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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Amadi Chooses Ole Miss

Ole Miss received good news this week when defensive back Ugo Amadi from John Overton High School in Nashville, Tenn., announced his commitment to Ole Miss.

 

The University of Ole Miss is starting to become one of the more prominent schools in recruiting – right up there with “the University of LSU.”

Amadi, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 20 cornerback by Rivals, chose Ole Miss over offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Purdue, among others.

“I chose Ole Miss just because I felt like it was a good fit,” he told Rivals. “Not just because of the coaches but because it’s close to home and I felt like I wanted to get out of Tennessee for a better situation. Now it’s a relief and I can just go out there and play ball keep my focus on getting better and getting ready for the next level.”

Amadi said Ole Miss has plans for him to help the Rebels immediately. He could make an impact on defense and specials teams.

“They said they’re going to let me play early,” Amadi said. “They want to give me a shot to earn the job as a punt returner and if I work for it I’ll be playing defense early, too. They told me they’re going to be playing five defensive backs and they’re only taking two in my class so that makes me feel comfortable knowing that they believe in me.”

Amadi is the fourth prospect and first defensive back to commit to Ole Miss’ 2015 class. He told Rivals he doesn’t anticipate any change with his decision.

“Right now my mind is made up about where I want to play the next four years,” Amadi said. “I don’t see that changing.”

 

Sheffield sticks with Vandy

Defensive back Donovan Sheffield from Ensworth High School in Nashville decided last weekend he wants to remain committed to Vanderbilt.

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Auburn’s Pearl Talks Coaching Opportunities, Show-Cause Appeal

Bruce-Pearl-my-players-1024x712Readers of this site know that beginning in January — when the “Bruce Pearl will be the hottest coaching candidate in the country” talk began — we consistently wrote that if any school were to make a play for a man currently riding the NCAA pine due to a show-cause penalty it would be Auburn.  Obviously, Auburn did indeed make Pearl their new coach.

So did Pearl have any other major schools chasing him?  Did he have serious offers from any smaller schools?  Not according to what the Tigers’ new boss told The Birmingham News today:

 

“I did have a couple calls but they were early on and from mid-major programs who wanted to know if I’d be interested.  (Auburn AD) Jay (Jacobs) wasted absolutely no time.  So then I looked, as you should, if Jay’s interested, maybe somebody else is.  What else is open?  One, I really wanted to go to work for someone who wanted me with all my baggage, my history, my challenges, with a show-cause.  And do you really want me knowing I can’t recruit until August?  (Auburn associate AD) Dave Didion, who was director of enforcement of the NCAA during my investigation, he knew what we did, he knew what we didn’t do.  He wanted me?  Here?”

 

According to reports, Didion’s review had more to do with “he’s learned his lesson” than it did with what Pearl did or didn’t do to earn himself a three-year show-cause penalty.

The bigger question is this: If Pearl wasn’t a hot commodity, how did he and his attorney milk a six-year, $14.7 million deal out of Auburn?  Pearl’s $2.2 million salary is larger than what he was paid at Tennessee before spending three years in NCAA lock-up.  Consider Pearl’s contract to be his first big victory on the Plains.

If Pearl wins ballgames, too — and it’s likely he will — Jacobs and AU may well look at Pearl’s salary as money well spent.  But if he doesn’t win, then you can bet there will be some questions asked of Jacobs regarding his contract negotiation skills.

As for Pearl’s show-cause penalty, the coach isn’t ready to say whether or not he and Auburn will launch an official appeal that would end his punishment early, before August:

 

“When I got my penalty, I had 30 days to appeal.  I thought my penalty was too harsh and I said that.  But I chose to not appeal because I had a choice between trying to get less or being accountable… I’ve already missed three seasons of basketball.  I’ve missed three recruiting cycles.  I am serving my sentence.  I didn’t know this, but when Auburn chose to hire me, there then was another 30-day window where Auburn has to show cause as to why they hired me and in that there’s an opportunity to discuss what the rest of the show-cause looks like.  And between three years ago and now, have some circumstances changed?  Now I have a job; I didn’t before.  I’ve served my three years; I hadn’t before.  So I think we’ll be discussing the timing of a June (2011) hearing and an August (2011) penalty and see what that looks like.”

 

So long as Pearl avoids future NCAA entanglements, it’s hard to imagine his hiring being anything less than a hit at Auburn, where basketball has languished since the turn of the century.

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SEC Headlines 3/27/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Alabama linebacker Denzel Devall likes what he’s seeing from the Crimson Tide’s defense.

2. Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker are making strides at wide receiver for Auburn.

3. The kicking game is another priority for Auburn as the Tigers search for a new kicker and punter.

4. Georgia should be really good at linebacker. Does UGA have the best group in the SEC?

5. LSU’s defensive tackles have their work cut out to live up to the position’s previous success.

6. UPDATE — Tiger coach Les Miles is having to defend his decision to recruit middle schoolers.

7. Here’s a look at Florida’s defensive front as the Gators’ spring practice continues.

8. Georgia cornerback Brendan Langley is taking advantage of Jeremy Pruitt’s clean slate after a difficult freshman season.

9. Missouri athletics operated with a surplus of $4 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

SEC Basketball

10. UCLA guard Kyle Anderson will present a difficult challenge for Florida in tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup.

11. The Donovans and Alfords share a special bond, writes Pat Dooley.

12. Kentucky forward Julius Randle’s mother has greatly influenced his life. “I had to be both mother and father,” she said.

13. Here’s a preview of Tennessee’s upcoming matchup with Michigan. They’ll play Friday night in Indianapolis.

14. The SEC should spend more time promoting its tough, physical style on defense, Bruce Pearl says.

15. Mike Anderson is positive he has Arkansas’ program moving in the right direction.

16. Georgia’s men’s basketball players are told to “treat women with respect.” That comes with a specific explanation.

17. What is the future of Georgia hoops? Seth Emerson takes a look.

18. Kevin Stallings has no plans to leave Vanderbilt anytime soon.

NCAA/Union News

19. The National Relations Labor Board ruled Wednesday that Northwestern football players qualify as employees and can unionize.

20.  Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann gave his take on Wednesday’s decision.

21. Here’s another look at what this decision means moving forward.

22. Dennis Dodd looks at what is a very complex situation.

SEC/NFL Draft

23. Today is Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day. Here’s a primer to get you ready.

24. Report: offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio won’t need another medical test on his knee.

Extra

25. Which Sweet 16 coaches are feeling the most pressure? Pat Forde takes a look.

26. Jeff Borzello ranks the eight Sweet 16 games. His top matchup: Kentucky vs. Louisville.

27. This isn’t a story UCLA wanted to see. Court documents show Shabazz Muhammad might have been ineligible at UCLA.

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SEC Headlines 3/25/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. South Carolina offensive lineman Na’Ty Rodgers suspended from the team indefinitely.  Redshirt freshman arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and consumption of alcohol by a minor.

2. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on quartback Dylan Thompson:  ”I think he’s by far our best player right now.”

3. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace on left tackle Laremy Tunsil: “He makes you feel so comfortable back there.”

4. Florida’s offensive line has a new sign. #ThanksGrammarPolice.

5. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on the quarterback battle featuring Kenny Hill, Kyle Allen and Matt Joeckel: “It’s going really good. They’re all out there and they’re doing good.”

6. Even without Greg Robinson, Auburn’s offensive line should be very good. Tigers return four starters.

7. Former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron will be a special guest at an upcoming Mississippi State coaches’ clinic.

8. Back from spring break, Tennessee returns to the practice field today.

SEC Basketball

9. Florida coach Billy Donovan’s contract extension will keep him in Gainesville through the 2018-2019 season. Average salary will be $3.7 million over the next six years.

10. Florida is 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament against UCLA - all games have come since 2006.

11. What if the NCAA Tournament was reseeded based on the first week’s performance?  Kentucky would move up dramatically.

12. Many heralded freshmen played poorly over the weekend - but not the ones at Kentucky.

13. Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon: ”We’ve got one of the best teams in the nation [when] we just come out and play like it.”

14. Auburn freshman point guard Malcolm Canada made the mistake of missing a team meeting.  Coach Bruce Pearl:  ”He ran until he puked the first day he was back.” Pearl expects to add two more coaches to his staff soon.

15. Losing just one senior, Georgia coach Mark Fox looks forward to next season: “We have more guys back, and that should hopefully get us off to a better start.”

Extras

16. $21.3 million surplus for the University of Alabama athletic department.

17. Bobby Knight on what the NBA has done to the college game:  ”It’s as though they’ve raped college basketball in my opinion.” Not the first time he’s used a rape analogy.

18. Former Kentucky walk-on and current Manhattan coach Steve Masiello expected to replace Stan Heath at USF.

19. “The SEC is still a better conference; but the Pac-12 might now be the most interesting conference in the country.”

20. The late George Steinbrenner liked everything about the “Seinfeld” Steinbrenner – except the voice of Larry David.

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Ex-Alabama QB McElroy Joins SEC Network Team

gfx-they-said-it4The roster of SEC Network personnel continues to grow as its August launch date draws closer and closer.  Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy has given up on his NFL dreams after a three-year stint with the Jets and Bengals and signed on with ESPN as an analyst for its new start-up channel.

He is the sixth on-air personality to be named so far joining Brent Musburger (lead play-by-play man), Joe Tessitore (top studio host), Paul Finebaum (commentator who’s daily radio show will be simulcast on the channel), Jesse Palmer (lead color analyst) and Tim Tebow (analyst).

In the state of Alabama, there’s really only one question when it comes to McElroy and his new gig — How will he cover Auburn?

 

“I hope they know that when I go down there, I’ll be going with a very professional manner.  I’ll be going to cover the game and be unbiased and tell what I really think.  I think the world of every one of those schools and there’s not one school I like more than any other.  Of course, I went to the University of Alabama and I loved my time there, but at this point going forward, I’ll have an unbiased opinion and will enjoy covering the game in a neutral way.”

 

To date that’s two Florida alums and one from Alabama.  More ex-SEC players will likely be coming on board between now and the network’s launch date.  Think that will lead to any complaints or yelps about bias this fall?  Naaaaaah.

 

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SEC Headlines 3/23/2014

headlines-sunSEC Football

1. Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell out for the rest of the spring with another leg injury.

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “The good news is we think he’ll be ready by the summertime to be working and be 100 percent by the time camp starts.”

3. Injury to his right foot likely means Auburn defensive end LaDarius Owens will miss the rest of the spring.

4. Salary pool for Auburn assistant coaches will increase by nearly $1 million.

5. Auburn defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams taking reps at defensive end this spring.

6. Arkansas quarterback’s Brandon Allen’s shoulder has healed completely.

7. LSU coach Les Miles is counting on his incoming recruiting class.  ”The recruiting class will hit us just where we need to be hit. Some of those guys are going to get first (team) snaps.”

8. LSU wide receiver John Diarse’s ankle is 100% after being redshirted last season following a high ankle sprain.

9. Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack: “I love the energy of this team. The competition has been great.”

10. Alabama had two players put on more than 30 pounds in the offseason.

11. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins orchestrated an argument in front of the team.

12. About that Florida 4-8 season in 2013: “It seems inconceivable — and yet it happened.”

SEC Basketball

13. Wichita State vs Kentucky: “The team chasing 40-0 against the team that was supposed to go 40-0. ”

14. Will Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison be ready to play today?

15. Tennessee and Mercer are survivors – not Cinderellas.

16. “UT athletic director Dave Hart might be wise to extend Cuonzo’s contract rather than paying another coach not to coach.”

17. Bruce Pearls’ show cause penalty expires in August.  ”It’s up to Auburn to get the exact details of what Pearl can and can’t do for the next five months. ”

18. “Right now, Pearl is speaking to more potential recruits through the tube than he could on the phone or in person.”

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SEC Headlines 3/22/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Alabama had a full-pads practice on Friday. One note: cornerback Tony Brown was out on the practice field.

2. Watch Alabama’s receivers, led by Amari Cooper, practice on Friday.

3. Auburn will be looking for toughness as it attempts to replace running back Tre Mason.

4. Jonathon Mincy wants to be Auburn’s boundary corner and a team captain.

5. Auburn is trying to replace Jay Prosch at H-back. Gus Malzahn: “Brandon Fulse, C.J. Uzomah are two guys that will definitely start out (at H-back).

6. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema sees a “feisty” team now that it’s going through its second spring with Bielema.

7. Expect LSU’s tight end to be “all over the place” in the Tigers’ offense in 2014.

8. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s donations back to the school have reached $1 million.

9. Barrett Sallee discussed Florida’s offense in his latest SEC football Q&A.

SEC Basketball/NCAA Tournament

10. Here’s a scouting report as Florida gets ready to take on Pittsburgh.

11. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has cooled off the “hot seat” talk as the Vols keep winning in the postseason.

12. Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison was listed as “day-to-day” after suffering a right elbow injury against Kansas State.

13. Mercer was confident heading into the Duke game. That helped Mercer pull off the huge upset.

14. LSU is preparing for a deep, physical team in SMU in the NIT.

15 Shane Rector is back with Missouri while Wes Clark remains suspended for a “violation of team rules.”

SEC/NFL

16. Mel Kiper Jr. has three Texas A&M players in the top 10 of his latest mock draft.

Extra

17. Marcus Smart’s college basketball career ended in disappointing fashion. Could Duke’s Jabari Parker return?

18. There’s still a perfect bracket out there. It won’t be winning $1 billion from Warren Buffett.

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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Urban Meyer on Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin:  ”There has been a lot of publicity about Lane Kiffin and I having issues. There’s none. ”

2. Florida coach Will Muschamp on new offfensive coordinator Kurt Roper: “Just a really good teacher, very fundamental in his approach.”

3. What do Georgia players think of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt? “I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,”

4. Why is Georgia restricting media access to spring practice when other schools open up to media and fans alike?

5. 61-year old David Kotulski is Vanderbilt’s linebackers coach – and an expert in the 3-4 scheme.

6. Alabama center Ryan Kelly: “This is a big spring.”

7. Auburn offensive lineman Shane Callahan has gained 29 pounds – up to 304. Dead heat in the left tackle race between Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman.

8. Big focus for the Auburn offense - cutting down Nick Marshall’s fumbles in the pocket.

9. Texas A&M will have its first spring scrimmage on Saturday.  

10. Focus at LSU’s Saturday scrimmage will be third-and-long situations.

SEC/NCAA Tournament Basketball

11. Mike DeCourcy: “Those who wonder where these supposed “upsets” come from… it’s often because the 12 seeds have no business being 12 seeds.”

12. Why did Florida struggle to win Thursday?  Perhaps because Albany is not your average David.

13. SEC NIT schedule.  Georgia hosts Louisiana Tech Saturday, Southern Miss at Missouri Sunday, Arkansas and LSU play Monday.

SEC/NFL

14. In defense of Johnny Manziel: “He’s a tough, almost elastic dude, in fact the toughest guy I’ve covered…”

15. Could Jadeveon Clowney be reunited with safetey D.J. Swearinger in the NFL?

16. At Missouri’s pro day on Thursday, they came to watch defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam but a few others stood out.  Lineman Max Copeland has lost 50 pounds and wants to be a fullback.

17. Vanderbilt holding its pro day today.

Extras

18. NCAA recorded a nearly $61 million surplus for its 2013 fiscal year.

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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

headlines-thursdaySEC Football

1. Report:  Texas A&M sophomore defensive lineman Isaiah Golden has withdrawn from school.

2. Want to own your own LSU locker?  It can be yours for $3,950.

3. LSU defense shuffling its linebacking corps.

4. LSU A. D. Joe Alleva on the current scheduling format: “The ADs will not change their votes. “The only hope for change is for the (SEC) presidents  to realize it’s not an equitable schedule.”

5. Goal for Florida this spring? “We gotta get better on offense.” Quarterback Jeff Driskel made his return Wednesday.

6. Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest on hurry-up offenses: “It’s just something that you have to prepare a little bit harder for. That’s really it.”

7. Alabama gets in the first spring practice in pads.  Coach Nick Saban: “Some of the guys have to mature a little more…”

8. How are Alabama players adjusting to new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin?  “He pays attention to everything — every little thing.”

9. Full pads and full contact for Arkansas today.

10. Ole Miss offensive lineman Aaron Morris continues his recovery from a torn ACL.  Expected to totally cleared by August.

11. Big things expected this fall for Mississippi State running back Josh Robinson.

SEC Basketball

12. Five reasons why Florida will win a national title – and five reasons they won’t.

13. Matt Hayes on the Florida program: “Embrace the beauty that is Billy Donovan, everyone.”

14. FiveThirtyEightSports says Florida has a 14% of winning it all, 2% chance for Kentucky, less than 1% for Tennesse.

15. Thursday and Friday NCAA Tournament TV schedule. Stuck at work?  You can watch online.

16. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery on Tennessee:  ”I was really impressed with those guys and the program that Cuonzo [Martin] has built there.”

17. Missouri will host Southern Miss in the second round of the NIT. Arkansas will travel to Cal. Bears beat the Razorbacks earlier this season.

18. Will new Auburn coach Bruce Pearl use the job as a springboard to another destination?  ”No way. No. Not happening,”

19. Auburn has received more than 500 ticket orders since Pearl was announced as the head coach

20. Pearl on Mike and Mike – “Still the craziest coach in the country.”

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SEC Headlines 3/19/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Why is former Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore lashing out at the Aggies athletic administration?

2. Spring practice gets underway today at Florida with a focus on the offense and new coordinator Kurt Roper.

3. Some players to watch and some questions to ask at Florida this spring.

4. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen appreciates having some depth at quarterback this spring. Bulldogs kicked off spring practice Tuesday.

5. Concern at LSU?  Tigers backfield lacks depth.

6. Those four Georgia players charged with  multiple counts of theft by deception on Monday were back on the practice field Tuesday but Mark Richt not ruling out any dismissals. Bulldogs potential national title contender in 2014?

7. Plenty of new faces and new roles along Missouri’s offensive line but center Evan Boehm will be the anchor in the middle. Is Tigers running back Russell Hansbrough one of the players poised for a breakout season?

8. Vanderbilt redshirt freshman C.J. Duncan is changing positions.

9. Germain Ifedi started every game at right guard for Texas A&M last fall.He could wind up playing tackle this fall.

10. Linebacker Trey DePriest will be a leader of the Alabama defense.

11. Auburn safety Trent Fisher, son of St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, may no longer be on the team.

12. South Carolina sophomore Jamari Smith trying to get the jump on five freshmen cornerbacks who will join the program this summer. A couple of South Carolina linebackers undergo arthroscopic surgeries.

13. Arkansas had to replace three assistant coaches in the offseason - but none of the changes came on the offensive staff.

14. Tennessee football is on spring break this week but here’s an updated look at the depth charts.

Bruce Pearl to Auburn reaction

15. Auburn’s new basketball coach meets the media.  ”When I made the mistakes that I made at Tennessee, I let a lot of people down.” Pearl gets six-year deal worth $2.2 million annually.

16. Pearl turned 54 Tuesday.  “Happy belated birthday, Bruce Almighty. Or should that now be Bruce Au-mighty?”

17. Pearl believes the hiring had the blessing of SEC Commissioner Mike Slive: ”I’m sure I wouldn’t be getting this second chance unless it met with his approval.”

18. “He will be a catalyst for change in the league, to the delight of commissioner Mike Slive.”

19. Pearl met with Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs at his Knoxville home Monday night - deal hashed out on the kitchen island.  One Tennessee reaction to Pearl’s hiring?  Relief.  

20. Kevin Scarbinsky: ‘A popular analogy already has started making the rounds...Pearl will be to (Anthony) Grant as Nick Saban was to Tommy Tuberville.

21. Paul Finebaum: (Alabama A.D. Bill Battle) “woke up today and found out his worst nightmare – at least from a basketball standpoint — has come true.”

22. Mike DeCourcy: “How many active coaches are better? Let’s just say they could all probably fit in one clown car.”

SEC Basketball

23. Tennessee meets Iowa tonight.  Vols are 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games in Dayton, Ohio.

24. The 13-year old son of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor just hours before tonight’s tipoff. Update: “Today’s surgery for my son Patrick went as planned.”

25. Georgia hosts Vermont tonight in the NIT.  Bulldogs going for their 20th win of the season.

26. LSU travels to San Francisco to meet the Dons tonight in NIT action.

27. Texas A&M plays Wyoming tonight in the CBI Tournament.  Coach Billy Kennedy:  ”Our guys have been good in practice, and it helps us more for next year more than anything, just playing another game, and practicing helps for the future.”

28. Freshman guard Shawn Smith still not with the Aggies.

29. With a win Tuesday night, Albany gets to play Florida in the first round.  Trivia question: Know their team nickname?

30. The President has Florida in his Final Four but picks Michigan State to win it all.

31. Florida Center Patric Young wants to become a minister after basketball.

Extra

32. Johnny Manziel and his “Fighting Ducks” Nike shoes. Merrill Hoge on Johnny Football: “He’s got bust written all over him.”

33. Here’s a look at the rings given to Florida State players and coaches for winning the BCS title.

34. Actor Vince Vaughn pays $6.5 million for Lane Kiffin’s California home.

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