SEC all-bowl team

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
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Catch your breath yet?

What a bowl season, starting really with Texas A&M's heart-stopping comeback to beat Duke 52-48 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and carrying all the way through the VIZIO BCS National Championship with Florida State's last-minute drive to beat Auburn 34-31.

The SEC finished 7-3 in the postseason, and we're honoring some of the best individual performances with our all-bowl team:

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel's final game at Texas A&M was a memorable one as he threw four TDs and rallied the Aggies from a 21-point deficit.
QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: Yes, Connor Shaw was sensational, too, but Manziel brought the Aggies back from a 21-point halftime deficit. He threw four touchdown passes and ran for another in a memorable farewell for Johnny Football.

RB: Tre Mason, Auburn: Until Florida State's late touchdown drive, it looked as if Mason's 37-yard touchdown run would be what everyone was talking about from the BCS title game. He finished with 195 rushing yards against one of the top defenses in the country.

RB: Jeremy Hill, LSU: LSU fans got a nice surprise this week when reports surfaced that Hill planned to return for his junior season. A few days earlier, he gave them a memorable performance in the Outback Bowl with 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

WR: Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State: The Rice secondary had no answers for the speedy Lewis, who finished with nine catches for a school-record 220 yards. He had a 28-yard catch to set up the Bulldogs' first touchdown, a 35-yard catch to set up their second touchdown and a 65-yard catch to set up their fourth touchdown, all in first half.

WR: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina: Ellington is leaving early for the NFL and made some NFL-like catches in his farewell. His one-handed, bobbling catch on the fourth-and-7 play was huge. He finished with six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass.

TE: Arthur Lynch, Georgia: Lynch would love to have that last pass back, but he still hauled in six catches for 69 yards, including receptions to help set up a couple of field goals.

All-purpose: Derrick Henry, Alabama: Get ready to see a lot of Henry next season for the Tide. The freshman running back rushed for 100 yards on eight carries, including a 43-yard touchdown run, and also had a 61-yard touchdown catch.

OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M: As left tackles go, Matthews set the standard this season. He was pretty close to flawless in the bowl game, as the Aggies rolled up 541 total yards in their stirring comeback against Duke.

OL: Greg Robinson, Auburn: The BCS title game turned out to be Robinson's final game for Auburn. The junior left tackle is turning pro and heads to the next level on the heels of the kind of performance that became the norm for him this season.

OL: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State: The Bulldogs racked up 533 yards of total offense in their 44-7 rout of Rice in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and Jackson was his usual dominant self at left guard.

OL: Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt: The veteran of that Vanderbilt offensive line asserted himself in the fourth quarter when Houston climbed back into it, and the Commodores made a living running behind him.

C: Reese Dismukes, Auburn: There aren't many centers in America better than Dismukes, and he can hold his head high over the way he played against a talented Florida State interior on defense.

DEFENSE

[+] EnlargeDee Ford
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAuburn's Dee Ford showed why he is one of the nation's best when he recorded two sacks against FSU in the national title game.
DL: Dee Ford, Auburn: Ford had already established himself as one of the top pass-rushers in the SEC this season and then went out and showed it on the biggest stage with two sacks in BCS title game.

DL: D.T. Shackelford, Ole Miss: The Rebels' resilient senior defensive end went out in style with seven total tackles, including a sack, and also had two quarterback hurries.

DL: Kony Ealy, Missouri: Michael Sam received most of the publicity this season for the Tigers, but Ealy was equally productive. He closed out his career with two sacks in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, giving him 9.5 on the season.

DL: Preston Smith, Mississippi State: Smith spearheaded a suffocating defensive effort by the Bulldogs with six total tackles and a quarterback hurry. Rice, after scoring a touchdown on its second possession, was held to 66 total yards the rest of the way.

LB: Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss: Bryant tied for the team lead with eight tackles, including two for loss, and also forced a fumble that led to a safety. The Rebels limited Georgia Tech's option offense to 17 points and 151 rushing yards.

LB: Andrew Wilson, Missouri: The Tigers' senior middle linebacker was everywhere against the Cowboys with 15 total tackles to earn Cotton Bowl Defensive MVP honors.

LB: Skai Moore, South Carolina: Only a freshman, Moore had two interceptions in the Capital One Bowl, the last one coming in the end zone in the fourth quarter with Wisconsin driving.

CB: E.J. Gaines, Missouri: Gaines was one of the most complete cornerbacks in the SEC this season. He capped his career with seven tackles against the Cowboys and an interception at midfield that helped set up a touchdown.

CB: Andre Hal, Vanderbilt: Despite playing with a brace on his elbow, Hal led Vanderbilt with nine total tackles, including an interception to seal the game, and also broke up three passes.

S: Craig Loston, LSU: Loston finished with six total tackles, including three for loss. He also had a key interception in the fourth quarter with Iowa threatening on fourth-and-1 at the LSU 16.

S: Toney Hurd, Jr., Texas A&M: Even though Texas A&M was torched on defense, Hurd's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:33 to play was the decisive blow for the Aggies.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Marshall Morgan, Georgia: Morgan kept the Bulldogs in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl by making all four of his field-goal attempts.

P: Steven Clark, Auburn: Clark kept Florida State pinned deep most of the night with perfectly placed punts that looked like pitching wedges. He dropped five of his six punts inside the 20, including one at the 6, one at the 4 and one at the 2.

RS: Marcus Murphy, Missouri: One of the top return specialists in the conference, Murphy combined for 136 yards on kickoff and punt returns against Oklahoma State. He had a long of 38 yards on a first-quarter punt return.

2015 DE Shipley commits to LSU 

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
10:10
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His cousins made the family name famous at Texas, but Hanner Shipley says he wants to blaze his own path.

The 2015 three-star defensive end (Marble Falls, Texas/Faith Academy Marble Falls) called Les Miles on Wednesday night to chat. When the coach offered Shipley a scholarship, he offered his commitment.


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LSU OL coach Studrawa out

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
4:10
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Greg Studrawa, who served as LSU's offensive coordinator in 2011-12 and was the team's longest-tenured assistant coach, is out as the Tigers' offensive line coach.

Studrawa has been a member of Les Miles' coaching staff since 2007, when he first became LSU's offensive line coach. He took over as the program's offensive coordinator when Steve Kragthorpe was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and served in that role for two seasons before shifting back to coaching the line this season.

The Tigers ranked 32nd nationally – seventh in the SEC – in total offense with an average of 453.3 yards per game. The Tigers' scoring average of 35.8 points per game ranked 23rd nationally and sixth in the conference.

Studrawa coached two linemen who earned second-team all-conference honors this season: sophomore guard Trai Turner (media) and junior tackle La'El Collins (coaches).

TigerBait.com was first to report the coaching change.

SEC class rankings analysis 

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
2:00
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video
The all-star game circuit has come and gone, and with the final high school games for the majority of top prospects in the country comes a number of commitments. As expected, the SEC conference cleaned up, as the conference now has seven of the top 10 ranked classes nationally and all 14 programs in the Top 37 in the RecruitingNation class rankings.

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video

LSU picked up No. 1 overall recruit Leonard Fournette and No. 3 safety Jamal Adams, but missed on several prominent Southeast prospects. National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert breaks down the Tigers' week.

SEC's lunch links

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
12:00
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It's Johnny Manziel's big day! Will he or won't he leave Texas A&M to go to the NFL? Start biting those fingernails now.

Most important targets: SEC 

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
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The Southeastern Conference already has commitments from five of the top 10 players in the country and a real possibility of landing two more before signing day. With several key targets still remaining, here’s a look at the top remaining targets in the SEC.

Alabama
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover)
6-foot, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 9

Humphrey is a big, athletic cornerback with great size. He would be a natural fit in Nick Saban's system. Florida State is also very much in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and with a national championship in hand, the Seminoles might have the upper hand at the moment. Alabama will have to fight to keep this dynamic defensive back from leaving the state. With his skill set, Humphrey would have a chance to play early on in his career.


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Otaro Alaka has already lost his recruiter once. He’s not ready to do it again.

The ESPN 300 outside linebacker from Houston Cypress Falls has been committed to Texas since April but admitted Tuesday he’s considering a decommitment depending on which assistants new coach Charlie Strong decides to retain.


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Many felt it was only a matter of time for Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren).

No Mack Brown? Not the biggest blow, but a blow nonetheless. No position coach, however? Big problem -- the last straw, even.

With new head coach Charlie Strong set to bring in members of his own staff, defensive tackles coach Bo Davis opted to accept a position coaching defensive linemen at USC. No Davis at Texas next season was enough to force Lealaimatafao, a four-star defensive tackle and U.S. Army All-American, to officially decommit on Tuesday and explore his other options.


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Updated recruiter power rankings

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
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The ESPN recruiter power rankings examine which assistant coaches are doing the best on the recruiting trail in the 2014 class. Beyond looking at how many four- or five-star recruits a coach lands, the rankings take into account the needs those recruits will fill at the next level.

These rankings will be updated regularly as national signing day approaches. They are also a measure of where we believe the recruiters are now, not where they will be on signing day. Many coaches and schools have yet to make a recruiting run and could quickly climb the list as more progress is made.

Previous rankings: December 2013 | October 2013

1. Billy Napier 
School: Alabama
ESPN 300 recruits: 7
Top recruit: ESPN 300 No. 3 Cameron Robinson
Previous ranking: 1
What he's done: Napier, Alabama's receivers coach, retains the No. 1 spot in the rankings, and several of his top commitments showed why during recent all-star games. No. 8 receiver Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish) ranks as the ninth-best player in the Bama class, but he wowed at the Under Armour All-America Game. Napier nabbing him out of Louisiana was about as good as it gets on the recruiting trail. Another of Napier's recruits, No. 1 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), was one of the best players at the UA Game. Napier has seven players he's recruited for the Crimson Tide and all seven are ESPN 300 prospects. Napier also had to re-recruit No. 2 safety Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) after he backed away from a previous commitment to the Crimson Tide, and his addition helps fill a big need at safety.
What he needs to do: Napier has likely wrapped up his efforts for the 2014 class and is already focusing on 2015 targets like four-star offensive tackle Garrett Thomas (Many, La./Many). He continues to fight for No. 1 2014 receiver Malachi Dupre, even though most believe he is bound for LSU.


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SEC's lunch links

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
12:00
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Well, that was fun. Another college football season is in the books. It's Day 1 of the long, hard offseason.
The SEC might not have captured its eighth straight BCS national title, but seven teams finished the 2013 season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

Auburn's thrilling 34-31 loss to Florida State in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game left the Seminoles in the No. 1 spot, with all 60 votes, and the Tigers at No. 2.

South Carolina, which defeated Wisconsin 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl, followed Auburn, ranking fourth in the poll. It's the highest postseason ranking in school history, the ninth time the Gamecocks have ranked in the final AP poll and the third-straight top-10 finish.

Missouri, which ended a wonderful second season in the SEC with an exciting 41-31 win over former Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, finished fifth.

After losing 45-31 to Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Alabama, which had won two straight BCS national titles, ranks seventh in the AP poll, its lowest finish since ranking 10th at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

LSU finished the season at 14th, Texas A&M is 18th and Vanderbilt came in at No. 24.

Auburn's loss to Florida State to close out the BCS era will no doubt hurt the SEC until it gets a chance to redeem itself in the College Football Playoff, but it was another strong finish overall for the conference, which led all conferences in AP poll members.
As expected, LSU junior wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are making the early jump to the NFL, a source confirmed to ESPN's Joe Schad.

For all of us who enjoyed watching these two light up the stat charts, it's a sad day. But it certainly isn't a shock after they combined to catch 136 passes for 2,345 yards and 18 touchdowns during the 2013 season.

Landry was the do-it-all guy at receiver. He could beat you deep and wasn't afraid to be physical over the middle of the field as he led the Tigers with 77 catches.

[+] EnlargeJennings
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesAnthony Jennings won't have the luxury of a veteran receiver group as he takes over as LSU's starting quarterback.
Beckham was an all-purpose nightmare for opposing teams. He averaged 178.1 all-purpose yards a game and the third-team All-American also won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation's most versatile player.

This only makes things tougher for an LSU offense that is already losing senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Without the Tigers' top two receivers, quarterback Anthony Jennings, who made his first career start in the Tigers' 21-14 Outback Bowl victory over Iowa, inherits even more pressure to keep the offense going in 2014.

After LSU had one of the most prolific offensive seasons in school history, Jennings' job just got a lot harder with two of the SEC's top receivers jetting for the NFL. It doesn't help that senior Kadron Boone will also be gone, so this receiver corps is starting over from scratch. Freshman Travin Dural will return as the top receiver in 2014 -- and he caught just seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns this season. Dural hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Jennings in that thrilling win over Arkansas, when Jennings replaced Mettenberger, who tore his ACL.

LSU is used to reloading at positions, but it will be tough for the Tigers' youngsters to generate the sort of production Beckham and Landry provided in 2013.

Now, LSU will keep an eye on sophomore running back Jeremy Hill, who is three years removed from his graduating class and is eligible to leave early for the NFL as well. Hill was one of the SEC's best backs this season, pounding his way to 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was also third on the team with 18 catches for 181 yards.

SEC's lunch links

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
12:00
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The SEC goes for eight straight national championships tonight when Auburn takes on Florida State for all the marbles. It's game day ... the final game day of the season.

Too-Early Top 25 recruiting update

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
10:40
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The 2013 season -- and the BCS era -- may have just come to a close, but it's never too early to take a look ahead to next season. And whichever teams find themselves battling for next season's national championship, odds are they will receive contributions from some true freshmen along the way.

So, with signing day less than a month away, here's how the teams in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 are looking on the recruiting trail:

1. Florida State Seminoles
Who they have: The Seminoles previously held the No. 1 spot in the class rankings before falling to No. 6, but a big week at the Under Armour All-America Game could propel FSU back into the top two by signing day. Dalvin Cook, a former Gators commit, and Lorenzo Featherston, both top-30 players in the ESPN 300, committed to the Noles before the game and No. 61 Travis Rudolph pledged during the contest. Now with 29 commitments, the Noles are close to done in what should be a special class. ESPN 300 linebackers Kain Daub, Jacob Pugh and Delvin Purifoy highlight the strongest LB class in the country. ESPN 300 QB J.J. Cosentino could eventually succeed Jameis Winston, although ESPN 300 athlete Treon Harris might get a shot at QB, too. Florida State needed offensive linemen more than anything to protect its quarterbacks after 2014 and found a few. Chad Mavety, No. 8 in the ESPN Junior College 50, committed in December and is ready to contribute right away. Six-foot-9 three-star OT Brock Ruble followed a few days later, as did ESPN JC 50 prospect Kareem Are.
Who they want: Florida State is still in search of a landmark commitment at offensive tackle -- at least among high school prospects. Damian Prince will commit after signing day, but four-star prospects Roderick Johnson (an ESPN 300 OT) and Frank Ragnow officially visited Dec. 13. Johnson has FSU as his leader and Ragnow has FSU as a finalist. The icing for this class would be a five-star signee, and the most likely prospect is cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is down to FSU and Alabama.
Signing day surprise: The hope at Maryland was to land both Damian Prince and Jalen Tabor, both among the top 30 in the ESPN 300. Now that Tabor is off to Arizona, the odds have increased that Prince could sign elsewhere, too. Florida State is the main competition for Prince, and when he announces a little more than a week after signing day, Prince will utter the words "Florida State" instead of "Maryland" to complete FSU's offensive line haul. -- Jared Shanker


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Under Armour All-American and LSU commit Kevin Toliver II, the nation's top cornerback, joins ESPN's Matt Schick to discuss the new ESPN 300, keys to managing success and the rising senior's plan to visit other colleges.Tags: Kevin Toliver II, Trinity Christian, LSU Tigers, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Matt Schick
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