Florida Gators: Luke Joeckel

Now that the NFL combine is over, we know a little bit more about the draft stocks of many players looking to make the jump to the NFL.

All that running, jumping, catching and throwing in Indianapolis can make a big difference for the majority of guys, and a lot of players saw their stock rise and fall after a few hours of moving around inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. kept a close eye on everyone out there and has updated his Big Board Insider to reflect the performances from the few days in Indy. After the NFL combine, Kiper has 11 SEC players among his top 25 players, including six in his top 10. Before the combine, he had 12 SEC players in his rankings.

Who fell? Well, Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore took quite the stumble after a very rough outing at the combine. Moore went from No. 3 on Kiper's Big Board to unranked. He had a slow 40-yard-dash time of 4.95 seconds, and was weak on the bench press, doing just 12 reps at 225 pounds. That was the lowest of the 37 defensive linemen working out. Moore needs a strong pro day to get back in the good graces of everyone keeping a close eye on the draft.

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OLs from SEC can thrive at combine

February, 20, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Offensive linemen.

Florida Gators


The Gators are represented by a player who never reached his potential (offensive tackle Xavier Nixon) and another who is just scratching the surface of what he could become (tight end Jordan Reed). Nixon started the last five games at left tackle as a freshman in 2009 and appeared ready to become a mainstay at that spot, but he spent time at right tackle in 2010 and then suffered through a mysterious illness after the season that caused him to lose about 55 pounds. Doctors were unable to diagnose his problem and he recovered before the 2011 season and was able to gain back most of the weight but was never quite the player he was as a freshman. Reed came to UF as a quarterback, starred in a wildcat role in 2010, but was moved to tight end in 2011. He's still learning the position but caught 73 passes for 866 yards and five touchdowns in the past two seasons.

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In what was easily the toughest individual award to give out this year, Florida's Will Muschamp and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin were voted by their peers as SEC co-Coaches of the Year.

During Muschamp's second season at Florida, he helped lead the Gators to an 11-1 record and a 7-1 record in SEC play. Florida ended the season No. 3 in the BCS standings and will play Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Gators also defeated four teams that finished the season ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings.

As for Sumlin, in his first year at Texas A&M, the Aggies went 10-2 (6-2 SEC) and upset No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A&M also owned the SEC's No. 1 offense and quarterback Johnny Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense in single season and is a Heisman Trophy finalist. The Aggies are headed to the AT&T Cotton Bowl to take on Oklahoma.

The coaches also named Manziel, who threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns to eight interceptions and rushed for an SEC-high 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

Here are the individual awards voted on by the SEC's coaches:

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

CO-SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
*Caleb Sturgis, Florida
*Ace Sanders, South Carolina

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Manziel

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Barrett Jones, Alabama

JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
*Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
*Will Muschamp, Florida

* ties
With the season winding down, we figured we'd start looking to the future. Like, beyond bowl games future.

We are looking into our crystal ball to check out some of the SEC best who could declare for April's NFL draft early. We've talked to people around the league, those in the know at ESPN when it comes to the NFL draft, and came up with the top 10 underclassmen we feel are the best bets to come out and go the highest in next spring's draft.

Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. updated his Big Board Insider this week and featured 12 SEC players in his top 25. Ten were juniors.

We're going in alphabetical order, so here are 10 SEC underclassmen we feel have the highest draft stock:

[+] EnlargeJustin Hunter
Jim Brown/US PresswireTennessee receiver Justin Hunter has the potential to be a first-round pick in the NFL.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee: Pro scouts have drooled over Hunter's natural ability and his breakaway speed. He was a little hesitant on his knee early after undergoing ACL surgery last year, but he's made nice strides as the season has progressed, catching 65 passes for 979 yards and eight touchdowns. He has four 100-plus-yard receiving games, and some think he could be a mid-first-round draft pick in April.

Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M: It's hard to find a better left tackle out there. Joeckel entered the season as a surefire first-round pick and has only helped his draft stock with an excellent junior season. He hasn't been rattled by the speed of opposing SEC ends, and has provided very good protection in the pass game. It sounds like he could be the first tackle off the board if he declares early.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: He was the SEC's top defender last season, and has been one of the nation's best pass-rushers the last two years. He really can do it all. He drops into coverage, stops the run and constantly harasses quarterbacks. He also never seems to lose energy. He's been banged up this season, but Kiper still has him No. 1 on his Big Board.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: The Aggies are really getting greedy with their tackles. Matthews has been excellent all season, and could play either right or left tackle in the NFL. He's very powerful and moves well up front. He could be a late first-round pick if he decides to come out.

Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: He has had some struggles lately in coverage, which could hurt his stock, but he's so athletic and so physical that teams will be all over him if he opts to leave early for the NFL. He can play the run, has tremendous speed and has very good field intelligence. He's defended an SEC-high 16 passes this season.

Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU: He might not be burning up the stat books this season, but he might be the nation's fastest pass-rusher. He has been extremely agressive all season against the pass and run. He has great length, and doesn't really have to take on many blocks because of his speed. He entered the season as an early first-round draft pick, and that still seems to be the case.

Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: It's hard to find anyone with the same on-field personality and energy. He might be bigger than Mingo, but he's chased down his fair share of running backs during his career. He has six sacks this season and 11 tackles for loss. He could have left early last year, but decided to stay and still has early first-round potential.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Talk about really breaking out onto the national stage. He was excellent as an outside linebacker last season, but has been an absolute monster at defensive end in his first (and probably only) year in the SEC. He really adjusted to the new 4-3 scheme, and might have played himself into a top-10 pick. He has a team-high 74 tackles, leads the nation with 20 tackles for loss and is tied for first with 12.5 sacks.

Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia: Some think he might be better suited for the NFL than Jones because of his speed, athleticism and instincts. He had a rusty start to his season after serving a four-game suspension, but he's been outstanding in recent weeks. He can make plays all over the field, and should be a first-rounder if he decides to leave school early.

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: He is arguably Missouri's best player, regardless of position. He's constantly taking on double-teams, but figures out a way to blow them up. He leads Mizzou with 70 tackles, has 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He's quick and can disrupt both the run and pass. However, his recent suspension could make his draft stock fall some.

Keep an eye on ...

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: Has all the physical tools to be special in the NFL, but off-field issues could push him out of the first round.

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida: Has been extremely disruptive all year up front for the Gators, and could hear his name called in the second round.

D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama: Has had a solid season, but he still needs to develop his game more, and there are more NFL-ready tackles ahead of him.

Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn: Was very productive last season, but has fallen a bit this season. Still has all the tools to be a top 40 pick in April.
• Texas A&M OTs Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews vs. Florida DEs Lerentee McCray and Dominique Easley
[+] EnlargeJoeckel
Cal Sport MediaLuke Joeckel will have his work cut out for him against Florida's defensive ends.
The Gators feature fast, athletic ends that will provide a test for Joeckel and Matthews, considered one of the nations best tackle tandems. Joeckel, the Aggies' 6-foot-6, 310-pound left tackle, will match up against McCray (6-foot-3, 249) while Matthews (6-foot-5, 305) at right tackle will face Easley (6-foot-2, 280).

• Florida DT Sharrif Floyd vs. Texas A&M LG Jarvis Harrison and C Patrick Lewis
Floyd, a 6-foot-3, 303-pound junior, has the size, athleticism and is a load to handle. He was disruptive in the Gators' opener against Bowling Green with 1.5 tackles for loss and consistently pushed interior linemen back. He'll match up against Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 320 sophomore, in some instances and in others, he will line up on the football vs. Lewis (6-foot-2, 312), the senior. How Floyd responds to the fast tempo the Aggies' will run on offense will be worth watching.

• Texas A&M RB Christine Michael vs. Florida MLB Jon Bostic
The 6-foot-1, 246 pound Bostic is a playmaker and led the Gators with eight tackles last week, including five solos and a tackle for loss. Michael is at full strength after a knee injury shortened his junior season but the 5-foot-11, 220-pounder can run in between the tackles as well as on the edges and has been improving his pass-catching ability. Many assume Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's offense is pass-happy, but if the Aggies don't run the ball well, it will make things tougher on them.

• Florida TE Jordan Reed vs. Texas A&M LB Sean Porter and S Steven Campbell
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was highly complimentary of Reed, a 6-foot-3, 243-pound junior who caught three passes for 33 yards last week, calling Reed a threat. A pair of seniors in Porter, the strongside linebacker and Campbell at safety will likely draw the chance to match up with Reed. Both Porter and Campbell are talented veterans who are impact players themselves.

• Florida WRs Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Quinton Dunbar vs. Texas A&M CBs Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris
Snyder also said the Gators receivers "can all fly," referring to their speed. Hammond, a senior and Dunbar, a redshirt sophomore will test a pair of young Aggie cornerbacks. Everett, a sophomore, is making his first career start after spending last year as a reserve and special teams player while Harris, a true freshman, will be playing his first career game. Both have impressed the A&M coaching staff in fall camp.

Scouting report: Texas A&M

September, 3, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida plays its first road game of the season Saturday at Texas A&M. Here’s a look at the Aggies:

TEXAS A&M

2011 record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12), beat Northwestern 33-22 in Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Coach: Kevin Sumlin, first season; fifth season overall (35-17).

Series record: Tied 1-1.

Top returners: WR Ryan Swope (89 catches for 1,207 yards and 11 TDs); OL Luke Joeckel; LB Sean Porter (9.5 sacks); DE Damontre Moore (17.5 tackles for loss).

Scouting the offense: Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury don’t have an experienced QB to run the offense, but they do have an offensive line that some are saying is the best in school history. QB Johnny Manziel won the starting job as a freshman, so there are sure to be growing pains in Sumlin’s wide-open offense. Swope is one of the country’s top receivers, but the unit will be balanced because the running game is pretty good behind RB Christine Michael and the offensive line.

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SEC power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

We are just days away from the college football season, so it's time to unveil our first batch of power rankings for the regular season.

A lot goes into our power rankings. It isn't just about how strong teams are right now. We look into our crystal ball as well to get a good read on how each team will finish the season -- before it has even started.

For each school, we look at talent coming back, coaching, roster changes, how teams have looked in practice now compared to the spring and uniform style. Well, maybe not that last part, but you get the point.

Here are our season-opening SEC power rankings for 2012:

1. LSU: The gap between the Tigers and Alabama got a lot smaller after Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal, so this could be viewed as 1A and 1B. Mathieu is a big loss for LSU on defense and special teams, but there is just way too much talent for this team not to make another title run. LSU's offense still has one of the best/deepest running games around and gets an upgrade with quarterback Zach Mettenberger. LSU also might have the best offensive line/defensive line combo in the nation.

2. Alabama: The defending champs lost a lot of star power on defense, but that unit should still be pretty darn good this fall. There could be some growing pains at times, but the Tide should still have one of the league's best defensive units this fall. The offense might be better and more balanced this fall, even without Trent Richardson. There is a good stable of backs, the nation's top offensive line and quarterback AJ McCarron has a little more explosiveness and athleticism to work with at receiver.

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HOOVER, Ala. -- The 2012 SEC media days All-SEC team was announced Thursday, and LSU led the conference with the most first-team selections with seven. The media has voted for a preseason All-SEC team and predicted the order in which each team would finish since 1992.

It should be noted that the media has only picked the correct SEC champion four times since 1992. Those correct picks were Florida in 1994 and 1995, LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2008.

Here are some notes from the league on the All-SEC team:
    [+] EnlargeMarcus Lattimore
    Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSEC members are expecting big things this season for South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.

  • The 222 voters is an all-time high for SEC media days. The previous high was 177 voters in 2010.
  • South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter this season with 201 of 222 votes. He is the fourth running back in the past six years to be the highest vote-getter (2007 – Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 2008 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia and Percy Harvin, Florida; 2009 – Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Florida; 2010 – Mark Ingram, Alabama; 2011 – Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina).
  • Lattimore (2012) and Jeffery (2011) have been the leading vote-getters the last two seasons.
  • Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a three-time member of the SEC media days first team
  • South Carolina has had a sophomore make the media days first team for the third straight season – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE (2012); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB (2011); Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, DB (2010).

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Alabama placed an SEC-high six players on the preseason watch list for the 2012 Rotary Lombardi Award.

Center Barrett Jones, guard Chance Warmack, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, noseguard Jesse Williams and linebackers C.J. Mosley and Nico Johnson were all on the list.

The Rotary Lombardi Award is given annually to the top lineman or linebacker in college football. Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to: 1) offensive or defensive end-to-end down linemen who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball and 2) linebackers who set up no farther than 5 yards deep from the line of scrimmage.

Below is a complete list of the SEC players making the preseason cut. Among the most surprising omissions were LSU defensive tackle Bennie Logan, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore and Mississippi State defensive tackle Josh Boyd. The list will be periodically revised until the first round of voting is completed.

Here you go:

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The SEC has a nation-leading 19 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player. Alabama leads the SEC with five players on the list, while LSU is second with four.

Here are all 19 SEC players on the Nagurski Trophy list:

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ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is Texas A&M (Sept. 8 in Gainesville).

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M Aggies
Brett Davis/US PresswireWide receiver Ryan Swope is the Aggies' top target.
TEXAS A&M

2011 record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12), beat Northwestern 33-22 in Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Coach: Kevin Sumlin, first season; fifth season overall (35-17).

Series record: Tied 1-1.

Top returners: WR Ryan Swope (89 catches for 1,207 yards and 11 TDs); OL Luke Joeckel; LB Sean Porter (9.5 sacks); DE Damontre Moore (17.5 tackles for loss).

Did you know? The Aggies’ schedule includes the last six national champions (Florida twice, Alabama twice, LSU and Auburn).

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SEC post-spring power rankings

May, 18, 2012
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We're putting spring behind us and looking toward the fall with our post-spring power rankings:

1. LSU: The Tigers had one of the best springs around. Things were quiet off the field, and the offense rallied behind quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Coach Les Miles was very impressed with Mettenberger's play and maturity, and expects LSU's offense to be more balanced with him under center. LSU can still use four or five running backs, as well. Defensively, the Tigers are stacked once again, especially up front with two potential first-rounders in ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Questions surround the inexperienced linebackers, but Kevin Minter had a tremendous spring in the middle. On paper, LSU is equipped with the talent to make another title run, and gets Alabama at home this year.

2. Alabama: While the defending national champs saw a lot of "new" faces on defense this spring, coach Nick Saban left happy with where his players were -- but not satisfied. There is still work to be done, especially in the secondary, where the Tide must replace three starters. Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw are gone at linebacker, but the coaches were impressed with how Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard played this spring. Some think Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore, could be Bama's top pass-rusher. Offensively, quarterback AJ McCarron is back, more mature and surrounded by a very veteran line. He has a group of younger receivers to throw to, but has at least four quality running backs. Alabama's road to repeating is tougher, with games at Arkansas and LSU.

3. South Carolina: A healthy Marcus Lattimore (knee) at RB makes South Carolina an even better contender for the SEC East crown. His status is uncertain, but the pieces around him are pretty impressive. Quarterback Connor Shaw had an impressive spring, and looks ready to be the passer coach Steve Spurrier wants him to be. The defense is once again stacked, especially up front with ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. There are questions in the secondary, with two new, young starters in Victor Hampton (cornerback) and Brison Williams (safety), while senior Akeem Auguste returns after missing last season with a foot injury. Still, Spurrier is chirping about his SEC counterparts, so you know he thinks he's got a good team this year.

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