NCF Nation: Orson Charles

Justin Hunter and Da'Rick RogersAP Photo/Wade PayneJustin Hunter (11) and Da'Rick Rogers (21) are considered to be the best receiving duo in the SEC.
Our SEC position rankings continue with a look at schools' wide receiver and tight end groups.

Past rankings:
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:

1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.

2. Arkansas: Cobi Hamilton is now Arkansas' primary receiver, and he might be the league's most complete wideout. He can make the big-play and elude defenders along the way. While Marquel Wade's status is still unclear, if he does return, he'll be a major lift for this offense because of his playmaking ability in the slot. Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon have always impressed coaches in practice and now will get their chances to in games. Tight end Chris Gragg should be even more involved and is the league's top tight end.

3. Georgia: While Malcolm Mitchell could go back and forth between receiver and corner, when he's at receiver he's Georgia's top offensive threat and was one of the league's best as a rookie. There are vets behind him, starting with reliable senior Tavarres King, who had a very good spring, senior Marlon Brown, who seemed to take a big step in his game this spring. Sophomores Michael Bennett and Chris Conley combined for 48 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Unproven tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome will replace Orson Charles and Aron White.

4. Texas A&M: This isn't the fastest group out there, but there are some pretty reliable weapons, starting with star Ryan Swope, who could have left for the NFL after catching 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Uzoma Nwachukwu was third on the team with 50 catches for 639 yards and three tight ends -- Nehemiah Hicks, Michael Lamothe and Hutson Prioleau -- return. Keep an eye on junior Nate Askew, who could be a downfield threat this fall.

5. LSU: Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the top rookies last year and could be even better in Year 2. He'll be joined by potential deep threat and big-play target Jarvis Landry, who developed some good chemistry with quarterback Zach Mettenberger this spring. Russell Shepard is talented, but he's been wildly inconsistent. Keep an eye on junior James Wright and incoming frosh Avery Johnson, who is the younger brother of Patrick Peterson. Also, tight end Chase Clement is on the John Mackey watch list.

[+] EnlargeJordan Matthews
Don McPeak/US PresswireWide receiver Jordan Matthews is one player the Commodores will be counting on this fall.
6. Vanderbilt: This group surprised last year and returns most of its components, starting with Jordan Matthews, who was fourth in the SEC in receiving last year. Sophomore Chris Boyd was solid last year, hauling in 31 catches and eight touchdowns. Jonathan Krause is very good in space and should see his role increase this fall after a solid spring. The coaches are excited about former QB Josh Grady moving to receiver. Replacing tight end Brandon Barden won't be easy.

7. Alabama: There is more speed out wide in Tuscaloosa, but there's a lot more youth. The Tide could turn to freshmen Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams to help develop a more downfield passing game. More will be expected from veterans Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, while sophomore DeAndrew White possesses a ton of speed. Still no word on Duron Carter. Tight end Michael Williams was solid last year, but will be used even more this fall.

8. Mississippi State: There is a lot of experience here, but this group has still underperformed at times, especially senior Chad Bumphis, who has yet to live up to all the hype that followed him from high school. Seniors Chris Smith and Arceto Clark combined for 65 catches last year, while the staff is very excited about the big-play potential redshirt freshman Joe Morrow possesses. Tight end Malcolm Johnson serves as a very reliable tight end target, as well.

9. Missouri: The Tigers lost two starting receivers and stud tight end Michael Egnew, but three of the top five pass catchers are back, including inside threat T.J. Moe, who led Mizzou in receiving last year. Big things are expected from Marcus Lucas, who can stretch the field with his speed and physicality, and the coaches think L'Damian Washington can also be a downfield threat. Also, Dorial Green-Beckham, last year's top recruit, should make an immediate impact. Eric Waters is replacing Egnew, but has just two career catches and suffered a knee injury this spring.

10. Auburn: Emory Blake is one of the league's top downfield threats and has been one of Auburn's most consistent offensive weapons. So has tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who should be more of a passing threat with the addition of transfer fullback Jay Prosch. There is a lot of depth, but it's unproven. Trovon Reed was supposed to be a star, but had a lackluster second year. Seniors Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton have 15 and 14 career catches, respectively. Quan Bray has shown potential and could have a bigger role this season and keep an eye on freshman Ricardo Louis.

11. Florida: The Gators have struggled here since 2009 and still lack proven playmakers. Andre Debose is probably the best bet to be one, but he's been very inconsistent. Quinton Dunbar has the speed to be an outside threat, but caught just 14 passes last year. And the coaches are still waiting for senior Frankie Hammond Jr. to turn things up. True freshman Latroy Pittman had a great spring and the coaches are excited about his potential. Tight end Jordan Reed is one of the most athletic players in the league and will be a bigger target with two young quarterbacks throwing the ball.

12. South Carolina: Now that Alshon Jeffery is gone, the Gamecocks have questions and inexperience here. The fast, athletic Ace Sanders is the only returning pass catcher with at least 20 catches from last year (29). The hope is Bruce Ellington will be more of a factor this fall. Tight ends Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson combined for 26 catches and four touchdowns. Damiere Byrd has blazing speed, but caught just one pass last year. DeAngelo Smith had a solid spring, and the coaches hope he can be a downfield threat. A lot will be expected from incoming freshman Shaq Roland.

13. Ole Miss: Sophomore Donte Moncrief is a budding star in this league and thinks he'll be even better in Hugh Freeze's spread offense. Ja-Mes Logan caught 20 passes last year, but had a very good spring. But Nickolas Brassell was an academic casualty and Randall Mackey had to move over from quarterback. The coaches are looking for consistency from Terrell Grant and Vince Sanders, who are both pretty unproven. Tight end Jamal Mosley is expected to do more in the spread and averaged 13.8 yards per catch last year.

14. Kentucky: Joker Phillips' goal this spring was to find more playmakers and he thinks he did with sophomore Demarco Robinson, who had five receptions last year, and redshirt freshman Daryl Collins. The hope is that they'll take some pressure off of La'Rod King, who is really the only proven receiving threat on the team. Tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson did well this spring, but combined for just 10 catches last year.
One of Alabama's players' might have to find a real offseason job this year because any leftover scholarship money he has might be going back to the university.

[+] EnlargeBCS Trophy
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAlabama's $30,000 crystal BCS trophy shattered into little pieces on Saturday when Carleton Tinker, parent of Tide long-snapper Carson Tinker, tripped on a rug and knocked over the display table.
Well, probably not, but it would be pretty funny if coach Nick Saban tortured him with the thought. After all, the father of a current player is responsibly for $30,000 worth of damage after accidentally knocking over and shattering the Coaches' Trophy from the 2011 Allstate BCS National Championship Game Saturday afternoon.

Thank goodness for insurance policies.

The player's father's foot got caught on a rug that sits beneath the trophy display. One false move sent the Waterford crystal trophy, which was on display in the Mal Moore Athletic Facility halls, tumbling toward the floor.

No word on whose father did the expensive damage.

This isn't the first time a BCS trophy fell at the hands of an onlooker. Back in 2008, Florida's 2006 BCS National Championship trophy was knocked over and shattered outside of Urban Meyer's office by then-recruit Orson Charles.

Charles apologized for his clumsiness, but eventually signed with Georgia, not Florida, so Meyer never had the chance to really, really dig at Charles.

That won't be the case for this Alabama player. Saban will be able to have all the fun he wants with the culprit's son. If I'm Saban, I milk this accident for all it's worth. And $30,000 isn't chump change.

How 2011 All-SEC team ranked as recruits

January, 26, 2012
One of the things I like to do every year leading up to national signing day is go back and look at where the players who made All-SEC that season ranked as high school recruits.

Occasionally, it’s stunning how few of the All-SEC players were hot-shot recruits. For instance, of the 11 defensive players who earned first-team, All-SEC honors in 2010 by the Associated Press, only two were ESPNU 150 recruits (ranked among the top 150 players nationally).

It’s a reminder that recruiting rankings are anything but foolproof.

However, the recruiting folks at ESPN batted a much higher percentage with the players on the 2011 All-SEC team.

Using the coaches’ selections this time, 10 of the 22 position players on offense and defense were ESPNU 150 selections coming out of high school.

In fact, both of the running backs -- Trent Richardson and Michael Dyer -- were rated as the No. 1 running back prospects in the country the years they graduated high school.

LSU’s Rueben Randle was the No. 1-rated receiver in 2009, while Arkansas receiver/return specialist Joe Adams was the No. 2-rated athlete in 2008.

So the evaluations by the ESPN recruiting team on the top skill players from this past season in the SEC were dead-on when they were coming out of high school.

It’s a little trickier with the guys up front.

Of the 10 offensive/defensive linemen named to the 2011 All-SEC team by the coaches, counting the tight end, only three were ESPNU 150 selections coming out of high school – Alabama center William Vlachos, Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier and LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery.

LSU offensive tackle Alex Hurst and Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette weren’t ranked nationally or regionally as high school prospects.

Using ESPN’s recruiting rankings and the 2011 coaches’ All-SEC team, here’s a look back:


  • QB: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – An ESPNU 150 selection in 2008. Ranked as the No. 8 quarterback in the class and the No. 82 prospect overall. A grade of 82. Ranked one spot below Andrew Luck that year among quarterbacks. Terrelle Pryor was No. 1. Wilson was the top-rated quarterback to sign with an SEC school in 2008. No. 2 on the list was Jordan Jefferson, and No. 3 was Star Jackson.
  • RB: Trent Richardson, Alabama – An ESPNU 150 selection in 2009. The No. 1 running back in the class and the No. 6 prospect overall. A grade of 91. Only two players were rated higher than Richardson that signed with SEC schools in 2009 – No. 3 Russell Shepard to LSU and No. 4 Dre Kirkpatrick to Alabama.
  • RB: Michael Dyer, Auburn – An ESPNU 150 selection in 2010. The No. 1 running back in the class and the No. 5 prospect overall. A grade of 87. The No. 1 player that year was Ronald Powell, and No. 3 was Dominique Easley, both defensive linemen who went to Florida.
  • [+] EnlargeJarius Wright
    Nelson Chenault/US PresswireJarius Wright wasn't as highly touted coming out of high school as several other wide receiver prospects who ended up at SEC schools.
  • WR: Jarius Wright, Arkansas – Ranked as the No. 44 receiver nationally in 2008 and the No. 115 prospect in the Southeast. A grade of 79. Twelve receivers who signed with SEC schools were rated ahead of Wright, including Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Some of the others rated ahead of Wright included Rod Wilks, Aaron Boyd, T.J. Lawrence, Chris Tolliver, Destin Hood and Frankie Hammond Jr.
  • WR: Rueben Randle, LSU – An ESPNU 150 selection in 2009. The No. 1 receiver in the class and the No. 10 overall prospect overall. A grade of 86. Six players that year rated in from of him signed with SEC schools – Russell Shepard, Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson, Craig Loston, Bryce Brown and Jelani Jenkins.
  • TE: Orson Charles, Georgia – Ranked as the No. 15 tight end prospect nationally, the No. 150 prospect in the Southeast and the No. 59 prospect in the state of Florida in 2009. A grade of 79. Arthur Lynch, who also signed with Georgia, was rated ahead of Charles that year at tight end. The top-rated tight end to sign with an SEC school that year was Zaccheus Mason, who went to Ole Miss.
  • AP: Joe Adams, Arkansas – An ESPNU 150 selection in 2008. The No. 2 athlete in the class and the No. 41 prospect overall. A grade of 83. The player ranked No. 1 nationally that year as an athlete was Burton Scott, who went to Alabama and later transferred to South Alabama. For what it’s worth, No. 86 on that list was Randall Cobb.
  • OL: Barrett Jones, Alabama – Ranked as the No. 28 offensive tackle nationally and the No. 157 prospect in the Southeast in 2008. A grade of 78. The No. 1 offensive tackle that year nationally was Jones’ Alabama teammate, Tyler Love. Another teammate, John Michael Boswell, was also rated ahead of Jones at No. 19.
  • OL: Will Blackwell, LSU – Ranked as the No. 15 defensive tackle nationally in the 2007 class and unranked regionally or overall. A grade of 79. The top-rated defensive tackle that year to sign with an SEC school was D.J. Stafford, who went to Kentucky and was No. 2 nationally. John Brown was No. 3 and went to Florida. For what it’s worth, Josh Chapman was the No. 74 defensive tackle, and 18 tackles that year who signed with SEC schools were rated ahead of Chapman.
  • OL: Cordy Glenn, Georgia – Ranked as the No. 74 offensive tackle nationally in 2008 and the No. 390 prospect in the Southeast. A grade of 74. Ten offensive tackles who signed with SEC schools that year were rated ahead of Glenn.
  • OL: Alex Hurst, LSU – Unranked regionally or nationally with a grade of 40 coming out of Bartlett, Tenn., in 2008. Hurst was able to attract Les Miles’ attention at an LSU football camp.
  • C: William Vlachos, Alabama – An ESPNU 150 selection. Ranked as the No. 3 offensive guard nationally and the No. 80 prospect overall in 2007. A grade of 80. The No. 1 offensive guard that year was James Wilson, who went to Florida.

(Read full post)

One of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's top offensive weapons won't return to help the Bulldogs defend their SEC Eastern Division title in 2012.

Junior tight end Orson Charles will announce Wednesday that he is forgoing his senior season and will enter April's NFL draft, sources told's Chris Low and Mark Schlabach.

Charles was a finalist for the John Mackey Award as the country's top tight end and was an All-SEC performer in 2011 after catching 45 passes for 574 yards and five touchdowns.

He has been one of Murray's most reliable targets the past two years and showed that he could sometimes be a total mismatch for defenders with his size and speed at the tight end position.

During his three years at Georgia, Charles caught 94 passes for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns.

While Georgia does take a hit offensively with Charles' departure, the Bulldogs do return leading receivers Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, who combined for 92 receptions for 1,370 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Alabama has four on Walter Camp team

December, 9, 2011
Alabama led the nation by placing four players on the 2011 Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America team.

Running back Trent Richardson, left tackle Barrett Jones, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Mark Barron were all first-team selections.

LSU cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne were also first-team selections.

The SEC had eight players make Walter Camp first team. Here they are:

  • RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
  • OL Barrett Jones, Alabama
  • DL Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
  • LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
  • LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
  • DB Morris Claiborne, LSU
  • DB Mark Barron, Alabama
  • DB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

The SEC also had seven players on the second team:

  • LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
  • DB Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
  • DB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt Sr. Elko, GA 6-0 188
  • PK Caleb Sturgis, Florida
  • KR Joe Adams, Arkansas's 2011 All-SEC team

December, 9, 2011
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:


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


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


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

Aaron Murray ready for LSU secondary

November, 30, 2011
Aaron Murray understands what Saturday could do for his legacy.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Todd Kirkland/Icon SMIQB Aaron Murray is aiming for championships, not statistical crowns, while at Georgia.
He’s a quarterback -- the quarterback at Georgia -- and he knows that no matter how many yards he passes for or how many touchdown he tosses, people will judge him by his championship numbers.

“When people talk about stats or this and that, I think the biggest stat is how many championships you've won,” Murray said. “My goal is to win a few while I'm here, and my first one, my first opportunity is this weekend. So, hopefully get that win, and from here on out, get a couple more.”

That first shot comes in the Georgia Dome against No. 1 LSU (12-0, 8-0).

If Murray plays like he did during the second half of the Bulldogs’ season, No. 14 Georgia (10-2, 7-1) will have a chance to prove most of the country wrong. In his past six games, Murray, a redshirt sophomore, has passed for 19 touchdowns to four interceptions. Georgia averaged 36 points in all six wins.

To his standards, Murray had a sluggish start but took the second part of the season by storm. He downplays his improvements, saying he hunkered down in his playbook, talked with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo more often and tried to develop better timing and chemistry with his wide receivers.

It certainly paid off for Murray, who is second in the SEC with 2,698 passing yards and 32 touchdowns, and his Bulldogs, as Georgia is in the SEC title game for the first time since 2005.

For all the good that Murray has done, he is about to get the matchup every quarterback both loves and fears.

LSU’s secondary has terrorized quarterbacks for most of 2011. With a defensive backfield that starts with Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne and ends with 46 pass breakups and 16 interceptions, you have the makings of a quarterback’s worst nightmare.

“You think of SEC defenses, you think of speed,” Murray said, “and they have a whole other speed on top of that.”

LSU sports a legit track team in its secondary, forcing quarterbacks to crumble with decision-making.

“It's going to take everybody to have some success in the passing game, for sure,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

It will also take patience from LSU to have success against Murray.

LSU coach Les Miles compared Murray’s ability to Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson’s, but said Murray is better when it comes to pocket presence. He’s more mature and confident back there, Miles said.

“He's the kind of guy that you have to make sure you're responsible,” Miles said. “Your coverage, you have to focus your eyes and make sure you're over the top. The guy that can move the ball around to as many receivers as he gets it to, you have to have the ability to play coverage and certainly play coverage with the ability to get some pressure on that quarterback without necessarily calling extra guys in the rush.”

Murray doesn’t let pressure get to him that often because he has the legs to move around and outside the pocket. He provides his receivers with more time, and when nothing opens up, he can take off. He’s no speedster, but he gets just enough burst to slip by defenders.

“He actually can run a lot better than people actually think, and he's probably one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the SEC,” LSU safety Brandon Taylor said. “He knows how to manage a game well, and he limits his mistakes, and he doesn't make very many of them.”

Mistakes are a death sentence when facing LSU defensive backs who joke about and compare their big plays, like big game hunters boast about their kills.

“You just can't point just anyone out because the whole secondary as a whole, we've made a ton of plays,” Claiborne said.

This group has done just as well when it’s had all of its parts compared to when it hasn’t. When Mathieu was suspended for the Auburn game, LSU gave up 161 passing yards. When Eric Reid -– maybe LSU’s best safety –- missed the Arkansas game, the Tigers held the league’s top passing team to just 207 yards.

But Murray said he believes he has a crew good enough to stand up to the Tigers. He has grit and speed in tight end Orson Charles. Tavarres King provides the leadership and big-catch ability. And freshman Malcolm Mitchell has every bit the talent of most veteran wideouts.

Murray has some fun pieces to work with, and they’ve improved, just like him.

“Right now, they're feeling confident,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in our young guys, and we're ready to go.”

Malcolm Mitchell warming up for Dawgs

November, 12, 2011
Georgia BulldogEdward Aschoff/ESPN.comToday's game against rival Auburn is a crucial one for the Georgia Bulldogs.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Greetings from Athens, where there is a chill in the air, but blue skies for miles.

The weather is perfect and we should have a pretty good one inside Sanford Stadium between Georgia and Auburn.

Full disclosure: This is my first time in this stadium. It's very impressive, and the campus backdrop behind the scoreboard is really cool to look at as people file into the stadium.

This is a crucial game for the Bulldogs. A win gets them close to the SEC title game. A loss, and it could be another long offseason for this team.

The big screen on the scoreboard was showing the Florida-South Carolina game earlier in the day, but once the Bulldogs took the field, it was shut off. Georgia knows that winning will solve everything, but having that on as a distraction wouldn't help things.

Auburn's players just took the field and were welcomed by boos from Georgia's student sections. Tensions are no doubt pretty high between these teams with the physicality of last year's game still a hot topic around town. Things got ugly at times last year in this game, and Georgia's players are no doubt still fuming over some of them.

There is some encouraging news for the Bulldogs, as wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has been warming up. Mitchell has missed the past three games because of a hamstring injury, but the thought this week has been that he'll play against Auburn. So far, he's looked fine, but I'm sure the staff wants to see him get through warm-ups without tightness or pain before playing him.

Having him out there will be big for Georgia's offense.

Also, keep an eye out for some excitement coming from Orson Charles' hairstyle today. He told me this week that he might do something funky. This guy has had a red mohawk and had the Georgia 'G' shaved into his head. I can only imagine what he might have planned for Auburn.
It was a sloppy one in Athens, Ga., but it's finally over.

Georgia overcame three Aaron Murray interceptions and just 315 yards of total offense to beat Mississippi State 24-10. It wasn't pretty by any means, but Georgia has a three-game winning streak and is now 2-1 in the SEC, and that's all that matters for this Bulldogs team right now.

Murray has seen much better days in his career, as he passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns to go with his three picks. He found tight end Orson Charles and freshman standout Malcolm Mitchell for his two touchdowns.

Isaiah Crowell and Mitchell continue to really be the bright young stars of this Georgia offense. Crowell carried the ball 22 times for 104 yards, while Mitchell caught five passes for a game-high 60 yards. You have to give Mississippi State props for its run defense in the second half. Crowell had 90 yards at halftime, but only 14 in the second half.

As for Mississippi State's offense, well, this pack of Bulldogs didn't score an offensive touchdown. The Bulldogs talked about fixing the little things and cleaning up the mistakes, but Mississippi State failed to do much of that as the Bulldogs managed just 213 total yards and just 56 rushing yards.

When you have Vick Ballard and Chris Relf in your backfield that is just unacceptable. Ballard carried the ball just eight times for 23 yards, while Relf had 31 yards rushing. Relf also passed for 157 yards, but had two interceptions.

Mississippi State's lone touchdown came on a 72-yard interception return by Darius Slay in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

For Georgia, the momentum continues for a team left for dead after the first two weeks. For Mississippi State, an 0-3 start will create a major mental roadblock for a team that some had pegged as a dark horse in the West. The offensive problems are mounting for Mississippi State and we still haven't seen much of Chad Bumphis on offense. It's like he has disappeared. He is a player that has to be more involved in the offense, but he has to make more of an effort to be. He had just two catches for 15 yards and one carry for no yards against Georgia. When you are your team's best offensive athlete you have to get more than three touches. You have to find a way.

Georgia still has some things to clean up on both sides of the ball, but this winning streak is only a good thing for a team looking to make it back to Atlanta for the SEC title game.
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.

SEC scrimmage notes

August, 25, 2011
The season is exactly a week away (thank you Mississippi State and Kentucky), and teams are still looking to work some more of the kinks out before game week officially starts.

A few teams scrimmaged Wednesday and here are some notes from how things went:


New coach Will Muschamp has been pretty complimentary of the Gators during preseason camp. But that love fest was put on hold Wednesday.

After a sloppy scrimmage, Muschamp was reportedly fuming when he met with the media.

"Very immature football team at this point," Muschamp said. "Just disappointed overall with the mental effort tonight. Some procedure issues we should not be having at this point. Some mental mistakes we should not be having at this point. Overall, pretty displeased."

Muschamp said there was "no sense of urgency" from some players Wednesday and that "there ain't no doubt" players could lose their starting jobs because of Wednesday's effort -- or lack there of.

Muschamp also said that quarterback John Brantley was limited because of back soreness and wide receiver Omarius Hines is listed as questionable for the opener against Florida Atlantic with a hamstring injury.

You can check out video of Muschamp's not-so-happy news conference on Florida's official website. You can also read more news and notes here and here.


The Bulldogs held their third scrimmage of the preseason Wednesday at Sanford Stadium.

Coach Mark Richt made things pretty interesting by putting the scout team ahead 31-0 to start the second half. The Bulldogs made up the ground and came out with a 38-34 victory.

Richt also announced the captains for the season opener in senior center Ben Jones, senior cornerback Brandon Boykin, senior defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and senior punter Drew Butler. They served as captains in Wednesday's scrimmage as well.

The highlight of the day came when receiver Tavarres King caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Hutson Mason with 11 seconds remaining for the win. Mason finished 7-for-9 passing for 98 yards and King had three receptions for 21 yards. Aaron Murray started and was 5-of-9 for 79 yards. Tight end Orson Charles had three catches for 31 yards.

The good news was that freshman running back Isaiah Crowell returned after a sore groin kept him out of a few practices. He rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

Defensively, Boykin potentially would have had two long touchdowns on an interception (75 yards) and a fumble recovery (80), but Richt blew the whistle to stop the play.

"I thought we had a really good scrimmage on both sides of the ball," said Murray. "Coach Richt moved the ball around, and we had to drive the field a few times and the defense created some turnovers. I thought we executed plays all around."

Here are more notes from Georgia's scrimmage on the Bulldogs' official website. There are more notes here and here.


The Gamecocks scrimmaged for about an hour inside Williams-Brice Stadium on Wednesday and the quarterbacks seemed to come to play.

South Carolina's three quarterbacks combined to complete 19 of 25 passes for 310 yards with two touchdowns. Stephen Garcia completed 9 of 13 attempts for 136 yards and a score. Connor Shaw finished 8-for-9 for 100 yards with a touchdown. Andrew Clifford connected on two of his three pass attempts for 74 yards in limited action.

Receivers Lamar Scruggs and Damiere Byrd both had a touchdown reception. Scruggs' was a 37-yarder from Shaw, and Byrd's was a 38-yarder from Garcia.

You can read more about the scrimmage and check out some nifty stats on the Gamecocks' official website. There are more notes here.
The University of Georgia has spoken about tight end Orson Charles and his alleged connection to ex-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.

And the news is good for the Bulldogs.

"The University of Georgia is aware of the article mentioning Orson Charles and has been in communication with the NCAA," the school said in a statement Wednesday. "There are no issues with UGA or eligibility issues with Orson Charles. UGA will have no further comment regarding this matter."

In a Yahoo! Sports report, Shapiro alleged that Charles, along with his Tampa (Fla.) Plant coach Robert Weiner and then-Miami quarterback Robert Marve, who also played at Plant, toured Shapiro's multimillion dollar Miami Beach mansion in 2008.

Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, told Yahoo! Sports that he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 University of Miami athletes and other athletes from 2002 through 2010.

SEC names tied to ex-Miami booster

August, 17, 2011
The damning allegations made by convicted Ponzi schemer and former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro might cripple University of Miami athletics, but Shapiro's actions might affect some schools outside of Coral Gables.

In a Yahoo! Sports report, Shapiro said he provided impermissible benefits to at least 72 Miami athletes and other athletes, and also committed NCAA violations with members of the Miami coaching staff when he had improper recruiting contact.

It is an NCAA violation for a school's booster to be involved in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes.

Three SEC schools -- Florida, Georgia and Alabama -- were linked to Yahoo! Sports' report.

First-year Alabama assistants Jeff Stoutland and Joe Pannunzio have been accused by Shapiro of steering recruits to him in order to help persuade them to sign with Miami.

The Yahoo! Sports report quoted Shapiro as saying Stoutland, Alabama's current offensive line coach, was among coaches who brought prospects to his home or luxury suite for recruiting pitches. The story also said Pannunzio, Alabama's director of football operations, was involved, though the report only cited unnamed sources when referring to Pannunzio.

Stoutland was the offensive line coach at Miami from 2007-10, while Pannunzio spent the past five years as the Hurricanes' tight ends coach/special-teams coordinator.

Alabama released a statement Tuesday night through team spokesperson Doug Walker.

"The University of Alabama is aware of the story, but we will have no further comment," Walker said.

Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports that Florida wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive tackle Matt Patchan were athletes who were improperly brought to him so that he could try to persuade them to attend Miami. Shapiro also alleged that current Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill was one of the coaches present when impermissible contact with three recruits, including Debose, took place in 2008.

According to the report, Debose, along with two of his high school teammates, was brought to Shapiro's multimillion dollar mansion by Miami recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt. The report also stated that Hill, who was Miami's receivers coach at the time, was also there.

"I took [Debose, Armstrong and Dye] in my car the first night," Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports. "They came to my house. They were there with Clint Hurtt, who at the time was the recruiting coordinator, and Aubrey Hill, who was the receivers coach. I gave them a strong pitch on why they should come to the University of Miami. Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye were both already in the boat, meaning they were ready to come. Debose was the only one who was wavering."

Shapiro also said he gave Miami equipment assistant Sean Allen around $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and told Allen to show the players "a good time." The reports states that Allen later used the cash to take the three players to nightclubs and a strip club.

Shapiro alleges that two Miami assistants were with Patchan, three members of his family and several other Miami players. Shapiro also said Stoutland was there.

Florida released a statement through Associate Athletics Director/Communications Steve McClain in regards to Hill's role at Miami.

"While we declined comment for Yahoo's request, coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami," McClain said.

Georgia tight end Orson Charles was also listed as a player who had impermissible contact with Shapiro. The report stated that Charles allegedly toured Shapiro’s mansion in 2008 with Tampa (Fla.) Plant coach Robert Weiner and then-Miami quarterback Robert Marve, who also played at Plant.

Florida and Georgia will not face program violations, but it's unclear what could happen to Debose, Patchan and Charles.

A former SEC name also linked to the Yahoo! report is former Tennessee running back Bryce Brown. He originally committed to Miami, but signed with Lane Kiffin at Tennessee after national signing day, before transferring to Kansas State last year.

Shapiro alleges he provided a lunch costing more than $500 and a hotel room for more than $1,000 for Brown, his family and family adviser in 2008.

Preseason All-SEC team

August, 12, 2011
Now that preseason camp is in full swing and several of the teams have gone through scrimmages, we roll out our preseason All-SEC team today.

There were some tough calls, but that's always the case in a league that has this much talent.

Here goes:

  • DL -- Devin Taylor, Jr., South Carolina
  • DL -- Jaye Howard, Sr., Florida
  • DL -- Jake Bequette, Sr., Arkansas
  • DL -- Malik Jackson, Sr., Tennessee
  • LB -- Dont’a Hightower, Jr., Alabama
  • LB -- Courtney Upshaw, Sr., Alabama
  • LB -- Danny Trevathan, Sr., Kentucky
  • DB -- Morris Claiborne, Jr., LSU
  • DB -- Stephon Gilmore, Jr., South Carolina
  • DB -- Mark Barron, Sr., Alabama
  • DB -- Casey Hayward, Sr., Vanderbilt
  • PK -- Blair Walsh, Sr., Georgia
  • P -- Drew Butler, Sr., Georgia
  • RS -- Brandon Boykin, Sr., Georgia
  • AP -- Joe Adams, Sr., Arkansas

SEC Heisman candidates

August, 10, 2011
It's time to take a look at the award in college football and who from the SEC might be up for that bad boy toward the end of the 2011 season.

That's right, folks, the SEC blog is tackling the Heisman Trophy. Don't worry, it's fine; it has a mean stiff-arm.

Three of the past four winners have come from the SEC. Three of the past four have been sophomores. Also, the SEC produced its first Heisman Trophy winners in back-to-back years when Cam Newton took home the award last season.

So what does that tell us? Pick a youngster from the South, and you should be fine in your Heisman pool.

Obviously, there is a lot of talent -- young and old -- in the SEC and a few players who have what it takes to win college football's most prestigious award.

Here are our five preseason SEC Heisman candidates (in alphabetical order, of course):
  • Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas: Davis burst onto the scene with a stellar second half in 2010. After rushing for 294 yards on 44 carries through his first six games, Davis kicked it up considerably, averaging 146.9 yards per game in the final seven games. He dipped below the 100-yard mark just once in that span, and his next-lowest outputs were 110 and 139 yards. Davis can flat-out fly, and he showed at times that he can slip though with enough wiggle room or break a tackle here and there. Although Arkansas has a very pass-friendly offense, Davis will be a major part of the Razorbacks' game plan.
  • Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Jeffery proved to be the toughest receiver in the country to guard in one-on-one situations. At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, he's like covering a fast linebacker out there. Jeffery was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to nation's top receiver, after leading the SEC with 88 receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. Coach Steve Spurrier and quarterback Stephen Garcia said the thing that makes Jeffery so good is his ability to catch pretty much anything thrown his way. He has exceptional hands and a very impressive vertical that allows him to manhandle smaller defensive backs.
  • Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Well, we have our sophomore from the SEC. I guess we can stop looking now. Lattimore had a monster freshman season. He was third in the league with 1,197 rushing yards and third with 17 rushing touchdowns. He also had 29 receptions for 412 yards and two more scores. Oh, and he was the unanimous choice for National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year, and was a first-team All-SEC member. He bulked up to 231 pounds heading into the spring but cut his 40 time down to 4.5. He wants to pack more of a punch for defenders while keeping his speed, and although boxes are likely to be stacked for him, he has the power and speed to break down defenses, no matter the numbers against him.
  • Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Another sophomore makes the list and like Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford before him, he's a quarterback back -- and a darn good one at that. Murray has more touchdown passes from a year ago (24) than any other returning starter in the SEC and passed for a Georgia freshman record 3,049 yards (second in SEC history by a freshman) in 13 starts. He also rushed 87 times for 167 yards and four more scores, giving him the school and conference record for most total offensive yards (3,216) for a freshman. Murray will be without the talents of A.J. Green, but tight end Orson Charles and receiver Tavarres King should provide solid passing targets, plus Murray hopes to get use out of a few younger receivers as well.
  • Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Richardson finally takes the reins in Alabama's backfield, and in his first year as a starter, a lot will be expected of him. He has a rare combination of strength and speed, making him a tank of a track athlete. With a young, inexperienced quarterback joining him in the Tide's backfield, Richardson's number will be called on more than maybe Mark Ingram's was. As a backup for two seasons, Richardson rushed for 1,451 yards and 14 touchdowns, and there are people around the program who think Richardson might be a better all-around back than Ingram, who won the Heisman in 2009.