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SEC morning links

2/12/2015

1. Auburn’s wait to have live oak trees once again providing shade (and spots to deposit reams of toilet paper after important victories) at Toomer’s Corner is nearly over. The university will hold a tree-planting ceremony on Saturday morning at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue. Auburn provided a first glimpse of one of the new trees on Thursday via Twitter. Even if fans won’t be allowed to roll the new oaks until the 2016 season -- thereby allowing them time to settle into their new environment -- this is a big occasion on the Plains. Rolling Toomer’s is one of college football’s many great traditions, and not even an idiotic opposing fan could take it away from Auburn for long.

2. Memo to future draft prospects: Showing off some versatility can only improve your chances of making an NFL roster -- especially if you’re a borderline prospect. See the story of Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Russell Shepard. He never really lived up to sky-high billing in college at LSU, but said he “learned sometimes you have to be able to play special teams just to contribute to the team” despite how he hated being on the kicking teams. Being able to play on the coverage units might be what is keeping Shepard in the league today, however. He led the Bucs in special teams tackles last season.

3. So how accurate are recruiting rankings and what can we do to improve them? Football Study Hall’s Bill Connelly takes a look. It’s no secret that most SEC schools recruit at an elite level -- and Missouri gets extra points for its extraordinary results at developing underrated talent -- but of course no subjective evaluation standard is perfect. It’s an interesting subject to explore.

Around the SEC

• Vanderbilt added a new safeties coach on Thursday in former Stanford assistant Marc Mattioli.

• Former Auburn cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent has left the program in search of other opportunities according to his father.

• Former UCLA assistant (and current Atlanta Falcons coach) Jeff Ulbrich continues to encourage Roquan Smith to attend UCLA despite leaving his job with the Bruins. Smith will announce his college decision today after last week’s drama over whether he would fax in a signed letter of intent following Ulbrich’s departure.

• Tennessee defensive coordinator Jon Jancek had a simple message for two new over-sized defensive linemen Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle: “You can’t fall on my son at practice.” Jancek’s son Zac is a walk-on quarterback with the Volunteers.

• The Sporting News offers a helpful guide for couples who are attempting to plan a fall wedding around SEC football schedules.

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