SEC: Jason Peacock

Opening preseason camp: Arkansas

August, 1, 2012
Schedule: The Hogs’ first practice is Thursday. The newcomers will go at 4 p.m. ET and the veterans at 7:30 p.m. ET. The first day in pads is scheduled for Monday. Arkansas opens the season Sept. 1 against Jacksonville State in Razorback Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on a pay-per-view basis and also shown on ESPN3.

Returning starters: Eight on offense, six on defense and the place-kicker and punter on special teams.

Star power: Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson thought seriously about declaring for the NFL draft this past spring, but ultimately decided that he had unfinished business at Arkansas. After leading the SEC with 3,638 passing yards last season, Wilson could make a run at 4,000 yards in 2012.

New faces: Junior college newcomer Austin Flynn should make an immediate impact at defensive end. He was one of the stars of the spring. Another junior college transfer to watch is receiver Demetrius Wilson. He wasn’t on campus for spring practice, but the Hogs think Wilson can be an explosive target in the passing game. The same goes for incoming freshmen D’Arthur Cowan and Keon Hatcher. On defense, incoming freshman Otha Peters will get a chance to show what he can do at linebacker, where the Hogs are hurting outside of Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith. Senior cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew, a transfer from Mississippi Valley State, had his moments this spring, while incoming freshman Defonta Lowe may be able to work his way into the safety rotation.

Don’t forget about: Kiero Small, a 5-foot-10, 255-pound bruiser of a fullback, is back for his senior season. Small’s forte is blocking, but he might get a chance to do some tackling this season. The Hogs are going to look at him at linebacker. Small played both linebacker and fullback in junior college and led his team in tackles.

Big shoes to fill: Between them, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams scored 20 touchdowns last season, and a lot of them came from long distance. Cobi Hamilton is a star in his own right and ready to become the Hogs’ go-to receiver, but he can’t do it by himself when it comes to generating big plays. Marquel Wade looked like he was going to be a nice complement with the way he performed in the spring, but he was booted from the team following his burglary arrest. The Hogs need guys like Javontee Herndon, Julian Horton and Keante Minor to come through this fall.

Key battle: One of the first orders of business this preseason will be settling on a starting five in the offensive line. Junior Travis Swanson is the starter at center, but nothing is written in stone after that. Junior Alvin Bailey has started 26 games at guard, but Mitch Smothers, Tyler Deacon and Luke Charpentier are all pushing hard. Senior Jason Peacock is a returning starter at tackle. He was suspended this offseason and then reinstated to the team following his arrest on a theft charge. Sophomore Brey Cook is the favorite to win the other tackle spot, although junior David Hurd, a former walk-on, was impressive this spring while working with the first unit.

Rising star: Sophomore cornerback Tevin Mitchel made seven starts last season and was named to the All-SEC Freshman team. He just kept getting better and now that he’s been through an entire season in this league, he should emerge as one of the Hogs’ leaders in the secondary. They need him to be a rock back there because Mitchel and senior Darius Winston are it when it comes to experience at cornerback. The 6-foot, 192-pound Mitchel had 56 total tackles last season to rank him third among all SEC freshmen.

Bottom line: Preseason practice couldn’t get here soon enough for the Hogs, especially given the whole Bobby Petrino scandal this past spring and his subsequent ouster. John L. Smith takes over and joked recently that his most important task is making sure he doesn’t screw up things. Having been a part of this program for the past three years, Smith knows that he has a talented football team with some really good leadership. His job will be to press the right buttons. Knile Davis appears to be 100 percent, and that’s huge. Still, everyone will be watching him closely. Injuries have plagued him throughout his career. Getting both Alabama and LSU in Fayetteville this season also works in the Hogs’ favor. But breaking through in the Western Division still gets back to defense and whether or not new coordinator Paul Haynes can get the Hogs to play championship-caliber defense when it counts most. They ranked 74th nationally against the run last season, and that's not going to cut it in the SEC.

Lunchtime links

July, 27, 2012
Finishing up the week with some links.
Barrett JonesNed Dishman/Getty ImagesA move to center shouldn't slow Alabama's Barrett Jones, last season's Outland Trophy winner.
Our preseason SEC position rankings continue with the big uglies. The real muscle down in the trenches. Offensive lines are crucial in every level of football, but teams seriously do live and die by the play of their offensive lines in the SEC.

Past rankings:
On to the SEC's offensive line groups:

1. Alabama: Four starters return (with 95 combined starts), there's size, there's athleticism and this line just screams first-round NFL talent, starting with mammoth tackle D.J. Fluker and guard Chance Warmack. Reigning Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones is moving to center, but with his versatility he should excel there. Add former top recruit Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle and this is arguably the country's top offensive line.

2. LSU: Like Alabama, this line is full of experience, as four starters return and so does Josh Dworaczyk, who was granted a sixth-year after a knee injury caused him to miss all of 2011. Some think he was LSU's best lineman before last season began. Tackles Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst are two of the best in the league and center P.J. Lonergan is tough to beat. Former highly-touted recruit La'El Collins should also contend for time this fall, too.

3. Texas A&M: This could be the strength of the team. Left tackle Luke Joeckel is a future first-rounder, while right tackle Jake Mathews has All-SEC potential. Senior center Patrick Lewis provides a very sturdy anchor in the middle. Guards Jarvis Harrison and Cedric Ogbuehi are young, but both got good experience last year, as Harrison started five games and Ogbuehi started six. Depth could be an issue, as most reserves are younger.

4. Arkansas: The Hogs have one of the better center-guard combos in the league in Travis Swanson and Alvin Bailey. Both have received preseason accolades and should be even better in 2012. Sophomore tackle Brey Cook came in with a lot of hype and if he develops in his second season, this line will be really good. Sophomore Mitch Smothers proved he can play just about anywhere and big left tackle Jason Peacock is back, but is still in the doghouse after his arrest this spring.

5. South Carolina: Replacing Rokevious Watkins at left tackle won't be easy, but the staff feels like redshirt freshman Brandon Shell might be the man for the job. He's incredibly talented and athletic and improved his blocking ability during his redshirt year. Center T.J. Johnson and guard A.J. Cann are coming off of solid seasons, but the right side has questions. Right tackle Mike Matulis started five games last year, but missed spring while recovering from shoulder surgery and right guard Ronald Patrick recorded zero starts last year.

6. Tennessee: The good news is that everyone is back. The bad news is this is the same line that was incredibly inconsistent last year in the run game, as Tennessee ranked 116th in rushing offense. However, the staff feels it has a better lineup with the emergence of sophomore Antonio Richardson at left tackle. Stud Dallas Thomas moves to left guard and Ja'Wuan James, who has started 25 games at right tackle, provides some good stability. The line has 99 combined starts and allowed just 18 sacks last year, but the proving ground with this group is establishing that it can come off the ball and be a better running team.

7. Missouri: The Tigers lost three starters from last year, but that doesn't mean Mizzou is without experience. Old man Elvis Fisher was granted a sixth year after last year's season-ending knee injury and will provide a major boost at left tackle. And three other linemen return with starting experience from last year: tackle Justin Britt, who took over Fisher's spot last year, and guards Jack Meiners and Travis Ruth. One thing to keep an eye on is the line's durability. The average weight of this group is roughly 295 pounds.

8. Auburn: Three starters return to a line that has a ton of young depth. Center Reese Dismukes is the anchor and one of the top centers in the league. Guard John Sullen and tackle Chad Slade combined for 21 starts last year. The staff really likes redshirt freshman Greg Robinson at left tackle and former top recruit Christian Westerman will compete for time after sitting out last year. Guard Eric Mack made strides this spring before he was shot near the hip during the tragic shooting that occurred near Auburn's campus in June.

9. Mississippi State: Injuries and constant reshuffling along the line caused the Bulldogs' offense to struggle for most of last season. Three starters are gone, but junior guard Gabe Jackson, who is one of the league's best, is back and so is right guard Tobias Smith. If Smith, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early last year, is healthy, this line should be very strong along the interior. Dillon Day started six games last year and returns at center, while junior college transfers Charles Siddoway and Dylan Holley are pushing for time.

10. Florida: The Gators return four starters to a line that struggled all last season. Will Muschamp said he saw vast improvement up front this spring, but tackles Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan must show more consistency and leadership. Jonotthan Harrison is solid at center and guard Jon Halapio has improved each year. Sophomore tackle Chaz Green and impressive early enrollee D.J. Humphries will compete for time as well.

[+] EnlargeKenarious Gates
Radi Nabulsi/ Georgia may have O-line questions, but likely none concerning junior Kenarious Gates.
11. Georgia: Yet again the Bulldogs have questions up front. Junior Kenarious Gates is very versatile and athletic and is Georgia's most reliable lineman. The staff was pleased with guards Dallas Lee and Chris Burnette coming out of spring, but a lot is riding on sophomore David Andrews making it at center. If he has to move, Burnette will have to move to center and more reshuffling will come. Inexperience is worrisome and true freshman John Theus should get plenty of chances to take one of the tackle spots.

12. Vanderbilt: Thanks to offensive line coach Herb Hand, this group was one of the most improved in the league last year. He'll have a tall task again with a lot of youth and inexperience. Left tackle Wesley Johnson is one of the most underrated linemen out there, while Ryan Seymour has been solid up front. The right side has issues and the depth is a concern. Injuries made it tough for this line to get through spring practice, and six freshmen are coming in to compete for spots during fall camp.

13. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost three starters from a line that struggled throughout 2011, but vets Larry Warford and Matt Smith are back to provide a solid center-guard combo. However, they'll be asked to help a cluster of youngsters. The left side is gone and will be replaced by youngsters Zach West (redshirt freshman) and Darrian Miller (sophomore). Right tackle Kevin Mitchell started just one game last year. Any sort of injury up front would be devastating for the Cats.

14. Ole Miss: This is arguably the Rebels' weakest position. Hugh Freeze wasn't thrilled with the line this spring, continuing to say it didn't handle the offense's tempo well. Guard Matt Hall, who had double-digit starts last year, left the team this spring. Center Evan Swindall was Ole Miss' most consistent lineman this spring, while senior A.J. Hawkins moved to guard. Comfort was an issue for everyone, and the tackle spots were filled this spring by Emmanuel McCray, who missed all of last season, and JUCO transfer Pierce Burton.
Arkansas offensive lineman Jason Peacock has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge and has been sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Prosecutors said Peacock entered the plea Monday in Washington County Circuit Court, where he also was sentenced to a year of supervised probation.

Peacock was arrested March 16 on a felony theft charge for allegedly taking a fellow student's debit card and using it to buy $35 worth of gas.

Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino suspended Peacock indefinitely, but he was reinstated prior to Petrino's firing. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior was listed as a first-team tackle on the Razorbacks' spring depth chart and is an important piece to Arkansas' offensive line. Peacock played in all 13 of Arkansas' games last year and started the final nine games.

Arkansas interim coach John L. Smith released a statement concerning Peacock:
"I met with Jason Peacock when I arrived on the job and expressed my expectation for him to fulfill his obligations in order to resolve his situation. We have high standards for our student-athletes and now that the legal process has taken its course, we will review Jason's status with the program."

Prosecutors say Peacock is to report to jail within 30 days.

Lunchtime links

April, 4, 2012
It's the middle of the week, so how about some links?

Lunchtime links

March, 28, 2012
Time for some links.

SEC lunch links

February, 22, 2011
Hope everyone had a relaxing President's Day. Who is your favorite president? While you're thinking, here are some links to munch on:



Saturday, 10/4