon Allen (Arkansas) and Maty Mauk (Missouri) struggled mightily at times last year and were wildly inconsistent, as neither completed better than 56 percent of his passes and both failed to average even 190 yards per game. That's not even close to good enough if either one of these teams is going to make a run in 2015.
Arkansas returns the SEC's best rushing duo in Jonathan Williams (1,190) and Alex Collins (1,100), which definitely has to have Allen smiling. Mizzou will have quite a few new faces around Mauk, but Russell Hansbrough was one of the SEC's best running backs, registering 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those numbers should go up with Marcus Murphy gone and with the likelihood that the Tigers will probably be a more run-oriented team early this fall.
Two other teams to keep an eye on are LSU and South Carolina. The Tigers have a very intriguing QB battle between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, and while LSU has to be exceedingly better at quarterback, having an older, wiser Leonard Fournette handling the rock will certainly help. Fournette didn't exactly explode onto the scene as quickly as everyone envisioned last year, but he finished with 1,034 yards and will return as a Heisman favorite. There's isn't a lot of experience behind him, but Fournette is built to be both an every-down rusher and a slasher.
South Carolina lost starting quarterback Dylan Thompson and starting running back Mike Davis, but Brandon Wilds has 1,277 career rushing yards and should be Mr. Reliable for South Carolina's new starting quarterback, which will likely by redshirt sophomore Connor Mitch. Wilds isn't elite, but he's tough and a grinder.
Even Vanderblit, which has a log-jam battle at quarterback, has a solid running back in sophomore Ralph Webb, who ran for 907 yards last year, but has to improve on his four touchdowns and 4.3 yards per carry.
On paper, the SEC has enough wealth at running back to counter the newbies and uncertainty at quarterback. These guys aren't total cures, but their play will go a long way toward shoring up those uncertain passing games.
- LSU quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are seeking atonement as they battle for the starting job down in Baton Rouge.
- Texas A&M defensive lineman Justin Manning is taking a leave of absence, but coach Kevin Sumlin expects him to be back with the team by the summer. Sumlin added that Manning, who was a top recruit in 2013, has left the team for "personal reasons."
- Jim McElwain's first spring at Florida comes with the harsh reality that the Gators are dealing with depth issues.
- John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel writes that Tennessee attrition might not be a factor by fall.
- Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson is the favorite to win the starting spot on the Plains, but he's eager to earn his position and become more of a leader.
- The recent attack on Dak Prescott and two of his Mississippi State teammates stands as a sad reminder.
- Missouri is ready to spring forward into practice, but there are still a handful of questions for the Tigers.
- Alabama coach Nick Saban wrote a letter for NFL teams endorsing former quarterback Phillip Sims, who transferred from Alabama in 2012.
Not a tweet of the day, but colleague David Ching's Instagram video of LSU's receivers showing off their fancy footwork is impressive:
Today our SEC writers take a look at some of the most intriguing quarterback battles that will take place within the conference this spring and beyond.
Alex Scarborough: Georgia
Call me crazy, but who wins the job is irrelevant. What matters is that either Jacob Park or Brice Ramsey secures the position early and sets the tone for the rest of the season, because the last thing Georgia needs is a QB controversy. There’s so much going for the offense already. There’s Nick Chubb, the only running back in college football that could make you forget Todd Gurley. There’s Malcolm Mitchell, a top talent at receiver if he can stay healthy. And there’s the O-line, which could be the best in the SEC with four starters back. So whoever starts under center will have plenty to work with. Now it’s only a matter of settling on the best option.
Chris Low: Texas A&M
There's not much drama this spring in the Texas A&M quarterback camp. It's sophomore Kyle Allen and ... well, that's it. Kenny Hill transferred after being all the rage in Aggieland to start last season, but Allen was the one who finished the season at quarterback, going 3-2 as the starter. He's got a big arm and showed uncanny presence in the pocket for a true freshman. But it would be premature to pencil in the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Allen as Texas A&M's starter in 2015. Kyler Murray is slated to be on campus this summer, and he arrives as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country -- assuming he doesn't opt for pro baseball. There's some thought that Murray could be a first-round selection in June's baseball draft. If so, he's got another big decision to make after picking Texas A&M over Texas in a fierce recruiting battle. Stay tuned because the real drama surrounding the Aggies' quarterback job will heat up this summer.
David Ching: Ole Miss
Ole Miss is intriguing not so much because of the on-field competition, but because of Chad Kelly's presence in the position battle. I suppose it’s the tabloid element of the story that interests me. Prior to his arrest following a bar fight late last year, Kelly was already viewed as a wild card because of his unceremonious exit from Clemson. Hugh Freeze stood by the junior college transfer -- Kelly led East Mississippi Community College to the NJCAA title last year, passing for 3,906 yards, 47 touchdowns and eight interceptions -- saying Kelly deserves a second chance. But can Kelly keep his act together and also outperform Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade? It will be fascinating to watch it play out.
Edward Aschoff: LSU
The Tigers are in desperate need of competent play at quarterback, and just about everyone will be keeping a close eye on Anthony Jennings vs. Brandon Harris. No one has any clue which way this one will go. You have Jennings, who basically limped his way through 2014, and Harris, who arrived as a star recruit but couldn’t stay on the field. Both have shown flashes -- maybe Harris a bit more -- but both were wildly inconsistent and have a long way to go with their development. However, if one can stand out and transform into a legitimate passing threat, LSU’s offense -- and entire team -- could be dangerous in 2015.
Greg Ostendorf: Florida
Don’t underestimate this battle. This could be a career-defining decision for Jim McElwain in just his first year at Florida. Fans are tired of subpar quarterback play, and that’s part of the reason McElwain was hired in the first place. On one side, Treon Harris came in and gave the Gators a spark last season. He’s a true dual-threat guy who has more game experience. On the other side, there’s Will Grier, the former ESPN 300 signal-caller who better fits what McElwain wants to do on offense. Both will be given an equal shot at the job, and I don’t expect a starter to be named until the fall. But what makes it so intriguing and why I think it’s the most intriguing battle in the SEC is McElwain. He has a proven track record with quarterbacks, and both Harris and Grier will benefit from his arrival. Who will benefit the most?
Sam Khan Jr.: Alabama
Alabama’s quarterback battle fascinates me in large part because of how it played out a season ago. Jake Coker transferred into the program during the offseason and before he even stepped foot on campus, there seemed to be widespread speculation that he was the successor to AJ McCarron. Then an interesting thing happened -- the battle played out, Blake Sims eventually won the job and had an impressive season. Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin were methodical in that process, so I expect that to be the case again. Coker’s certainly the favorite again this year and has the experience edge, being a senior and the only one out of the group that includes himself, Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Alec Morris to have thrown a collegiate pass. That said, he has thrown only 10 more passes against SEC competition than his competitors, so while he has an experience edge, it’s not an overwhelming one.
We'll break down seven of those battles and predict who will come out on top.
AlabamaEdward Aschoff: This is Jake Coker's last chance to prove he’s up to playing at Bama, and with a year to sit and learn under his belt, he’ll be more prepared to tackle Lane Kiffin’s offense. He’ll go from unprepared to the man this spring. Honestly, we can’t take much from what he did in very limited duty last season, so we’re having to go off hype still -- which is true about all of Bama’s quarterbacks. However, he is the only QB with a collegiate pass attempt on the roster. We’ve heard about Coker’s arm talent, and he’ll finally show it off in 2015.
Alex Scarborough: There are no frontrunners. There are no favorites. Not this time, at least. Because if we learned anything from last year's QB battle, it's that nothing can be taken for granted. So rather than going all in on Jake Coker again, I'm taking the field. And it's not that Coker isn't talented enough, because he is. But I'm not sure he's got the "it" factor. I'm not sure he can read the field and sense the pressure well enough to thwart SEC defenses. Besides, there are a number of other contenders to choose from, three of whom were top QB prospects coming out of high school.
FloridaEdward Aschoff: This is one of the league’s most intriguing battles, and I’m going with Will Grier. The redshirt freshman had to get bigger and wiser than he was as a frosh but will be front and center this spring along with Treon Harris. All we know about Grier is he had a fantastic high school career, but there are some who think he’s more suited than Harris to run Jim McElwain’s offense. Grier has a big arm, is athletic enough to make plays with his feet, and will be the more polished passer and playmaker this spring.
Sam Khan Jr.: Having experience is beneficial. Treon Harris has that with nine games and six starts under his belt. Getting thrown into the fire midseason is tough for any backup quarterback, much less a true freshman in the SEC. The grit Harris showed while stepping in for Jeff Driskel was admirable. Yes, he was far from perfect, and the stat sheet wasn’t always pretty, but he showed promise. His dual-threat ability is useful for an offense trying to find its footing.
GeorgiaEdward Aschoff: This one should be fun to watch for a team that could be a quarterback away from winning more than just the SEC East. Jacob Park was a big-time prospect last year, and with a year to sit and learn -- coupled with his athleticism -- I smell an upset. Brice Ramsey is talented and more experienced, but Park’s footwork and playmaking ability will give him a couple of advantages going forward. Park not only gives the Bulldogs another running option, but he has good poise both under center and in the shotgun and adds an impressive arm.
Chris Low: Mark Richt is on record as saying there will be an open competition at quarterback, and while the Bulldogs might not have their answer overnight, Brice Ramsey will separate himself as the clear No. 1. A redshirt sophomore, Ramsey has the edge in experience, having played in eight games last season. We've seen enough of Ramsey to know he has incredible arm strength and the confidence in that arm to use the entire field. He was up and down at times last season, but that's to be expected from a first-year backup. Ramsey fits the Dawgs' preferred mold of a pro-style passer and should be especially effective in the play-action game with defenses being so leery of Nick Chubb.
LSUDavid Ching: Honestly, I have no idea who will win this competition. I was sure it would eventually be Brandon Harris last fall and was incorrect. Harris is the more intriguing player because we haven’t seen enough of him. Anthony Jennings started 12 of 13 games last season, so we have a better idea of his capabilities and shortcomings. He’s sharp, mature, and seems like the kind of guy you want in your huddle, but Jennings is not as talented as his competitor. LSU’s offense would be more dangerous with Harris under center -- assuming he proves he is mature enough for that responsibility.
Greg Ostendorf: LSU fans are hoping and praying Harris starts next season, but what has he proven? He had a couple good games early against Sam Houston State and New Mexico State last season, but when he got his chance to start an SEC game on the road, he was dreadful. Jennings isn’t spectacular. He probably never will be. But he’s played in big games, made big throws and knows this offense better than any other quarterback on the roster. Les Miles has a tendency to go with experience, and there's no reason that will change this fall.
Ole MissGreg Ostendorf: This is Chad Kelly’s job to lose. He followed a similar path as the recently departed Bo Wallace, coming over from East Mississippi Community College after running into trouble at his first stop. And just like Wallace, he has the talent to win the job from Day 1. The only thing standing in his way is him. If he can stay out of trouble, there’s no reason he won’t be starting come September. Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns last year.
Alex Scarborough: It's not that I don't trust Chad Kelly. I could bury that gut feeling if I had to. The problem is his coach seems to hold the same concern. Just take Hugh Freeze's comments on signing day: “I’m sure hoping and pray like heck that he doesn’t embarrass our team, our university and myself. But that is a possibility.” That, my friends, is the opposite of a ringing endorsement. Besides, I'm not sold on his ability. Sure, he lit up junior college, but that's not enough to make a career. He has a grand total of 17 career pass attempts at the FBS level. Give me DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan. They might not have the hype, but they might have the substance.
South CarolinaDavid Ching: He’s hardly a lock, but Connor Mitch looks like the early favorite. The former ESPN 300 prospect was Dylan Thompson’s backup last season but threw just six passes. Steve Spurrier was adamant that Thompson had to stay healthy for the offense to be successful, so he was clearly not sold on his alternatives. That means Mitch will have to fight for this job, but he seems like the best option over competitors Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia and freshman Lorenzo Nunez, who won’t arrive until the summer.
Chris Low: Spurrier has never been predictable when it choosing his trigger man. That's why incoming freshman Lorenzo Nunez has a real chance to be the starter in 2015. He won't be on campus until this summer and needs to develop as a passer, but Spurrier loves Nunez's athletic ability and believes a quarterback who can run and extend the play is a huge advantage. The Gamecocks sold Nunez on being the next Connor Shaw. If Nunez can come in and learn the playbook pretty quickly, he'll be front and center in the South Carolina quarterback battle.
VanderbiltEdward Aschoff: It’s anyone’s guess who will come win this race, but I’m going with Johnny McCrary. He started the final five games of the season. Vandy won two of its last six games with McCrary playing. He led the team with 985 passing yards and nine passing touchdowns, but also threw eight interceptions. He was far from perfect and has a long way to go, but if he can develop as a passer, his ability to make plays with his legs will help give him an advantage.
Alex Scarborough: Ah, a rare QB race with no true favorite. It's sort of refreshing. But at the same time, it's troubling. Because at the end of the day, six quarterbacks took snaps for Vanderbilt in 2014 and none of them had anything remotely described as success. So with such dire circumstances, I'll do what I'd advise against nine times out of 10: Take the newbie. Give me Kyle Shurmur, the No. 7 pocket passer in the 2015 class. He looks the part, too, with ideal size and a strong arm. There will be some growing pains, of course, but for a program that's building for the future, why not let him learn on the job?
For Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Kentucky and LSU, the time crunch known as spring practice has already begun. And by the end of this week, all but Florida and Mississippi State from the SEC will have joined them in trying to get better before the practice fields must be vacated and the offseason grinds back to a halt.
As always, some programs feel more of a sense of urgency than others. It all depends on your returning roster and how your season ended.
With that said, here are three teams from the SEC that have the most work to do between now and the end of spring practice:
Alabama: Alabama is near the top of many preseason top 25 polls for two primary reasons: talent and coaching. The fact that Nick Saban is among the best coaches in college football is undebatable. The fact that he and his staff sign the best high school prospects is unquestioned. But while those things are extremely valuable, they're far from the entire equation. No, the bell cow of the SEC faces more than its fair share of questions this spring. No one knows who the starting quarterback will be. Derrick Henry is enormous and quite talented, but he's never had to be a feature back before. Absent Amari Cooper, it's hard to say what the receiving corps will look like. And that's just the offense, never mind a defense that's struggling to find its identity after ending last season on a poor note. The secondary is one giant mystery without Landon Collins and the linebackers are without their leader in veteran Trey DePriest. In all, 13 starters must be replaced. To get back to the national championship, it's going to take a new cast of characters and likely a new identity, one that must be forged early in the offseason so it has time to take root.
South Carolina: To say that Steve Spurrier is rebuilding this offseason would be an understatement. Gone are his leading passer (Dylan Thompson), his leading rusher (Mike Davis), his second-leading receiver (Nick Jones) and his best offensive lineman (AJ Cann). He has a new defensive coordinator (Jon Hoke), and at last count 10 scholarship players had left the program since the end of last season, including enigmatic receiver Shaq Roland. So after posting the league's worst defense in 2014 and stumbling to a 7-6 finish, it's safe to say that change is on the way. But that doesn't mean anyone is expecting a typical “rebuilding year” with lowered expectations. No, if that were the case, Spurrier wouldn't have inked a 31-man signing class that included six junior college prospects, one prep school product, one late qualifier and one transfer. With so many holes to fill and so many newcomers expected to contribute, South Carolina has to hit the ground running and accelerate the learning curve.
Texas A&M: It's hard to find a team more perpetually stuck on the bubble lately than Kevin Sumlin's Aggies. They're loaded with talent and have plenty of flash, to be sure. Just look at Johnny Football and Kenny Trill in back-to-back years. But beyond the headlines and media attention is a program that has fallen from 11-2 to 9-4 to 8-5 over the last three seasons. In other words, it's time to put up or shut up. It's time to get off the bubble already, whatever the end result may be. Taking the next step to become a contender won't be easy, of course, and it will take a remarkable spring to get there. Another quarterback competition is in order and the defense needs to be completely re-imagined. And it's the latter part of that sentiment that's the most troubling. Because while John Chavis has a history of being an excellent defensive coordinator, he's got a lot to overcome to get Texas A&M on track. Since 2012, the Aggies rank 101st nationally in total defense. Couple that with a declining record over the same period of time and you're looking at a team that may need a culture change this spring.
And with spring practice already up and running at a handful of schools, now seems about as good a time as any to take a stab at some early predictions as we look ahead to the 2015 season.
Let's hope I have more success than the West Division did in bowl games last season.
Missouri will win at least 10 games ... again: We've heard all the backhanded reasons about how and why Missouri has won 23 games over the last two seasons (tying Alabama for the most in the SEC). Chief among those reasons is that the East Division has been down. That doesn't change the fact that the Tigers are 14-2 in SEC games with a pair of championship game appearances and bowl wins during that span. Gary Pinkel and his staff are obviously doing a lot of things right, and that's not going to change in 2015. Being able to hold onto ace defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski was huge. The Tigers just keep developing explosive difference-makers up front defensively, and that's where the game is won.
The SEC will crown a new champion: Alabama fans might want to sit down for this, but there won't be a repeat SEC champion. The Crimson Tide will almost certainly be picked to win the title. When are they not? They were the choice four of the last five years at the SEC media days. Of course, the only time the media got it right was last year. Repeating in this league is akin to winning the lottery in back-to-back years. The last time anybody did it was Tennessee in 1997 and 1998. To put how long it's been in perspective, the only current head coach who was a head coach in the league then was Steve Spurrier, and he was at Florida. Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze were coaching high school football. So, yes, it's been a while.
Carl Lawson will lead the conference in sacks: Some of the best news for Auburn is that Lawson is moving around just fine on his surgically repaired knee and will be ready this spring. Former teammate Gabe Wright called Lawson a “physical beast” last spring when it looked like he was poised to step right in for Dee Ford as the Tigers' finisher off the edge. But then came the ACL tear a month later, and Lawson was out for the season. He had four sacks as a freshman in 2013 but could triple that number this season. He will flourish in Will Muschamp's defense.
Malcolm Mitchell returns to prominence: Speaking of players returning from injury, isn't it about time Mitchell had some luck? When healthy, the guy is an absolute blur. The problem is he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Some of it's been freakish. He tore his ACL two years ago in the opener against Clemson while celebrating a Todd Gurley touchdown run. He reinjured his knee prior to last season and missed the Bulldogs' first four games. This is the season it all goes right for Mitchell and he emerges as the top deep threat in the league. Come on, you gotta root for a guy who's in a book club.
Arkansas and Tennessee break out: The Hogs and Vols are both primed for breakout seasons in 2015. Are they ready to make that leap? We should find out on Oct. 3 when they meet in Knoxville in what will be a top-20 matchup. Brace yourselves for more “Woo Pig Sooie” calls and more renditions of “Rocky Top” than should ever be allowed.
Kentucky will go bowling: The Wildcats looked like they were on their way last season after starting out 5-1, but they lost their last six games and stayed home for the postseason. In Year No. 3 under Mark Stoops, Kentucky will get back to a bowl after a four-year hiatus. Even then, the Wildcats will lose more games in September than their basketball team does this entire season. That's good news for Cal's boys, right?
HailState shows staying power: Mississippi State won 10 games in the regular season a year ago for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs lost some key pieces on defense, and the general feeling around the league is that they won't be able to sustain that success. But with Dak Prescott back, they aren't going to just roll over and play dead. They'll find a way to go at least .500 in SEC play for the second straight season. The last time that happened was when Jackie Sherrill was running “bullish” in Starkville with four straight seasons of .500 SEC records or better from 1997-2000.
Nick Saban joins Twitter: Saban will follow Steve Spurrier's lead and take the Twittersphere plunge even though he vowed last season he was too old school to go down that road. I have it on good authority that Saban has at least kicked around the idea, although it's still a real long shot. Boy, if it were to happen, though, what's next? Saban rearranging practice this spring to play golf? OK, let's not get carried away.
Fans will complain about overpaid coaches: Fans of every SEC West team that doesn't win at least 10 games will gripe loudly and lengthily that their coach is overpaid. That sort of comes with the territory when all seven coaches in the division are making $4 million or more per year.
- John Chavis got the opportunity to address his pending legal issues on Thursday, not that Texas A&M’s new defensive coordinator went into much detail about the legal wrangling over whether he owes LSU a buyout after joining Kevin Sumlin’s coaching staff in January. The gruff veteran coach immediately shot down questions about the subject when asked about the issue following Thursday’s practice. (Here’s video of Chavis’ interview). The longtime SEC assistant was very complimentary of Texas A&M and the resources at the program’s disposal in his first media appearance. But he clearly didn’t want to discuss the lawsuit, which has been a bitter subject over the last week -- particularly in Baton Rouge. It’s an unusual story even by the always-dramatic SEC’s standards. If you haven’t been keeping up, here is an SB Nation recap of the issue.
- Ole Miss wrapped up this week’s batch of NFL pro days on Thursday by hosting scouts in Oxford. The big story was how All-America safety Cody Prewitt improved upon the disappointing 40-yard dash time he ran at the NFL combine, and he wasn’t the only Rebel who potentially made himself some money. According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, cornerback Senquez Golson and little-known defensive end Carlos Thompson also helped their causes with impressive performances in Thursday’s workouts.
- Continuity was the key word as Butch Jones brought on Mike DeBord as his new offensive coordinator at Tennessee.
- SI.com’s Zac Ellis lists the big question facing each SEC program entering spring practice.
- With LSU preparing to open spring practice on Saturday, Geaux247’s Shea Dixon lists five Tigers freshmen -- including early enrollees Kevin Toliver II and David Ducre -- to watch this spring.
- Kentucky expects a jolt from 18 players who redshirted last season when it opens spring practice on Saturday.
- What are the positions of strength and positions of need for Missouri as the Tigers prepare to open spring pratice?
- Auburn opens spring practice next week. Here is a look at the Tigers’ crew of wide receivers.
- TideSports.com looks at the linebackers at Alabama, which must replace two starters at the position, ahead of spring practice.
Heard 'Bama's Nick Saban speak today at a seminar on leadership. Incredible. If he recruits me, I'm going. Doesn't matter where.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 5, 2015
- Another offseason, another proposed rule change that has spread offense coaches on the defensive. Auburn's Gus Malzahn spoke out this week on the possible new rule that would reduce the yards an offensive lineman can move downfield on a pass play from 3 yards to 1. The change, Malzahn said, would stifle offensive innovation, like his team's “pop pass,” which simulates a run before throwing downfield. Malzahn isn't the only SEC coach to criticize the possible change. Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze is also against the new rule, saying officials should simply enforce the perfectly reasonable rule that is already on the books. That, writes CBS Sports blogger Jerry Hinnen, is the key point in this debate. Perhaps offenses are given too much leeway today by not effectively enforcing the rules governing linemen downfield. Doing so might prevent the sport from having to rewrite the rulebook.
- Former South Carolina receiver Sidney Rice, who said he has suffered at least 10 concussions since age 8, announced plans to donate his brain to medical research after his death.
- Kentucky's quarterback competition took a hit when Reese Phillips ruptured an Achilles' tendon on Wednesday, leaving the Wildcats with just two healthy scholarship quarterbacks for the time being. UK officials said Phillips should be able to return this fall, however.
- Sean Patterson, formerly an offensive quality control assistant at LSU, is now associate director for recruiting operations at Ole Miss, where his younger brother Shea is committed to play quarterback next year.
- TideSports.com's Aaron Suttles examines who might pick up the slack at receiver for Alabama now that Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones are out of the picture.
- According to Georgia coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs will open spring practice with options 1A, 1B and 1C at quarterback in Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park.
- The Columbia Daily Tribune's David Morrison looks at Missouri's 21 redshirt freshmen and early enrollees and projects which players have the best opportunity to help the Tigers in 2015.
Asked whether he would allow TB Nick Chubb to be tackled to the ground during spring drills, #UGA coach Mark Richt said, "if they can."— AJC UGA (@ChipTowersAJC) March 4, 2015
Although college football teams don't often resolve major competitions or issues during spring practices -- at least they tend to resist public proclamations -- that's not going to stop us from making predictions. There's just too many juicy goings-on for us to keep quiet. So here are 10 bold predictions, though you might quibble with what degree of boldness we have attained.
Redshirting is not a popular term among the nation's top football prospects, but a quick look at the recent Heisman Trophy winners shows the importance of that extra year of development. The list below may not include the next Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel, but we feel these players, once prominent recruits in the 2014 class, are in position to make big debuts in the 2015 college football season.
1. Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) -- A youth movement is going to be underway on the perimeter for Alabama this fall and while 2014 classmate Tony Brown saw some time last year, Humphrey will be joining the fray in 2015. Humphrey fits the physical dimensions coach Nick Saban wants at corner. The former five-star is big, can run and is savvy when it comes to playing different schemes.
Scout's Take: Atlanta Opening Regional
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