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WOW Headlines – 1/31/13

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin apologized to Alabama coach Nick Saban after calling him “Nicky Satan” during a speaking engagement
SEC Basketball on Wednesday: Georgia 57, Auburn 49… Florida 75, South Carolina 36… LSU 73, #17 Missouri 70… Texas A&M 55, Mississippi State 49 (OT)
Ole Miss backup F Aaron Jones will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury
Former Arkansas football assistants say a number of players quit on them during the Razorbacks’ 4-8 2012 campaign
USA Today has learned that Ole Miss G Marshall Henderson spent time in jail last spring when he violated probation by testing positive for alcohol, marijuana and cocaine
The SEC says it is open to discussing a scheduling alliance with the Big XII
You can keep up with all the news from across the SEC at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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Rebels Lose Key Reserve Jones For Season

Aaron Jones damaged his knee Tuesday night against Kentucky.  Yesterday the Rebels learned their 6-9 reserve forward is actually done for the year with an ACL tear.red-cross-logo

Jones has averaged 3.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game off the Ole Miss bench this season.  He’s second on the team with 32 blocked shots.

Fellow backup Nick Williams hurt his foot against Wildcats and remains questionable moving forward.

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Get Ready For Complaints: Bama Switches Recruit’s Scholarship To Grayshirt

grayshirtGet ready to hear plenty of moans and complaints, folks.  When the words “Nick Saban” and “grayshirt” are mentioned in the same sentence, messageboards explode with angry accusations and just-as-angry defenses.

According to TideSports.com, Alabama’s coach has asked injured offensive line commitment Bradley Bozeman of Roanoke, Alabama to take a grayshirt and join the Tide football team next year.  That’s a January of 2014 enrollment rather than a 2013 enrollment.  The 4-star prospect committed to Alabama in June, but he’s currently rehabbing from an ACL injury.

So is Saban exploiting a teenager’s injury in order to skirt the SEC’s 25-man “soft” signing cap?  Not according to Bozeman:

 

“Coach Saban switched my scholarship to a grayshirt.  I have known about it for about two months.  We have been keeping it on the down low.  We didn’t know for sure if that was going to be the option.  It was due to the ACL injury.  It will give me more time to get stronger…

Honestly, I think it’s the best decision for me.  I trust in the coaches.  They are going to make the right decision.  They won three out of the four national championships.  I am going to honor my commitment.  I am staying with them…

We are six to eight weeks ahead of schedule (in his recovery).  I squatted 400 pounds recently.  We are trying to be smart about it though.  The doctors told me I will be back to 100% by April.  They said I have probably been one of the best recoveries they have seen.”

 

You might remember that Saban and Alabama were mixed up in two ugly grayshirt stories that made national news last year.  Bama asked a Georgia running back named Justin Taylor to take a grayshirt just weeks before signing day.  He wound up signing with Kentucky instead.  Then an Alabama defensive line prospect named Darius Philon was asked to grayshirt a week before signing day (according to a teammate).  Though he put on an Alabama ball cap at his school’s signing day event, Philon wound up inking with Arkansas instead.

Taylor had been an Alabama commitment for a year.  Philon had been committed to the Crimson Tide for more than five months.

In Bozeman’s case, Saban at least gave the player a heads-up to the situation well in advance of signing day, though Bama coaches didn’t give him the final word until his visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

For those unfamiliar with the process, a grayshirted player signs his letter of intent in February only to delay his enrollment until the following year.  He does not report in the fall with other February signees.  The eligibility for a grayshirted player does not begin until he enrolls as a full-time student the following year.

Now that he’s the latest Alabama grayshirt to make news, all eyes will be on Bozeman to see if he does ink with Alabama… if he changes his mind as Taylor and Philon did… and if he indeed winds up a member of Saban’s football team this time next year.

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Marcus Lattimore Leaving South Carolina – Will Enter NFL Draft

Rumors and unofficial reports became reality this afternoon – South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore will leave school and enter the 2013 NFL draft.  Lattimore made the announcement at a news conference just moments ago, calling it “the best decision for me.”

The South Carolina running back suffered a brutal knee injury against Tennessee in October.  He leaves Columbia with 2,677 career rushing yards and 38 rushing touchdowns.

USC team doctor Jeff Guy also spoke at the news conference, saying Lattimore injured three of four ligaments. But  only one ligament was completely reconstructed – his ACL.  His other ligaments were reattached or supplemented and reattached.

Lattimore has started walking and is “perfectly on-course” to where he should be right now.  There are no plans for additional surgery.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said yesterday that Lattimore has “first-round ability” but he’s a “wild card” because of the knee injury.  “He is the only elite running back, when he’s healthy, in this draft. Everybody else is a third-, fourth-round pick or back”

Steve Spurrier said Lattimore’s “influence and fingerprints are all over our team,” calling the running back the team’s best recruiter.

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USC Confirms: No New Surgery Needed For Lattimore

When an athlete suffers the brutal kind of injury that took down Marcus Lattimore a couple of weeks ago, you look for positives.  You’re glad when you get any positive sign.

And the South Carolina athletic department revealed a positive sign yesterday – Lattimore will not require more than one surgery.  This backs up what Gamecock coaches said earlier in the week.  And, yes, it’s a positive.  Lattimore’s leg appeared to have been so mangled that my first concern upon seeing the injury was not ACL or MCL.  It was circulation.  Lattimore’s leg looked like it been snapped in half at the knee.

We still do not know whether or not the great player will play again, but according to school officials:

 

1.  He had his surgery in Birmingham last week

2.  Multiple ligaments were repaired

3.  He was returned to and release from a Columbia hospital on Monday

4.  He is not expected to need another surgery on the knee

5.  He has already begun rehabbing the knee in preparation to play again someday

 

Those are all good signs.  And we continue to wish Lattimore and his family the best as he works to return to the gridiron at some point.

Unfortunately, Lattimore won’t be attending this weekend’s Carolina-Arkansas game at which a new sign will be unveiled marking the back’s new career rushing touchdown record.  Doctors told him it was better to stay away than to attend the game.

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UGA WR Brown Done For Year With Knee Injury

A month ago, Georgia lost receiver Michael Bennett to an ACL injury.  Luckily for the Dawgs, Malcolm Mitchell was able to move from his brief emergency role in the secondary back to UGA’s receiving corps.  Question is: Who’ll step up now that receiver Marlon Brown has also been lost for the year to an ACL injury?

Brown is a senior and the injury he suffered Saturday will bring his career to a close in Athens.  For those wondering, Bennett is a sophomore and will return next season.

Mark Richt said of the injury:

 

“It’s just a hard thing to swallow right now…

We still have some playmakers, but Marlon and Michael were just two outstanding football players.  I mean at the time of the injuries they were both leading the team in receptions and actually have a nice physicality to them, as well, at that position.”  You know, we’ll miss that.  Other guys will just have to step up and get after it.”

 

Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns when he went down.  Brown exits with 27 catches for 469 yards and four more TDs.  That’s a lot of production to have to replace.

Georgia won 37-10 over Ole Miss and has remaining games against Auburn, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech remaining.  If they beat Auburn, they’ll wrap up the SEC East title and likely be treated to a date with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.  Against the Tide’s defense, it’s best to have all your weapons loaded.  If UGA faces Bama… they won’t.

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Bad News For UGA As Leading Receiver Bennett Goes Down With ACL Tear

On Saturday, receiver Michael Bennett was hauling in five catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns in Georgia’s 51-44 win over Tennessee.  Yesterday he was helped off the Bulldogs’ practice field with a torn ACL in his right knee.

According to The Macon Telegraph, Bennett is now done for the season.  The redshirt sophomore leads Goergia with 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns through five games.

Bennett announced via Twitter:

 

“God has a plan for me and everything happens for a reason.  Get ready for a historic season Dawg nation.  Our boys are gonna get it done!”

 

Expect Malcolm Mitchell — who just moved back to receiver from defensive back last week — to see his role expand with the loss of Bennett.  Bennett had basically picked up the slack while Mitchell served his stint on defense.

For the season, 12 different players have caught passes for the Dawgs: eight receivers, two tight ends and both freshman running backs.  If there’s a bright spot to this it’s that UGA is deep when it comes to pass-catchers.

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UF Roster Shuffle: Powell Back, Leonard Out, And Phillips Likely To UT

The Florida roster is seeing some ebb and flow today.  During his morning presser, Will Muschamp said that defensive lineman Ronald Powell is already partially back from an ACL tear in the spring and has already been cleared to do some running drills.  Though Muschamp wouldn’t give a date, he did say Powell would play at some point in the season.

The coach also announced that tight end AC Leonard — who pled no contest in April to a domestic battery charge for allegedly dragging his girlfriend by her hair and tossing her out of his domicile — will not return.  Leonard will transfer to another school.  The player was also cited in may for driving on a suspended license.

Meanwhile, four-star defensive line signee Dante Phillips is apparently set to join Tennessee’s roster.  Phillips was inked by the Gators in February and cleared by the NCAA, but earlier this month he was denied admission to the University of Florida.  His new twitter name is “knoxville bound.”

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Linebacker Depth Yet Another Question Mark At UF

When it comes to recent SEC history, defensive coordinators entering their second year at a school can expect their troops to perform better than in their debut seasons in a new system.  From Nick Saban to Todd Grantham and more, the second year usually shows a nice jump.  That should be reassuring to Florida fans who are wondering what Dan Quinn and Will Muschamp — it’s his system after all — can pull out of their hats this fall.

When it comes to linebacker, Rachel George of The Orlando Sentinel says two players have emerged as “the heart of the group.”  Senior Jonathan Bostic and junior Jelani Jenkins both had solid 2011s and are expected to be as good or better in 2012.

But what about the third starting linebacker and beyond?

 

“After Bostic and Jenkins, the Gators are slim.  Lerentee McCray earned the starting spot at strongside linebacker last year but missed time because of a shoulder injury. He’ll be one of the players counted on to replace Ronald Powell at the Buck position while he recovers from ACL surgery. Mike Taylor wasn’t as productive as coaches had hoped for last season, and Graham Stewart transferred this month after one season at Florida.”

 

Florida — like most of the SEC East’s teams beyond Georgia and South Carolina — is a tough squad to read.  There is talent, but much of it is young.  It’s the second year of Muschamp’s reign, but there are still some Urban Meyer guys running around (but hopefully not running amok) on campus.

While the D-line is experienced, question marks remain at quarterback, running back, defensive back and linebacker depth.

If it all comes together, the Gators could surprise.  If not, Muschamp could be looking at a hot-seat year in 2013.

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USC’s Spurrier Says Lattimore Should Be Ready To Juke And Jive

South Carolina star tailback Marcus Lattimore is expected to be back to full strength by the time the Cocks open practice later this summer.  The Heisman candidate is coming off surgery to repair ligament and cartilage damage to his left knee, an injury that cost Lattimore about half of the 2011 season.

Steve Spurrier said yesterday that he thinks his star should be fine:

 

“Marcus, again, is about a month or two away from full speed, but he should be 100 percent in August… I watched him during spring practice, he ran on the sideline, ran straight ahead.  And I think the month of May, he’s going to start making some cuts and planting and so forth.  But from watching him run straight ahead, I don’t think it will be a problem when he starts cutting and juking and jiving and so forth.”

 

Carolina’s coach also said that Shon Carson — a key backup to Lattimore — is recovering nicely from his own ACL tear last September.

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