NCF Nation: A.J. Green

Adapting nothing new for Murray, Dawgs

October, 11, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. -- Say this much for Aaron Murray, he has had to learn how to adapt to personnel changes on the fly throughout his college career.

Since taking over as Georgia's quarterback in 2010, there has been a seemingly endless parade of skill players in and out of the Bulldogs' offensive lineup -- from A.J. Green's four-game absence to open Murray's freshman season, to regular tailback shuffling in 2011, to debilitating injuries at receiver last season, to considerable upheaval over the last two weeks of this season.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Randy Sartin/USA TODAY SportsAaron Murray and Georgia have adapted to lineup changes in the past and they'll have to do it again if the No. 7 Dawgs hope to beat No. 25 Missouri.
“He's used to it, then,” Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo deadpanned.

And he needs to be.

In Saturday's noon ET game against No. 25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) Murray must deal with his biggest personnel challenge to date. With Georgia already without Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL in the opener against Clemson, the Bulldogs lost two more key wideouts, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett, last week against Tennessee. Tailback Keith Marshall also went down with a season-ending knee injury last Saturday, joining fellow star tailback Todd Gurley on the sidelines as the Bulldogs' high-scoring offense started to sputter without so many key pieces.

“I would say it affected not only the offense, but the team,” fullback Quayvon Hicks said. “It was players that are not only playmakers on the field, but great teammates. Losing them and knowing that they're not going to be out there, it's something that you've got to just suck it up and keep going.”

Murray and No. 7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0) barely salvaged the game, forcing overtime with a last-minute touchdown and winning 34-31 with a field goal in the extra session. The lone constant in Georgia's lineup over the last three-plus seasons, Murray's experience adjusting to the personnel around him might have been the difference in the outcome.

“You never really can truly practice everything that might happen in a game,” Bobo said. “So I think it's been a lot of experience for Aaron, obviously, to have to go through that and the game plan altered in the middle of a game. And then obviously myself with calling plays. You've just got to adjust. That's football, and I think any time you've got experience to draw back from instead of maybe something that you practiced, it's always beneficial.”

Injuries will force the Bulldogs to do some major adjusting over at least the next couple of weeks. Georgia coach Mark Richt said Gurley remains doubtful to play against Missouri and Bennett is probably out until at least the Nov. 2 game against Florida.

That leaves Bulldogs with little to no experience suddenly in the mix for playing time. Richt has mentioned walk-ons Kenny Towns and Michael Erdman as possible fill-ins at receiver, along with redshirt freshman Blake Tibbs, who has yet to appear in a game.

The running game could once again be in the hands of a group of true freshmen if Gurley is unable to go. It might even mean that A.J. Turman -- a clear redshirt candidate before Marshall's injury made that outcome less of a certainty -- joins fellow freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas in the backfield.

“[Turman] seems to be excited about getting reps with the ones or twos or whatever reps that he's getting right now,” Richt said. “He doesn't look like a guy who's bummed out about an opportunity, a possible opportunity. He seems to be a guy who's kind of anxious for it, so that helps.”

Georgia's running game could be a key factor in Saturday's game. The Bulldogs' still-developing defense will have its hands full with a Missouri offense that is one of only five in the country averaging at least 255 yards on the ground and 285 through the air. The UGA backs' ability to extend drives and keep the defense on the sideline will almost certainly be of major importance, and last year's game against the Tigers was not especially encouraging in that department.

Missouri actually outgained Georgia 371 yards to 355 last year and limited the Bulldogs' running game to just 113 yards -- 44 of which came on a single Gurley run. Georgia needs a more productive performance from Green, Douglas and the other backs if Gurley isn't there to power the Bulldogs' running game.

Otherwise, Georgia will lean more heavily on the injury-depleted receiving corps led by Chris Conley -- who would have redshirted in 2011 if not for injuries that led to his debut in the fourth game of that season.

In other words, Murray is far from the only offensive player on the roster who had to adapt on the fly because of personnel changes.

“It's definitely caused us to be mature,” Conley said. “And for guys to learn how to play in that situation, it's something that you're not comfortable doing naturally. Over the last couple of years, we've had multiple guys who had to become comfortable doing that -- stepping up, learning things on the fly, going in on a Saturday like they've been doing it all along.”

Georgia needs that trend to continue Saturday with some of the new faces in the lineup and old faces who will attempt new things. If they can handle this adjustment as capably as they have the others over the last couple of seasons, the Bulldogs still might be able to ride out their recent rash of debilitating injuries.

UGA-LSU games always memorable

September, 27, 2013

ATHENS, Ga. – As an SEC West school, LSU is hardly a fixture on Georgia's annual football schedule. But when the Tigers and Bulldogs do get together, the results are almost always memorable.

Just think back over the past decade. Two meetings in the SEC championship game – one won by each school. The phantom celebration penalty against Georgia receiver A.J. Green in 2009, helping pave the way for LSU's comeback victory. Georgia putting huge point totals on LSU's defending BCS champion teams in 2004 and 2008.

There's a lot to remember – and just like in Saturday's meeting between No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0) – there are often major SEC and BCS implications in play.

“[I told the younger players] any game can go down to the last second, but what kind of fight that they're going to have to be ready for,” said Georgia fifth-year senior receiver Rantavious Wooten, one of the few Bulldogs who were on the team when LSU last visited Athens in 2009. “They've got aspirations just like we do. They want a championship and we want a championship and this game right here, this is the game for it. So I just let them know what to expect and how it's going to be and just to get ready for it.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt is 3-4 against LSU since arriving at UGA in 2001 and Tigers coach Les Miles is 2-2 against the Bulldogs. Let's take a look at the last five times their programs squared off:

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Mark Richt and the Bulldogs hope to give LSU its first loss of the season on Saturday.
2011 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 1 LSU 42, No. 16 Georgia 10
In one of the most bizarre games of Richt's tenure, Georgia's defense thoroughly dominated the first half. LSU didn't muster a single first down and was in danger of falling down by a big margin, but Georgia receivers dropped a pair of potential first-half touchdown passes and LSU punt returner Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu took a kick back for a touchdown to make it 10-7 Georgia at halftime. The second half was a completely different story, as the Bulldogs committed a couple of turnovers, LSU's pounding rushing attack began to have its intended effect and Todd Grantham's defense seemed helpless as the Tigers rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns after intermission, turning the game into a rout.

Oct. 3, 2009 (Athens): No. 4 LSU 20, No. 18 Georgia 13
This one will forever be remembered among Georgia fans for a referee's questionable decision to penalize Georgia superstar Green for excessive celebration following his leaping, go-ahead touchdown catch with 1:09 to play, giving Georgia its first lead at 13-12. The penalty forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their own 15 and LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday made them pay by returning the kickoff to the Georgia 43, with a 5-yard penalty against the Bulldogs on the kickoff moving LSU even closer to the UGA end zone. Two plays later, Charles Scott rushed for his second touchdown of the fourth quarter, a 33-yard run with 46 seconds to play allowing LSU to improve to 5-0.

Oct. 25, 2008 (Baton Rouge): No. 7 Georgia 52, No. 13 LSU 38
As wild as the ending of the 2009 game was, this one was crazy from the very beginning. Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble returned an interception for a 40-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added a 53-yard pick six in the game's closing minutes as the Bulldogs hung half-a-hundred on LSU's porous defense. The Tigers surrendered 50-plus twice that season – the first time in school history that had happened – leading Miles to dump co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto after the season in favor of former Tennessee coordinator John Chavis, who has been in Baton Rouge ever since.

2005 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 13 Georgia 34, No. 3 LSU 14
Although fellow receiver Sean Bailey caught a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from D.J. Shockley that got Georgia off on the right foot, Bulldogs senior Bryan McClendon – now the team's running backs coach – might have delivered the play of the game when he blocked a punt midway through the second quarter deep in LSU territory. That helped Georgia score to take a commanding 21-7 halftime lead which LSU never threatened. The Bulldogs' defense also did its job that day, limiting an LSU rushing attack that dominated in their 2003 meeting in Atlanta to just 74 rushing yards.

Oct. 2, 2004 (Athens): No. 3 Georgia 45, No. 13 LSU 16
Nick Saban's final game against Georgia while at LSU ended with a humiliating loss, as the Tigers surrendered the most points allowed by an LSU defense since Florida hung 56 on them in 1996. Georgia quarterback David Greene threw only 19 passes, but set a school record by completing five of them for touchdowns. The Bulldogs had lost twice to Saban's Tigers in 2003 – 17-10 in Baton Rouge and 34-13 in the SEC Championship Game – but they quickly exacted a degree of revenge by jumping out to a 24-0 lead before LSU could answer. The Bulldogs also generated three turnovers and sacked LSU quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell five times.

Both teams have been ranked in the top-20 in all seven of their meetings in the Richt era, and this will be the second time they've both been in the top-10. While not every meeting between the two has produced a close contest, they've all been memorable – and almost always impacted their respective championship chases.

“They've been great games. ... Just about every one of them, both teams are ranked teams and at least in the Top 25,” Richt said. “It is a cross-conference rival, so it doesn't hold quite the weight of an Eastern Division [game] when it comes to who plays in Atlanta. We could lose the game and still control our destiny, and they could lose the game and still control their destiny, so it's not do-or-die as far as league play, but it's very important for any national title hopes.”

It’s pretty obvious by now that the NCAA never really had anything on Johnny Manziel.

He might have signed thousands of autographs for a number of brokers in a number of locales. But if he took money or agreed to take money -- and Johnny Football insists he did neither -- then the NCAA couldn’t find an ounce of proof.

Makes you wonder what all was discussed in that six-hour powwow between Manziel and the NCAA on Sunday.

Also makes you wonder if the NCAA has been rendered completely and utterly toothless.

The biggest joke to come out of all this is that Manziel will be suspended for a half.

Not a game (with deference to Allen Iverson), but a half.

The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will sit out the first half of Saturday’s season opener against Rice because of a secondary violation. In short, Manziel is being punished because he should have known better than to sign all those autographs for brokers who were going to profit from them.

Naturally, skeptics will huff that nobody would agree to sign that many items out of the goodness of their heart or be that oblivious.

But, again, where’s the proof that any money exchanged hands?

Regardless of whether Manziel took thousands of dollars or didn’t take a dime, it’s laughable that he would be suspended for a half.

Why suspend him at all?

It’s reminiscent of your grandmother spanking you on the wrist when you were a kid with her padded paddle.

You can’t help but wonder what former Georgia star receiver A.J. Green is thinking. He sold one of his bowl jerseys for $1,000 to someone the NCAA considered an agent and it cost him four games in 2010.

But the NCAA had the goods on him.

You also have to think a few eyebrows have been raised at Ohio State, where five players -- including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor -- were suspended in 2011 for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards as well as receiving improper benefits from a local tattoo parlor.

No two cases are the same when it comes to these matters, and all that really matters is what you can prove.

If you read the joint statement released by Texas A&M and the NCAA, the bottom line was that there was no evidence that Manziel accepted any money.

Here’s the part of that statement that really jumped off the page: “NCAA rules are clear that student-athletes may not accept money for items they sign, and based on the information provided by Manziel, that did not happen in this case.”

It was also noted in the statement that the NCAA would review any additional information that might come to light in the matter.

Here’s betting that it’s a closed case.

The question now: What kind of impact will the culmination of the past eight months have on Manziel, who we forget is only 20 years old?

Controversy can be a funny thing. Some players draw strength from it. Others melt from it.

The more the heat turned up on Cam Newton in 2010, the better he played.

There’s no question Manziel’s inner fire is raging. He’s the ultimate competitor and revels in proving people wrong.

There’s going to be more pressure on him than ever before to perform this season, and as soon as he stumbles for the first time, everybody is going to wonder if he was his own worst enemy.

But if you know anything about Johnny Football, know this: He’s not thinking about stumbling. He’s not thinking about what else might be out there regarding potential NCAA violations, and he’s not thinking about what defenses have in store for him this season, which will almost certainly be his last in College Station.

Nope, Johnny Football is thinking about one thing -- making a few people pay.

And not for his autograph.
ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the first rules in marketing is to meet your customers where they are -- to essentially seek out the circumstance or medium where your message is most likely to resonate.

That’s the concept that was in play when Georgia’s football program started developing a free app -- titled “The Georgia Way,” after coach Mark Richt’s catchphrase for how he expects players and staffers to go about their business -- that recruits and their families can access on iPhones or iPads.

Mark Richt
AP Photo/John AmisGeorgia coach Mark Richt hopes the app results in positive attention for his program.
“When you poll teenagers and ask what they use a computer for, they say their homework,” said Mike Thrower, president of the company that designed the app, Overtime Software. “They don’t do social media on a computer, they don’t browse for information on a computer. It’s all on mobile devices now. That’s just kind of the direction it’s going. So if you want to reach them, that’s the way to reach them.”

Georgia is not the first major program -- LSU’s Overtime-built app, “The Les Miles Method,” debuted nearly three years ago -- but the app trend is only beginning to catch on in the college football world. Bulldogs video coordinator Brett Greene, who helmed the app project, said Georgia is “one of maybe five or six schools that has put one out there,” and he believes it keeps the program on the cutting edge in the recruiting game.

“It’s a great tool for our coaches to have when they go into recruits’ homes to show their parents, show the recruits. It’s kind of an icebreaker,” Greene said. “They can sit there for 20 or 30 minutes and the mom or dad who hasn’t had a chance to come over here can come here on a visit. They can sit there for 20 or 30 minutes and see everything about Georgia, see everything about Athens, our facilities, academics and all that.”

The app is divided into three main categories that break down the past, present and future of Georgia’s football program. In scrollable timeline fashion, it showcases a number of former Bulldogs who went on to play in the NFL like 2009 No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford and Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green. It features the Bulldogs’ gameday traditions, their coaching staff and current players’ accomplishments. And it shows off many the layers of a student-athlete’s experience as a Georgia football player, including the football facilities at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, the East Campus dormitories, the Rankin Smith Center and other academic buildings, and the social opportunities that exist in Athens and the surrounding area.

It also features a number of videos that Greene and his team produced, including one narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson that plays as the app first opens. That’s one of the features that separate Georgia’s app from others in existence, Thrower said.

We hope that it will be something that recruits, especially, enjoy. But it’s not just for recruits, it’s for the Georgia people.

-- Georgia coach Mark Richt

“They’re the first app that I know of to have a celebrity participating in the app. That’s really a cool thing,” Thrower said. “The other thing that’s pretty unique is the way the story’s told, the whole concept of a timeline. You say, ‘Some people have come before you and this is what coming to Georgia will do for your future. And while you’re at Georgia, this is what you can expect.’ That whole past, present, future concept is pretty unique.”

The concept also serves as a means for Georgia’s fans to learn more about the program they follow, which Richt said gives it added value.

“We hope that it will be something that recruits, especially, enjoy. But it’s not just for recruits, it’s for the Georgia people,” Richt said. “And as I’m watching it be put together, it looks pretty slick. Hopefully it will help draw attention to our program in a positive light.”

The app has existed for only a few months and has already been updated twice -- a trend that will continue when Greene and company deem it necessary to update the player accomplishments, videos and other features in order to keep its message fresh.

Keeping it fresh is what developing the app was about in the first place, and Greene sees it having value for at least another few years as technology continues to evolve.

“Kids these days, they want to see cool things on the phone. They want to see flashy things like videos. They want to see pictures -- interactive stuff. The app has all that stuff,” Greene said. “It has interactive animation, it has videos. That’s what kids are looking at.

“Obviously they stay on Twitter and Instagram all day long, so we wanted to make sure that stuff was connected to our app so they can stay in touch with that. I think that’s what is catching high school kids’ eye now.”

SEC newcomers to watch

April, 3, 2012
Newcomers come in all shapes and sizes.

There are freshmen newcomers, junior college transfers and regular transfers. Regardless, they all come in with the expectations of playing immediately. JUCO standouts and transfers maybe more so than rookies, but the days of automatically redshirting true freshmen are over. Like, dead.

Last year, the SEC saw a few newcomers make immediate impacts. A great example is Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, who transferred from USC back in 2010, but didn't play until last fall. All he did was lead the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss. There was Arkansas linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, who came from the JUCO ranks to be one of the Hogs' most productive linebackers.

Freshman Isaiah Crowell had an up-and-down season, but was sixth in the SEC rushing, and was named the SEC's freshman of the year. His classmate, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, wasn't too bad, either. You also can't forget about South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was seventh in the SEC with eight sacks.

So, as spring practice begins to wind down around the conference, we're taking a look at five newcomers to keep an eye on in 2012. Some are on campuses, some aren't. Some are obvious choices, and you could be surprised by a couple. Top newcomers can be top league players, or players who will make big impacts on their teams at a position of need.

We're going in alphabetical order, so here's our list:
  • Denico Autry, DE, JUCO, Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are looking to replace Sean Ferguson at one of the defensive line spots, and Autry was brought in to do just that. The coaches have been extremely impressed with how the former East Mississippi Community College standout has looked in spring practice. People around the program have simply described Autry as a "beast," and the thought is that he'll enter the fall starting at one of the end spots.
  • Travell Dixon, CB, JUCO, Alabama: Dixon has had a pretty successful spring, and has had the honor of playing at Alabama's "star" (nickel) cornerback spot. That shows you just how much coach Nick Saban respects Dixon's game. Saban usually puts his most complete defensive backs at the star. That's where Javier Arenas played, and DeQuan Menzie after him. With Alabama losing Menzie and Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback, Dixon has a chance to come in and start immediately.
  • Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Fr., Missouri: It was hard to find another 2012 recruit who received the attention that Green-Beckham did. He has drawn comparisons to A.J. Green, Julio Jones, and Calvin Johnson. That's pretty good company, and Missouri is expecting DGB to contribute immediately. DGB stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 220 pounds, making him a huge, physical target for quarterback James Franklin. DGB might arrive this summer as Missouri's most talented receiver. It also helps that he has top speed, and could be the deep threat that Missouri's offense needs.
  • Latroy Pittman, WR, Fr., Florida: Haven't heard of him? Don't worry, not many have. Pittman committed to Florida so long before national signing day, his recruitment wasn't too exciting or noticeable. However, Pittman, who was ranked the No. 24 wide receiver by ESPN recruiting services, has been very productive in spring practice. He isn't the fastest receiver, but with Florida struggling to find a true go-to receiving target, Pittman has really shined by being one of the Gators' most consistent receivers this spring. Word around Florida's program is that Pittman will definitely see playing time this fall. Receiver is wide open in Gainesville, so Pittman could play his way into quality time.
  • Shaq Roland, WR, Fr., South Carolina: With Alshon Jeffery gone, South Carolina is searching for a wide receiver to step up and become a primary target for quarterback Connor Shaw. Right now, Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington will get the first shots, but a lot of players at the position are pretty unproven. Roland was one of the top high school receiving targets last year, and has the playmaking ability that could really spark the Gamecocks' passing game. Roland could be a deep threat or make plays over the middle. He wasn't afraid of contact in high school, and that mentality should carry over to the college level. Adding some weight will be key, but coach Steve Spurrier should have fun working him into the offense.
From the moment Dorial Green-Beckham put that black-and-yellow Missouri ball cap on his head, the expectations for him at Missouri went through the roof.

Actually, the former Springfield, Mo., Hillcrest High star probably would have had relatively high expectations no matter where he signed. He's a special talent, who caught 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns as a high school senior. The No. 1 receiver prospect stands 6 feet 6 inches and weighs 220 pounds, making him an ideal target for any quarterback in any type of offense. And even with his size, he still has the speed to be a legit deep threat at the college level.

Stop drooling James Franklin. You'll get to start working with him before you know it.

But will DGB be a star on the field from the word "go?" Will he immediately be that top-flight receiving threat that Missouri is still searching for in its offense? Will he take the SEC East by storm and help propel the Tigers toward the top of the division?

The hype machine says yes and he should benefit from having Franklin as his quarterback and being able to learn from vets, like T.J. Moe, who was Missouri's leading receiver last year, and Marcus Lucas, who emerged as a top receiving threat for the Tigers in 2011. However, he's never played on the level of the SEC or seen anything like what he'll see from SEC defenses.

Still, if DGB can nail Missouri's playbook down early and get pretty comfy in the Tigers' offense during the offseason, he could move from watcher to doer very quickly next season.

With his measurables and skill set, DGB could be a very special player in this league and if recent history is an indicator, he could very well make that immediate impact that Mizzou fans expect him to.

We don't have to go far to see success from rookie receivers in this league. Just last season Georgia's Malcolm Mitchell proved to be the Bulldogs' most talented pass catcher. He led Georgia, and was fourth in the SEC, in receiving, hauling in 45 passes for 665 yards and four touchdowns. He did that only playing 11 games, as a hamstring injury cut into his playing time during the middle part of the season.

There was also LSU's Odell Beckham Jr., who was second on the team in receiving and grabbed 41 catches as a frosh. Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief and Vanderbilt's Chris Boyd also made big impacts in their respective offenses, as Moncrief led the Rebels in receiving and Boyd led the Commodores with eight touchdown receptions.

Over the years, we've seen other freshmen come in and make their presences well known in passing games. Percy Harvin was one of the most exciting players to watch in 2006 at both a wide receiver and a running back, as he registered 855 total yards of offense and five touchdowns for Florida. In 2009, SEC All-Freshman mates Alshon Jeffery and Chad Bumphis led their schools in receptions and yards.

And who could forget what A.J. Green did at Georgia and what Julio Jones did at Alabama in their first seasons? Both could have just jumped to the NFL at the end of the seasons if they were allowed to.

We've only seen a glimpse of what DGB can do as a football player and if the experts are correct, he has a bright future ahead of him. And Mizzou's faithful is hoping he can have the early success of some of those receivers who have come before him in this league.

Looking back at the 2008 signing class

January, 19, 2012
Our recruiting folks at ESPN have gone back and re-visited the 2008 signing class and assessed how the marquee prospects in that class fared in college.

It’s one of my favorite exercises, because it’s a reminder that recruiting is anything but an exact science, and that evaluating recruiting classes and prospects on signing day is a dicey proposition.

Everybody is trying to recruit great players, but what matters is what you do with those players once you get them on your campus.

Of the 25 top prospects in the 2008 class, seven signed with SEC schools.

No. 2 on that list was Julio Jones. No. 5 was A.J. Green, and No. 8 was Patrick Peterson.

I’d say the analysts got those three right. They were all great players who earned numerous awards and accolades, and all three were taken among the top six picks in last year’s NFL draft.

But for every Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson, there’s a Will Hill, Dee Finley, Chancey Aghayere and Burton Scott.

All four were ranked among the top 25 prospects in the nation by ESPN in 2008, but for varying reasons, they never flourished in college.

Hill, a safety who signed with Florida out of West Orange, N.J., was the No. 3 overall prospect in 2008. He had a promising freshman season, but struggled with consistency his next two seasons. He declared early for the NFL draft and wasn’t selected, and wound up playing in the Arena Football League.

Finley, another safety who signed with Florida out of Auburn, Ala., was No. 10. He was sidetracked by injuries and off-the-field issues during his career and announced that he was transferring to North Alabama.

Aghayere, a defensive end who signed with LSU out of Garland, Texas, was No. 14. He’s a rising senior, but has played mostly in a reserve role for the Tigers. He didn’t make any starts this season and finished with three total tackles.

Scott, an athlete who signed with Alabama out of Prichard, Ala., was No. 19. He moved from running back to cornerback after arriving at Alabama, but wound up transferring and played at South Alabama this past season.

Florida signed an SEC-high six players in 2008 that were ranked among the top 55 prospects nationally. The Gators signed 10 players who were ESPNU 150 prospects.

It’s a haul that looked terrific at the time, but four seasons later, the Gators lost six football games and didn’t beat anybody in 2011 (in the FBS ranks) that finished with a winning record.

There’s also the flip side.

Alabama’s 2008 class was ranked No. 3 by ESPN, and it’s a class that was the driving force behind the Crimson Tide’s dizzying run the past few years, which includes two national championships.

So, again, there are always hits and misses in recruiting, and those players who miss sometimes do so for reasons that go well beyond football ability. What’s more, classes that look like a million dollars on signing day don’t always look so good three and four years later.

Just something to remember with national signing day approaching.

Here’s a look at the remaining ESPNU 150 prospects in 2008 who signed with SEC schools:

SEC position rankings: WRs/TEs

June, 16, 2011
Today we take a look at the wide receiver/tight end positions in the SEC. This one gets tricky since we’re basing rankings on two different positions.

Let’s take a look at what we came up with:

[+] EnlargeJoe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs
AP Photo/April L. BrownJoe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs combined for 2,260 yards last season.
1. Arkansas: The Razorbacks could have the best wide receiver corps in the country. Making things even better for Arkansas is that each member of its tremendous trio is a senior. First, there’s Greg Childs, who would have taken part in the NFL draft this year had he not suffered a knee injury late in the season. Childs is Arkansas’ best receiver when he’s healthy. Joe Adams really came on strong last year, especially after Childs went down. He’s the best when he gets the ball in open space and will command the slot. Then there’s Jarius Wright, who is the fastest of the three and got even stronger this spring as well. The three have 324 combined career receptions for 5,404 yards and 41 touchdowns.

2. LSU: The Tigers might have lost Terrence Toliver, but they’ll still have weapons at receiver. Junior Rueben Randle is expected to be the go-to guy in LSU’s offense and is coming off a season where he caught 33 passes for 544 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Shepard was right behind him last season, catching the same amount of balls, but only totaled 254 yards and one touchdown. He looked sharper this spring and is looking to break out this fall. Tight end Deangelo Peterson should also get more attention this fall. He only caught 16 passes, but that number should increase.

3. South Carolina: For starters, the Gamecocks have the league’s best receiver in Alshon Jeffery. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound freak snatched just about everything that came his way last fall and registered 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s nearly impossible to stop in one-on-one situations. Senior Jason Barnes didn't make a major impact in 2010, but he does have 60 career receptions under his belt. The smaller Ace Sanders should be even better after bursting onto the scene with 25 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns. D.L. Moore, who caught 17 passes in 2010, should have a more expanded role as well.

[+] EnlargeTavarres King
Dale Zanine/US PresswireWith A.J. Green in the NFL, Tavarres King should become the Bulldogs' main receiving threat.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs are still looking for a few playmakers at receiver, but there is definitely talent in Athens. Junior Tavarres King has moved into A.J. Green’s flanker spot and while he’s not Green, he proved this spring that he’s ready to be the Bulldogs' main receiving threat. Tight end Orson Charles is the best at his position and can flex out to receiver if needed. His 26 catches for 422 yards should increase this upcoming season. Marlon Brown also made strides this spring and should be the No. 2 receiver.

5. Tennessee: Neither Justin Hunter nor Da'Rick Rogers had a ton of catches last fall, but that will change with a strong passing game in 2011. Hunter caught 16 passes, but registered 415 yards and seven touchdowns in the process. He’s a solid deep threat and playmaker. Rogers also only caught 16 passes, and while he didn’t have the yardage Hunter had, he made tremendous strides this spring. Tight end Mychal Rivera caught 11 passes in 2010 and with Luke Stocker gone he takes over as the Vols’ weapon at tight end.

6. Alabama: There aren’t a lot of questions surrounding the Crimson Tide, but receiver isn’t Alabama’s best area. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks should get the brunt of the catches. They combined for 70 catches for 1,013 yards and six touchdowns last season. There is a long list of other inexperienced players who should grab some catches as well and former Ohio State receiver Duron Carter, who just transferred in, could be a factor this fall.

7. Florida: The Gators have talent at wide receiver, and Florida should have a more pass-friendly offense, but the group is very unproven. Frankie Hammond Jr. could be Florida’s best weapon at receiver with his speed and athleticism. Omarius Hines has the size and speed to be a major mismatch for defenders in the slot and on the outside. Freshman Quinton Dunbar was Florida’s top deep threat this spring and should get ample playing time. At tight end, Jordan Reed was called Florida’s best athlete and could end up being the Gators’ top playmaker. Trey Burton should catch a few more passes as well.

[+] EnlargeChad Bumphis
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireMississippi State's Chad Bumphis caught 44 passes for 634 yards and five touchdowns last season.
8. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have a ton of depth at receiver, starting with Chad Bumphis. The junior has yet to really break out, but this could be the year he finally puts it together. Alongside him, Mississippi State has Chris Smith, Brandon Heavens and Arceto Clark, who all had solid springs. Those four combined for 115 catches last fall. The Bulldogs also have a host of young receivers who appear ready to compete.

9. Auburn: There is still some talent left on the Plains at receiver. Sure, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery are gone, but the Tigers will look to Emory Blake and Trovon Reed to make up for their departures. Blake is the leading returning receiver, while Reed will be used all over the field by Auburn’s coaches. He can be a threat in the slot and on the outside. Philip Lutzenkirchen will be more of a staple in the offense as the Tigers’ trusted H-back.

10. Ole Miss: Athletically, the Rebels are fine. However, this group is very inexperienced and was inconsistent this spring. The incoming freshmen will have every opportunity to take a starting spot and Tobias Singleton could be the best option of Ole Miss’ youngsters. Of the returners, Melvin Harris did the most in 2010, catching 30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Vincent Sanders will also get a chance to heavily contribute after making strong strides this spring.

11. Vanderbilt: Four of Vanderbilt’s five receiving leaders return, but the group wasn’t tremendously productive last fall. The Commodores didn’t have a receiver go over 320 yards last season and tight end Brandon Barden caught a team-high 34 passes for 425 yards. Vanderbilt's top two wideouts -- John Cole and Jonathan Krause -- are back, but the Commodores might have to turn to their youngsters for help.

12. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost a lot when do-everything Randall Cobb left early for the NFL and things didn’t get any better by losing No. 2 wideout Chris Matthews. Now, it’s back to the drawing board in Lexington. La'Rod King should be the top target for quarterback Morgan Newton, but he disappointed at times this spring. Matt Roark and E.J. Fields will compete for time, but both need vast improvement. The top athlete could be Brian Adams, but he spent spring playing for Kentucky’s baseball team.

Who returns the touchdown-makers?

May, 23, 2011
One way to gauge how a team might fare offensively heading into the next season is to determine what percentage of the players who scored touchdowns the previous season will be back.

In the case of Vanderbilt, every player who rushed for a touchdown or caught a touchdown pass a year ago is back for the 2011 season.

Of course, the Commodores only scored 24 touchdowns all season long in finishing 2-10 and have a new coaching staff.

So looking purely at the number of touchdown-makers returning is anything but a foolproof way to predict success that next season.

Still, it provides a few hints.

Kentucky, for instance, scored 52 offensive touchdowns last season. The Wildcats don’t return a single player who threw any of their 26 touchdown passes a year ago, and 37 of their 52 touchdown runs or receptions were scored by players who won’t be around in 2011.

Only one of Mississippi State’s 46 offensive touchdowns a year ago was accounted for by a player who won’t be on the roster in 2011.

And then there’s Georgia. The Bulldogs return quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason, who combined for all 25 touchdown passes a year ago. Murray threw 24 and Mason one. But with receivers A.J. Green and Kris Durham departing, only nine of those 25 touchdown passes were caught by players returning.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown in the SEC of who returns the most scoring firepower:

1. Vanderbilt: 100 percent
24 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (24 are back)
11 passing touchdowns in 2010 (6 are back)
11 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (11 are back)
13 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (13 are back)

2. Mississippi State: 97.8 percent
46 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (45 are back)
18 passing touchdowns in 2010 (18 are back)
18 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (17 are back)
28 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (28 are back)

3. Florida: 95.3 percent
43 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (41 are back)
12 passing touchdowns in 2010 (12 are back)
12 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (11 are back)
31 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (30 are back)

4. South Carolina: 79.6 percent
49 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (39 are back)
23 passing touchdowns in 2010 (23 are back)
23 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (16 are back)
26 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (23 are back)

5. Arkansas: 77.6 percent
58 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (45 are back)
36 passing touchdowns in 2010 (4 are back)
36 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (30 are back)
22 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (15 are back)

6. Ole Miss: 68.9 percent
45 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (31 are back)
17 passing touchdowns in 2010 (0 are back)
17 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (10 are back)
28 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (21 are back)

7. Tennessee: 57.5 percent
40 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (23 are back)
26 passing touchdowns in 2010 (26 are back)
26 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (11 are back)
14 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (12 are back)

8. Alabama: 50 percent
54 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (27 are back)
24 passing touchdowns in 2010 (4 are back)
24 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (13 are back)
30 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (14 are back)

9. LSU: 48.7 percent
39 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (19 are back)
10 passing touchdowns in 2010 (10 are back)
10 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (5 are back)
29 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (14 are back)

10. Auburn: 43 percent
72 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (31 are back)
31 passing touchdowns in 2010 (0 are back)
31 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (16 are back)
41 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (15 are back)

11. Georgia: 36.9 percent
46 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (17 are back)
25 passing touchdowns in 2010 (25 are back)
25 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (9 are back)
21 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (8 are back)

12. Kentucky: 28.8 percent
52 offensive touchdowns in 2010 (15 are back)
26 passing touchdowns in 2010 (0 are back)
26 receiving touchdowns in 2010 (8 are back)
26 rushing touchdowns in 2010 (7 are back)
Numbers have been crunched, spring games have been watched and rosters have been thoroughly examined. So, we all know who will be tabbed as the SEC favorites heading into the fall.

When all the preseason polls come out, Alabama and LSU will most likely be in the top five, while Arkansas should hover around the top 10. South Carolina should be the highest ranked representative from the East and will be the favorite to make it to Atlanta for the SEC title game.

But there is also the slim chance that the media will be wrong about these teams, leaving for a surprise to bask in SEC glory.

Auburn was that team last year, so it will come as no real surprise if there is another team that surpasses expectations to challenge for a championship.

Here's a look at my three SEC dark horses for the upcoming season:

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have been a sexy pick this spring to be the team that challenges those four for the SEC crown. Mississippi State returns most of the components of an offense that ranked fifth in the SEC in total offense (401.3 yards per game). One of those components is quarterback Chris Relf, who showed at the end of last season that he's got quite the arm to go with his legs. He'll have plenty of targets to throw to with tremendous depth returning at wide receiver. The Bulldogs must replace remembers of the front seven on defense, starting with three linebacker spots, but they will have a very strong and frustrating secondary to help out.

Georgia: This group of Bulldogs has the talent to make it to Atlanta and win it all. But that seems to be the theme in Athens every year. The star of the show is sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray, who improved both his on-field game and leadership skills this spring and could be the most talented quarterback in the league. He doesn't have A.J. Green to throw to anymore, but he does have the talented Tavarres King at the flanker spot and Orson Charles at tight end, who could move out to receiver at times as well. The defense should be one of the most fun to watch this fall, with a pack of talented linebackers and a strong secondary. Finding playmakers at receiver and running back are the next steps.

Florida: Like Georgia, Florida has the talent to compete for a title. However, there is a new regime in Gainesville and there are a ton of questions on offense. The offense really struggled in the spring game, but new coach Will Muschamp made it clear that he was happy with how it looked throughout spring. Defensively, the Gators have a lot more speed and athleticism out there. The front seven should be much more aggressive, especially when it switches over to the 3-4 during games. The secondary significantly downgraded with the dismissal of All-SEC cornerback Janoris Jenkins, but there is young talent there and the hope is that the front seven will make it tough for teams to get into a passing rhythm.
Mel Kiper, ESPN's NFL draft analyst extraordinaire, has released his first Big Board for the 2012 draft, and South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery is the top SEC player at No. 4 on the list.

Kiper's Big Board is a ranking of the top 25 draft-eligible players in college football based on value, and he updates it periodically all the way up to the draft.

[+] EnlargeAlshon Jeffery
Mark Zerof/US PresswireAlshon Jeffery is coming off a huge sophomore season in which he had 88 catches for 1,517 yards.
Jeffery is coming off a monster sophomore season and will almost certainly come out early. He set single-season records last season for the Gamecocks with 88 catches for 1,517 yards and is also tied for the school record with Sidney Rice with 11 100-yard receiving games. As Kiper points out, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound Jeffery is a matchup nightmare for defenses and is a lot faster than you think.

The SEC had a total of five players on Kiper's Big Board, and the second player might surprise a few people. Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was No. 9. The NFL scouts love Kirkpatrick's size and range, even though he was a bit inconsistent at times last season.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson was No. 13, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore No. 19 and Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw No. 25.

Before it's over, I wouldn't be surprised to see three more Alabama players on there -- cornerback DeQuan Menzie, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Mark Barron. In fact, Menzie could wind up being one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC and was the most consistent defensive back on Alabama's team this spring.

LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is another player who could easily show up on the Big Board at some point along with South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor, Arkansas running back Knile Davis and Arkansas receiver Greg Childs.

The ACC led the way with eight players on the first Big Board for 2012. The Pac-12 had six players.

On Kiper's first Big Board a year ago, he had six SEC players. Five of them wound up being selected in the first round of the draft in April. Georgia receiver A.J. Green was No. 4 on that first Big Board last year. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was No. 6 followed by Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at No. 7, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson No. 10, Alabama running back Mark Ingram No. 11 and Alabama receiver Julio Jones No. 17.

Mallett was the only one of the group that didn't go in the first round. He slipped to the third round.
Well, it wasn't even close. Former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was the runaway winner in our poll on which SEC player will be the hardest to replace this upcoming season.

It's no shocker, really. Newton had one of the most productive seasons of any quarterback in college football history in 2010. He not only captured the Heisman Trophy but led Auburn to an undefeated season and a national championship.

He was the best player whenever he stepped on the field and was the heart of Auburn's team last year.

So, I would have gone with Newton as well.

At last count, Newton grabbed 65 percent of the vote with more than 21,500 people voting.

When you look at Auburn's quarterback situation now, there is a bit of concern. The Tigers worked sophomore Clint Moseley and freshman Barrett Trotter out this spring. Both suffered some growing pains, but steadily improved down the stretch. Auburn will welcome true freshman Kiehl Frazier into the mix this summer. Frazier could have the most athletic ability of all the receivers, and coach Gene Chizik made it known this spring that he will play the best player this fall, regardless of experience.

In a distant second was Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green. Arguably the best receiver to enter this year's NFL draft, Green had 16 percent of the vote. As a junior, Green ended the season leading the Bulldogs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, despite missing the first four games because of suspension.

Green's departure leaves the Bulldogs with a handful of unproven receivers. The next star in line seems to be Tavarres King. King assumed Green's flanker position this spring, and while he certainly wasn't Green, he cemented himself as Georgia's go-to receiver.

There is a lot of uncertainty behind King, but having a quarterback like Aaron Murray should keep the offense going.

Next was LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson was one of the most exciting defensive players to watch, and he had the ability to take an entire side of the field away when he lined up. Peterson held 10 percent of the vote.

In single digits were Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and Florida safety Ahmad Black. Mallett has the biggest arm to replace in the SEC. He led the conference in passing a year ago, but he'll have redshirt junior Tyler Wilson taking his place this season. Wilson will have a slew of targets to throw to with Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright out there, so replacing Mallett might not be too hard in Hog country.

As for Black, he finished his career first in the SEC and tied for sixth nationally among active players with 13 career interceptions. While small in stature, he came up big for the Gators on defense and was the emotional leader at Florida last season. Black's replacement, sophomore Matt Elam, might have more athleticism, but no one is sure if he'll have the intangibles Black possessed.
Georgia assistant coaches Tony Ball and Bryan McClendon received significant pay raises, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ball, Georgia’s wide receivers coach, has been on coach Mark Richt’s staff since 2006 and is set to make $200,000, which is up from the $165,480 he made last year.

McClendon, who joined the Bulldogs' staff as the running backs coach in 2009, was previously one of the lowest-paid SEC assistants. His salary was $90,000 a year, but he will now make $200,000 each year.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said the raises were results of other schools reaching out to Ball and McClendon. McGarity declined to get into what schools contacted the coaches, but did say that the raises were approved in February and March.

“All I can say is they were legit offers,” McGarity told the AJC. “I think the key is continuity. We had already lost two coaches to other schools. Continuity of staff is important to me and to Mark and we thought it was important to maintain stability, especially.

“They’re well-deserved. Both of these men are tremendous coaches who work very hard and were underpaid, in my opinion. We had some momentum going after recruiting and they had a lot to do with that. All signs are pointing up and we needed to be proactive. We will always be proactive.”

The news of Ball's raise comes just days after the Bulldogs had two wide receivers drafted in the 2011 NFL draft. Junior A.J. Green went fourth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals and senior Kris Durham went in the fourth round to the Seattle Seahawks.

Green, who was arguably the best receiver in the draft, caught 57 passes for 848 yards and nine touchdowns in his shortened 2010 season. He finished his career at Georgia with 166 receptions for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Durham was second on the team with 32 catches for 659 yards and three scores. He finished his college career with 64 receptions for 1,109 yards and four touchdowns.

McClendon has a chance to really earn his new paycheck this fall. He has the responsibility of coaching up a talented but unproven receiving group. Junior Tavarres King returns as the most experienced wideout and moved to Green's flanker position this spring. He and quarterback Aaron Murray developed good chemistry this spring and King figures to be the go-to-receiver in Georgia's offense.

Behind him, it's a bit of a mystery. Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten could have the most pure talent of the bunch, but neither has yet to make much of a contribution at Georgia. Brown caught just 11 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown last year, while Wooten snatched seven balls for 41 yards and a score.

The good news for Ball is that both seemed to have their internal light bulbs come on during spring, but the next step is having that carry over to fall.

As for McClendon, he's got a stable of running backs, but inconsistency is an issue. Senior Caleb King made vast improvements in practice, but never really broke away from the rest of the running back pack. Washaun Ealey is easily the most gifted runner, but off-the-field issues have him crammed in Richt's doghouse. For now, we don’t know where Ealey fits in with the running backs.

Next you have Ken Malcome, Carlton Thomas and incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell. Richt didn't hesitate when Crowell signed to say that he could be the guy this fall. Crowell brings great speed, athleticism and strength to the position, but he's young. Malcome and Thomas battled injuries this spring, but Malcome impressed in Georgia's spring game.

Both coaches have their work cut out for them this fall, but getting strong numbers out of their groups will make them well worth the recent investment.

Of note: “Salary actions” were also completed for new offensive line coach Will Friend, who will earn $200,000 this year, and new linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti, who will earn $250,000.

SEC expected to dominate top 10 picks

April, 28, 2011
ESPN's Mel Kiper has unveiled his final NFL mock draft, and if he's right, get ready to hear a bunch of SEC players' names right away on Thursday night from Radio City Music Hall.

Kiper is predicting that five of the first six picks in the draft will be SEC players, led by Auburn quarterback Cam Newton going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

The only non-SEC player in Kiper's top six is Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller going No. 2 to the Denver Broncos.

After that, Kiper has Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus going No. 3 to the Buffalo Bills, Georgia receiver A.J. Green going No. 4 to the Cincinnati Bengals, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson going No. 5 to the Arizona Cardinals and Alabama receiver Julio Jones going No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns.

Also in the top 10, Kiper projects that Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley will go No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans.

That would be six SEC players in the top 10 picks, which would be a record.

The SEC has produced four of the top 10 players in the draft on two different occasions. In 2008, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden went No. 4, LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey No. 5, Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey No. 8 and Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo No. 10. In 2005, Auburn running back Ronnie Brown went No. 2, Auburn running back Cadillac Williams No. 5, South Carolina receiver Troy Williamson No. 7 and Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers No. 9.

Overall, Kiper has nine SEC players going in the first round this year. The SEC record for first-rounders is 11, which was set in 2007.

Rounding out the SEC players projected to go in the first round, Kiper has Florida offensive center/guard Mike Pouncey going No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins, Alabama running back Mark Ingram going No. 28 to the New England Patriots and Mississippi State offensive tackle Derek Sherrod going No. 29 to the Chicago Bears.
Three of the most talked-about players in Kansas State's spring camp have never suited up in a Wildcats uniform.

Expectations from fans and media are high for all three, but for now, coach Bill Snyder isn't ready to tell anyone just what to expect.

[+] EnlargeKansas State's Bryce Brown
AP Photo/Wade PayneBryce Brown, now a Kansas State Wildcat, rushed 101 times for 460 yards as a member of the Tennessee Volunteers in 2009.
"These are quality young people, wonderful youngsters and very, very fine players," he said during the Big 12's conference call on Tuesday. "But I wouldn’t go beyond that at this point in time, because they haven’t, in either case, had the opportunity to step up and prove themselves."

Bryce and Arthur Brown are brothers and Wichita, Kan., natives. Bryce, a running back, originally signed with Tennessee before transferring back to Kansas State to be closer to home. Arthur, a linebacker, did the same after signing with Miami originally.

Both were five-star recruits, among the best in their class at their positions. In Arthur Brown's class, ESPN pegged only five players better than him, and four (A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Terrelle Pryor, Da'Quan Bowers) became household names over the course of their careers.

Alabama's Trent Richardson was the only running back ESPN ranked above Bryce Brown.

Neither stuck at their respective program.

Quarterback Justin Tuggle, meanwhile, started briefly at Boston College after leaving high school as the nation's No. 38 player. Last year, he spent the season filling Heisman winner Cam Newton's shoes at Blinn College in Texas.

Snyder has built a reputation on turning transfers from junior colleges and other Division I programs into stars, and the Wildcats hope that will be the case with their new trio, who will finally get their chance this fall.

"Are they going to step on the field and be instant successes to an extremely high degree? I can’t guarantee that," Snyder said. "I’d like for it to happen, they’d like for it to happen, our players would like for it to happen, and our coaches, but I wouldn’t instill that kind of pressure on either one of them."

The Brown Brothers have been in the program for a year, and Arthur has already drawn rave reviews for his work on the scout team last year. Tuggle, a dual-threat quarterback, arrived this semester and is working on learning the Wildcats offense while competing with Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur to win the starting job.

"I’d hate to put a ceiling on anybody’s capabilities, whether it’s a transfer student or young people who have been in our program for a period of time. It would be hard to say this is what their limitations are. We try to stress not placing limitations on their abilities to perform successfully," Snyder said. "They weren’t in a position where they were on the field, the kind of repetition that is quality or signifies quick improvement, but they are now and each and all of them are making headway. Where does that take them? That’s certainly up to them."