NCF Nation: Brad Wing

Now that all of the early entries for this year's NFL draft are in, we decided to take a closer look at some of the players who decided to leave school early.

We're checking in on how teams were affected and who some of the winners and losers were from all of these early departures:

[+] EnlargeJoeckel
Brett Davis/US PresswireIt was a no-brainer for Luke Joeckel to take his talents to the NFL.
1. Biggest winners: Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel flirted with staying in school for his senior year, but it appears that would have been a major mistake for the nation's top left tackle. He was a guaranteed top-10 pick for most of the season, but with the draft creeping closer, Joeckel has a great chance of being the top pick come April. He definitely made the right decision to leave school early, and so did his teammate Damontre Moore. After a monster 2012 season, Moore could follow Joeckel as the second player taken off the board. He moved to defensive end last fall and is a very attractive pick for teams because of his versatility. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner could also hear their names called very early in April, as they too could both be top-five picks.

2. Biggest loser: LSU was ravaged by the NFL draft, as ten underclassmen declared early. Some were pretty obvious, but others left people confused. It didn't shock anyone that defensive linemen Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan declared. Montgomery and Mingo could be first-round draft picks, while Logan could go within the first three rounds. Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Kevin Minter made sense as well, but seeing punter Brad Wing, cornerback Tharold Simon, offensive lineman Chris Faulk and running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford all leave was pretty surprising. The Tigers will be losing seven quality starters and basically their entire defensive line. LSU has a lot of quality youngsters who will be vying for major playing time, but losing all that experience will hurt the Tigers in 2013.

3. Head-scratchers: Ware, Ford and Simon could all have benefited from another year in Baton Rouge. Neither Ford nor Ware hit the 400-yard rushing mark and combined for just four touchdowns on the season. Maybe the emergence of freshman running back Jeremy Hill helped influence their decisions. South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders shocked everyone when he decided to turn pro at the last minute. Sanders was one of the league's top multipurpose weapons, and while he isn't going to get any taller (he's a generous 5-foot-8), he could use another year to improve his receiving skills. He'll be looked at as a returner first in the NFL and won't likely be drafted very high at all. Also, Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins could have used another year of school as well. He was banged up in 2012, only playing in nine games, and registered just 29 tackles. He's a very smart player, but another year could have helped his draft status even more.

4. The replacements:

  • LSU loses a lot, but that doesn't mean that the Bayou is void of talent. Wing will be replaced by sophomore-to-be Jamie Keehn, who started in Wing's place for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. With Ware and Ford gone, Hill will be helped out by Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard in the run game. Junior-to-be Anthony Johnson should get more reps at defensive tackle with Logan gone, and he'll also be helped by Ego Ferguson. Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins both had solid seasons at corner, so expect more of each with Simon gone.
  • With Eddie Lacy leaving Alabama, rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon will now be the guy at running back for the Crimson Tide. With his 1,000-yard season, he's already proven that he can more than handle himself in this league. He'll also be helped by Dee Hart and Jalston Fowler, who are both returning from knee injuries, and Kenyan Drake, who looked impressive in mop-up duty last season. Also, keep an eye on incoming freshman Derrick Henry, who is already on campus and should be a factor in the run game.
  • Sanders' departure at South Carolina means Bruce Ellington is now the top returning receiver for the Gamecocks, and it also puts more on the shoulders of Shaq Roland, who was expected to make an immediate impact during his freshman year. Roland has the skills to be a big-time threat in the passing game.
  • Georgia lost some key juniors on defense, but no one will be missed more than Jones. Jordan Jenkins came on strong in his first year last fall, and will do his best to replace Jones' pass-rushing ability.
  • Florida only lost three underclassmen to the draft, but replacing safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will be tough. There are a host of youngsters who could vie for Elam's spot (keep an eye on freshman Marcus Maye), while Damien Jacobs will help man the middle of Florida's line with Leon Orr.
Well, Nick Saban and his gang of future NFL ballers proved to us once again that it is indeed Alabama's world, after claiming their second consecutive national title and third in four years Monday night. That ringing in your ears is just the sound of "Roll Tide" being repeated over and over in your head. I've learned there's nothing we can do about it.

But will 2013 bring college football a team that can really stop the Tide? I mean, REALLY stop Alabama from winning a third straight national championship? Well, ESPN's Mark Schlabach seems to believe that the road to Pasadena is paved in crimson and white, as he has Alabama No. 1 in his Way-Too-Early-Top 25 for 2013.

It's hard to blame him at this point. Sure, Alabama's offensive line won't be nearly as good with Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack leaving. And it will take even more of a hit if/when D.J. Fluker decides to turn pro. But with quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon (we're assuming Eddie Lacy and his sweet spin move are headed to the NFL), wide receiver Amari Cooper and a host of studs on the defense returning, Alabama will again be the team to beat.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
John David Mercer-USA Today SportsJohnny Manziel and Texas A&M, ranked fifth by Mark Schlabach, host way-too-early No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14 in the SEC opener for both teams.
Oh, and a not-so-tretcherous schedule won't hurt the Tide's chances either.

But there are some quality teams in the SEC that will fight to dethrone Alabama, and Schlabach has four in his top 10. Texas A&M, which returns the Heisman-winning Johnny Football, ranks fifth, Georgia is sixth, South Carolina is seventh and Florida is 10th. The thing about all those teams is that they all return their starting quarterbacks, with Georgia's Aaron Murray being one of the best in the country alongside Johnny Manziel.

South Carolina will be one of the more balanced teams in the SEC next fall, and if Florida can actually find a passing game in 2013, watch out because that defense will still be fierce, even with a few junior defections.

LSU, checking in at No. 13, is the only other SEC team in Schlabach's top 25. The Tigers are expected to have a better offense, especially with Zach Mettenberger finally finding his comfort zone under center, but a poor offensive showing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl defeat to Clemson and the loss of junior running backs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware create an uneasy feeling around the offense. Plus, the defense just took a beating as a result of juniors departing for the NFL, especially up front. All-American punter Brad Wing also left.

The good news for LSU is that running back Jeremy Hill is returning, and he'll only be a sophomore.

It's a good list to start off with, but where in the world is Vanderbilt? The Commodores are coming off of a historic season in Nashville. There were nine wins that included a bowl victory, five conference wins and a seven-game winning streak. The quarterback and running back spots might be up for grabs, but Jordan Matthews is coming back, along with fellow receiver Chris Boyd. And most of the rest of the offense remains intact.

The defense will lose a lot up front, but linebacker Archibald Barnes and cornerback Trey Wilson are the only other significant losses.

There was room for Vandy in there somewhere ...

SEC weekend movement

January, 7, 2013
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All the attention is on tonight's Discover BCS National Championship, but eyes were all over the SEC over the weekend, with a handful of players making decisions about their futures.

Here's a look at some of the movers and shakers from the weekend to check up on:

FLORIDA

Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was beaten by Jeff Driskel for the starting spot at the beginning of the season, and reserve running back Chris Johnson, who was primarily used on special teams, have decided to transfer. Brissett's decision didn't shock anyone. He was behind Driskel all year and played in just five games and his only start came late in the year when Driskel was out with an ankle injury. Johnson arrived at Florida as a safety, but moved to running back, where he was buried on the depth chart. His lasting image with the team was being ejected in the Gators' loss to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl for punching a Louisville player.

The loss of Brissett is significant when it comes to depth. After Driskel, the Gators will have three scholarship quarterbacks entering the 2013 season, but basically no experience. Tyler Murphy will be a redshirt junior, but has never thrown a pass at the college level, while Skyler Mornhinweg will be a redshirt freshman and Max Staver will be a true freshman. That means Driskel's health becomes the top priority in 2013 for the Gators.

GEORGIA

While Florida lost a quarterback, Georgia kept one, with Aaron Murray deciding to stay for one last year with the Bulldogs. Murray seriously considered leaving school early for the NFL, but will return for one final attempt at making a run to a championship. With the defense Georgia had in 2012, this past season felt like the best chance Murray had at winning multiple championships with the Bulldogs. Next year's defense will be gutted, so it will be back to the drawing board for that side of the ball.

One thing that has been counted against Murray when it comes to the pro level is his height. At 6-foot-1, he doesn't have ideal height for a quarterback, but what might have helped him in this year's draft was the play of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who stands just 5-11, but has had a tremendous rookie year. Murray isn't going to get any taller, but he does have a chance to break even more records in a Bulldogs uniform and could improve his stock for the 2014 NFL draft.

On Friday, linebacker Jarvis Jones decided to enter April's NFL draft. No shocker at all, as he's No. 1 on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board. Jones is a two-time All-American and has been right at the top of the list for the nation's best defensive player for the past two years. He would have been silly to come back for a final year at Georgia, and he's going to make himself -- and his family -- a ton of money. He was one of the league's most exciting players to watch, but it was his time to move on.

LSU

There was a mass exodus from LSU over the weekend, as eight underclassmen decided to leave the Bayou. It started with linebacker Kevin Minter last week. Then, safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tharold Simon, running back Spencer Ware and punter Brad Wing decided to leave LSU early Friday. On Sunday, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad that defensive linemen Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan would also enter the NFL draft.

Losing those linemen wasn't much of a surprise, as Mingo and Montgomery are projected to be first-round draft picks, and Logan is rated as Kiper's fifth-best defensive tackle among juniors. Wing's time in Baton Rouge seemed to be coming to an end, and his bowl suspension didn't help, but Simon and Ware could have benefited from another year of football. With the emergence of freshman Jeremy Hill, Ware saw his carries decline in 2012, while Simon still has some room to improve. He's rated the No. 15 cornerback by ESPN Scouts Inc., but didn't blow a ton of people away in 2012. He has great size and instincts, but it was surprising to see him leave early.

Another one of LSU's top defensive weapons is leaving, as the school announced Friday that junior safety Eric Reid will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

It's hardly a surprise that the All-American decided to throw his hat into the draft, but the Tigers will really miss their leader and ball hawk. Reid is ranked third among junior safeties by ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. and is No. 42 overall by ESPN's Scouts Inc. He joins linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Tharold Simon as the LSU juniors leaving early for the NFL, but he probably won't be the last with all the top junior talent sitting on LSU's defense.

As the only returning starter in LSU's secondary this year, Reid finished the season with 91 tackles and two interceptions. During his three-year career, Reid started 29 games and recorded 194 tackles with six interceptions.

Reid wasn't just an outstanding player for the Tigers, he was a top-notch individual as well. The Baton Rouge native bled purple and gold long before he stepped on LSU's campus and he was the ultimate leader for the Tigers during his career. LSU will certainly miss that aspect of Reid's game and the Tigers will definitely miss his tremendous play as the last line of defense for them.

"I've been very fortunate and blessed to have been able to play football at LSU," Reid said in a news release. "It was always my dream to go to LSU and play football."

LSU's defense is expected to also lose junior defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan and punter Brad Wing also are considering making the jump to the NFL.

Aggies' Damontre Moore entering NFL draft

December, 31, 2012
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No big surprise, but Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore plans to give up his senior season and will enter the NFL draft.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the 6-foot-4, 248-pound Moore rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in April's NFL draft. Moore is tied for second in the SEC with 12 sacks and ranks third with 20 tackles for loss. He proved this season that he could be effective in a 4-3 scheme after playing previously as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Moore's two teammates -- offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews -- have yet to make their decisions on the NFL draft. Both are projected as first-round picks, and Joeckel has been pegged as a top-5 selection by some analysts.

Here's an updated list of SEC underclassmen who've already declared for the NFL draft:
Below is another list of SEC underclassmen expected to turn pro or seriously considering doing so:

LSU keys for the Chick-fil-A Bowl

December, 31, 2012
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Here's a look at three keys for No. 8 LSU's matchup with No. 14 Clemson in tonight's Chick-fil-A Bowl:

1. Contain Clemson's passing game: Quarterback Tajh Boyd had another solid season for Clemson. He was second in the ACC with 3,550 passing yards and led the league with 34 touchdowns through the air. Two other reasons LSU's defense has to be on its toes when it comes to Clemson's passing game? How about wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins? The two combined for 125 catches and 1,922 yards with 19 touchdowns. Watkins came in with all of the hype, but Hopkins had the tremendous season, leading the ACC with 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has 10 touchdown receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, which leads the nation, while Watkins has gained 422 of his 708 receiving yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Clemson owns one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and LSU surrendered more than 300 passing yards in the last three games of the season after not allowing more than 276 through the first nine games.

2. Bring that November offense to Atlanta: LSU has been able to run the ball all season, but only really started throwing the ball well in November. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally felt comfortable in the Tigers' offense during the bye week leading up to the Alabama game. He then threw for a career-high 298 yards against Alabama and finished with three consecutive 200-yard games after not registering back-to-back 200-yard games through the first eight games of the season. If LSU brings the balanced offense that helped it go during the last month of the season, it'll present a host of problems for Clemson's defense, which has continued to struggle. Remember, LSU has four backs with more than 350 yards, and all four are averaging more than 32 yards per game. Stopping the run will be tough enough, but now having to worry about Mettenberger's arm is just another obstacle for Clemson.

3. Don't put pressure on Keehn's leg: With starting punter Brad Wing suspended, freshman Jamie Keehn will take the field. The one thing you don't want to give Clemson is good field position to work with, and Wing had the leg to get LSU out of any difficult situation. Keehn has punted just three times this season, and that was in the opener. Although he averaged 41 yards on his three punts, the pressure will certainly be on him inside the Georgia Dome. LSU's defense has shown some bend in the past few weeks, so having Clemson work with a short field could be trouble.
LSU will be without one of its most recognizable players when the Tigers take on Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.

The school announced on Thursday that redshirt sophomore punter Brad Wing has been suspended for LSU's bowl game after he violated team rules. Specifics weren't given about what Wing did to earn his suspension.

The Melbourne, Australia, native has been one of the nation's best punters over the past two seasons, and averaged 44.8 yards on 59 punts for the Tigers this year. Freshman Jamie Keehn of Miners Rest, Australia, will replace Wing. Keehn has averaged 41 yards on three punts this year and has a long of 51 yards.

Wing already missed the opener this season with what coach Les Miles said was a hamstring injury.

While Wing hasn't been as dominant booting the ball this year like he was last year, he still has the ability to change a game with his leg. He has tremendous power and accuracy and has gotten the Tigers out of plenty of jams over the past two years by blasting the ball deep into opposing teams' territory. When the Tigers have needed to completely change the field position game, Wing has been there countless times.

He has a long punt of 69 yards this year, has punted 21 inside opponents' 20-yard line and has 19 punts of 50 or more yards this season.

It's unusual for kickers or punters to leave early for the NFL draft, but with Wing being draft eligible, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that he would heavily consider leaving school early. He's more than proved what he can do when the ball touches his foot and there has been word that he's at least contemplating it.

Instant analysis: LSU 12, Auburn 10

September, 22, 2012
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No. 2 LSU entered Jordan-Hare Stadium as a 20-point favorite Saturday night against Auburn. Instead, the Tigers escaped by the skin of their teeth with a 12-10 victory.

Here's how it transpired in a classic, defensive SEC nail-biter on the Plains.

It was over when: LSU cornerback Tharold Simon intercepted Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier on a fourth down desperation heave to end Auburn's bid at a last-second miracle win.

Game ball goes to: LSU running back Spencer Ware announced his return to college football with a hard-nosed night in place of injured starter Alfred Blue. Ware beat up on Auburn for 90 hard-earned yards on 16 carries. He also caught two passes for 44 yards, one of which was a 33-yard gain on a crucial third and four late in the fourth quarter.

Game ball part II: You probably won't see a better performance from punters this season. LSU punter Brad Wing booted eight balls on the night for 338 yards -- a 42.3-yard average -- with three of those falling inside the Auburn 20. Auburn punter Steven Clark knocked seven punts of his own for 287 yards -- a 41-yard average -- with two of his punts downed inside the LSU 20.

Key stat: LSU committed nine penalties for 80 yards, several of them coming in dead-ball situations. The Bayou Bengals committed two costly turnovers in the first half, but they bounced back to force three Auburn turnovers in the second half.

Key stat part II: LSU scored its only touchdown of the night with 4:18 to play in the first quarter -- a one-yard run from running back Michael Ford. Auburn held the Tigers out of the end zone for the next 49 minutes of play after that.

What it means: This was LSU's first big test of the season -- the Tigers' first SEC game and their first trip outside the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium. To say they didn't live up to the No. 2 ranking is an understatement. The Tigers played ugly, and their offense at times displayed the same problems that limited LSU in 2011. That said, the LSU defense did its part by holding Auburn to a mere 183 yards of offense, and the Tigers got the all-important win.

Auburn showed resiliency in fighting to the end after a disappointing 1-2 start to the season. But moral victories don't count for much in the SEC, and Auburn is now an ugly 0-2 in SEC play. Frazier looked better than he did against Mississippi State, but he still only threw for 97 yards and threw two costly picks.
Now that you've seen Chris' top 10, here's mine. Let's see where we were the same and where we differed:

1. LSU's Tyrann Mathieu against Arkansas: Mathieu replaced the injured Eric Reid and played safety for the first time in his career. All he did was record eight tackles, force two fumbles, and recovered a fumble. With LSU down 14-7 in the second quarter, he ignited a dominating run when he returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown in LSU’s 41-17 win over Arkansas. A loss to the Hogs might have cost LSU a chance at the national title game.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Boykin
Jeff Griffith/US PresswireGeorgia's Brandon Boykin recorded a safety, had a punt return TD and a TD catch in the Outback Bowl.
2. Georgia’s Brandon Boykin in the Outback Bowl: Boykin sure went out in style, scoring three different ways in the loss to Michigan State. On Michigan State's first offensive play, he recorded a safety when he tackled Keshawn Martin in the end zone on a pass play. He later scored on 92-yard punt return, which is the longest play in Outback Bowl history, and scored on a 13-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to give Georgia a 27-20 lead. He also had seven tackles, including two for loss.

3. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu in the SEC championship game: He saved LSU yet again with his special-teams work. His 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter got LSU on the board after trailing 10-0. On Georgia’s first drive of the second half, Mathieu recovered a fumble at the Bulldogs’ 27 to set up the Tigers’ second touchdown. He set up LSU's third score with a scintillating return that left just about every Georgia player's head spinning.

4. Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson against Texas A&M: Wilson not only helped orchestrate a tremendous second-half comeback against the Aggies, but he passed for a school-record 510 passing yards, had three touchdowns and no interceptions on 30-of-51 passing.

5. Alabama’s Trent Richardson against Ole Miss: Richardson couldn't be stopped in Oxford, as he rushed for 183 yards and four touchdowns in Alabama's 52-7 drubbing of the Rebels. Richardson grabbed his signature play as well when he put on a show at the end of his 76-yard touchdown run by literally shaking Ole Miss' Senquez Golsen to the ground with his cut seen round the college football world.

6. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones against Florida: Jones had four sacks in the Bulldogs’ 24-20 win over Florida and forced a fumble at the Gators' 18-yard line in the third quarter that led to the game-tying touchdown. His fourth sack came in the fourth and basically sealed the Bulldogs' win.

7. Arkansas’ Jarius Wright against Texas A&M: Wilson couldn't have done his thing without Wright, who caught 13 passes, which tied a school record, for a school-record 281 yards and a touchdown. Wright surpassed the old record of 204 yards by halftime. He also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that tied the game at 35 in the fourth quarter.

8. Florida’s Chris Rainey against Florida Atlantic: Rainey kicked off the Will Muschamp era by scoring touchdowns three different ways in the season opener. He scored rushing, receiving and on a blocked punt. Rainey also registered 146 yards of total offense.

9. South Carolina’s Antonio Allen against East Carolina: Allen started the year off pretty well when he had 16 tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and broke up two passes in a season-opening 56-37 win over East Carolina. He also returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown.

10. LSU’s Brad Wing against Alabama Part I: In a game in which kicking mattered, four of his six punts were downed inside Alabama's 20-yard line. One punt was downed at the 5 and another at the 4. His 73-yarder in the fourth quarter saved LSU's defense from having to work with a short field and helped propel the game into overtime.

Here are five more that just missed the cut:

  • South Carolina's Melvin Ingram ran for a 68-yard touchdown on a fake punt against Georgia and scored a second touchdown on a 5-yard fumble return. He sealed the Gamecocks' 45-42 win when he recovered an onsides kick.
  • Tennessee's Tyler Bray passed for a career-high 405 passing yards, had four touchdown passes and no interceptions in a 45-23 win over Cincinnati. He also had a rushing touchdown and completed 34 of 41 passes.
  • Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 road victory over Wake Forest that sent the Commodores bowling. Stacy also became the school’s single-season record holder for rushing yards after his performance.
  • Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan registered 17 tackles, including 12 solo and three for loss in a 19-10 loss to Georgia. He also forced two fumbles.
  • Arkansas' Joe Adams had one of the best special-teams performance of the season in Week 1 against Missouri State when he had two punt returns for touchdowns of 69 and 61 yards in the 51-7 win. He had a school-record 174 yards on six punt returns.

SEC's top individual performances, Part I

February, 9, 2012
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Tyrann MathieuChris Graythen/Getty ImagesTyrann Mathieu had a knack for the big play all season for LSU.
We’re already looking ahead some to the 2012 season in the SEC, but we haven’t completely forgotten about 2011.

We’re finishing up our postseason position rankings and taking another look at the top 25 players in the league based on what they did during the 2011 season.

Today, we’ll rank the top 10 individual performances from this past season. I’ll go first (That’s what happens when you dominate the picks contest), and Edward will follow.

We’ll also have a poll for the fans later today, so you guys will get your chance to weigh in as well and tell us how right or wrong we were.

Please don’t hold back, although you never do.

Here goes:

1. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu vs. Arkansas: Moving over to safety for the injured Eric Reid, the Honey Badger put on a show for all shows. The only thing he didn’t do was clean up Tiger Stadium afterward in the 41-17 win over the No. 3-ranked Hogs. Mathieu had eight tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown. His punt return tied the game at 14-14, and the Hogs were toast from there.

2. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu in the SEC championship game: Yep, it’s the Honey Badger again. The Tigers were dead in the water in the first half against Georgia, but Mathieu returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to get LSU on the board. Mathieu followed that up by recovering a fumble at the Bulldogs’ 27 to set up the Tigers’ second touchdown. He then returned another punt 47 yards, this one even more spectacular than the first, to set up LSU’s third touchdown, and a close game suddenly became a 42-10 rout.

3. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones vs. Florida: It was a case of Jones simply not allowing his team to lose. He racked up four sacks in the 24-20 win over the Gators and forced a fumble at the Florida 18-yard line in the third quarter that led to the game-tying touchdown. His fourth and final sack came on fourth down late in the game and all but finished the Gators, lifting Georgia to just its fourth win over Florida in the last 22 meetings.

4. Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson vs. Texas A&M: With the Hogs trailing 35-17 at the half, Wilson brought them back with a school-record 510 yards passing in a 42-38 victory over the Aggies. Wilson finished 30-of-51 with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He also had the 2-point conversion run that tied the game at 35-35.

5. Georgia’s Brandon Boykin in the Outback Bowl: The Bulldogs fell to Michigan State 33-30 in three overtimes, but don’t blame Boykin. The senior cornerback scored three different ways. He recorded a safety to open the game, also had a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown and scored on a 13-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a 27-20 lead. He finished with seven tackles, including two for loss.

6. Arkansas’ Jarius Wright vs. Texas A&M: Don’t forget about Wright in the Hogs’ dramatic comeback win over the Aggies. He tied a school record with 13 catches and set a school record with 281 receiving yards. The old record was 204 yards, and Wright surpassed that by halftime. He also caught a 68-yard touchdown pass and pounced on a loose ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter that wound up being the tying touchdown.

7. LSU’s Brad Wing vs. Alabama: Without Wing’s heroics, LSU doesn’t win that first game against Alabama. It’s just that simple. He kept the Crimson Tide bottled up all night. He punted six times and four were downed inside the Alabama 20-yard line. One was downed at the 5 and another at the 4. His 73-yard punt in the fourth quarter completely changed the game and helped get the Tigers to overtime, where they prevailed 9-6.

8. Alabama’s Trent Richardson vs. Ole Miss: There were so many great performances by Richardson that it’s difficult to pick out just one. But he rolled up 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the 52-7 rout of Ole Miss, and they’ll be showing the highlights of his dazzling 76-yard touchdown run for a long time to come. He averaged 10.8 yards per carry that night and finished with 213 all-purpose yards.

9. Tennessee’s Tyler Bray vs. Cincinnati: It’s about as perfect a game as a quarterback could have. Bray lit up the Bearcats in the second week of the season for a career-high 405 passing yards, four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He also had a rushing touchdown and completed 34 of 41 passes in the 45-23 victory. In the second half, Bray completed all but one of his 14 passing attempts, and his 83 percent completion rate set a school record.

10. South Carolina’s Antonio Allen vs. East Carolina: It’s one of the great performances of the season that nobody really remembers because it came in the opener. Allen, the Gamecocks’ “Spur” linebacker/safety, totaled 16 tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and broke up two passes in the come-from-behind 56-37 win over East Carolina.

Here are five more that just missed the cut:

  • South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram running for a 68-yard touchdown on a fake punt, scoring a second touchdown on a 5-yard fumble return and recovering an onside kick to preserve a 45-42 win over Georgia.
  • Florida’s Chris Rainey rushing for 108 yards and also totaling 104 receiving yards in a 33-23 win over Tennessee. Rainey accounted for 233 all-purpose yards and had an 83-yard touchdown catch to put the Gators ahead 30-7 in the third quarter. He also blocked a punt in the second quarter, leading to a Florida field goal.
  • South Carolina’s Connor Shaw passing for 210 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown in a 34-13 victory over Clemson. Shaw finished 14 of 20 passing without an interception.
  • Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy rushing for 184 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 road victory over Wake Forest that made the Commodores bowl eligible. Stacy had touchdown runs of 40 and 20 yards on his way to becoming the school’s single-season record-holder for rushing yards.
  • Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan totaling 17 tackles, including 12 solo stops, for the second week in a row. He had three tackles for loss and also forced two fumbles in the Wildcats’ 19-10 loss to Georgia.

Noise will be a factor tonight

January, 9, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS -- We are only a couple of minutes into the game, but you can already tell that noise is going to be a major factor in tonight's Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Fans from both sides are letting the opposing offenses know that they are here. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson has already struggled with trying to get plays changed and fumbled a snap with his back right up to Alabama's section.

This place erupted when Jefferson fumbled and it might have been even louder when Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze was pushed out of bounds on a booming punt from Brad Wing. Both of these quarterbacks' ears will be ringing for days after this one.

Five plays that got LSU here

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
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NEW ORLEANS -- You've already read about the five plays that got Alabama to the Allstate BCS National Championship, so now it's time to take a look at how LSU ended up in Monday's title game:

1. Eric Reid's interception: With Alabama sitting on LSU's 28-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Tide coach Nick Saban reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a play in which wide receiver Marquis Maze was supposed to take the ball and throw it to tight end Michael Williams. Maze, who was bothered by a sprained ankle, threw the ball up, but Reid wrestled it away from Williams at LSU's 1-yard line. Alabama never got inside LSU's 35-yard line again until overtime.

2. Morris Claiborne's kick return: After West Virginia scored to get within six of the Tigers late in the third quarter, Claiborne put the game away with some magic in the return game. On West Virginia's ensuing kickoff, Claiborne dazzled his way through Mountaineer players for a 99-yard touchdown return that put LSU up 34-21. That touchdown put LSU on a 20-0 run to close the game.

3. Brad Wing's punt: The drive after Reid's interception, LSU's offense failed to get much of anything backed up inside its 10-yard line. A normal punt would have given Alabama ideal field position to make up for its blown opportunity on the last drive, but Wing launched a kick from inside LSU's end zone that eventually traveled 73 yards to Alabama's 18-yard line after some very favorable rolling.

4. Tyrann Mathieu's return: Down 14-7 to Arkansas in the second quarter, the Honey Badger came through in the clutch on special teams. He took Dylan Breeding's punt 92 yards to the house and sent Tiger Stadium into a frenzy. That play paralyzed Arkansas, and led to a 34-3 run by LSU on the last Saturday of the regular season.

5. Mathieu's second return: Like the Arkansas game a week earlier, LSU was in need of a spark against Georgia in the SEC championship game. Down double digits early for the second straight game, Mathieu provided the momentum builder LSU needed when he took a punt 62 yards for a touchdown that made it 10-7 in the second quarter. The score, which sparked a 42-0 run, should have actually been overturned because replay showed that Mathieu clearly flipped the ball to the ref and out-of-bounds before he crossed the goal line.
NEW ORLEANS -- With every bomb LSU punter Brad Wing launches from his left foot, the American football culture gap shrinks in Australia.

The freshman’s meteoric rise this season has a nation in his birth land captivated by a sport that still is a little confusing to those back home.

“The way it’s progressing is just really crazy,” Wing said.

Wing, who is originally from Melbourne, Australia, has no one to thank but himself. From his taunting penalty that negated a fancy touchdown run against Florida, to his marvelous 73-yard punt against Alabama that helped put that game in LSU’s favor, Wing has become sort of a national celebrity (both here and abroad) and even the co-face (with the "Honey Badger" himself, Tyrann Mathieu) of LSU football.

[+] EnlargeLSU's Brad Wing
AP Photo/Steve FranzPunter Brad Wing has become a celebrity on the LSU campus and in his home country of Australia.
Did I mention he’s a punter?

Wing gets girly catcalls when he’s walking around campus and is sometimes the first one noticed in a football posse patrolling Baton Rouge, La. Kicker Drew Alleman said girls even revert to elementary school ways of embarrassingly whispering Wing’s name when he passes by.

His game seems to be on another level on and off the field.

“There are a few people around that are starting to know my face, and I guess that’s a compliment,” Wing said.

No, what’s really a compliment is that Wing now can throw his hat into the ring of random, made up dances, as his premature celebration against Florida inspired a simplistic dance that's safe, effortless and, most importantly, funny to look at.

“It’s a pretty easy dance, but it’s funny as crap,” defensive end Barkevious Mingo said.

But where Wing really makes his mark is back home. Thousands of miles away, Wing’s fame is catching on, even if his hobby is still very foreign to family and friends. Wing said people in Melbourne are slowly starting to understand American football because of the airtime he’s getting in Australia.

Wing said six or seven of LSU’s games have been broadcast live there, and it’s helping to increase American football’s popularity. Some are still getting lost in translation with the sport, Wing said, and he still has to explain to a few of his brother’s friends that he’s playing in college, not the NFL.

Wing might have reached celebrity status in college football, but you wouldn’t know it looking at him. Outside of his slender, nonimposing frame, Wing is extremely humble. It takes his teammates to brag about him. And even then, Wing’s story grows.

Wide receiver Russell Shepard said Wing shows a lot of skill on the football field, but his real talent lies in the rap game.

“He’s in love with Lil Wayne. He loves Lil Wayne,” Shepard said. “He can tell you every Lil Wayne verse that Wayne has written, and he didn’t listen to Wayne when he was in Australia.”

(Any viral video of Wing spittin’ Wayne over his highlights would be YouTube gold!)

In the end, it’s Wing’s foot that jump-started his popularity. He has deadly accuracy and a cannon for a left leg. Wing averaged 44.1 yards per punt, pinned 23 inside the opposing 20-yard line, with 11 landing inside the 10, and had 18 punts of 50-plus yards this season.

Forty-six percent of his punts were downed inside the 20, yet he wasn’t even a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation’s best punter. He was a first-team All-American, but getting slighted in the Ray Guy race is something Shepard said still eats at Wing.

“He feels like he should have won the Ray Guy Award,” Shepard said. “As his teammates, we feel like he’s the best punter in the country. Brad has a chip on his shoulder, and Brad feels like he needs to show everybody in the world that he is the best and why he is the best.”

For Wing, talk of accolades and snubs can wait. He isn’t focused on impressing; he’s focused on winning on the biggest stage of all: the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

“We’re still on a journey,” he said. “This season is not over. We’ve got one game left, and this game has been in our sight for the whole year.”

ESPN.com's 2011 All-SEC team

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
10:30
AM ET
Editor’s Note: Tune into the “AT&T ESPN All America Team Show” on Saturday (ABC, 1:30 p.m. ET) to see who ESPN’s writers and experts selected.

Constructing an all-conference team is never easy. There are always players you second-guess or just remember at the last minute.

The tough decisions have to be made and that means not everyone can make the team.

We just don't have enough room for hundreds of players.

We struggled with a couple of decisions, starting with the quarterback position. We gave the nod to Aaron Murray over Tyler Wilson. We understand that Wilson led the SEC in yards (3,422), but Murray did more with less. Wilson was working with four top-tier wide receivers, while Murray simply wasn't. He still led the SEC with 32 touchdown passes, threw 19 them in the last six games and led Georgia back to the SEC title game.

It was also hard to leave Zac Stacy off this list. Michael Dyer was Auburn's most valuable player, and that 7-5 record might not have been possible without him. He was second in the SEC in rushing (1,242) and was the only back besides Trent Richardson to average more than 100 yards in SEC games. But Stacy was great, too. He averaged a yard more per carry (5.7) than Dyer in SEC play, had more total touchdowns (13) and averaged 126 yards in each of his last six games.

We also decided to go with a 3-4 defense because we felt linebackers deserved a little more love this year.

Here's our team:

OFFENSE

TE - Orson Charles, Georgia
OL - Barrett Jones, Alabama
OL - Will Blackwell, LSU
OL - Cordy Glenn, Georgia
OL - Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina
C - William Vlachos, Alabama
WR - Jarius Wright, Arkansas
WR - Rueben Randle, LSU
QB – Aaron Murray, Georgia
RB – Trent Richardson, Alabama
RB – Michael Dyer, Auburn
AP - Chris Rainey, Florida

DEFENSE

DL - Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
DL - Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
DL - Sam Montgomery, LSU
LB - Jarvis Jones, Georgia
LB - Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
LB - Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
LB - Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
DB - Morris Claiborne, LSU
DB - Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
DB - Mark Barron, Alabama
DB - Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK - Caleb Sturgis, Florida
P - Brad Wing, LSU
RS – Joe Adams, Arkansas

Final: LSU 42, Georgia 10

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
8:13
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ATLANTA -- LSU has taken the SEC title and is headed to the national championship with its 42-10 win over Georgia. Here is the instant analysis:

How the game was won: After LSU showed the country how to not play offense in the first half, it rebounded in the second to go on one of its patented runs. Things started with Tyrann Mathieu's 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and ended with LSU just wearing down and laying a beating on Georgia's rush defense. LSU ran for 203 yards in the second half, scoring three rushing touchdowns in the process. LSU's defense also smothered Georgia after the first quarter. The Bulldogs gained 134 yards in the first quarter, but finished with 296 and turned the ball over three times.

Turning point: LSU had no life until Mathieu's return in the second quarter to make it 10-7 Georgia. The play shouldn't have been ruled a touchdown, as video evidence showed Mathieu pitched the ball to the referee before he crossed the goal line. The ball looked like it went through the end zone, so Georgia should have gotten the ball back. The play was never reviewed and LSU scored 42 straight points and sucked the life out of Georgia.

Player of the game: When LSU needed a big play on special teams, Mathieu delivered with the touchdown. On Georgia's first drive of the third quarter, Mathieu recovered a fumble at the Bulldogs' 27-yard line and set up the Tigers' second touchdown of the game. After a quick three-and-out, Mathieu returned a punt for 47 yards that led to LSU's third score. He also disrupted Georgia's passing game with blitzes and by blanketing receivers.

Unsung hero of the game: With a first half consumed with atrocious offense from LSU's side, the player who made sure Georgia didn't get into good position to score was LSU punter Brad Wing. He punted the ball seven times in the first half and averaged 54.1 yards per kick, including a long of 67 yards. He pinned Georgia inside its 20 once and the Bulldogs recorded zero yards on four returns.

What it means: LSU will now play for the Allstate BCS National Championship Game, and it will likely do so against Alabama, which the Tigers beat 9-6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., earlier this year. LSU is now 13-0 for the first time in school history and will compete for its second national title in five years. Georgia is now most likely headed to the Outback Bowl.

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