College Weekly Report
by Brent Beaird
FLORIDA: Gideon Ajagbe (6-2, 197), an outside linebacker out of Coconut Grove, Fla., is verbal commitment No. 9. FSU, UNC and USF have offered scholarships. Last year at this time, Florida had two verbal commitments. They did not have nine verbals until October. They didn’t pick up their ninth verbal for the 2009 class until after Thanksgiving. What has changed? They are the hot team in the South after winning two of the past three national titles. They have three commitments already from the southern part of Florida. Also the continuity of the staff is a positive. Several of the early commitments have already been on campus numerous times. Seven of the nine are ranked in the Rivals 250. Eight of the nine prospects are from the state of Florida. (Gatorbait.net)
Tight end Des Parks has a dislocated knee cap. Defensive end Justin Trattou has an AC sprain in his shoulder. Receiver David Nelson is wearing a boot. Offensive lineman James Wilson (cartilage issue in his foot) is on crutches. Parks could be replaced by either fullback T. J. Pridemore or Steven Wilks. Both Pridemore and Wilks have caught passes this spring. Offensive linemen Maurice Hurt and the Pouncey twins are back in full pads. Brandon Antwine was back in a practice jersey. Redshirt freshman center Sam Robey continues to get a lot of praise. Ten to 12 players off the projected two-deep depth chart were unavailable at one point in practice this week. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap is back for the first time. Linebacker Brandon Beal was also back. Running back Jeffrey Demps will concentrate solely on track for the rest of spring. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jaye Howard has matured and improved from last season.
UF is very thin at receiver. Only six receivers were available Monday. The Gators need receivers to step up such as redshirt sophomore Deonte Thompson and redshirt junior Justin Williams (who was moved from safety). Tailback Emmanuel Moody is working to become a more complete back.
ALABAMA: The Tide defense dominated the second scrimmage of the spring. Linebacker Rolando McClain led the team in tackles with eight. Receiver Darius Hanks led the offense with eight catches for 69 yards. Quarterback Greg McElroy was 12 of 26 for 128 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Star Jackson was 5 of 12 for 12 yards with one touchdown. Guard Mike Johnson (ankle) and tailback Mark Ingram (hamstring) will not play.
Auburn and Alabama will play on the Friday after Thanksgiving over the next two years. CBS will televise the games at 2:30 p.m. The cities of Tuscaloosa and Auburn will get the Super Six high school football championship starting this year in Tuscaloosa. Birmingham will retain the high school basketball championships.
Former Browns general manager Phil Savage will be the color analyst for the A-Day Game. He started his career as a grad assistant at Alabama under Bill Curry. There has been no decision made on the status of the previous analyst Snake Stabler after taking last year off due to a drunken driving charge. Nose guard Terrance Cody is down to 350 pounds after playing at 365 last year.
The battle between quarterbacks Greg McElroy (22 of 33 for 214 yards with four touchdowns and two picks) and Star Jackson (6 of 16 for 25 yards) went to McElroy in the first scrimmage. Thomas Darrah was 10 of 20 for 81 yards and three picks. Tailback Terry Grant led the team with 18 carries for 63 yards. Linebacker Rolando McClain had 10 tackles, two picks and two sacks. Last year’s starting tailback Mark Ingram missed the scrimmage with a hamstring injury and Roy Upchurch is recovering from neck surgery. William Vlachos is making a move to nail down the starting center position. JUCO transfer James Carpenter is still running with the first team at left tackle. Michael Boswell has settled at right guard. Coach Nick Saban said right tackle Tyler Love has improved dramatically. Linebacker Brandon Fanney is back on the team after serving a suspension. Former receiver B. J. Scott has worked at cornerback.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Depth at receiver remains a problem. O’Neal Wilder, Tay Bowser and Charles Bailey are the only healthy receivers. Cameron Lawrence has moved from quarterback to receiver and next might be going to safety.
The defense dominated the second scrimmage last Saturday by forcing four turnovers including three interceptions. Quarterback Tyson Lee, who was 9 of 19 for 61 yards with two scores and a pick, hit receiver Delmon Robinson for a 12-yard score, the only one of the scrimmage. Tailback Anthony Dixon rushed 10 times for 64 yards. Fans will be given the opportunity to bid for a chance to be the head coach of the White team during this year’s spring game on April 18. The winner will be able to sit in on team meetings, be a part of the team draft, give the pregame speech and make “tough” game day decisions. Former defensive back Anthony Johnson has been dismissed from the team.
OLE MISS: Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix has pointed out linebacker Patrick Trahan as a player who has done well in the weight room and on the field. Coach Houston Nutt said he remains impressed with tailback Devin Thomas, who had a good scrimmage. Ole Miss is deep in running backs with Brandon Bolden, Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis. Defensive tackle Jerrell Powe hyper-extended his elbow in the scrimmage, but he will return soon. Receiver Dexter McCluster is back from an ankle injury. Safety signee Jamar Hornsby’s trial has been pushed back until later this month. His status on the team is in limbo.
The Rebel defense dominated Saturday’s scrimmage. Quarterback Jevan Snead hit receiver Markeith Summers on the only scoring play. Snead also threw a pass that was picked off by cornerback Jeremy McGee and returned 50 yards for a score. Receiver Dexter McCluster was held out due to an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Jerrell Powe has become a force on the line after losing 21 pounds. Powe currently weighs 329 and hopes to be 310 by the start of fall drills.
SOUTH CAROLINA: This Saturday is the annual spring game. The game can be seen at gamecocksonline.com. Coach Steve Spurrier said one of the goals for the spring game is for his quarterbacks to not throw interceptions. He also said Stephen Garcia and Reid McCollum will take most of the snaps at quarterback. Aramis Hillary is making strides at quarterback due to his running ability similar to Syvelle Newton.
Brian Maddox is the top tailback, but freshman Jarvis Giles has been impressive. Sophomore Eric Baker and redshirt freshman Kenny Miles are also involved. The running backs gained 181 yards on 52 carries in the scrimmage. Gamecock officials have announced a $50 million facility addition including new tennis courts, administrative building, new parking deck and academic center to go along with the new baseball stadium.
In last Saturday’s scrimmage, the offense scored five touchdowns. Garcia completed 14 of 23 passes for 191 yards and two scores and no picks. He connected with receiver Moe Brown on a 59-yard touchdown. Maddox is on top of the tailback depth chart after leading the team in rushing with 55 yards on nine carries. Giles continues to impress with 52 yards on nine carries. Redshirt freshman right guard T. J. Johnson has been one of the pleasant surprises of the spring. Guard Lemuel Jeanpierre will miss the rest of spring due to a minor knee injury. He missed five games last season due to a knee injury. Outside linebacker Eric Norwood has been dominating.
GEORGIA: The annual G-Day game is this Saturday at 1 p.m. ESPN will televise the game. Georgia’s record G-Day game attendance is a little over 30,000. It might be hard to match this with the Easter holiday and the Masters Tournament. There will be an alumni flag football game before the spring contest. What to watch for during the game? Tailback Carlton Thomas, who is 5-foot-7, has impressed coaches and teammates. The freshmen quarterbacks-Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger- along with Joe Cox will be on display. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been dominating in practice.
Receiver Kris Durham will miss the rest of the year with a shoulder injury. Michael Moore, Tony Wilson (who missed last season with an ankle injury), Tavarres King and signees Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten, Orson Charles and cornerback Branden Smith will have to provide help quickly.
The secondary is coming together. Sophomore Brandon Boykin has several picks this spring. Senior Bryan Evans has found a home at free safety. A big question at Georgia is will they develop a pass rushing defensive end David Pollack/Quentin Moses/Charles Johnson type player. Defensive end Justin Houston could be a possibility. This could be Georgia’s best offensive line since 2002 with Trinton Sturdivant, Clint Boling, Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn returning.
In last Saturday’s scrimmage, fullback Fred Muzenmaier, who lined up at tailback, led the team with 54 yards on 11 carries. He will also get some carries in the G-Day game. Tailback Caleb King was next with 43 yards on 10 carries. Cox completed only 6 of 18 for 65 yards and two scores along with a pick. Murray had his second straight strong scrimmage by completing 6 of 10 passes for 132 yards and two scores. Logan Gray completed 7 of 9 for 52 yards. Receiver Israel Troupe caught three passes for 111 yards. Houston, who has had a productive spring, took an interception back for a 30- yard score and collected two sacks. Coach Mark Richt and his son, Jon, were looking at Valdosta State last weekend. Offensive line signee Austin Long (6-5, 280), who is from Memphis, has undergone back surgery and will redshirt this season.
LSU: Defensive tackle Drake Nevis has benefitted from Brick Haley as the new defensive line coach. Nevis was in and out of the lineup last year, but this season he is running with the first team. Defensive coordinator John Chavis said he has never had two defensive backs on the same team as talented as safety Chad Jones and cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Defensive back Phelon Jones is transferring to Auburn. He was running third team cornerback. In Thursday’s scrimmage, the offense scored three times after starting at midfield. Quarterback Jarrett Lee threw a 25-yard touchdown to tight end DeAngelo Peterson and a 23-yard score to receiver Brandon LaFell. Tailback Keiland Williams ran a touchdown in from 25 yards. Richard Murphy led the running backs with 47 yards on six carries. Richard Dugas, a converted senior fullback, sustained a knee injury in Saturday’s scrimmage. Lazarius Levingston is coming on at defensive end. Tailback Steven Ridley had ACL surgery and is expected to be back for the season.
TENNESSEE: In Friday’s scrimmage, the defensive line and especially linebacker Chris Walker dominated. Walker repeatedly beat right tackle Chris Scott. Defensive tackle Montori Hughes also continues to play well. Quarterback Jonathan Crompton was sacked four times, once for a safety.
In Thursday’s practice, the quarterbacks threw four picks. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said most of the problem centered on poor offensive line play. Sophomore defensive tackle Donald Langley is no longer on the team. He was switched to the offensive line and was never comfortable.
Defensive back Demetrice Morley is no longer on the team. Morley did not cooperate by missing meetings and classes. Morley and his girlfriend have also recently had a child. After numerous fumbles in the scrimmage, ball security was much better on Monday. Receiver Brandon Warren has his No. 1 jersey back after complying with the coaches. Tuesday’s practice was the first that the defense didn’t create a turnover. Defensive back Eric Berry had shoulder surgery last December and will not participate in spring practice.
The defense won Saturday’s scrimmage by creating four fumbles and recovering two. Freshman tailback Toney Williams gained 84 yards on 14 carries and scored twice. Tailback Tauren Poole gained 81 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback B. J. Coleman was 17 of 22 for 112 yards. Crompton finished 9 of 16 for 90 yards and one pick. Hughes has received high praise from the staff. Running back Lennon Creer is transferring. Creer, who was hurt in the first scrimmage, got caught up in the numbers game with freshmen David Oku and Bryce Brown coming in. Montario Hardesty will likely be the main tailback this spring. Senior receiver Quinton Hancock, who is from St. Augustine, Fla., has come on during spring. Tennessee-Martin has been added to the Vols schedule for 2010. This is the first time in 27 years that the Vols have scheduled a Division I-AA opponent. Tennessee played The Citadel in 1983. The Vols play Oregon, UAB, Memphis and UTM in non-conference play.
AUBURN: Sophomore Harry Adams has moved to receiver from defensive back. JUCO transfer linebacker Eltoro Freeman has moved to first team. Halfway through spring practice there is no news on a starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is hoping to cut the list down to two soon. Kodi Burns, Neil Caudle and Barrett Trotter are getting equal reps. Running back Mario Fannin is close to being back after recovering from a sprained ankle. He is playing some slot/tight end position. Senior Jake Ricks has stepped up at defensive tackle after the Tigers lost two DT’s from season. Former Tiger Coach Pat Dye spoke to the team Tuesday. Auburn’s second scrimmage is Saturday morning.
The defense won the first scrimmage. Running backs Eric Smith and Justin Albert had long runs for the offense. Tailbacks Ben Tate and Mario Fannin missed the scrimmage with injuries. Burns and Caudle both had long touchdown passes. Safety Mike McNeil was a standout on defense.
ARKANSAS: The Hogs had a big Friday scrimmage. Tailback Brandon Bennett is back on the team after dealing with the death of his father back in Texas. De’Anthony Curtis has gotten more reps with Bennett being gone and several injuries to the tailbacks. Defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard has been hard to block. The Hogs are going to be strong at defensive end with senior Adrian Davis, sophomore Jake Bequette, and junior Damario Ambrose, the top reserve.
The Hogs scrimmaged for 161 plays last Saturday. Quarterback Ryan Mallett was 20 of 48 for 361 yards with five touchdowns and one pick. Tyler Wilson, who has been the most consistent in the past two scrimmages, completed 17 of 27 for 347 yards with five scores and one pick. Receiver Joe Adams caught eight passes for 160 yards and four scores. Jarius Wright caught eight passes for 161 yards and two scores. Tailback Mitchell Bailey carried the ball 15 times for 110 yards and one score. Curtis gained 95 yards on 14 carries. Sophomore free safety Tramain Thomas continued his good work with a pick. Freshman early enrollee Knile Davis broke a bone in his foot and will miss the rest of spring. He broke a bone in the same foot during his senior year of high school.
VANDERBILT: After Saturday’s spring game, Coach Bobby Johnson refused to name a starter among the trio of Larry Smith, Mackenzi Adams or Jared Funk.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats started practice Wednesday, April 1. They are in pads this week. Mike Hartline, who was 6-2 last year, is back at quarterback. Will Fidler is backing him up. The quarterbacks and receivers are ahead of last year’s spring according to Coach Rich Brooks. Walk-on tailback Coshik Williams has been impressive in practice. Four starters return on the offensive line. After struggling last year, Kentucky must find a running game. Randall Cobb might be working at both receiver and quarterback. The Wildcat schedule has been finalized after securing the opening game on Sept. 5 against Miami of Ohio at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium. Kentucky will receive 30,000 tickets.
CLEMSON: Spring game is Saturday. The record attendance is 20,000. Coach Dabo Swinney said admission is free, but he will have school reps at each gate taking up money for university employees who will miss five days pay due to budget cuts. Receiver Marquan Jones, a sophomore, has made strides this spring. Coach Dabo Swinney called Jones one of his top receivers last week. Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said the quarterback battle with Willy Korn, Kyle Parker and Billy Wade will continue during the summer. Receiver Jacoby Ford and tailback C. J. Spiller have missed most of spring due to being on the track team. Redshirt freshman tailback Andre Ellington has taken advantage of Spiller being out.
FLORIDA STATE: Over the offseason, the receivers such as Jarmon Fortson, Bert Reed and Avis Commack have to step up. Receiver Taiwan Easterling could be ready by September after rehabbing his Achilles’ tendon injury. Quarterback E. J. Manuel should be able to resume throwing in two weeks.
During the spring game, the defense held the offense to under 300 yards and forced seven turnovers (five fumbles and two picks). In a half scrimmage on Monday, the offense played much better. Christian Ponder, who struggled in the spring game, rebounded with 7 of 9 passing for 147 yards and two scores. Wednesday is the final practice of the spring. Once again, receiver Richard Goodman had a productive spring, but he has yet to carry the momentum over to the fall. The request for another year of eligibility for receiver Correy Surrency has been denied by the NCAA. Receiver Rod Owens has been suspended after a DUI. Over the past 12 months, there have been at least half a dozen episodes where a receiver has gotten in trouble.
Spring game numbers: Ponder 10 of 19 for 118 yards with one touchdown and two picks; Jermaine Thomas had five carries for 31 yards. Fortson had 4 catches for 75 yards. Spring game attendance was closer to 30,000 instead of the 36,000 announced.
MIAMI: Signee Cory White (6-6), a tight end from Fleming Island High, said he is up to 255 pounds. Last season, he weighed 225 and hopes to be 265 by the time he arrives in June. Former Miami quarterback Robert Marve will visit Purdue, Texas Tech and Nebraska this month before he decides where to transfer.
After further review, the first team offensive line consisting of left tackle Jason Fox, center A. J. Trump, and left guard Orlando Franklin were solid. The second team line was not. With Joel Figueroa out with an injury, the first team right guard was Harlan Gunn. Right tackle Matt Pipho held his own. Several receivers—LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Kendall Thompkins and Thearon Collier—made catches of over 40 yards during the spring. Receiver Travis Benjamin was limited due to a sore leg. Leonard Hankerson is trying to overcome dropping passes. At tight end, Richard Gordon and Daniel Adderley were few of the healthy tight ends. Dedrick Epps was limited due to a knee injury. Gordon is faster after dropping 15 pounds. He weighs 265 pounds.
BOSTON COLLEGE: The defense is light years ahead of the offense as evidenced by last Saturday’s scrimmage. On the opening drive, linebacker Mark Herzlich picked off a Dominique Davis pass and returned it for a score. Davis, who was 9 of 22 for 64 yards, was also picked off twice more by the No. 1 defense. Redshirt freshman Clyde Lee was the most impressive receiver. Quarterback Justin Tuggle, who was 9 of 11 for 87 yards, also threw a touchdown pass. He is the most vocal of the quarterbacks. The running game is in good shape with Montel Harris, Josh Haden and Jeff Smith.
OKLAHOMA: The Sooners have their spring game Saturday. Ryan Broyles is expected to be the go-to receiver on deep balls with the loss of several key wide outs. Cory Brandon and Jarvis Jones are battling for the right tackle spot. The defensive tackle position is thin without Demarcus Granger who is sitting out the spring after back surgery before the national title game. Last year’s starting defensive tackle Adrian Taylor is back after battling injuries. Defensive end Jeremy Beal is expected to break out this season after being in the shadows of guys like Auston English, who is recovering from a leg injury and an emergency appendectomy before the beginning of last season. Quarterback Sam Bradford is 220 pounds and hopes to be around 230 by the fall.
MICHIGAN: In Rich Rodriguez’s first year at West Virginia, his team went 3-8, but he rebounded to 9-4 in 2002. Tailback Brandon Minor, who struggled with a bad wrist, is healthy this season. He led the Wolverines in rushing with 533 yards. Michigan is loaded at running back with at four players who have started at least one game. Freshman Vincent Smith has been the sensation of the spring. Receivers such as Greg Mathews need to step up. The quarterback situation is unsettled because Nick Sheridan broke a bone in his leg back in March forcing freshmen Tate Forcier into playing quickly. Denard Robinson, a signee from Deerfield Beach, Fla., will be in this summer. Michigan’s offensive line is 13 deep. The team is adjusting to new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. His 3-4 formation will take some pressure off the line that lacks depth.
OREGON: New coach Chip Kelly told an Oregon newspaper that he offered his offensive coordinator position to former Tampa Bay coach John Gruden, who said he wanted to immerse himself in the college spread formation so that he could take it to the NFL on his next job. Gruden turned down the offer so that he could spend a year with his family.
USC: The L.A. Times is reporting the NCAA is combining two investigations into one probe at USC. One investigation is that former Trojan running back Reggie Bush received illegal benefits from 2004-06. It’s alleged that Bush and his family stayed in the home of a marketing rep rent free. Also there are allegations that O. J. Mayo received more than $200,000 from a middleman for an agent. There is speculation that the NCAA is going after USC with the lack of institutional control angle.
SEC BASKETBALL NOTES
FLORIDA: Freshman Allan Chaney is transferring. DeShawn Painter (6-9, 210), and Florida have parted ways. Painter signed a letter of intent last November. He is the No. 10 ranked center according to Rivals.com. He spent this past season at Hargrave Military. Coach Billy Donovan may try to sign Rico Pickett, a 6-4 guard from Miami Dade CC, who also played his freshman season at Alabama or guard Eric Bledsoe (6-0, 160), a four-star point guard from Birmingham, Ala.
ALABAMA: Former interim coach Philip Pearson was given two standing ovations during the annual awards banquet. He has been hired as an assistant coach at Georgia with Mark Fox. New coach Anthony Grant, who will make $1.8 million over seven years, is putting his staff together. Grant might also sign a player during the late signing period.
EARLY DRAFT ENTRIES: Jodie Meeks of Kentucky, Nick Calathes of Florida and Devan Downey of South Carolina and Tasmin Mitchell of LSU are going to explore their draft status without signing with an agent. Patrick Patterson of Kentucky, Tyler Smith of Tennessee and Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State are weighing their options, but have made no decisions. DraftExpress.com lists Patterson as the 24th picks and Calathes as the 30th pick, but no other SEC players are listed.
KENTUCKY: DeMarcus Cousins, the No. 2 player according to Rivals.com, is going to Kentucky according to his coach Otis Hughley of LeFlore High in Mobile, Ala. Daniel Orton (6-10, 260), a five-star center from Oklahoma City, Okla., said he is 90% committed to Kentucky. Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have offered him. Kentucky is still in the running for John Wall, a five-star point guard, who is looking at the Wildcats, Duke and North Carolina. Nolan Dennis (6-5), a wing-player from Fort Worth, Texas is also looking at Kentucky. Florida has also shown interest.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Coach Darrin Horn denied any interest in the Xavier job. Xavier assistant Chris Mack is the top bet to get the job. Several South Carolina newspapers said he did have contact.
BRENT BEAIRD IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR MYCLAYSUN IN ORANGE PARK, FLA. HE ALSO WRITES FOR RIVALS.COM, SAMSPORTSLINE.COM AND GATOR BAIT MAGAZINE. HE CAN BE HEARD ON SPORTS RADIO 1010 XL.
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