ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando went to Orlando, Fla., to watch Jon Gruden's QB Camp taping with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. He has written up Gruden's five biggest takeaways from the interview and throwing sessions below, in Gruden's voice.
1. Steve Young is who I see when I watch Johnny Manziel's tape
Now, it's the Steve Young we saw coming out of BYU, not the finished product who won a Super Bowl and became a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But the similarities are there, and it's exciting: He's very fast, all over the place athletically, very similar size. My dad was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they took Young in the supplemental draft back in 1984. I remember him studying a lot of Young's tape at BYU and with the L.A. Express (USFL). There's a lot of common ground: their size, speed, playmaking ability and upside. The upside is tremendous.
- A Nashville group is working to put together an annual, high-profile non-conference game for SEC teams to be played at LP Field, possibly as early as 2016.
- Former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney said it's like “spit in the face” when observers accuse him of having taken plays off last season.
- Now that spring break is over, Butch Jones wants to see more from his young Tennessee team.
- For the second season in a row, Florida could have a freshman cornerback step into a starring role if Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson keep up their impressive play.
- Quayvon Hicks and J.J. Green both resided in Georgia's running backs meeting room last year. Now they're both working elsewhere in an effort to fill holes on the roster.
- Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday that he hasn't fully decided how to punish the four players arrested last week on charges of illegal check cashing.
- Dak Prescott and De'Runnya Wilson discuss the spring competition between Mississippi State's offense and defense with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger's Michael Bonner.
- LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis has juggled his linebacker assignments this spring, with multiple players moving to new positions.
- Ole Miss sophomore Laremy Tunsil said he has championships to win before he begins worrying about a future in the NFL.
- Auburn's coaches are working with backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson to ensure that he can run the zone read in case starter Nick Marshall goes down.
- Following a medical procedure on his left shoulder, Vanderbilt's Kris Kentera will miss the remainder of spring practice.
- Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will appear on Gruden's QB Camp on ESPN on Thursday.
- Speaking of Johnny Football, he and his fellow Aggies will participate in their NFL pro day on Thursday.
- Linebacker Dillon Lee might fill multiple holes on Alabama's defense.
While young players continue to come in, that puts the onus on veterans on the roster to step it up. That's certainly the case at defensive end, where the Aggies had two true freshmen see time last year (Jay Arnold and Daeshon Hall) but also have a handful of veterans (Gavin Stansbury, Julien Obioha, Tyrell Taylor and Tyrone Taylor).
Arnold and Hall are both sitting out spring recovering from injuries and Stansbury has been limited as well, but Sumlin addressed the state of his defensive ends on Monday.
"Obioha has been good," Sumlin said. "He hasn't had any problems with that back, which has been great for us. Stansbury, we know what he can do so we just want him to be completely healthy, which has given the Taylors a lot of reps because we don't know what they can do. They haven't been put in those positions to have to play a bunch of snaps and be counted on. Gavin has proven to us what he can do on Saturdays when he's healthy. When he's not healthy, it's a different guy. So we want to make sure he's healthy for the fall."
Once Arnold and Hall are healthy, it stands to reason both will figure into the mix at defensive end in the fall since both did enough to earn playing time a season ago. But the current crew will also be joined in the summer by a trio of highly touted freshmen from the 2014 recruiting class: five-star prospect Myles Garrett, ESPN 300 prospect Qualen Cunningham and three-star prospect Jarrett Johnson.
That means now is the time for inexperienced players to prove they're worthy of playing time, because the competition will only get stiffer come August.
"That puts some of the onus on the Taylors to kind of show us what they can do and get them going because we've got two other D-ends in the program who have shown what they can do in Jay Arnold and Dae Dae (Daeshon Hall)," Sumlin said. "They're getting healthy and out running now. And the guys we recruited are obviously guys we expect to come in here and compete to play. In our way of thinking ... it's time for the Taylors to show what they can do and we're giving them every opportunity to do that right now."
Though the Aggies have been precautionary with Stansbury this spring, Sumlin was encouraged by his progress last season and feels like he is now a proven commodity.
"Defensively, Gavin was probably the most improved player that we had coming through the year," Sumlin said. "That's why I said, when he's healthy, he's really, really effective for us."
Obioha is a two-year starter who said earlier this spring that he feels good. His veteran presence will be welcome in the fall, too.
For the Taylor twins, Tyrell (a senior) and Tyrone (a redshirt sophomore), now is the time to perform, Sumlin says.
"What we're trying to do right now is get the guys healthy that have experience and the Taylor twins, who don't have that type of experience, they need to prove where they are in their capability to be able to help us win," Sumlin said.
Earlier that morning, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was in Kevin Sumlin's office, catching up with his former head coach.
And in the afternoon, prior to his workout, he made headlines across the Internet with this viral video of him displaying his athleticism with a multitude of dunks.
Yes, it was just like old times in Aggieland for Manziel.
The difference this time is, he wasn't suiting up for practice with the Aggies. Instead, he was utilizing the facilities where he launched his memorable college career to prepare for the latest "most important day" of his young career, his pro day workout in front of NFL personnel on Thursday.
Though he has spent most of his time since January in San Diego, working with private quarterback coach George Whitfield and Aggies teammate Mike Evans (who will also perform on Thursday), Manziel is finding respite in the place he spent the last three years.
"It was kind of startling to open the door and see him there," Sumlin said of seeing Manziel in his office first thing Monday morning. "Obviously, he feels at home."
Manziel and Sumlin caught up briefly and the quarterback inquired on the team's practice times so he could schedule his workouts with Whitfield and a host of familiar A&M teammates like Evans, Travis Labhart, Derel Walker and Ben Malena.
Sumlin made sure to mention Manziel's television commercial debut, a McDonald's spot featuring LeBron James.
"We just talked about pro day, we talked about a lot of things," Sumlin said. "I haven't seen him since the first week of spring football, before spring break. I congratulated him on his commercial (laughs). We just talked about a couple things and asked him how he was doing. He wanted to know what time we were practicing and whether we were indoors or outdoors because he was going to come in and throw a little bit beforehand and come out and watch practice. Just regular stuff."
There will be plenty of eyes on Manziel in particular, including those of the Houston Texans, who hold the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Manziel workout Thur starts at 11a. He'll have WRs Travis Labhart, Derel Walker & Mike Evans + RB Ben Malena w him. O/U for NFL folks: 125— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 25, 2014
"I'm happy for him now," Sumlin said. "This will be a big day for him. The exposure, the bright lights, the video, the brand -- that carries worldwide and that's a big deal for everybody concerned."
We'll do you one better here on the SEC blog, particularly now that the SEC is suddenly a hoops league.
For the second straight year, Edward and I will both seed all 14 SEC football teams based on how we think they would be seeded going into the 2014 season, and then we’ll “fill out our brackets” all the way through the championship game.
We’ll have different sites and everything, including doubleheaders in the first round. The top two seeds will get byes into the second round, meaning the No. 3 seed will face the No. 14 seed, the No. 4 seed gets the No. 13 seed and so forth in the first round.
With the College Football Playoff kicking off next season, it will be a good test run. For the record, I had the two SEC championship game participants last season -- Auburn and Missouri -- losing in the second round and had Georgia winning the championship.
We've already seen Edward's seeds and bracket on Monday. Now, we'll examine the winning bracket. So after careful consideration and consultation with the selection committee, I’ll unveil my seeds:
1. AuburnFIRST ROUND
4. South Carolina
6. Mississippi State
7. Ole Miss
10. Texas A&M
In Nashville, Tenn.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Arkansas: After all the various injuries last season, the Bulldogs are due to stay healthy. And even without Aaron Murray, a healthy Todd Gurley is more than enough for Georgia to surge past an improved Arkansas team. Winner: Georgia
No. 6 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Vanderbilt: Don't sleep on the Bulldogs. This could very well be Dan Mullen's best team, and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will make enough plays in the second half to pull away from a Vanderbilt team that is replacing its entire secondary. Winner: Mississippi State
In Kansas City, Mo.
No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Kentucky: The Head Ball Coach has owned Kentucky, both when he was at Florida and now at South Carolina. He's 20-1 against the Wildcats at his two SEC coaching stops and will make that 21-1 in the first round of the tournament. Winner: South Carolina
No. 5 LSU vs. No. 12 Tennessee: Butch Jones' Tennessee team will be more talented than a year ago, but it just won't have the experience across the board to take down an LSU club that will be counting on a lot of new faces on offense. Winner: LSU
In Tampa, Fla.
No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Texas A&M: It's our first upset of the tournament, although not a huge one. The Aggies get better as the season goes on, particularly on defense, and Ricky Seals-Jones makes a big catch late to send the Rebels packing. Winner: Texas A&M
No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Florida: New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and junior quarterback Jeff Driskel make a good pairing, and with an offense tooled around Driskel's strengths, the Gators find enough consistency on that side of the ball to advance. Winner: Florida
In Orlando, Fla.
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 9 Florida: The Gators get a break by getting to play in nearby Orlando, but it's never a lot of fun having to defend Gus Malzahn's offense. Nick Marshall, with an entire year in Malzahn's system, is too much for the Gators to handle. Winner: Auburn
In New Orleans
No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 5 LSU: Just like Florida in Orlando, it's a huge homefield advantage for LSU playing in the Big Easy. And this time, the Tigers take advantage with Rashard Robinson picking off a pass late to thwart a South Carolina drive. Winner: LSU
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 10 Texas A&M: It's a rematch of last season's track meet in College Station, only Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron are nowhere to be found. The difference is the Alabama running game with T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each rushing for more than 100 yards. Winner: Alabama
In Charlotte, N.C.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 6 Mississippi State: In the battle of the Bulldogs, the maroon version prevails in one of Mullen's biggest wins since coming to Starkville. Mississippi State sophomore defensive lineman Chris Jones takes the game over in the second half and shuts down the Dawgs' running game. Winner: Mississippi State
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 5 LSU: Auburn's only loss last season came at the hands of LSU in Tiger Stadium. These two teams have played some memorable games with some wild endings. This one also goes right down to the wire, but Carl Lawson saves Auburn with a big sack and strip (sort of Nick Fairley-esque) in the final minutes. Winner: Auburn
In Arlington, Texas
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 6 Mississippi State: A year ago in Starkville, Mississippi State didn't back down from Alabama and fought to hang around in that game. The same thing happens this time with both defenses trading blows, but it's a nifty catch and run for a touchdown by Amari Cooper that sends the Crimson Tide to the title game. Winner: Alabama
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Alabama: You couldn't write the script any better (and, yes, I'm the one writing it), but the Iron Bowl will determine our champion. Not only that, but it's the first meeting between these fierce rivals since the epic Kick-Six game a year ago on the Plains. And wouldn't you know it? Alabama again lines up to kick a long field goal with just seconds left, and this time Adam Griffith splits the uprights from 48 yards away to avenge one of the most bitter losses in Alabama football history and return the championship trophy to Tuscaloosa. Winner: Alabama
"The systems we're using are really based on keeping everybody in the dark," Farmer told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings in Orlando, Fla., according to ESPN Cleveland. "I like the idea. You know, the more we tell everybody, the more we're at a disadvantage I think we've put ourselves at.
"The fact that people are guessing as to where we're located, where we've been and what we're doing is a good thing. It's a good thing in a sense when you're too visible about certain things, it becomes obvious, and the obvious is not good for us."
Farmer prefers to evaluate during private workouts at a player's school or hometown.
"There's definitely a schedule conflict, and definitely opportunities to talk to all parties that we may or may not be interested in," he told reporters. "A pro day of orchestrated throws, I don't know what that tells you. It's a piece of [the process] that people blow up into this great thing.
"I went to a lot of games and practices this fall. I've seen them throw the ball. I've seen them perform in a lot of ways. So it's not about watching them throw the ball, watching the ball come off their hands. A lot of those things have already been addressed."
While we’ll have to wait a few months until a playoff takes over college football, we thought we’d have a little fun with our own SEC tournament now that the first weekend of games have concluded in this year’s NCAA tournament.
As a tribute to the Big Dance, Chris Low and I have seeded all 14 SEC teams in a tournament of our own to crown our rightful spring SEC champion(s). We’ll spice things up by having different seedings for all 14 teams in our individual tournaments. We have different sites, the top two seeds will receive an opening-round bye and we’ll have an upset or two.
Our first round will feature the No. 3 seed facing the No. 14 seed and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 13 seed, etc.
I’ll debut my bracket first, while Chris will have his prepared later Monday.
After countless hours of deliberation with the selection committee, namely my cat Meeko, here’s what my seedings look like:
1. AuburnFIRST ROUND
4. Ole Miss
6. South Carolina
7. Mississippi State
8. Texas A&M
In Nashville, Tenn.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 14 Kentucky: The Bulldogs might be without Aaron Murray for the first time in a long time, but Hutson Mason has plenty of offensive options to pick from. Not having Todd Gurley as an option hurts, but Georgia has enough to get past the Cats in Nashville. Winner: Georgia
No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 11 Tennessee: You'd better believe the Gamecocks are still fuming after that loss to the Vols that eventually cost them a chance to go to Atlanta for the SEC title game last fall. A lot is different for the Gamecocks, but Dylan Thompson works some magic late to avoid the first upset of the tournament. Winner: South Carolina
In Kansas City, Mo.
No. 4 Ole Miss vs. No. 13 Arkansas: The Rebels could be a dark horse to win the SEC this fall, and with so much talent coming back on both sides, Ole Miss could make a nice run in this tournament. Arkansas just has way too many questions on both sides to pull the shocker. Winner: Ole Miss
No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Vanderbilt: Ah, the classic 12-5 upset. There's always one. But the Tigers still have a lot of firepower returning on offense, a stout defensive line and are playing in front of what should be a home crowd. Also, James Franklin and Jordan Matthews are both gone. Winner: Missouri
In Tampa, Fla.
No. 7 Mississippi State vs. No. 10 Florida: The Bulldogs are a team on the rise after winning their last three to close the 2013 season. They return a lot from their two-deep and could have a special player in quarterback Dak Prescott. The Gators suffered a rash of injuries, but have quarterback Jeff Driskel back with an offense that fits his skills more. Playing close to home will give the Gators an advantage and the defense will make a stop late to pull our first upset. Winner: Florida
No. 8 Texas A&M vs. No. 9 LSU: Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks and playmakers at receiver. LSU's defense is getting revamped again, but there's still a lot of athleticism across the board. This one is coming down to the wire, but LSU's young, yet stealthy corners will be the difference in another upset. Winner: LSU
In Orlando, Fla.
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 9 LSU: Last fall, this was the game the served as the emotional turning point for Auburn, even though it was a loss. Auburn has a lot to work with once again on the Plains, and while the defense still has its questions, these Tigers will get revenge in a fun one in the Sunshine State. Winner: Auburn
In New Orleans
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 10 Florida: The Gators will be more consistent on offense in this one. Alabama is still looking to find its defensive playmakers, but will have the advantage in the running game. This one is coming down to the fourth quarter, where corner Vernon Hargreaves III seals it for the Gators with a pick in the end zone on a Cooper Bateman pass intended for Amari Cooper. Winner: Florida
No. 4 Ole Miss vs. No. 5 Missouri: Two fast offenses take the field, and the Rebels would love to get back at the Tigers after last season's loss. Maty Mauk has what it takes to direct this Missouri team to a deep run, but Ole Miss' defense is the difference in this one. Keep an eye on that defensive line, which gets a major upgrade in the return of end C.J. Johnson. Winner: Ole Miss
In Charlotte, N.C.
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 6 South Carolina: The hope in Athens is that the defense will be improved with Jeremy Pruitt running the show, but watch out for Mike Davis. South Carolina's pounding running back gets the edge in this one with Gurley on the mend. Expect a lot of points in this one, but Davis grinds this one out for the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter. Winner: South Carolina
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Ole Miss: You want fast, fast, fast? How about these two teams playing? I mean, Ole Miss got to see tons of speed against Mizzou, and now has to take on Auburn? Expect marathon of scoring, but Bo Wallace is the hero in the end. A gritty fourth-quarter performance puts the Rebels in the title game. Winner: Ole Miss
In Arlington, Texas
No. 6 South Carolina vs. No. 10 Florida: It's been a fun run for this spring's Cinderella. Florida's offense is catching up to its defense, but the Gamecocks will find holes in the Gators defense. Thompson hits a few big plays to receiver Shaq Roland and defensive end Gerald Dixon forces a late fumble on a sack of Driskel to run out the clock. Winner: South Carolina
No. 4 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 South Carolina: Steve Spurrier is back in Atlanta with a gritty team hungry for a title. The Rebels have the advantage with that high-flying offense and will get some huge catches out of Laquon Treadwell against the inexperienced secondary. Thompson and Davis will keep the Gamecocks in this one for most of the game, but true freshman safety C.J. Hampton seals it for the Rebels with a game-ending interception at midfield. Winner: Ole Miss
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Climbing out of the SEC cellar in major defensive statistical categories is critical if the Aggies wish to succeed in the SEC West. Central to that goal is the performance of the Aggies’ defensive line, a unit that is a work in progress this spring.
“Zaycoven [Henderson] has continued to impress,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said of the true freshman, who enrolled in January.
Henderson, at 6-foot-1 and 310 pounds, appears to be a possible instant-impact player. The four-star 2014 prospect, who was previously committed to TCU and Texas before eventually landing in Aggieland, brings the size and ability the Aggies need to improve their quality and depth at defensive tackle. That’s significant for a run defense that allowed 222 rushing yards per game and ranked 110th nationally (as well as last in the SEC) in that area.
Another defensive tackle making waves this month is one from the previous recruiting class: 2013 signee Justin Manning.
Ranked as the top defensive tackle in the state of Texas in his class, and the ninth-best nationally, Manning didn’t see a snap of game action last fall while he redshirted. But Golden’s absence has allowed Manning to get some time in the two-deep this spring and show the improvements he has made.
“[He] showed some twitch that he had in high school,” Sumlin said. “He lost a little weight; when he got here he was out of shape. He has come on.”
If Henderson and Manning can contribute, that helps bolster the Aggies up the middle, where they already have veteran Alonzo Williams and sophomore Hardreck Walker, who also contributed as a true freshman. With ESPN 300 defensive tackle DeShawn Washington arriving this summer and Golden expected to return, the Aggies could begin to show the kind of depth Sumlin has been pining for since taking over the program.
At defensive end, there’s a mix of veterans and youth. Julien Obioha, who has been a starter since his true freshman season, is now a junior. Senior Gavin Stansbury is coming off his best season in Aggieland, showing flashes of his potential last fall. Senior Tyrell Taylor is back also and has been getting turns this spring.
The two young players at the position who are sitting out with injuries this spring -- Arnold and Hall -- both saw time as true freshmen last season, suggesting a promising future for each. And in the summer, the Aggies will welcome the services of five-star recruit Myles Garrett as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Qualen Cunningham and three-star prospect Jarrett Johnson.
Obioha said he is looking forward to the increased depth.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “My first couple of years here I had to play 60-70 plays [per game] and you don’t want to play that much. When you think about a two-deep or a three-deep, you want to play maybe 35 plays and having those 35 plays be where you can come 100 percent every play and you’re not tired.”
Defensive line coach Terry Price’s message to his group this spring has been clear.
“Last year, bottom of the SEC, bottom 25 in the nation, that’s not going to happen this year, that’s been the message,” Obioha said. “We’re going to be completely different this year from the bottom to the top and it all starts with the D-line.”
Johnny Manziel is one step closer to officially being "Johnny Football."
On Thursday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sent a letter to Kenneth R. Reynolds Family Investments, which had filed for the "Johnny Football" trademark before Manziel, rejecting its claim that the phrase wasn't referring to an individual.
"Registration is refused because the applied-for mark consists of or includes a name, portrait, or signature identifying a particular living individual whose written consent to register the mark is not of record," the examining attorney wrote. To make the case, the attorney attached articles that referred to Manziel as "Johnny Football."
The investment firm, based in College Station, Texas, filed for the trademark on Nov. 1, 2012, as Manziel rose to prominence in the town, and throughout the country, as Texas A&M's star quarterback. Manziel's organization, JMAN2 Enterprises, filed for the trademark three months later.
The firm now has up to six months to either request the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reconsider or file an appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The company's attorney Stephen Hollas could not be immediately reached.
Manziel's filing, which was put on hold in December, will be reopened after a final resolution is reached on the Reynolds filing.
Which SEC team has the toughest season opener next season?
We’ve ranked them 1 through 14 with the first being the toughest and the last being the easiest.
- Arkansas at Auburn, Aug. 30: One of the Hogs’ three games away from home in their first five outings, and the opener, against the defending SEC champs, figures to be the toughest of the bunch. Not only that, but Arkansas will be trying to snap a nine-game losing streak.
- Texas A&M at South Carolina, Aug. 28: The Gamecocks haven't lost a game at home since the midway point of the 2011 season (18 in a row), and the Aggies will be playing their first game without Johnny Manziel and with a defense that still has a ton to prove after last season's struggles.
- LSU vs. Wisconsin, in Houston, Aug. 30: The Tigers will have to deal with Melvin Gordon, who’s back after rushing for 1,609 yards last season. The Badgers are always physical across the board, although they're replacing a good bit on defense next season.
- Clemson at Georgia, Aug. 30: The Tigers will be without four players who are suspended for the opener, including starting defensive end Corey Crawford and starting offensive guard David Beasley. Even so, this is an old-school Southern rivalry that has produced some epic games.
- Texas A&M at South Carolina, Aug. 28: Even though Johnny Football won't be working his magic for the Aggies, Kevin Sumlin's track record says that they'll still be plenty potent offensively, meaning the debut on the SEC Network has a chance to be a thriller.
- Boise State vs. Ole Miss, in Atlanta, Aug. 28: Seeing a Boise State team without Chris Petersen on the sideline will be odd, and even though the Broncos dipped to eight wins last season, they'll still be a tough out for the Rebels in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.
- Utah State at Tennessee, Aug. 30: Second-year coach Matt Wells has the Utah State program on the move after a 9-5 season a year ago. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of 15 starters returning for the Aggies, who won't be intimidated when they waltz into Neyland Stadium.
- Alabama vs. West Virginia, in Atlanta, Aug. 30: The Saturday version of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will give us the first glimpse of Alabama's new quarterback now that AJ McCarron is gone. The Mountaineers are always fun to watch on offense, but have to get a lot better on defense if they're going to have a chance in this one.
- Arkansas at Auburn, Aug. 30: Opening with an SEC game can always be a little dicey, and Arkansas should be improved in Year No. 2 under Bret Bielema. The Hogs, however, won't be improved enough to go into Jordan-Hare Stadium and pull off the upset, and that's even if the 10-second rule goes into effect for this game.
- Southern Miss at Mississippi State, Aug. 30: The Golden Eagles snapped their 23-game losing streak by ending last season with a win over UAB. This has a chance to be Dan Mullen's best team at Mississippi State, and the whole novelty of this being the first meeting between these schools since 1990 shouldn't matter much once the game gets going.
- Temple at Vanderbilt, Aug. 30: James Franklin made it clear before he left that the Commodores wouldn't be overextending themselves during the nonconference part of their schedule. The translation: They should have four built-in wins most seasons, and it all starts against Temple at home next season.
- Idaho at Florida, Aug. 30: Second-year Idaho coach Paul Petrino is no stranger to the SEC. He has his work cut out for him at Idaho and brought in 16 junior college players in this most recent signing class, many of whom will no doubt be on the field against the Gators.
- South Dakota State at Missouri, Aug. 30: Despite the loss of several key seniors, Missouri shouldn't have to break much of a sweat against the FCS Jackrabbits. The second week, though, could be tricky. The Tigers travel to Toledo.
- Tennessee-Martin at Kentucky, Aug. 30: It's the first of two straight nonconference games at home for the Wildcats, who then get a chance to end their 16-game SEC losing streak the next week against Florida on the road.
Sumlin addressed the status of Golden, a sophomore who hasn't practiced this spring while serving a suspension in the wake of an offseason arrest, after the Aggies' practice Thursday.
"He has withdrawn from school, and we expect him back this summer," Sumlin said.
Sumlin would not elaborate on the situation.
Golden, 19, was arrested and charged with possession of fewer than 2 ounces of marijuana Feb. 23 after being spotted by police in a vehicle that was illegally parked in a handicap spot at an area apartment complex. Both Golden and teammate Darian Claiborne, who also was in the car at the time and arrested for a noise violation, were suspended indefinitely from all athletic activities per Texas A&M athletic department policy after their arrests. Neither has practiced since the Aggies started spring football Feb. 28.
Golden appeared in 11 games and started six for the Aggies last season. He recorded 32 tackles and three tackles for loss. Prior to his arrest and withdrawal from school, he was expected to either start or play a prominent role on Texas A&M's defensive line this fall.
"He played about every snap last year," Sumlin said. "Certainly everybody would want him here at practice, but I think what's more important is that he just gets himself together and get back in the right frame of mind and be ready to go summer school-wise."
Sumlin said there has been no change in Claiborne's status and did not indicate a timetable for his return.
- Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, is among a handful of Missouri players who will work out at the Tigers' pro day on Thursday. Watch live on ESPN3 at noon ET.
- The SEC coaches fought over the 10-second rule all offseason, but Alabama’s linebackers aren’t worried about it or the hurry-up, no-huddle offense.
- The left tackle position at Auburn is wide open, and it looks as though Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman are getting the first crack at it in the first week of spring practice.
- Florida opened spring practice on Wednesday, and the fans saw a more up-tempo style on offense, following a growing trend in college football.
- Former LSU running back Jeremy Hill had his probation lifted Wednesday, a punishment stemming from an incident he was involved in last year.
- Josh Robinson is in line to be the next great running back at Mississippi State, and he has high expectations for himself heading into the season.
- After moving from running back to defensive back last August, Jamari Smith is still learning how to play cornerback in hopes of filling the void in South Carolina’s secondary.
- As spring practice rolls on for Tennessee, the Vols continue to rebuild an offensive line that lost five starters from last fall.
- There has been plenty of criticism of Johnny Manziel over the years, but one ESPN analyst says the former Texas A&M quarterback has 'bust written all over him.'
But the battle to be the right tackle, the lone starting spot up for grabs, is one of the most intriguing storylines of spring practice.
One name that continues to surface is sophomore Germain Ifedi, who worked at right tackle again on Tuesday when the Aggies resumed practice after taking a week off for spring break.
"He likes playing tackle," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said of Ifedi. "We'll see. He's competing, and the way he's playing right now, he really doesn't want to give it up."
Sumlin noted Ifedi's efforts to stay in shape. The 6-foot-5 lineman has tipped the scales as high as 340 pounds in the past but trimmed down when he entered the starting lineup last season. He checked in this week at 327 pounds.
"I was on him a little bit about his weight and he pulled his shirt up and his belly wasn't hanging over," Sumlin said with a smile. "He's catching up with his body."
Ifedi's emergence allows the Aggies to shift players around on the offensive line, including the pair of junior-college transfers who began spring competing for the right tackle job: Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy.
"It's given us an opportunity to really take the two new junior-college guys and put them with the twos so they can really hone in and learn," Sumlin said.
With starting left guard Jarvis Harrison sitting out while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Aggies have also inserted Garrett Gramling -- who started two games at left guard last season -- at Harrison's position for the spring and veteran tackle Joseph Cheek at Ifedi's old right guard spot.
Sumlin stressed that with Harrison, "we know what he can do," and he said he fully expects Harrison healthy and ready for preseason training camp in August. But Ifedi's emergence as a competitor to be the right tackle opens up several possibilities for 2014.
"The thing about the offensive line is you want to create what we call a nickel, and not five pennies," Sumlin said. "The five best guys aren't always the best O-line. [It's] the guys who can communicate and the guys who can play. We'll figure that out.
"I think the experience that Germain is getting at tackle gives us some real different combinations without having to put an inexperienced player on the field right away at South Carolina."
- Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn: With Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae gone, the Tigers are looking for help along the defensive line. Senior Gabe Wright could be a threat for them inside, and so could Adams, who is coming off a solid freshman season. He had 20 tackles and a sack last season and could be in for a solid spring on the Plains. Adams can clog the middle with his 6-foot-4, 304-pound frame, but he's also a good pass rusher from the middle. Adams has a chance to take a huge step this spring and appears to be on the right track already.
- Travin Dural, WR, LSU: The Tigers are trying to replace two future NFL receivers and are breaking in a new, young quarterback. That means they need a new go-to guy to feed this spring. Keep an eye on Dural, who caught that game-winning touchdown pass against Arkansas last fall from Anthony Jennings. LSU is hoping Jennings and Dural have increased chemistry this spring. Dural is a speed demon on the field and should be an immediate deep threat for the Tigers. With the position so wide open, Dural has a shot to secure one of the starting jobs this spring.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Bill HaberLSU receiver Travin Dural's touchdown catch against Arkansas last season could be a sign of things to come in 2014.
- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: He showed flashes of greatness last year but should get an even bigger role in the offense this spring as his game matures. The thing about Howard is that he's a mismatch whenever he steps on the field. He's too fast for linebackers to cover one-on-one and too big for defensive backs to consistently stay with. He needs to get the playbook down and get more comfortable on the field, but having a year under his belt should help him in both areas. Howard has a chance to be a big-time player in the SEC, and this spring should go a long way toward that.
- Derrick Jones, CB, Ole Miss: The sophomore-to-be played in nine games last year and made three starts. He's in a fight for one of the Rebels' cornerback spots this spring, but has a chance to be a special player for Ole Miss. Senquez Golson will likely get most of the attention at corner this spring, but Jones is a player the coaches really like and he has a lot of upside after playing as a true freshman. Making Jones into a legitimate cover corner in this league is the goal coming out of spring.
- Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M: We thought he'd be a breakout player last year, but a knee injury cut his season short early on. Seals-Jones has all the athleticism, talent, speed and upside to be an All-SEC player this fall. Sure, the Aggies are throwing out a new quarterback this year, but their offense is very generous to receivers and Seals-Jones is the perfect weapon for A&M to have. He has the size to be a top-flight deep threat on the outside, but he's also very capable of playing inside, which just makes him that much more versatile for the Aggies.
Can Any 2015 Class Catch Alabama?
6:00 PM ET 21 Texas A&M 9 South Carolina 8:00 PM ET Boise State 18 Ole Miss 9:15 PM ET Temple Vanderbilt
12:00 PM ET Tennessee-Martin Kentucky 3:30 PM ET West Virginia 2 Alabama 3:30 PM ET South Dakota State 24 Missouri 4:00 PM ET Arkansas 6 Auburn 5:30 PM ET 16 Clemson 12 Georgia 7:00 PM ET Idaho Florida 7:30 PM ET Southern Miss Mississippi State 9:00 PM ET 14 Wisconsin 13 LSU