Let’s take a look at what’s in the SEC mailbag this week. Programming note: I’ll be back from vacation on Monday:
Chris Low: I would have taken Jones their first season and Green last season. I really thought Green took it to another level until he had a couple of injuries. Jones wasn’t healthy the first part of last season, either, and looked a lot closer to his old self the final half of the season. So we’ll let this be the rubber match this season, and then I’ll give you my answer. How’s that for a cop-out? Hey, they’re both great players and will almost certainly be first-round picks. Enjoy them this season, because I expect them both to come out early for the pros.
Solvaccio in Auburn, Ala., writes: Chris, your article "NCAA bans Tiger Prowl recruiting" contains a major error. The NCAA has not banned Auburn's Tiger Prowl. It banned the recruiting strategy of sending more than two coaches to a school and the use of limos to arrive on campus. Auburn packages the Tiger Prowl as a fundraiser for fans and family, off campus. The coaches arrived at schools separately. This article is very misleading and unjustly criticizes Auburn for actions unrelated to Tiger Prowl that they and Georgia and Florida State have used.
Chris Low: You are correct that Auburn has separated the two this year and that the Tigers’ recruiting efforts have not been tied to the “Tiger Prowl” bus that is making stops around the state at different booster club events. However, there’s a little revisionist history at work here. Last year, the recruiting stops around the state with the limos and assistant coaches were absolutely referred to as Tiger Prowl, and even the coaches were quoted as referring to them as Tiger Prowl. Obviously, when Auburn officials and coaches realized this ruling was coming down by the NCAA, they quickly distanced themselves from Tiger Prowl as a recruiting phrase. So in effect, the NCAA has banned Tiger Prowl as we knew it last year. The new Tiger Prowl is indeed a booster function. And, yes, other schools were sending multiple assistant coaches to schools this year before the NCAA limited the number to two. Hey, I give Auburn credit for coming up with something creative. It’s the name of the game in recruiting.
Carey in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Who are some players in the SEC you look to come out of nowhere to be star players this year, sort of like Mark Ingram last year?
Chris Low: Good call on Ingram, although I wouldn’t say he came out of nowhere. He did have more than 700 yards rushing as a freshman. It’s just that nobody saw him being a Heisman Trophy candidate to start the season, and I didn’t even have him among the top 30 players in the league going into the season. Shame on me. But a few I see emerging from the shadows next season are South Carolina safety DeVonte Holloman, Georgia wide receiver Kris Durham, Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette, Tennessee running back Tauren Poole, Florida linebacker Jon Bostic, Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan and Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf.
Terry in Stafford, Va., writes: Why the big discussion over Alabama’s opponents having bye weeks before their respective games? No one seems to care that Florida has had 13-15 bye weeks before the Georgia game over the last 20 years.
Chris Low: I did some checking, and Florida did not have a bye week in any of the last three seasons leading into the Georgia game. In fact, it’s been that way four of the last six seasons. Now, Florida will have a bye week next season prior to the Georgia game. And if you go back to league expansion in 1992, Florida has had a bye 13 of the 18 seasons the week before the Georgia game. Looking at it from the Georgia perspective, the Bulldogs have had byes the week the before the Florida game two of the past three seasons. They won’t have a bye next season, however. And going back to league expansion in 1992, the 2007 and 2009 seasons mark the only ones that Georgia has enjoyed a bye the week before the Florida game. In short, something tells me that bye weeks in the SEC are going to be scrutinized like never before.
John in Oxford, Miss., writes: Chris, how will the rule banning things like the Tiger Prowl affect the little tour Dan Mullen is on right now?
Chris Low: It won’t affect what Mullen did last week with regard to the Mississippi State motor home tour. Again, that’s a tour to meet with fans and booster clubs at various sites around the state and surrounding areas. It’s not tied to recruiting, and they aren’t going to high schools. Besides, head coaches aren’t allowed to be on the road recruiting at all during the spring. Just about every school has some kind of tour in the spring, though, where coaches go out and meet with fans. The key here is that assistant coaches are no longer allowed to visit a high school en masse while riding in limos.
Francis in Pilesgrove, N.J., writes: Where do you see LSU going this year? Also, how do you think they could utilize their young players like Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard and Michael Ford and the big defensive prospects they got when they had the No. 1 recruiting class?
Chris Low: I had LSU No. 4 earlier this week in my post-spring SEC power rankings. I think the Tigers are a solid Top 25 team nationally entering the season and could be a contender to Alabama in the West if Jordan Jefferson gets it going at quarterback and the offensive line regroups from a down season a year ago. Randle, Shepard and Ford will all be a big part of LSU’s offensive package next season. Shepard is dynamite in the open field, but he still has to get used to playing receiver. Defensively, Sam Montgomery is one of the young guys to watch at end, and sophomore cornerback Morris Claiborne also had a great spring.