NCF Nation: Cordy Glenn

Big draft looming for the SEC

April, 26, 2012
It could be a record haul tonight in the NFL draft for the SEC.

As many as 12 players from the SEC are being projected to go in the first round, which will be carried live tonight on ESPN starting at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds 2 and 3 will be on Friday, also on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. Rounds 4-7 will be on Saturday with ESPN coverage beginning at noon.

The most first-round selections the SEC has produced in one draft was 11 in 2007.

So if 12 go tonight, that would break the record.

Here's a look at the 12 SEC players being pegged to go in the first round. They're listed in order of their rank on Mel Kiper's Big Board :
At first glance, it appears that Georgia has all the parts needed to make another title run in the SEC this fall.

A quality quarterback is assisted by some talented skill players on the offensive side of the ball. And the defense is loaded with just about everyone who was a part of the nation’s fifth-ranked defense last year.

But upon closer examination, there is a glaring issue on the offensive line. Well, maybe there was.

Entering the spring, Georgia was down three starters up front, including potential NFL first-round draft pick Cordy Glenn at left tackle and All-SEC center Ben Jones.

The Bulldogs had the bodies, but not the experience, and it showed early. Georgia coach Mark Richt said he spent the first part of spring just trying to find the right pieces to plug in. He was constantly rolling different players in at center and experimenting with putting players in different places along the line.

The result: a lot of mistakes and some pretty good defensive highlights.

Richt said all of the stunts and different looks that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham threw at the Bulldogs’ line of young pups confused and frustrated the line. Things didn’t move smoothly on offense at first because the offensive line wasn’t comfortable.

“The bottom line was we just weren’t blocking very good and we weren’t handling our mature defensive line,” Richt said Tuesday.

But like good things, even bad things come to an end. And they did for Georgia’s line.

As the spring continued, players started to get more settled up front. By the midpoint of the spring, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he found three reliable linemen in tackles Kenarious Gates and Kolton Houston, and guard Chris Burnette. Leaving spring, the staff found five that it could call starters, with the additions of rising sophomore David Andrews at center and Dallas Lee, who started seven games last season before breaking his right leg against Florida, at guard

Gates might be the best of the bunch because of his athleticism and smarts. Richt said he has the option of moving Gates around on the line because he has the ability to play just about every position up there.

But the player who really stuck out to Richt and his staff was Houston. Richt said Houston was always viewed as either a guard or a center prospect until this spring when they threw him in at tackle and watched him excel.

“He held up pretty good, especially in the pass protection area,” Richt said. “I don’t know if you can sell the big mauler out there in the run game, but a big part of being able to play tackle is being able to pass [protect] and he did a nice job.”

While Richt saw improvement as spring continued, he’ll also get some more talent in two incoming freshmen, including top tackle prospect John Theus, so Georgia’s depth will look a little better this fall. Getting guys more reps and game ready is the main goal in fall camp.
Each year, there are always winners, losers and plenty of questions that come out of the NFL combine. They can all affect players' draft stocks.

It certainly makes for exciting water cooler talk.

Mel Kiper Jr. has been hard at work since the combine ended and he's come up with his winners from the combine and players who still have questions Insider that remain.

Kiper has a couple of SEC players on both of his list. Here's what he had to say about each:



[+] EnlargeCordy Glenn
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireCordy Glenn's flexibility to play multiple positions on the offensive line should make him an attractive prospect.
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: "Considering I have Glenn as a mid-first-round pick best suited for guard, it's hard to say he could move up, but some teams could probably see him at right tackle, too. Workouts confirmed what we believe -- powerful yet plenty nimble for his huge frame."

Thoughts: Glenn has the athleticism to have success at the next level. Plus, his versatility should really help him because he can play multiple positions, which is certainly a plus for teams. He has the ideal size to play inside, but teams know he can play outside, which could help him rise in this draft, as Kiper said. I don't see him falling out of the first round.


Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: "Solidified a mid-first grade. It won't say a lot about what he does on the field, but a 4.79 at 298 pounds is a pretty freaky number for a DT. Good week for Cox."

Thoughts: I knew Cox was quick and fast on his feet, but I didn't know he was 4.7 fast. He's powerful and showed last season that he can really wreak havoc in opposing defensive backfields. If not for a tremendous showing by Memphis' Dontari Poe, Cox might be slated as the top defensive tackle available in the draft.



Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: "He checked in at 216 following three years of being listed about 13 pounds heavier. If he doesn't run at about 4.5, we'll certainly wonder if he has enough athleticism to separate. He's a big target and it'd be hard to see him falling past the second round, but he has work to do."

Thoughts: I've seen Jeffery play time and time again and I've always come away impressed when he's in one-on-one situations. He's incredibly physical and really makes a corner's job much harder in jump-ball situations. He's not the fastest receiver out there and last year's dip in his production could hurt, but you can't forget about his ability to manhandle defenders.


Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: "Up to 322 pounds, Brockers is still seen as a 3-technique tackle in a 4-3. But the weight seemed to drag on his explosiveness, and the strength numbers were also less than average. He may want to drop a little weight before his pro day. Still a safe Round 1 guy, but needs to find that comfort zone."

Thoughts: He wasn't very impressive at the combine, but like Jeffery, he showed how well he can play during his college days. His field speed was certainly better than what he showed at the combine. I think his stock has fallen, but you have to think that what he did in 2011 will make sure he stays in the first round. He certainly can't falter again during his pro day.

Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: "He's a high-motor guy who can rush the quarterback, but he didn't run in Indy and will need to show enough explosiveness that teams think he won't get engulfed by NFL tackles."

Thoughts: Whenever you skip out on workouts questions will arise, but from everything I've heard, he will probably be the first outside linebacker taken in April's NFL draft. He showed all year that he has the speed to be dangerous on the outside.
Now that you've seen the recruiting needs for the SEC Western Division teams, it's time to check what teams in the East needed to focus on when it came to recruiting for the 2012 class:


Offensive line: There's no getting around how much Florida's offensive line struggled in 2011. Florida doesn't lose a lot from its line, but the Gators need more talent. There are a lot of questions surrounding this position and getting qualities bodies is a must.

Running back: Florida loses seniors Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, and will enter the fall with unproven players in Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown. As Florida continues to move closer to a more traditional/pro-style offense, the Gators also need to add size to the position.

Wide receiver: Again, this is a position in which the Gators need to improve in the talent category. Florida lost just one senior from last year's squad, but unproven players lurk. What Florida needs to get in this class is a true playmaker at receiver. There is hope that Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose and Frankie Hammond can step up, but some solid competition won't hurt.


Offensive line: Georgia loses three starters in Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and Justin Anderson. The Bulldogs would like to add a few more big bodies up front in this class to help with all that unproven depth.

Linebacker: In Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense, linebackers are extremely important. The Bulldogs will likely lose a couple bodies at outside linebacker next year, including star Jarvis Jones, and would like to add a couple of true playmakers at that position in this class.

Wide receiver: Come 2013, Georgia will have taken some hits at its wide receiver depth. There is young talent in Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett, but veterans like Tavarres King, Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten will be gone. Adding a couple standouts at wide receiver in this class would be nice.


Offensive playmakers: Whether it comes at quarterback, wide receiver, running back or tight end, the Wildcats need to find players who can make plays when they get the ball in their hands. Kentucky's offense was hard to watch all season because there was no one who could consistently move the ball.

Offensive line: Kentucky loses three starters -- Chandler Burden, Stuart Hines and Billy Joe Murphy -- from its offensive line and needs to load up here in this class. There is a handful of young players at each offensive line position, but the Wildcats need to think about adding more for the future.

Defensive back: Veterans are leaving the Wildcats' secondary, so it's time to stock up. Winston Guy, Taiedo Smith, Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley will all be gone, meaning the Wildcats are in need of adding some depth to both the cornerback and safety positions.


Running back: Leading rusher Henry Josey suffered a severe knee injury toward the end of the 2011 season and the Tigers have some veterans jam packed at the top of the depth chart at the position. Getting help to add to future rosters would really help this offense as it moves to the SEC.

Defensive line: The Tigers are losing three starters along the defensive line and 10 players from 2011 will be gone by the end of next season. There are some youngsters there, but it's time to getting into restocking mode along the defensive line. Also, this is where games are won and lost in the SEC. Finding more athleticism here is crucial.

Offensive line: Like the defensive line, Missouri will lose three starters here. There are some bodies to fill in for now, but you can never have too many offensive linemen and now that the Tigers are headed to the SEC, getting some bigger, more athletic linemen will be key to survival in this jungle.


Defensive line: The Gamecocks have gotten a ton of production from here lately, but South Carolina will lose two starters in Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson. South Carolina might want to add to defensive end the most, with Ingram leaving and Devin Taylor getting ready to depart in a year.

Linebacker: Over the next two years, the Gamecocks will lose some quality players at linebacker and even the spur position. A handful of veterans occupy the depth chart at linebacker, so that means South Carolina needs to add a few quality bodies for the future.

Defensive back: South Carolina's depth in its defensive backfield could be considered thin. The Gamecocks are down two starters at cornerback and will lose solid players in D.J. Swearinger and DeVonte Holloman in 2013.


Running back: The Vols never figured out how to run the ball last year and will now turn to a group of unproven running backs. Marlin Lane has the talent to excel, but he needs to be more consistent. Finding a couple talented backs in this class would help this position tremendously.

Defensive tackle: The Vols need some help inside, and now that they are moving to the 3-4, getting quality nose guards is a must for Tennessee. Adding some girth inside will be very important in order to improving this position.

Defensive back: Tennessee will say goodbye to quite a bit of their defensive backs in the next couple of years, so getting a head start on adding to players to both safety and corner would be a plus.


Offensive line: The Commodores return the bulk of their offensive line next year, but after that, Vanderbilt will be pretty thin and very young up front. Adding four or five bodies to the offensive line would go a long way for Vanderbilt.

Linebacker: Vanderbilt loses one starter, in Chris Marve, here for next season, but the year after will see a lot of turnover at the position, with four rising seniors on the roster.

Defensive end: Two starters — Tim Fugger and T.J. Greenstone — are gone and Vanderbilt will lose a handful more after the 2012 season. Getting some help at this position is another must for coach James Franklin.
Georgia will be well represented in the 2012 Senior Bowl later this month.

Cornerback Brandon Boykin, punter Drew Butler, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and center Ben Jones will head to Mobile, Ala., for one last game at the college level.

"Georgia had one of the more remarkable winning streaks in the country this season, and there's no doubt these four seniors played a big role in the Bulldogs reeling off 10 straight victories to claim the Eastern Division title," said Steve Hale, who is the President and CEO of the Senior Bowl. "We're confident this group will take advantage of this opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the NFL decision-makers."

All four could hear their names called during the 2012 NFL Draft. Boykin was a second team All-SEC selection by the league coaches after recording 48 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, three interceptions, nine pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. Boykin would have heard his name in last year's draft as well, but he made a last-minute decision to return to school for his senior season.

Glenn and Jones were two of the best offensive linemen in the SEC this season. Glenn showed some versatility by moving from right tackle to left tackle, while Jones was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's top center.

Butler punted 51 times for 2,260 yards, averaging 44.3 yards per punt, which ranks second in the SEC and 13th in the country. He had 16 punts of 50 yards or more and downed 19 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard also added his name to the Senior Bowl roster. Ballard is fresh off of a 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Music City Bowl win against Wake Forest. Ballard rushed for 1,189 yards, averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in 2011.

The game will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 28. All of the Senior Bowl practices can be seen on the NFL Network.

Georgia seniors help guide Bulldogs

December, 1, 2011
Brandon Boykin was close to being out of the Bulldog door.

Georgia’s senior cornerback basically had his bags packed for the NFL shortly after a solid junior year, and it seemed like he’d thrust himself over the fence and onto the side filled with millions.

After all, there was one point in which Boykin was considered one of the top corner prospects available for last year’s NFL draft.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Boykin
Dale Zanine/US PresswireBrandon Boykin returned for his senior season, and after the year UGA has had, he's thankful he did.
Boykin, along with others juniors thinking of foregoing their senior seasons, went to meet with Georgia coaches when a snowstorm -- a blizzard by Georgia standards -- shut down Athens, Ga.

Conveniently trapped with his coaches for a couple of days, Boykin was left with his thoughts. He took more time to mull over turning pro and discussed feelings with coach Mark Richt.

“I felt like it was kind of a sign from God,” Boykin said.

Boykin took that sign, turned down his shot at jumping to the league and decided to stay in school for one more year.

Looking back on his decision, Boykin couldn’t be happier with sticking around. He’s headed to the SEC championship game to face No. 1 LSU (12-0, 8-0), he might have helped save his coach’s job and he got one more go-round with his teammates.

Just thinking about giving all that up seems like madness to Boykin.

“I feel foolish for even considering it just because of the impact of this senior season on my life and the way that it turned out and just how much more I've learned and just the overall effect of coming back for a senior year,” Boykin said.

And while this year has had an effect on Boykin, he and his fellow seniors have had a profound effect on the rest of this team.

Richt gets a lot of credit for leading the 14th-ranked Bulldogs' turnaround after its 0-2 start, but this senior class helped push the Bulldogs out of their early rut and toward their run back to the Georgia Dome.

To Richt, this senior class’ positive influence began when the NFL-ready ones returned for 2011. They showed they not only wanted to be around the program but they wanted to bring a championship back to Athens. Their buying into Georgia’s offseason training was infectious with younger players.

“Boykin and Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn and guys like that, they had the opportunity -- they knew they were going to be NFL players or have a shot at that, but they chose to stay and wanted to have a special season,” Richt said.

So when that 0-2 start sent Georgia fans into a panic, the seniors stood tall, making sure the Bulldogs didn’t fall to the enemy that is adversity. The seniors made sure there was no internal dismay or finger pointing. The focus remained.

While people were ready to dub this as the “same old Georgia,” Boykin took it upon himself to step forward and say something to his team after the opening loss to Boise State.

“I kind of wanted to make it a point to just step up and tell everybody to continue to grind and we were a great team, no matter what this first game had,” he said. “And after the second game as well, people would continue to stay positive. It definitely worked out for us.”

Sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones said the seniors’ attitudes definitely rubbed off on the underclassmen. The younger players watched as the upperclassmen went longer in harder in practices. They owned the film sessions. That approach forced younger players to replicate the seniors’ efforts.

It wasn’t just that the seniors wanted to energize this team and get it past a rough opening to the season, they wanted to win and make their last season memorable.

“They really didn't want their last time here at the University of Georgia go out like it started,” Jones said, “like most people thought it was going to be.”

Georgia has now won 10 straight, sports a quarterback leading the SEC with 32 touchdown passes and has a defense that ranks fifth nationally. The Bulldogs are plus-10 in turnover ratio and are in play for a BCS bowl berth.

The Bulldogs’ level of play has helped guide them to their strong finish, but Jones said the poise and leadership of the senior class kept the spirits of the other players up. As long as the old guys stayed the course, the youngsters would follow suit.

“They're the reason why we kept our faith,” he said. “We gelled closer together, and we just kept believing in each other. Every day, they were like, ‘Just believe. Just come out here and work hard, and we control our own destiny.’

“Every day, that's what we did.”
Aaron Murray and Kellen MooreUS PresswireKellen Moore, right, and Aaron Murray will lead their respective offenses when Boise State and Georgia meet Saturday in Atlanta.
No. 5 Boise State and No. 19 Georgia square off Saturday night in one of the top nonconference games of the season. So who is going to win and why? How about a little debate between college football nation blogger Andrea Adelson and SEC blogger Edward Aschoff.

Andrea Adelson: So I hear you want to debate me on Boise State versus Georgia, Edward. I am glad to see you are not too scared to take on a little sister of the poor. Now I know you are new around these parts, but that does not mean little sister here is going to take it easy on you. I am in this debate to win it, just like Boise State has agreed to travel across the country to play in what is hilariously called a "neutral-site game" in Atlanta to play Georgia. The Broncos are in this to win it, and to show -- yet again -- they can beat the so-called big boys. Wait. What? Oh, right. You are going to bring up 2005, and the 48-13 shellacking Georgia delivered to Boise State. Well, if I am not mistaken, this is 2011 and Boise State has a fellow named Kellen Moore at quarterback. He just finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy race. Advantage, Boise State. Tell me where Georgia has an advantage.

Edward Aschoff: No, I won't bring up that 2005 game where the Broncos didn't belong on the same field. I also don't need to bring up that the Broncos are 0-4 all-time against SEC opponents -- all of those losses came in the past decade. But what are Georgia's obvious advantages? Well, besides the fact this game is going to literally be played in Georgia's backyard, the Bulldogs have tremendous speed on defense. Speed that I don't think Boise's offense can match. Georgia has one of the most athletic front sevens in the league. Boise's line is going to have to try to stop the likes of Kwame Geathers and big ol' John Jenkins in the interior. Together, they weigh close to 700 pounds. Plus, DeAngelo Tyson is going to drive tackles crazy on the outside. But even if the Broncos manage to squeeze by that front line, they'll have to meet one of the fastest linebacker corps around. Alec Ogletree dropped down into the box from safety and can absolutely fly around the field to make plays. With Christian Robinson joining him in the middle and the likes of Jarvis Jones and Cornelius Washington in there, the Broncos are going to need jet packs to get through the box. Kellen Moore might be back, but without Titus Young or Austin Pettis (142 catches, 2,166 yards and 19 touchdowns gone) to throw to, Boise is going to have to rely more on its running game and that wreaks of trouble.

AA: Does it, Edward? Doug Martin is one of the most underrated running backs in the nation, running for 1,260 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Forget all that mumbo jumbo about playing against bottom-feeders. Scouts Inc. lists Martin as the top senior running back available in the 2012 NFL draft. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.48. Same time as Arkansas running back Knile Davis, and faster than Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Martin also ranks No. 2 in the Scouts Inc. power/balance evaluation and No. 1 in competitiveness. I should also mention he is a terrific pass-catcher, with 28 receptions last year for 338 yards. His offensive line also has a stud in left tackle Nate Potter, who made the preseason All-America team. Mel Kiper lists Potter as one of the top senior offensive tackles in the nation as well. So your argument about the plodding, unathletic Broncos makes little sense. Boise State is way more athletic than UCF, and I do recall the Knights beat Georgia last season.

EA: While we're discussing future NFL prospects, you might as well look at Georgia's offensive line. The same Scouts Inc. that you referred to ranks senior Cordy Glenn as the top-rated guard in the 2012 draft and senior Ben Jones as the top center. Glenn could have easily left school early for the NFL, but will be lining up at left tackle for the Dawgs on Saturday. Good luck to those Broncos trying to get by deceptively agile 6-foot-5, 348-pound monster. Also, left guard Kenarious Gates isn't well known yet, but he's extremely athletic and can move along the line if needed. Those guys will be blocking for the SEC's best quarterback in Aaron Murray, who set all sorts for school and SEC freshman records in passing and total yardage in 2010. He'll have one of the nation's best in tight end Orson Charles, an preseason All-American, who is too fast for most linebackers to keep up with and he's too big for most corners to guard. And while Tavarres King doesn't have the clout A.J. Green had, he's been tremendously consistent and has been Murray's go-to guy at flanker. Also, two freshmen to keep an eye on are running back Isaiah Crowell and receiver Malcolm Mitchell. Crowell could have a Marcus Lattimore-like impact, and word out of Athens is that Mitchell has been turning heads and breaking ankles in practice. Don't sleep on Georgia's offense.

AA: Well, I did fall asleep on them watching the bowl game against UCF last season. Murray, Charles and Glenn were on that team, right? Joking aside, I know Georgia will be much better on offense and defense. But I’m not sure the Bulldogs will be good enough against a veteran team with a senior class that has lost twice in their careers.

EA: The Broncos are in a must-win situation, meaning the pressure is on. For Georgia, the Bulldogs can lose this game and still make a run at the SEC title and maybe even the national championship if a ton of pieces fall into place. With that said, Boise has been in this situation many times before, and it's tough to pick against them in this situation. I think Georgia takes it down to the wire, but comes up just short in its opener against the Broncos.
The big uglies up front on the offensive side are our focus today. There are some quality veterans out there, but teams all across the league are looking to replace some quality linemen in the trenches.

Here's how we see the league stacking up:

[+] EnlargeBarrett Jones
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireBarrett Jones has been one of the mainstays of Alabama's offensive line the past two seasons.
1. Alabama: Four of Alabama’s five linemen from a year ago return, making this one of the team’s strongest units. The returners have combined for more than 70 starts at Alabama. Barrett Jones is the star of the show. The junior has been the Tide’s starting right guard each of the past two seasons, but took reps at left tackle and could be asked to move. William Vlachos is back at center and could be the best at his position in the league. Fellow starters D.J. Flucker and Chance Warmack are back and took reps at left tackle this spring.

2. Ole Miss: The Rebels’ offense isn’t getting much respect this offseason, but its offensive line returns All-SEC candidates in tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie. Seven of Ole Miss’ linemen started two or more games each on the offensive line in 2010. Last season, the Rebels were first in the league in sacks allowed, giving up just 14. Alex Washington should stay at left guard after starting eight games there and A.J. Hawkins will likely get the nod at center after playing eight games there as well. Arkansas transfer Matt Hall will compete for time at center.

3. LSU: Joseph Barksdale might be gone, but the Tigers have a very talented group of linemen returning. Tackle Alex Hurst seems primed to be a star in the league and senior Josh Dworaczky is arguably the Tigers’ top lineman with 25 career starts. Patrick Lonergan is solid at center, while T-Bob Hebert is valuable at both center and guard. Sophomore Chris Faulk has the tough assignment of replacing Barksdale, but made quite the impression on his coaches this spring.

4. Kentucky: The Wildcats return four starters on their line. Right guard Larry Warford headlines the group after gaining second-team All-SEC honors a year ago. Kentucky also returns two-year starter Stuart Hines at left guard and Matt Smith at center, who was solid in his first year there. Left tackle Chandler Burden missed spring practice, but is expected back by fall practice. Finding a suitable right tackle is the next step for Kentucky.

5. Tennessee: This group could be one of the most impressive units for the Volunteers this season. It’s deeper and more experienced in Derek Dooley’s second year and he was very pleased with its performance this spring. Junior Dallas Thomas is solid at left tackle, and sophomore Ja’Wuan James really came on strong in his first year and is one of the top linemen in the SEC. James Stone also returns at center. The surprise of the group was true freshman Marcus Jackson, who held down the left guard spot for most of the spring.

6. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs must replace All-American left tackle Derek Sherrod, but most of the line is somewhat on point. Center Quentin Saulsberry will anchor the line and is versatile enough to play just about every position on the line. Left guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Addison Lawrence return and the Bulldogs will have junior Tobias Smith lining up at right guard. Blaine Clausell and James Carmon, who moved from defensive tackle, will compete at left tackle.

7. Georgia: This was supposed to be one of the strongest offensive line units in the league, but the Bulldogs lost tackle Trinton Sturdivant to a season-ending knee injury this spring and fellow tackle A.J. Harmon transferred. Georgia’s most-reliable options are Cordy Glenn, who moved from guard to left tackle and Ben Jones at center. Kenarious Gates is at left guard, but he’s athletic enough to play tackle if needed. Former defensive lineman Justin Anderson will start off at right tackle. Right guard is the next area of business and the depth all around is a problem.

8. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have questions here, but there is talent across the line. Rokevious Watkins is one of the most talented guards in the league and he’ll be assisted by returning starter at center T.J. Johnson. Senior Kyle Nunn has made strides at left tackle and redshirt freshman A.J. Cann took over duties at left guard this spring. Still, the younger linemen will be counted on to contribute this fall.

9. Arkansas: The Razorbacks must replace three starters on the offensive line. Center Travis Swanson and left guard Alvin Bailey are the only returning starters. Just a sophomore, Bailey impressed his coaches last season and will be one of the top linemen in the league this fall. After that, the Hogs will have to turn to youth for help. True freshman Brey Cook could be thrust into the starting role at right tackle, while sophomore Anthony Oden could get the job at left tackle.

10. Florida: Florida’s offensive line struggled throughout the 2010 season -- and that was with a senior-laden group. This fall, the Gators will start over with a ton of inexperience. Right guard Jon Halapio and right tackle Xavier Nixon are the only returning starters. Halapio struggled at times last season and Nixon battled injuries. Florida’s line spent most of the spring in the infirmary, so little is known about the overall talent. Freshman Chaz Green left spring as the starter at left tackle, Jonotthan Harrison will battle former Notre Dame lineman Dan Wenger at center. He transferred in after spring, but has health concerns.

11. Auburn: The Tigers will go from having one of the top offensive line groups in the country to having a major work in progress in 2011. Senior Brandon Mosley is the lone returning starter, and while he was solid on Auburn’s line last season, he came from junior college as a defensive end/tight end. The good news is that tackle A.J. Greene should be fine this fall after sustaining a season-ending leg injury last year. The rest of Auburn’s linemen are very young and inexperienced. Don’t expect many redshirts from this group.

12. Vanderbilt: The Commodores might return all five starters, but this unit had trouble keeping things together last year. The offense needs this group to improve mightily. Wesley Johnson is Vanderbilt’s best option, despite only being a sophomore at left tackle. There will be size on the right side, with 300-plus pounders Kyle Fischer and Ryan Seymour over there. Simply put, this unit has the experience, but it requires a lot of improvement.
Much of the focus in Athens has centered around who will replace A.J. Green as Georgia's big-play receiver and whether prized freshman running back Isaiah Crowell can come right in and pump new life into the Bulldogs' running game, especially now that Washaun Ealey is gone.

But as we creep toward June, a new issue has surfaced -- depth on the offensive line.

[+] EnlargeA.J. Harmon
Jeff Vest/Icon SMIGeorgia's depth took a hit Tuesday when A.J. Harmon left the team.
Junior tackle A.J. Harmon left the team Tuesday for what coach Mark Richt said were personal reasons, although academics sidelined Harmon for the Liberty Bowl last season. Harmon was a potential starter at right tackle, and at the very least, was going to be the Bulldogs' third tackle capable of filling in on both the left and right side. That's two tackles that the Bulldogs were counting on for next season that won't be around. Senior Trinton Sturdivant, who started seven games at left tackle last season, suffered a season-ending knee injury during the spring.

Undoubtedly, first-year offensive line coach Will Friend will be working a few guys in different spots when preseason camp begins in order to build some depth.

Senior Cordy Glenn will open the preseason at left tackle and was probably going to be the starter there even before the injury to Sturdivant, who was expected to slide over to right tackle. Senior Justin Anderson, who was on defense last season before undergoing surgery for turf toe and missing all but one game, is the starter at right tackle entering the preseason.

Senior Ben Jones is solid at center with sophomore Kenarious Gates penciled in at left guard and sophomore Chris Burnette at right guard.

As it stands now, Gates would probably be the Bulldogs' third tackle and could end up moving there. He started three games as a true freshman last season at right guard.

Redshirt freshman Kolton Houston showed enough promise this spring that the Georgia coaches feel like he could also come in and play guard if Gates moves to tackle.

But among Gates, Burnette and Holston, they have a combined three college starts.

The two wild cards at tackle are redshirt freshman Brent Benedict and sophomore Austin Long, but there are health concerns with both players. Benedict had a serious knee injury his senior season of high school that also included nerve damage. Long underwent back surgery and missed the entire 2009 season. He was also out this spring after tearing a pectoral muscle in practice.

The Bulldogs may have to look to a true freshman or two for depth next season. Watts Dantzler, Zach Debell and Xzavier Ward are all projected to play tackle in college.
Talk about cruelty.

Sunday, tests confirmed that Georgia senior offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant suffered his third ACL-related, season-ending injury. His first two were in his left knee, but this one was in his right one.

Remember, this is a guy who was a freshman All-American in 2007 after starting all 13 games at left tackle for the Bulldogs.

He then tore the ACL in his left knee during a preseason scrimmage in 2008 and tore it again in the 2009 season opener.

For a guy who has given everything for his team, this is a devastating blow for not only Georgia but also his career.

Sturdivant, who started seven of the 12 games he played in during the 2010 season, considered forgoing his senior year to enter the 2011 NFL draft, but later decided to stay at Georgia for his final season.

It’s unknown if Sturdivant, who would be a fifth-year senior this fall, will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility.

As for Georgia’s offensive line, this leaves a huge hole. The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Sturdivant was splitting time with converted guard Cordy Glenn at the left and right tackle positions.

Sturdivant’s injury leaves Glenn as the only Bulldog tackle with any real experience, and while Glenn did start four games at left tackle after Sturdivant went down in 2009, most of his experience has come at left and right guard.

Junior A.J. Harmon could be an option at tackle, but he’s played in just seven career games. Redshirt sophomore Austin Long and redshirt freshman Kolton Houston could be options at right tackle, should Glenn permanently move to left tackle. Redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, who missed all of the 2010 season after suffering a severe right knee injury during his senior year of high school, could also be an option to replace Sturdivant.

The low numbers at tackle mean the Bulldogs will have to immediately throw incoming freshmen tackles Zach DeBell, Xzavier Ward and Watts Dantzler into the fall practice rotation.

Opening spring camp: Georgia

March, 10, 2011
Schedule: The Bulldogs will practice once on Thursday afternoon and then take next week off for spring break before returning to spring drills.

What’s new: Will Friend takes over for Stacy Searels as offensive line coach, and Kirk Olivadotti is the new inside linebackers coach. In addition, Joe Tereshinski was promoted to director of strength and conditioning.

On the mend: Linebackers Dexter Morant (shoulder) and T.J. Stripling (knee) will be held out of spring practice.

On the move: Sophomore Alec Ogletree is moving from safety to inside linebacker. Senior DeAngelo Tyson is shifting from nose guard to defensive end. Senior Justin Anderson is moving back to the offensive line and will compete for one of the starting guard spots after spending an injury-marred season at nose guard a year ago. Senior Cordy Glenn will move over to right tackle after starting for three years at guard. Christian Robinson will slide into Akeem Dent’s middle linebacker spot. Sophomore Jarvis Jones heads into the spring as the starter at strong side outside linebacker.

Key battle: Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is looking for more consistency at the free safety position. Senior Jakar Hamilton and junior Shawn Williams will battle it out this spring, although Grantham said another possibility could be junior Sanders Commings moving from cornerback to safety.

New faces: He’s not entirely new, but Jarvis Jones will be on the field for the first time this season. He practiced last season but couldn’t play in games after transferring from Southern California. Also, signees Chris Conley, a receiver, and Christian LeMay, a quarterback, enrolled early and will go through spring practice.

Breaking out: After catching 23 passes as a freshman and 26 passes last season, junior tight end Orson Charles is primed for an All-SEC season in 2011. He’s had a great offseason and is pushing a chiseled 250 pounds. The Bulldogs plan to move him around and use him in a number of different ways. He’s athletic enough to split out wide and make things happen on the perimeter and is an impossible matchup for linebackers down the middle of the field.

Don’t forget about: Cornerback Brandon Boykin elected to come back for his senior season after checking out his draft stock. Getting him back was huge for the Georgia secondary and also solidifies the Bulldogs’ special teams as the best in SEC. Boykin returns as one of the most polished cornerbacks in the league and is also one of the SEC’s most dangerous return specialists. He’s returned four kickoffs for touchdowns during his career.

All eyes on: Quarterback Aaron Murray had a terrific freshman season with 3,049 passing yards, 24 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. But gone are his top two receivers, including A.J. Green. More than ever, this is Murray’s offense now, and establishing the right kind of chemistry and timing with his new corps of receivers this spring will be critical.

SEC spring preview: Eastern Division

February, 22, 2011
Our SEC spring preview continues with a look at the Eastern Division:


Start of spring practice: March 16
Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Stamp of Muschamp: All eyes will be on Will Muschamp as he sets foot for the first time on a practice field as a head coach. He takes over for Urban Meyer, who won two national championships in six seasons at Florida, but let it get away from him last season. Muschamp’s first order of business is restoring that edge to the Florida program that made the Gators so successful under Meyer. It was a disjointed bunch a year ago with some obvious chemistry problems, but the talent is in place for Muschamp to come in and win right away if he can get everybody on the same page.
  • New life for Brantley: With Charlie Weis taking over as the Gators’ offensive coordinator, he plans to install a pro-style offense, which fits senior quarterback John Brantley a lot better than the spread attack the Gators tried to run with Brantley rotating in and out last season. Tim Tebow was a hit in that offense. Brantley was woefully out of place. But in this new offense, he gets a chance to do what he does best -- throw the ball from the pocket. He’ll also have true freshman Jeff Driskel pushing him every step of the way. Driskel, ranked by ESPN as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country, enrolled early and will go through spring practice.
  • Second time around: Remember that freshman class the Gators signed last year that was being hailed as perhaps the most talented ever? We start to find out a lot more about those guys this spring, and the Gators will need a lot more production out of that crowd, too. We’re talking about defensive linemen Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd, running back Mack Brown, receiver Chris Dunkley, safety Matt Elam and cornerback Joshua Shaw, to name a few. It’s time for some of the Gators’ younger talents to make their presence felt.

Start of spring practice: March 10
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Murray’s ankle: There was a collective sigh of relief across the state of Georgia when it was learned that Aaron Murray’s ankle injury wasn’t more serious than it was. The Bulldogs’ sophomore quarterback sprained his ankle playing soccer this past weekend and says he will be ready to go for spring practice. Still, don’t look for him to overdo it, particularly early, which means sophomore Hutson Mason may get some increased reps with the first unit. This will be Murray’s third spring at Georgia, and he’s going to get plenty of work. Something says, though, that his soccer days are over.
  • Elevating the O-line’s play: Most Georgia fans would readily tell you that the Bulldogs’ play in the offensive line each of the past two seasons has been disappointing. There’s a new guy calling the shots up there this spring, former Alabama All-SEC performer Will Friend. Look for Friend to move some guys around and try to settle on the best combination. Cordy Glenn will get a shot at tackle, and Kenarious Gates may, too, after playing some at right guard last season as a true freshman. However it shakes out, the Bulldogs need to play with more consistency up front next season.
  • Lining up linebackers: Losing outside linebacker Justin Houston early to the NFL draft was a big blow. He was Georgia’s finisher on the edge in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense and was second in the SEC in sacks last season. Jarvis Jones, a talented transfer from Southern California, is probably the closest thing the Bulldogs have to Houston, which means he’ll probably start out on the outside. Jones also worked some on the inside last season. Senior Richard Samuel needs a big spring and could really help fill the void inside.

Start of spring practice: March 30
Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • Moving to the 3-4: Rick Minter came aboard as Kentucky’s new defensive coordinator prior to the bowl game last December and will continue the transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 this spring. The Wildcats still need to recruit to this defense, in particular find a bigger nose guard, before going full scale to the 3-4. But Minter would like to create a hybrid position where he can take a linebacker and play him some at end, thus giving the Wildcats more flexibility. Kentucky isn't short on talent at linebacker, and junior Ridge Wilson could be a candidate for that hybrid role.
  • Newton’s law: Mike Hartline’s eligibility has run out, and Ryan Mossakowski is transferring. That leaves Morgan Newton as the Wildcats’ quarterback of record. Heading into his junior season, he needs a big spring with the focus clearly being on becoming a more consistent passer, while also establishing himself as a leader. He needs to prove it to the coaches. But more importantly, he needs to prove it to his teammates that he’s the guy to lead this team.
  • Finding the end zone: Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews combined for 22 touchdowns last season, but they’re now gone. Derrick Locke, when healthy, was one of the more dangerous breakaway threats in the SEC at running back. He’s also gone. The good news is that Kentucky returns four offensive line starters, but one of the priorities this spring will be identifying guys who can get the ball into the end zone, which is where Raymond Sanders, Brandon Gainer, CoShik Williams and La'Rod King all come in. Getting junior receiver Gene McCaskill back will help, too. He missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in preseason practice.

Start of spring practice: March 15
Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Shoring up the pass coverage: Ellis Johnson, South Carolina’s assistant coach for the defense, is determined to get to the bottom of the Gamecocks’ issues covering the pass last season. They’re plenty talented in the secondary, but were beaten way too often and gave up far too many big plays. One change is Akeem Auguste moving back to cornerback from safety. Auguste played cornerback two years ago. The Gamecocks also hope redshirt freshman Victor Hampton can provide some coverage help when they go to extra defensive backs.
  • Retooling up front: Gone are four senior offensive linemen who started at some point last season. Of course, some of the best news for the Gamecocks is that they’re going to have the same offensive line coach for the second year in a row. When Shawn Elliott arrived last year, he was the third different offensive line coach at South Carolina in as many years. He did a nice job with the Gamecocks’ offensive line in his first season and was able to mix and match when guys were injured. Redshirt freshman A.J. Cann will have a chance to win one of the starting guard jobs, while junior college signee Kaleb Broome is already on campus and will vie for the right tackle spot.
  • Sustaining success: The Gamecocks made history last season by playing in their first SEC championship game. They’re likely to be favored in the East race again in 2011, but are they ready to embrace that role and properly manage those expectations? The leaders need to take charge of this team this spring and make sure there’s no complacency from simply having gotten to Atlanta last season. The goal now is getting there and winning a first-ever SEC championship. The Gamecocks have the returning talent to make that happen, but do they possess everything else it takes to win a title in this league?

Start of spring practice: March 22
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Growing as an offense: The Vols were so young on offense last season that a lot of the time they were merely trying to keep their heads above water. But with the three true freshman offensive line starters a year older and quarterback Tyler Bray going through his second spring practice and being able to get his timing down that much more with receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee has a chance to really have its offensive attack humming by the fall. Having everybody together this spring and working under offensive coordinator Jim Chaney should only expedite the process.
  • Living in limbo: Janzen Jackson, the Vols’ star junior safety, will not be around for spring ball. He’s withdrawn from school this semester to deal with personal problems. Tennessee hopes to get him back for the fall, but there are no guarantees. Brent Brewer, a former minor league baseball player who really came on at safety the latter half of last season, is suspended indefinitely from all team activities following his arrest on a domestic assault charge. The Vols signed two junior college defensive backs, Byron Moore and Izauea Lanier, but they won’t be on campus until this summer.
  • Beefing up the front: The Vols really like promising defensive ends Jacques Smith, Corey Miller and Willie Bohannon and will be looking to bolster their pass rush with those three coming off the edge. Senior Malik Jackson will likely stay inside after moving from end to tackle last season and leading the Vols in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (5). But there’s still a huge need for more muscle inside. Junior college signee Maurice Couch will certainly help, although he doesn’t arrive until this summer. Montori Hughes is coming off a disappointing 2010 season. The Vols will be looking for all the bodies they can find inside this spring.

Start of spring practice: March 18
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:
  • Franklin’s debut: With the exception of offensive line coach Herb Hand, Vanderbilt will have an entirely new coaching staff running the show this spring. It will be the first collective look that new coach James Franklin has had at his team. It’s also his first chance to evaluate his returning talent, not to mention the returning players’ first chance to get a feel for Franklin and the new assistants on the practice field. Franklin has vowed that he won’t be afraid to take some risks and that the Commodores will be aggressive.
  • Smith’s time to shine: As quarterback Larry Smith enters his senior season, his slate is wiped clean with this new staff. He won’t stray too far from new quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne this spring and gets a chance to take an early lead in the quarterback battle before the three true freshmen arrive this spring. Jordan Rodgers will be limited this spring after undergoing shoulder surgery last year, but will also get a chance to prove to the new staff that he’s the guy to pump some life into a passing game that finished 105th nationally last season.
  • Identifying playmakers: The Commodores need to generate more big plays in 2011, and that goes for all three areas of the game. This is a big spring for younger receivers Jordan Matthews, Jonathan Krause and Chris Boyd. And on defense, Vanderbilt needs to find a few more finishers in terms of getting to the quarterback. The Commodores were last in the SEC with 20 sacks last season and were also last with 15 forced turnovers. Creating more short fields for the offense and making more happen on special teams will be a must next season.

Georgia leads way with 'pro' All-Americans

December, 21, 2010
Pro Football Weekly, after gathering input from NFL evaluators, has released its 2010 All-America team based on a combination of draft value, pure talent and performance.

Any guesses on which SEC team had the most first-team selections?

Georgia ... by a mile.

The Bulldogs, who suffered through the worst season of the Mark Richt era, had five players on the first team, including Cordy Glenn and Clint Boling as both of the offensive guards. A.J. Green was selected at receiver, Justin Houston at outside linebacker and Drew Butler at punter.

No other SEC team had more than one player selected as a first-team All-American, which only reinforces that Georgia was far more talented than its record reflected this season. The Bulldogs (6-6) need to beat UCF in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl to avoid their first losing season since 1996.

Auburn's Cam Newton was beaten out by Stanford's Andrew Luck as the first-team quarterback. The only Auburn player to earn first-team honors was junior defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

The other SEC first-team selections included Florida center Mike Pouncey, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The SEC had 12 honorable mention selections, including Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Alabama receiver Julio Jones, Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams and South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery.

Here's the complete list (SEC players are bolded). Juniors are marked by one asterisk (*), draft-eligible sophomores have two (**) and true sophomores have three (***):

Andrew Luck, Stanford**

Honorable mention
Kellen Moore, Boise State*
Cam Newton, Auburn*
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas*

Jake Locker, Washington
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

Running back
Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

Honorable mention
LaMichael James, Oregon**
Andre Ellington, Clemson**
Mark Ingram, Alabama*
Jordan Todman, Connecticut*
Mikel LeShoure, Illinois*

Owen Marecic, Stanford

Honorable mention
Anthony Sherman, Connecticut

Wide receivers
Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State**
A.J. Green, Georgia*

Honorable mention
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina***
Julio Jones, Alabama*

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma*
Titus Young, Boise State

Tight end
Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin

Honorable mention
D.J. Williams, Arkansas
Michael Egnew, Missouri*

Offensive tackles
Nate Solder, Colorado
Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

Honorable mention
Marcus Cannon, TCU
Danny Watkins, Baylor
Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
Lee Ziemba, Auburn
Ben Ijalana, Villanova

Offensive guards
Cordy Glenn, Georgia*
Clint Boling, Georgia

Honorable mention
John Moffitt, Wisconsin
Rodney Hudson, Florida State
Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State

Mike Pouncey, Florida

Honorable mention
Chase Beeler, Stanford
Mike Brewster, Ohio State*

Defensive ends
Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson*
J.J. Watt, Wisconsin*

Honorable mention
Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Allen Bailey, Miami (Fla.)
Cameron Jordan, California

Defensive tackles
Marcell Dareus, Alabama*
Nick Fairley, Auburn*

Honorable mention
Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Corey Liuget, Illinois*

Inside linebacker
Luke Kuechly, Boston College***

Honorable mention
Greg Jones, Michigan State
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame***
Nate Irving, North Carolina State

Outside linebackers
Von Miller, Texas A&M
Justin Houston, Georgia*

Honorable mention
Bruce Carter, North Carolina
Akeem Ayers, UCLA* Sean Spence, Miami (Fla.)*

Patrick Peterson, LSU*
Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

Honorable mention
Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.)*
Janoris Jenkins, Florida*
Cliff Harris, Oregon***
Omar Bolden, Arizona State*

Eric Hagg, Nebraska
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple

Honorable mention
Mark Barron, Alabama*
Rahim Moore, UCLA*
Ahmad Black, Florida

Alex Henery, Nebraska

Honorable mention
Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State

Drew Butler, Georgia*

Honorable mention
Chas Henry, Florida

Return specialist
Cliff Harris, Oregon***

Honorable mention
Patrick Peterson, LSU*