SEC: Ferlando Bohanna
Here are today's links:
• Georgia is handing a scholarship to tight end Joseph Ledbetter after he played two seasons of basketball at NCAA Division II Pfeiffer University. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Ledbetter's brother Jonathan is committed to Alabama for next year's recruiting class.
• Mississippi State's Dee Arrington and Ferlando Bohanna are both out for the season, and the Bulldogs have three freshmen who are still working to gain eligibility for 2014.
• With as many as four capable tailbacks available, South Carolina might not need Mike Davis to carry as heavy a load in the backfield this fall.
• James Franklin redshirted all but three players from Vanderbilt's well-regarded 2013 signing class, so new Commodores coach Derek Mason will have some talented redshirt freshmen at his disposal this fall.
• The Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Story remembers “Wah Wah” Jones, who died Sunday at age 88. Jones was a standout player for legendary coaches Bear Bryant and Adolph Rupp at Kentucky and won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. men's basketball team in 1948.
• The Montgomery Advertiser's James Crepea asks a question many Auburn fans are wondering: When will the Tigers roll out highly-recruited running back Roc Thomas to join the established veterans in the backfield?
• Weight has been a regular subject for both defensive lineman Isaac Gross and quarterback (among other possible positions) Jeremy Liggins at Ole Miss.
• The Orlando Sentinel's Chris Hays writes that a rash of decommitments should not concern Florida yet, although plenty of prospects are in wait-and-see mode after the Gators went 4-8 last season.
• Adding top junior-college receiver D'haquille Williams has left Auburn's wideouts even more optimistic about what they can accomplish this fall.
• A pair of LSU freshman defensive linemen were issued citations for misdemeanor offenses last week.
• Alabama's top three running backs (T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake) bring a variety of impressive skills to the Crimson Tide backfield.
• Quarterback Maty Mauk is ready to run the show this season at Missouri after briefly filling in for James Franklin last fall.
Mississippi State's linebacker unit should be pretty strong this fall, but filling the middle is one of the goals for the spring.
The Bulldogs are rotating a lot at the linebacker positions, but especially in the middle, where Ferlando Bohanna and Benardrick McKinney are getting a lot of reps. Bohanna entered spring No. 1 on Mississippi State's two-deep, but McKinney has really impressed thus far.
Word out of Mississippi State's camp is that McKinney has taken full advantage of his time this spring, showcasing great field instincts and speed in the middle. If he's a player who can cover a lot of ground on defense, that will be a major plus for Mississippi State's defense, as the Bulldogs look to replace some key parts in the secondary and up front. McKinney redshirted last season, while Bohanna played in 10 games, registering nine tackles, including one for loss.
Middle linebacker is wide open in Starkville this spring, but the chatter coming out of practice is that McKinney is making a strong push to get some playing time this fall and is making the battle for that spot in the middle pretty interesting for the coaches. Having younger players compete can be worrisome when it comes to experience, but it's a positive in the sense that younger players tend to absorb more, take to coaching much better, and try to soak up as much knowledge as they can get.
That process needs to continue for both players as spring continues.
What’s new: Chris Wilson, the co-defensive coordinator last season, takes over for Manny Diaz as the Bulldogs’ primary defensive play-caller. Geoff Collins is the new co-defensive coordinator and will also coach linebackers. Angelo Mirando was promoted to receivers coach.
On the mend: Offensive guard Tobias Smith will do very little, if anything, this spring after undergoing shoulder surgery in January. Tight end Marcus Green will be limited after partially tearing the ACL and spraining the MCL in his right knee last season in the second game. Receiver Chad Bumphis who broke his collarbone and missed the Gator Bowl last season will be full go, according to Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.
On the move: James Carmon, who came to Mississippi State last year as a defensive tackle, is moving to offensive tackle. The 6-7, 330-pound Carmon will get a shot to replace Derek Sherrod at left tackle.
Key battle: Juniors Trevor Stigers and Shane McCardell are listed as the co-starters at Pernell McPhee’s old defensive end spot.
New faces: Junior college signee Joey Trapp will be in the mix in the offensive line rotation. Quarterback Dak Prescott, defensive end John Harris and offensive lineman Nick Redmond are all high school players who enrolled early and will go through spring practice.
Breaking out: If senior quarterback Chris Relf improves as much from this spring to next season as he did from last spring to last season, then look out. The 6-4, 240-pound Relf was one of the most improved players in the league in 2010. He’s a bruising runner (713 rushing yards) and made huge strides as a passer. One of the goals this spring will be to improve his accuracy as a passer. He completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season.
Don’t forget about: Even though Vick Ballard was second in the SEC with 20 touchdowns, rushed for 968 yards and had an outstanding debut season for the Bulldogs, sophomore LaDarius Perkins provides a different dimension at running back with his speed. He added three receiving touchdowns to his three rushing touchdowns last season and averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
All eyes on: The Bulldogs lost all three of their starting linebackers, which means this spring will be critical for younger guys like redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna.
I’ve come up with 12 more redshirt freshmen in the SEC to keep an eye on for 2011. They’re listed alphabetically:
Michael Bennett, WR, Georgia: With A.J. Green and Kris Durham departing, the Bulldogs are looking for more playmakers at receiver, and the 6-3, 202-pound Bennett is a terrific athlete with the ability to go up and get the football.
Ferlando Bohanna, LB, Mississippi State: All three starting linebackers from a year ago are gone, including the Bulldogs’ two tackle leaders, Chris White and K.J. Wright. The 6-foot, 235-pound Bohanna has the size and speed to step in and be a starter.
A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier talked like Cann might have a chance to play as a true freshman. The Gamecocks are losing four senior offensive linemen who made starts last season, which means Cann will get his shot in 2011.
Ed Christian, OG, Auburn: Four spots are up for grabs in the Tigers’ offensive with the four senior starters departing. Christian may end up battling another redshirt freshman, Eric Mack, for one of the starting guard jobs.
Chris Dunkley, WR, Florida: The Gators are looking for anybody on the perimeter who can make plays, and Dunkley showed a lot of promise last season and would have played as a true freshman had he not been saddled with hamstring problems.
Brandon Gainer, TB, Kentucky: The weight room has been good to Gainer, who’s bulked up to more than 215 pounds. He was pushing to play last season, but was slowed by injury. With Derrick Locke gone, the Wildcats need Gainer to make a move next season.
Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina: Ellis Johnson, South Carolina’s assistant coach for the defense, is putting out an APB for anybody who can help improve the Gamecocks’ pass coverage. Hampton had some issues off the field before he got to South Carolina, but is plenty talented.
Chris Martin, LB, Florida: After originally signing with California, the 6-4, 240-pound Martin decided to transfer to Florida and was required to sit out and redshirt last season. He was a terror on the Gators’ scout team and will be a big addition to their defense in 2011.
Trovon Reed, WR, Auburn: A knee injury that followed him from high school was the only thing that kept Reed off the field last season. He drew rave reviews during the preseason when he did practice and is a perfect fit for Gus Malzahn’s offense.
Vincent Sanders, WR, Ole Miss: One of the Rebels’ highest profile signees a year ago, the 6-3, 180-pound Sanders will be counted on to add some pop to the deep passing game. Ole Miss needs its receivers to make more plays down the field next season, especially with Markeith Summers gone.
Ronnie Vinson, CB, LSU: An injury sidelined Vinson after playing in the first three games last season, and LSU is listing him as a redshirt freshman in 2011. The Tigers have a bundle of young talent in their secondary, and Vinson is right there at the top.
DeAndrew White, WR, Alabama: In offseason workouts a year ago, White impressed several of his older teammates. With Julio Jones turning pro, the Crimson Tide will be looking for help for Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks, and White is ready to provide that help.
12:00 PM ET Florida Tennessee 12:00 PM ET 6 Texas A&M 12 Mississippi State 3:30 PM ET 3 Alabama 11 Ole Miss 4:00 PM ET Vanderbilt 13 Georgia 7:00 PM ET 15 LSU 5 Auburn 7:30 PM ET South Carolina Kentucky