SEC: HaHa Clinton-Dix

SEC's lunch links

December, 31, 2013
The SEC bowl season kicked off Monday with a win by Ole Miss in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The league will now play five bowl games over the next two days so get caught up with the latest news and notes in the last lunch links of 2013.

SEC lunchtime links

October, 4, 2013
Kickoff is just a day away. Week 6 might not offer any marquee matchups in the SEC, but there are plenty of intriguing games across the league. Here's one last look around the conference to get you ready for Saturday.
  • With HaHa Clinton-Dix suspended indefinitely, Alabama will turn to sophomores Landon Collins and Geno Smith to fill the void. It’s a big opportunity for both players.
  • Georgia’s Josh Harvey-Clemons was a linebacker coming out of high school, but he’s growing into his new role in the secondary.
  • Before the season, there were plenty of questions about LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. But after his latest performance at Georgia, he’s put himself in the Heisman race.
  • LSU tight end Travis Dickson grew up a Mississippi State fan. This weekend, he returns to the place where he once donned Bulldog attire and rang cowbells.
  • Steve Spurrier knows the Stoops’ family well, and he believes Mark Stoops can win at Kentucky over time. The two SEC coaches will be on opposing sidelines this Saturday.
  • Arkansas running back Alex Collins will make his return to the state of Florida this weekend to face the Gators. The freshman star has already caught the attention of UF coach Will Muschamp.
  • It could be a track meet between Auburn and Ole Miss on Saturday. Head coaches Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze will likely push the limits on number of plays run.
  • In year one of the rebuilding process, Malzahn and his Auburn Tigers could land a signature win against a resurgent Ole Miss squad.
  • Missouri is 4-0 and eager to put last year’s SEC play behind them. The Tigers start the 2013 conference play this Saturday on the road at Vanderbilt.
  • First-year coach Butch Jones took on a challenge when he took the job at Tennessee, but after a 3-2 start, can he lead the Volunteers to a bowl game?

SEC lunchtime links

August, 28, 2013
We're just a day away until the first game of the college football season and a few days until the season begins en masse. Here's a look at some of the stories from around the SEC to keep you informed:
One of the hardest working college football forecasters is back at it, and he's talking All-SEC teams.

That's right, Phil Steele has debuted his all-conference teams and the SEC is the last one left. I mean, does he ever sleep?

Steele has four teams for offense, defense and special teams. It should come as no surprise that Alabama leads the way with 16 total players. Eight of those players made Steele's first-team offense and defense.

Here's a look at the first-team offense, defense and special teams:


QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
RB: T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
RB: Todd Gurley, Georgia
WR: Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
WR: Mike Evans, Texas A&M
TE: Arthur Lynch, Georgia
C: Travis Swanson, Arkansas
OG: Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
OG: Anthony Steen, Alabama
OT: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OT: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama


DL: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
DL: Anthony Johnson, LSU
DL: Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
DL: Dominique Easley, Florida
LB: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
LB: A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB: Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
LB: Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
CB: Deion Belue, Alabama
CB: Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
S: Craig Loston, LSU
S: HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama


K: Carey Spear, Vanderbilt
P: Kyle Christy, Florida
KR: Andre Debose, Florida
PR: Marcus Murphy, Missouri
  • There were a couple of interesting selections for the first time, in my opinion. For starters, Florida cornerbacker Loucheiz Purifoy isn't listed as a first-team corner. Instead, he's listed as a fourth-team corner and receiver. While I think he'll get time on offense, I don't think he'll get enough to be ranked very high at the receiver spot, and he has the potential to be an All-American at corner. He's extremely athletic and physical. He should play enough on defense to finish the year as a first- or second-team player.
  • While Manziel is easily the best dual-threat quarterback around, I just don't think he'll have the monster season he had last year. Too much is different around him, and I think defenses will game plan for him better. I wouldn't be surprised if McCarron ended the season as the first-team quarter in the SEC. I think with his skill and the players he has coming back around him on offense he'll have a 3,000-yard passing season with at least 30 touchdowns.
  • You can tell how talented this year's crop of receivers is in the SEC if Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief didn't even make the first-team list. He's a second-team player, according to Steele, which isn't bad. It just shows how good this position is in 2013. Vandy's Chris Boyd is a third-teamer, while LSU's Jarvis Landry made the fourth team. Expect Landry to have a big year for the Tigers.
  • Going back to the cornerback spot, I'm not sure Belue or Hal will be first-team players at the end of the season. Both are very talented, and people in Nashville think Hal is an extremely underrated player, but guys like Purifoy, Florida's Marcus Roberson, Georgia's Damian Swan and Missouri's E.J. Gaines will have something to say about who deserves to be at the top of their position. Like receiver, corner is stacked this season in the SEC.
  • Steele feels really good about Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche making an immediate impact, as Nkemdiche is listed on his third team. He has all the talent to have a Clowney-like impact in his first year. He's already on campus and should be pretty fun to watch this fall.
  • Kentucky defensive end Alvin Dupree is listed as a fourth-team player, but I think he has a big year in his new position. He's a very talented pass-rusher and should be even better with Mark Stoops helping him.
  • Also, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel made Steele's fourth team. Interesting, considering the season he just had. Though a lot of people I've talked to around the league think he'll have a much better season. He might have a lot of unproven talent at WR, but he's much more confident this year. I was still surprised to see him over the likes of Zach Mettenberger or even one of South Carolina's quarterbacks.
  • I like what Steele did with his lines. I think all of those players will have big seasons for their respective teams. Jackson and Easley are two players who I think are flying under the radar heading into the 2013 season.

Lunchtime links

March, 27, 2013
We saw one of the best ties in U.S. soccer history last night inside Azteca. First point in Mexico for the Red, White and Blue since 1997!
We continue to rank all the positions in the SEC and turn our attention to groups of defensive backs the conference has to offer.

Past rankings:
On to the league's secondaries:

[+] EnlargeTyrann Mathieu
Dale Zanine/US PresswireTyrann Mathieu is a force to be reckoned with in the LSU secondary.
1. LSU: The Tigers bring back a load of talent here. Tyrann Mathieu and his Honey Badger persona return, but he might not be LSU's best pure corner. While Mathieu has a true knack for finding the ball, no matter where he is, junior Tharold Simon, who replaces Thorpe Award winner Morris Claiborne, might have the best cover ability on the team. Junior safety Eric Reid takes the back end of the field away and will challenge to be one of the nation's top safeties this fall. The coaches are still waiting for safety Craig Loston to break out, and his solid spring was an encouragement. Keep an eye on safety Micah Eugene, who turned heads this spring.

2. Georgia: The Bulldogs have some depth concerns and some players will face early-season suspensions, but the Bulldogs are loaded at the top. Bacarri Rambo is one of the nation's best safeties and he has a very solid partner in Shawn Williams, who led the Dawgs in tackles last year. Seniors Sanders Commings and Branden Smith are back, but will likely sit out the start of the year because of suspension. That leaves Malcolm Mitchell, who moved from receiver, to fill in and he's no stranger to defense. The coaches are also excited about youngster Damian Swann, who will play early.

3. Alabama: With three starters gone, this group is drawing a lot of comparisons to the 2010 unit that struggled at times. However, this batch of DBs insists it'll be more prepared this fall and shakes off the comparisons. Veteran Robert Lester is back at safety and is an All-SEC-type player. Junior cornerback Dee Milliner has 16 career starts under his belt and is an underrated talent, and the coaches are expecting to get a lot out of junior college transfers Travell Dixon and Deion Belue. Keep an eye on safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, who has the talent to be a star in this league.

4. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs own one of the league's best corner duos in seniors Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield. Banks might hold the title as the league's best returning cover corner. Darius Slay is also another corner to watch, as he has some legit playmaking ability. Junior safety Nickoe Whitley is back as well and he would have had better numbers if not for a ruptured Achilles tendon that cut his 2011 season short. He grabbed four interceptions in nine games and should be 100 percent this fall.

5. Florida: This group was pretty young last year, but now has some quality experience under its belt. Safety Matt Elam is the best of the bunch and should challenge to be the league's top safety this year. Sophomore Marcus Roberson had a solid freshman season and has the makings to be a top cover corner in this league. The other corner spot is up for grabs, but keep an eye on sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy, who the staff is very excited about. Josh Evans had a good spring at free safety, but he'll have his hands full fighting off sophomore De'Ante Saunders, who started nine games last year.

6. Missouri: The star of this group is junior corner E.J. Gaines, who recorded only two interceptions, but he broke up 16 passes in 2011 and is bonafide All-SEC candidate. Across from Gaines is senior Kip Edwards, who returns for his second year as a starter and has 37 games to his credit. Edwards turned into a solid cover man toward the end of last season. Seven players return with starting experience, including safeties Kenronte Walker (four starts), who was named the team's most improved safety this spring, and Braylon Webb (four), who had a strong freshman year.

7. South Carolina: The Gamecocks are down three starters, but they aren't without talent. Senior safety D.J. Swearinger, the lone returning starter, is one of the league's top safeties and is solid against the pass and the run. Vet Akeem Auguste returns after missing all of last year with a foot injury, and he's back at corner after moving to safety in 2010. The questions begin with sophomores Victor Hampton (corner) and Brison Williams (safety). Hampton has the talent to succeed, but has some maturing to do. Williams struggled in his only start last year, but the staff really likes his upside.

8. Vanderbilt: Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson are gone, but the Commodores still possess some pretty good talent in the secondary, starting with corner Trey Wilson, who had a solid 2011 in Hayward's shadow. The coaches like what they've seen from junior corner Andre Hal, and safety Kenny Ladler could be a real player at free safety. Expect Eric Samuels and Javon Marshall, who have both see plenty of field time in their careers, to get into the safety rotation this fall.

9. Auburn: The Tigers' secondary took some lumps last year, but certainly has experience back there. Three veteran starters are back with 33 combined starts from a year ago. Fifth-year senior cornerback T'Sharvan Bell didn't go through spring while he recovered from knee surgery, but has the talent to be a top corner in this league. Juniors Chris Davis (corner) and Demetruce McNeal are both back and sophomore Jermaine Whitehead, who had a solid freshman campaign, will get time at safety.

10. Tennessee: Tennessee gave up 7 yards per attempt last year, but things could turnaround this fall. Tennessee has a lot of game experience at corner, including senior Prentiss Waggner, who is the leader of the group. Sophomore Brian Randolph had a solid freshman campaign and junior Brent Brewer is returning to the other safety spot after suffering an ACL injury in late October. Izauea Lanier was ruled ineligible this summer, meaning Marsalis Teague and Eric Gordon will compete with Justin Coleman for a corner spot.

11. Arkansas: Sophomore Tevin Mitchel had a solid first year in Fayetteville and is on course to have a true breakout year this fall. Junior Eric Bennett is holding down one of the safety sports and started 13 games in 2011 after moving from cornerback last spring. The staff is still waiting on senior corner Darius Winston to live up to the hype that followed him from high school. Freshmen Kelvin Fisher Jr. and Davyon McKinney will get their chances to play this fall and help with depth.

12. Ole Miss: The Rebels should be better against the pass this year and things start with veteran safety Charles Sawyer, who has All-SEC quality and should have had at least three more than the four interceptions he recorded last year. Former JUCO transfer corner Wesley Pendleton had an impressive year last season, but looked even better this spring. Nickolas Brassell is gone, but the coaches hope to get more out of former freshman standout Senquez Golson, and junior Brishen Mathews returns from back injury to take the hybrid Husky position.

13. Kentucky: The Wildcats must replace two starting corners, but the coaches feel good about senior Cartier Rice and redshirt freshman Marcus Caffey. Caffey, who moved from running back, might have the most upside and was one of Kentucky's top players this spring. Senior starting safeties Martavius Neloms and Mikie Benton are back. Neloms had a solid spring and racked up 71 tackles last year. Behind them, the Wildcats are full of unproven youngsters.

14. Texas A&M: This is where the Aggies could really struggle. Texas A&M ranked 109th nationally in pass defense last year and could start three sophomores in its secondary this fall. Senior safety Steven Campbell can be a real playmaker for this group, but he's struggled to stay healthy during his career. Senior Dustin Harris has shown flashes on defense, but left spring as a backup to sophomore Deshazor Everett. Sophomore Floyd Raven, who was impressive this spring, has the edge over JUCO transfer Tremaine Jacobs at the other corner spot. The coaches are hoping this is a more athletic group in 2012.