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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Alabama, Auburn Make JUCO Signing Day Splashes

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxAlabama’s defensive line received an immediate boost on Wednesday.

The Crimson Tide signed defensive linemen D.J. Pettway and Jarran Reed on junior college signing day, meaning both players will be on campus in January to take classes and compete in spring practice.

Pettway, who was booted from the Alabama football team in February, has already proven he can help Alabama. He recorded four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as a freshman in 2012.

Reed is another former SEC signee. He signed with Florida in February but failed to qualify academically. Now, he’s headed to Tuscaloosa to play for Alabama.

“I felt like Alabama was the best place for me,” Reed told TideSports.com earlier this month. “I can become a better person and player. Everything stands out to me about their program, the football aspect and the academics, the graduation rate. It’s an elite program. I want to be the best I can be. I want to play with the best.”

DaVonte Lambert believes he’s going to play with the best. That’s why the defensive lineman signed with Auburn on Wednesday after having been committed to Tennessee since August.

Lambert, who was one of four Auburn signees, was impressed by the recruiting pitch of head coach Gus Malzahn and defensive line coach Rodney Garner. The Tigers’ run to an SEC championship and BCS title game appearance certainly helped Auburn’s effort as well.

Lambert is part of an impressive junior college signing class for Auburn, which includes offensive lineman Xavier Dampeer, defensive back Derrick Moncrief and wide receiver D’haquille Williams.

Williams, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect by Rivals, should make an immediate impact in Malzahn’s offense next season.

“We’re going to throw it more next season,” Malzahn said during his Wednesday press conference. “You just get him (Williams) the ball and he makes things happen.”

Overall, the SEC has found plenty of success recruiting the junior college ranks for the 2014 class. Seven of the top 10 committed or signed JUCO players according to Rivals have chosen SEC schools.

Tennessee signed three prospects on Wednesday, including two of the top seven players ranked by Rivals. Offensive tackle Dontavius Blair was especially important for Tennessee to sign because the Vols will have to replace all five offensive line starters next season.

“He’s going to give us immediate relief and competition at the offensive tackle position,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said of Blair. “We’re very excited about him.”

 

Hampton ready to announce

Cornerback C.J. Hampton from Meridian (Miss.) High School is scheduled to announce his final college decision Friday evening at 6:30 eastern time.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Carolina’s Clowney Has “Done A Great Job” This Season

jadeveon-clowneyIt won’t be a surprise when Jadeveon Clowney makes himself eligible for the NFL draft.  The junior defensive end came into the season as a potential #1 pick with some suggesting he could even consider sitting out the year to avoid injury.

Instead, Clowney played.  And because expectations were set at ridiculously high levels, he’s been viewed by many as a bit of a disappointment this season.  Here’s the problem: Clowney was expected to make 10 big plays a game while playing a position where one sack per game is considered fantastic.  There was no way he could make enough highlight reel plays to live up to preseason Heisman talk.  And once the season began, opposing coaches schemed around him.  ”We may lose, but we won’t let Clowney beat us.”

Just ask South Carolina defensive line coach Deke Adams:

 

“I think he’s done a great job.  You don’t see many players that have been double-teamed and triple-teamed and run away from as much as he has this year, and I think he’s done a great job with it.  I think he’s handled himself well.  I think some of the things throughout the year were blown out of proportion with the way it happened.  He’s been great for us here, and we’re happy to have had him here at South Carolina.”

 

What was blown out of proportion was Clowney’s decision to sit out the Kentucky game due to injury.  Head coach Steve Spurrier made it a story by hinting that Clowney didn’t play simply because he didn’t want to… only to later admit that the player’s injury was worse than he had known.

For the year, Clowney recorded 35 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.  In 2012 he made 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five QB hurries and three forced fumbles.  That’s quite a statistical decline when it comes to big plays.

But to see the true impact of Clowney on USC’s defense, just check out the numbers for Kelcy Quarles.  While Clowney was drawing double-teams, Quarles was good enough to take advantage.  In 2012 he recorded 38 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one quarterback hurry.  This season he notched 36 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and three quarterback hurries.

While #7 wasn’t the dominating player in 2013 that he had been in 2012, opponents’ focus on him created opportunities for his teammates on a unit that ranked third in the SEC in total defense and second in scoring defense.  For that reason, it would be shocking of Clowney weren’t one of the top three picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 12/18/2013

gfx-hoops-round-up1. Manhattan 86 – South Carolina 68. Gamecocks fall to 2-4 on the season.  Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 17 points.

2. Mississippi State 78 – Florida A&M 65.  Bulldogs make 33 free throws on 45 chances - second most attempts in the SEC this season, the most made.  Team-high 16 points for Craig Sword.

3. Wichita State 72 – Alabama 67.  Shockers remain undefeated with second straight win over SEC team.  Crimson Tide drop to 5-5 on the season.  ”Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.”

4. Vanderbilt 58 – Austin Peay 56. Video HighlightsCommodores hang on despite committing 19 turnovers.  Vanderbilt improves to 6-3 on the season.

5. Florida 77 – Memphis 75.  Second straight win over ranked opponent for Gators despite season-high 17 turnovers.  Florida now 8-2.

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SEC Headlines 12/13/2013

headlines-friThe Battle For Nick Saban

1. If/when Mack Brown steps down at Texas, “the shooting can begin in the war for Nick Saban.”

2. Tim Sullivan: “Nick Saban is worth his weight in gold.”

3. Crunching the numbers at Alabama and Texas - “each school could comfortably pay Saban at least an additional $3 million, putting his compensation in excess of $8 million.”

4. Former LSU A.D. Skip Bertman: ”Nick is not a money guy.”

SEC Football

5. The exodus at Florida.  Quarterback Max Staver becomes the sixth player to transfer. Gators could be down to two healthy quarterbacks in the spring if Skyler Mornhinweg transfers.

6.  South Carolina sophomore cornerback Ahmad Christian will transfer

7. Heisman finalist and Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron: “I think if you look at my play over three years, I feel like no quarterback in the SEC or the country has played as consistent as I have.”

8. Florida State defensive back on Heisman finalist and Auburn running back Tre Mason:”I’m sitting next to this Manimal: half man, half animal.”

9. As a Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel can vote.  Did he vote for himself?  ”I did not vote for myself in first or second place.”

10. Steve Spurrier on Jadeveon Clowney’s speeding ticket:  ”I didn’t know Jadeveon’s car could go that fast. He doesn’t have a pretty car like those FSU guys used to drive.”

11. Mike Bianchi on Spurrier and South Carolina: “Unlike so many of the SEC’s other ultra-spoiled fan bases, South Carolina doesn’t look at Orlando as a consolation destination.”

12. Kevin Sumlin’s new deal at Texas A&M is official – $5 million a year with a $5 million buyout.

13. Dan Mullen on  the Mississippi State cowbells: “Well they’re actually instruments. Will Ferrell had that proven.”

14. Ole Miss begins bowl practice.  Can struggling quarterback Bo Wallace turn it around?

15. Georgia vs. Nebraska will be a game determined by backup quarterbacks. TV loved the Bulldogs this year – three Georgia games were the highest-rated of the week.

16. List of top 25 underclassmen in the country includes 14 from the SEC.

17. How about some love for the unheralded players of the SEC? Here’s to you, Connor Shaw, Sammie Coates, Markus Golden and others.

SEC Basketball

18. Arkansas 72 – Savannah State 43.  Career-high 21 points for Ky Madden.

19. The top 25 jobs in college basketball?  Just two make the cut from the SEC.

20. Kentucky faces a North Carolina team Saturday that’s already lost to Belmont and UAB.

21. Before the season started, Missouri coach Frank Haith had his team attend a Missouri National Guard training camp session.

Extras

22. The attorney for Jameis Winston’s accuser wants an independent investigation.

23. Who had the better freshman season - Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel?

24. Peter Thamel: “Once again, the presentation of the most prestigious individual award in sports will be shrouded in awkwardness.”

25. From his recruiting process to his playing days, Arkansas State linebacker Quanterio Heath is about to see his fourth coach in four years - and he just completed his redshirt freshman year.

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SEC Headlines 12/10/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, Alabama QB AJ McCarron and Auburn RB Tre Mason are among six finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

2. Athlon Sports gives five reasons why Auburn will beat Florida State in the BCS championship game.

3. Alabama led the SEC with four players on the Associated Press first team. The Crimson Tide has nine players overall.

4. Was it Alabama or Oregon that got a break by missing the other in a bowl game? Oregon fans are split on that one.

5. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is impressed with Alabama. “I appreciate good football, and they play it, and they play it the right way,” he said.

6. Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah is “banged up” as the Tigers begin BCS championship preparation.

7. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has a chance to earn more than $1 million in bonuses this season.

8. LSU needs a bowl win over Iowa, writes Ron Higgins. LSU lost to Clemson in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.

9. Florida will delay the start of spring practice in order to make sure quarterback Jeff Driskel is healthy and able to participate.

10. Marc Weiszer takes a look at Georgia during the BCS era. The Bulldogs played in three BCS bowl games.

11. South Carolina’s win over Clemson helped create the path for South Carolina to reach the Capital One Bowl.

12. Missouri will have a chance to separate itself from that 2007 team that followed similar path as this one.

SEC Basketball

13. Florida will host Kansas tonight. The Jayhawks will be led by forwards Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins.

14. Florida guard Eli Carter will take a medical redshirt this season as he continues to recover from a broken leg.

15. One sportswriter left Kentucky completely off his top 25 ballot.

16. Kentucky’s learning curve is still steep as the Wildcats prepare to host Boise State tonight.

Extra

17. Auburn and Alabama will both have some freaks playing in BCS bowls this season.

18. Report: Dave Clawson is leaving Bowling Green to become the head coach at Wake Forest.

19. CBS Sports provides its top 25 (and one) in college basketball. The SEC has three teams listed.

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SEC Headlines 12/7/2013

headlines-saturdaySEC Championship Game

1. Like his counterpart today, Gus Malzahn, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel could be headed for a significant boost to his salary.

2. Before hiring Boise State’s Chris Peterson, the A.D. at Washington spoke with the agent for Pinkel ”a few times.”

3. No Friday walk through at the Georgia Dome for Missouri due to travel delays caused by bad weather.

4. Quite a matchup today with Auburn’s running game facing Missouri’s defensive line.

5. Bernie Miklasz: “If this game is to be settled in the space where the biggest bodies collide, I like Mizzou’s chances.”

6. Missouri’s lone loss came against South Carolina.Auburn spent a lot of time watching that tape.

7. “If Auburn has one clear advantage over Mizzou it might be on special teams.”

8. MrSEC: “This one should be fun to watch and the winner should (but probably won’t) get a BCS Championship Game bid.”

SEC/College News

9. Tennessee offensive lineman Antonio “Tiny” Richardson will leave school early and enter the NFL draft.

10. South Carolina’s bowl destination? “The Cotton Bowl would like to invite South Carolina, but it’s unsure whether the Gamecocks will be available.”

11. Stewart Mandel: “The Buckeyes’ schedule isn’t just bad; it’s historically bad.”

12. RIP BCS.  ”The Bowl Championship Series, age 16, dies Dec. 8.”

13. It’s been a good year for former Phillip Fulmer assistants at Tennessee.

14. Bowling Green – coached by former Tennessee assistant Dave Clawson – upset Northern Illinois Friday night.  That victory has BCS implications.

15. Scott Rabalais:  ”If both FSU and Ohio State falter? Knock … knock … knock. That’s No. 4 Alabama rapping at the door.”

Media

16. Tim Tebow and the SEC Network? ”If he would like to give up his football dreams, I think anybody would want to talk to Tim Tebow.”

17. SEC Network will have traveling football pre-game show hosted by ESPN’s Joe Tessitore.

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Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn Gets Raise And Contract Extension

gus malzahnOn the eve of the SEC Championship Game, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is getting a raise and an extension.

Auburn has given Malzahn a six-year contract extension that will see his salary jump from $2.3 million to $3.85 million.  In addition, he’ll get a quarter-million dollar raise each subsequent year.  By 2019, the final year of the contract, Malzahn will make $5.1 million.

The new deal jumps Malzahn from 11th place in SEC coaches pay to sixth place – ahead of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. The announcement comes on the heels of an article this week that linked Malzahn to the University of Texas. Sports Illustrated’s Peter Thamel wrote that “Malzahn has told friends privately that coaching the Longhorns is his dream job.”

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SEC Hoops Roundup 12/7/2013

gfx-hoops-round-upBaylor 67 – Kentucky 62.

1. UK falls in late night game in a mostly empty stadium as ice storm paralyzes Dallas area.  Cats drop to 7-2 after making just 12-of-23 free throws.

2. John Calipari addresses media for four minutes and then walks out of postgame press conference. ”They outhustled us. They outworked us. They deserved to win.”

Oklahoma State 79 – South Carolina 52.  

3. Gamecocks blown out in first half as Oklahoma State began game on 35-9 run. South Carolina falls to 2-3 on the season.

4. South Carolina coach Frank Martin: “They came out and punched us, and our guys didn’t handle that real well.”

Saturday Schedule

Tennessee Tech at Tennessee

UCLA at Missouri

Clemson at Arkansas

Alabama at USF

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South Carolina Wins Turnover Battle; Tennessee Ends Season With Victory

postgame-links-150x1501South Carolina 31 – Clemson 17. Video Highlights

1. South Carolina force six Clemson turnovers as Gamecocks win fifth straight in this rivalry.

2. Quarterback Connor Shaw finishes career with perfect record at home.  Steve Spurrier: “Connor Shaw, oh man, the best quarterback in school history.”

3. South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton will enter NFL draft (so too will Florida corner Loucheiz Purifoy).

4. 10-2 Gamecocks won’t get a shot at SEC Championship Game but may have a shot at the Sugar Bowl.

Tennessee 27 – Kentucky 14. Video Highlights

5. Running back Rajion Neal sets the tone early with 60-yard touchdown run, crosses 1,000 yard-mark for the season.

6. Tennessee senior defensive end Corey Miller sets school record with 4.5 sacks.

7. Butch Jones on his 5-7 Vols: “We’re two instant replays away from a seven-win season,”

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South Carolina 31 – Clemson 17 (Video)

Video highlights of the South Carolina 31-17 victory Clemson Saturday night in Columbia.

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