SEC: Michael Oher

Report: Ole Miss to hire Hugh Freeze

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
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Arkansas State's Hugh Freeze has agreed to become Ole Miss' next head coach, a source familiar with the coaching search told The Associated Press.

A formal announcement is expected later today.

The 42-year-old Freeze led Arkansas State to a 10-2 record and the 2011 Sun Belt Conference championship in his first season as a head coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

The Mississippi native was an assistant coach under former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron from 2005-07 and coached receivers, tight ends and served as the recruiting coordinator.

Freeze first received recognition as the head coach at Briarcrest High School in Memphis, Tenn., where he had a 99-23 record and won two state championships from 1995 to 2004 and also coached former Ole Miss offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was featured in the best-selling book and movie "The Blind Side."

Freeze replaces Houston Nutt, who was fired earlier in the year. Nutt was at Ole Miss for four seasons, but the Rebels are coming off their worst year in school history, after going 2-10 and are currently riding a 14-game losing streak to SEC opponents.

Saban not ready to 'give up day job'

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The movie “The Blind Side” is set to open in theaters on Nov. 20, a film depicting the life of former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher.

Several current and former SEC coaches will make their acting debuts in the movie. Nick Saban, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, Lou Holtz, Tommy Tuberville and Phillip Fulmer all played themselves.

Saban, rigidly meticulous himself, was taken aback by the attention to detail in shooting the movie.

“I’m not ready to change professions or get rid of my day job to (get into acting). I can tell you that,” Saban joked. “But it was a wonderful experience.”

Saban said the professionalism of Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw was amazing in the way they helped everybody get through their parts.

“You don’t realize all the details involved,” said Saban, who’s still the LSU coach in the movie.

SEC coaches hit the silver screen

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
10:14
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The upcoming move "The Blind Side" will feature more than a few familiar faces from the SEC, past and present.

Here's a look at the trailer for the movie that includes former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville and Alabama coach Nick Saban (who's still the LSU coach in the movie) in brief speaking roles. You also catch a glimpse of former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and former South Carolina coach Lou Holtz.

In the trailer, check out what Sandra Bullock's character says about Saban at the end.

The movie, which is the story of former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher's life, will be out in theaters on Nov. 20.

Bubble hasn't burst yet for Ole Miss

September, 29, 2009
9/29/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


Ole Miss might have been vastly overrated and vastly unproven, but that doesn’t mean the season is over for the Rebels.

Rather, it’s just beginning.

As disappointing as the 16-10 loss to South Carolina was Thursday, Ole Miss’ season will be defined by what it does from here and whether the Rebels are a player in the Western Division race come November.
 
 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
 Jevan Snead and the Ole Miss offense have yet to find their groove this season.


Junior quarterback Jevan Snead points out, and rightly so, that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Snead’s slow start has mirrored that of the Rebels, which isn’t a coincidence. He and this offense have yet to find a rhythm.

Granted, the month of September was a weird one for the Rebels with only one Saturday game and then the short week leading up to the South Carolina game, but there are no more excuses now.

Either the Rebels are legit, or they’re not.

“If you’ll remember, we kind of started off slow last year,” said Snead, who was 7-of-21 in the loss to the Gamecocks. “I was hoping to get into a rhythm quicker this year, but obviously haven’t been able to do that. That’s one of the things we’re trying to correct. We’re trying to get into a rhythm, not only on offense, but as a team.

“We really need to start playing well in all phases of the game. Last week, our defense did an excellent job. I feel like as an offense, we let them down. We’re just trying to get to where we’re playing as one.”

Pass protection, especially against South Carolina, has been a problem. Left tackle Bradley Sowell struggled in that game. But Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt also said that Snead has to quit seeing “ghosts” and trust in his teammates.

“We want his eyes downfield like he did last year,” Nutt said. “Just play the game like he is capable of playing. When he does that, we move the football.”

Ole Miss was missing starting tight end Gerald Harris (hamstring) in the South Carolina game. He might be back for the Vanderbilt game this Saturday, but fullback Andy Hartmann (knee) will miss at least one more week.

It’s pretty clear that the Rebels also miss Mike Wallace’s downfield speed in the passing game, not to mention All-SEC left tackle Michael Oher.

In retrospect, this team had more holes than probably any of us realized back in August.

Tyrone Nix’s defense has held up just fine and gave the Rebels every chance to win in Columbia.

The onus is on Snead and the offense now if Ole Miss is going to live up to the hype.

And before anybody mentions anything about Alabama coming to Oxford in two weeks, keep in mind that Ole Miss lost at home last season to Vanderbilt.

“We've got 22 good seniors that really want to win,” Nutt said. “They've tasted winning. They understand it, and they know how tough winning is. It's about getting back up. You got knocked down, so you get back up.

“What's critical is that you don't let the bubble burst.”

SEC coaches hit the silver screen

June, 30, 2009
6/30/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Some skeptics would suggest that recruiting and acting are really one in the same.

Perhaps it's fitting then that several current and former SEC coaches are playing themselves in the upcoming movie "The Blind Side," which is based on Michael Lewis' best-selling book about former Ole Miss star Michael Oher.

Among the coaches who passed through Atlanta earlier this month to shoot scenes for the movie were Nick Saban, Lou Holtz, Tommy Tuberville, Ed Orgeron, Phillip Fulmer and Houston Nutt.

ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach was on hand for the filming of some of those scenes and gives an interesting perspective of how the coaches fared in front of the movie cameras. Alabama fans are going to love this, but Saban actually plays the LSU coach in the movie. That's where he was coaching when he tried to recruit Oher.

Leigh Anne Tuohy, who helped foster Oher through high school, credits Saban with helping to get all of the coaches to jump onboard and play themselves.

Check out what she says about Saban, though:

"I told him, 'You'd better play yourself. If you don't, I'm going to find a short, ugly guy to play you.' You know how vain Nick is. He probably thought about it and said, 'I'd better play myself.'"

Hornsby's future at Ole Miss still in limbo

March, 25, 2009
3/25/09
4:36
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Wednesday that the status of signee Jamar Hornsby, who's had a history of legal trouble, remains in limbo.

"I'm still gathering facts. I don't know everything yet," said Nutt, whose Rebels begin spring practice on Friday. "There's still a court date out there."

Hornsby, who's attending East Mississippi Community College, was arrested earlier this month and charged with felony aggravated assault and petit larceny. A man said Hornsby assaulted him with brass knuckles at a McDonalds' drive-thru in Starkville, Miss.

Hornsby was already on probation after taking a plea in a misdemeanor credit card fraud case. He was kicked off the Florida team prior to the 2007 season after being arrested and charged with making 70 fraudulent credit card charges. The card belonged to the girlfriend of Hornsby's then-Florida teammate, Joe Haden. She had been killed in a motorcycle accident six months earlier.

Nutt said he wished Hornsby, a defensive back, had been on Ole Miss' campus the last few months like some of the signees who enrolled early.

"You've got those guys under your roof," Nutt said. "They're in your family. You've got your eyes on them 24-7 for the most part."

In other news, Nutt said the number of players the Rebels signed in February -- 38 --  was deceiving. Only 25 are allowed to be placed on scholarship this fall, but Nutt predicted that the numbers would work out just fine.

"You've got about seven guys which we knew for sure weren't going to make it academically," Nutt said. "But they love Ole Miss, and what we were doing was helping out the Mississippi junior colleges. We're going to place them in those schools. So, really, you're down to about 27.

"You've got to do the math right."

As it stands right now, Nutt said the Rebels are only two over the 25 limit.

"Just take my word for it. It's going good," said Nutt, adding that he would probably never sign as many as 38 in a class again. "We're in good shape."

Nutt said one of his biggest concerns entering the spring was the left side of the offensive line, especially with left tackle Michael Oher gone. Sophomore Bradley Sowell, used as a blocking tight end last season, will get first crack at left tackle, and sophomore Rishaw Johnson moves in at right guard.

"It's a concern, not because they don't want to, but because they haven't played ... and then the depth," Nutt said. "That's why it was important to get an Emmanuel McCray, Michael Brown, Bobby Massie, A.J. Hawkins and a Logan Clair. You had to have that group, because they're going to be involved in the depth."

With some people picking the Rebels in the top 10 for next season, Nutt said the coaches' antennas have been up all offseason.

He said his message to the team has been simple: "You're on the radar. This time last year, you were not. You could sneak into the Swamp, get a victory and get out. But you can't this year. You've got to work harder. You think you're working hard? You've got to work harder."

Defensive end Greg Hardy is in a walking boot and still recovering from his foot surgery, but Nutt said Hardy has been to all of the 5:30 a.m. runs with the rest of his teammates.

"He's made every meeting. I've been very proud of his attitude," Nutt said. "It's the best I've ever seen it."

Score another one for the Rebels

February, 4, 2009
2/04/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

After picking up the state of Mississippi's top-rated prospect earlier in the day, Ole Miss got some much needed help for its offensive line when massive Bobby Massie of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy announced that he was signing with the Rebels.

The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Massie is just the kind of player the Rebels need to plug into one of the tackle spots now that Michael Oher is gone.

Massie probably didn't make many Alabama fans happy. He acted as if he was going to put on an Alabama hat before announcing that Ole Miss would indeed be his choice.

Ole Miss recruiting needs

January, 27, 2009
1/27/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Coming off one of its most successful seasons in the last quarter century, Ole Miss hopes to cash in on that momentum on the recruiting trail.

The Rebels received some good news when defensive end Greg Hardy decided against turning pro and announced that he would be back for his senior season. But replacing All-America defensive tackle Peria Jerry will be a real chore.

Ole Miss still has a bunch of talented defensive linemen in the program, but just about everybody will be a junior or older next season. So the Rebels can use some guys who can play both inside and outside in this class.

Craig Drummond of Chicago, Ill., might be one of those. He committed to Ole Miss over Illinois last weekend. He's rated by ESPN's Scouts Inc. as the No. 7 defensive end in the country. The 6-5, 260-pound Drummond had offers from just about everybody, including Miami, Southern California, Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The Rebels also hope to load up on offensive linemen and cornerbacks in this class. Cornerback was the weakest position on the team last season. Marshay Green, one of the stars of the AT&T Cotton Bowl, will be back after making the switch from receiver to cornerback last spring, but the Rebels didn't have any quality depth at corner.

They have at least three cornerback prospects committed in this class, and junior college safety Jamar Hornsby has a chance to come in and play right away.

Ole Miss had one of the best starting offensive lines in the SEC last season, but there wasn't a lot of depth up front. The most noticeable absentee from that unit is All-America tackle Michael Oher, who won the SEC's Jacobs Trophy as the league's top blocker a year ago.

SEC has 22 players invited to the Senior Bowl

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
11:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC has 22 players who've been invited to play in the 60th Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.

Alabama and LSU lead the way, each with four invitees. Quarterback John Parker Wilson, tight end Travis McCall, center Antoine Caldwell and safety Rashad Johnson are on the list for the Crimson Tide, while fullback Quinn Johnson, receiver Demetrius Byrd, guard Herman Johnson and linebacker Darry Beckwith are slated to represent the Tigers.

Ole Miss and Tennessee each have three. Offensive tackle Michael Oher, defensive tackle Peria Jerry and linebacker Ashee Palmer are the Rebels' invitees. Running back Arian Foster, offensive guard Anthony Parker and defensive end Robert Ayers are the Vols' invitees.

Florida, which had very few senior players this season, placed offensive tackle Jason Watkins and receiver Louis Murphy on the invitation list, while receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and defensive tackle Corvey Irvin were invited from Georgia.

Rounding out the selections were Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs, Auburn offensive guard Tyronne Green, Mississippi State safety Derek Pegues and South Carolina receiver Kenny McKinley.

AT&T Cotton Bowl preview

January, 2, 2009
1/02/09
7:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A quick preview of Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl between Ole Miss (8-4) and Texas Tech (11-1):

WHO TO WATCH: He didn't get as much national publicity as his teammate, offensive tackle Michael Oher, but defensive tackle Peria Jerry had a dominant senior season. He led the SEC with 18 tackles for loss and is one of those rare interior linemen that has the power to overwhelm opposing offensive linemen with his strength and the burst to also beat them with his quickness. Jerry is part of a talent-laden Ole Miss defensive line that needs to play that way today if the Rebels are going to slow down Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell.

WHAT TO WATCH: When the Rebels were playing their best football in winning their last five games of the regular season, they were able to keep teams guessing with a perfect balance on offense. Quarterback Jevan Snead threw 13 touchdown passes and only two interceptions during the five-game winning streak, and the Rebels were also able to run the ball whether it was out of their Wild Rebel formation or standard sets. Driving the football and keeping it away from Harrell and the Texas Tech offense will be crucial, as well as not turning it over. The Rebels had just four turnovers in their five-game winning streak. That's after turning it over 18 times in their first seven games.

WHY TO WATCH: This is the prelim in the Big 12 vs. SEC debate. The biggie, of course, is the Florida-Oklahoma tussle in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game. But watching the Rebels' defense go up against the No. 7 ranked Red Raiders' offense should answer some questions that have raged all season: Are the Big 12 offenses that good? Or are the Big 12 defenses that bad? Are the SEC offenses that bad. Or are the SEC defenses that good? Moreover, a win could really propel Ole Miss into the offseason with the kind of momentum this program hasn't had in a long time.

Vols' Berry piling up the honors

December, 18, 2008
12/18/08
4:32
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

In addition to being named to every All-America team on the planet, Tennessee safety Eric Berry was honored Thursday as the best defensive back in college football.

No, they didn't do a recount on the Jim Thorpe Award. Berry was named as the winner of the Jack Tatum Award, which is presented annually by the Columbus Touchdown Club to the best defensive back in college football.

Berry, a sophomore, lost out in the Jim Thorpe Award voting to Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. Berry tied for the national lead with seven interceptions and returned two of those for touchdowns.

Berry was one of nine players to earn consensus All-America honors, and four of those were from the SEC. The others were Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher. 

The SEC's 25 best players, postseason edition

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
2:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's time to check back on how I did ranking the SEC's Top 25 players in the preseason.

I'll give you one hint. The guy I ranked No. 1 back in August is still No. 1 -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

After that, it gets ugly.

My biggest miss was LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois. I had him No. 3 in the preseason, but he was a huge disappointment this season and didn't even make my updated list.

Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy was another whiff by me. He was No. 7 on the preseason list. And while he played lights out in the win over Florida, he didn't make the final list.

Alabama led the way on the postseason list with seven of the 25 players. So much for the theory that Nick Saban was doing it with mirrors, huh? Then again, maybe he's just that good when it comes to developing players. LSU's five players were the most on the preseason list.

All told, 15 of the players I had on my preseason list didn't play well enough to make the postseason list.

I know, I know. With that kind of batting average, I'm going to be a lifer in the minor leagues.

The guy who made the biggest job from preseason to postseason was Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry, who had a fabulous senior season and led the SEC with 17 tackles for loss. I had Jerry No. 3 on my postseason list.

He was nowhere to be found on the preseason list, and that one's on me. He was easily one of the SEC's best 25 players coming into this season. I just blew it.

Anyway, here's my updated Top 25 list of the SEC's best players based solely on their performances this season. I've included the preseason list underneath:

Postseason Top 25

1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
2. Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
3. Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss
4. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
5. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
6. Percy Harvin, RB/WR, Florida
7. Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
8. Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
9. D.J. Moore, CB, Vanderbilt
10. Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama
11. Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
12. Rashad Johnson, S, Alabama
13. Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama
14. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
15. Herman Johnson, OG, LSU
16. Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina
17. Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky
18. Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
19. Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
20. Glen Coffee, RB, Alabama
21. Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
22. Charles Scott, RB, LSU
23. Michael Smith, RB, Arkansas
24. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
25. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Preseason Top 25

1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
2. Knowshon Moreno, TB, Georgia
3. Ricky Jean-Francois, DT, LSU
4. Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
5. Sen'Derrick Marks, DT, Auburn
6. Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
7. Greg Hardy, DE, Ole Miss
8. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
9. Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida
10. Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
11. Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
12. Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
13. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama
14. Derek Pegues, S, Miss. State
15. Jonathan Luigs, C, Arkansas
16. Darry Beckwith, LB, LSU
17. Kenny McKinley, WR, South Carolina
18. Arian Foster, RB, Tennessee
19. Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn
20. Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina
21. Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
22. Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU
23. Jeremy Jarmon, DE, Kentucky
24. Ciron Black, OT, LSU
25. Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia

AP All-America team has an SEC flavor

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
4:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC had eight players named first-team All-America by the Associated Press on Tuesday, including three from Alabama.

The Crimson Tide placed offensive tackle Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell and defensive tackle Terrence Cody on the first team. The other SEC first-team selections were Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, Ole Miss defensive tackle Peria Jerry, LSU offensive guard Herman Johnson, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Tennessee safety Eric Berry.

Making second team were Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, Florida running back/receiver Percy Harvin, Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore and Alabama safety Rashad Johnson.

Third-team honors went to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain.

Below are all three teams:

FIRST TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Sam Bradford, sophomore, 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Oklahoma.
Running backs -- Shonn Greene, junior, 5-11, 235, Iowa; Javon Ringer, senior, 5-9, 202, Michigan State.
Wide receivers -- Michael Crabtree, sophomore, 6-3, 214, Texas Tech; Dez Bryant, sophomore, 6-2, 210, Oklahoma State.
Tackles -- Andre Smith, junior, 6-5, 330, Alabama; Michael Oher, senior, 6-5, 318, Mississippi.
Guards -- Duke Robinson, senior, 6-5, 330, Oklahoma; Herman Johnson, senior, 6-5, 350, LSU.
Center -- Antoine Caldwell, senior, 6-3, 305, Alabama.
Tight end -- Chase Coffman, senior, 6-6, 245, Missouri.
All-purpose player -- Jeremy Maclin, sophomore, 6-1, 200, Missouri.
Kicker -- Louie Sakoda, senior, 5-9, 178, Utah.

Defense
Ends -- Aaron Maybin, sophomore, 6-4, 236, Penn State; Brian Orakpo, senior, 6-4, 260, Texas.
Tackles -- Terrence Cody, junior, 6-5, 365, Alabama; Peria Jerry, senior, 6-2, 290, Mississippi.
Linebackers -- James Laurinaitis, senior, 6-3, 240, Ohio State; Rey Maualuga, senior, 6-2, 260, Southern California; Brandon Spikes, junior, 6-3, 243, Florida.
Cornerbacks -- Alphonso Smith, senior, 5-9, 190, Wake Forest; Malcolm Jenkins, senior, 6-1, 201, Ohio State.
Safeties -- Taylor Mays, junior, 6-3, 230, Southern California; Eric Berry, sophomore, 5-11, 195, Tennessee.
Punter -- Kevin Huber, senior, 6-1, 220, Cincinnati.

SECOND TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Colt McCoy, junior, Texas.
Running backs -- Knowshon Moreno, sophomore, Georgia; Donald Brown, junior, Connecticut.
Wide receivers -- Austin Collie, junior, BYU; Jarrett Dillard, senior, Rice.
Tackles -- Eugene Monroe, senior, Virginia; Andy Levitre, senior, Oregon State.
Guards --Brandon Carter, junior, Texas Tech; Trevor Canfield, senior, Cincinnati.
Center -- A.Q. Shipley, senior, Penn State.
Tight end -- Jermaine Gresham, junior, Oklahoma.
All-purpose player -- Percy Harvin, junior, Florida.
Kicker -- Graham Gano, senior, Florida State.

Defense
Ends -- Everette Brown, junior, Florida State; Jerry Hughes, junior, TCU.
Tackles -- Gerald McCoy, sophomore, Oklahoma; Mitch King, senior, Iowa.
Linebackers -- Scott McKillop, senior, Pittsburgh; Brian Cushing, senior, Southern California; Aaron Curry, senior, Wake Forest.
Cornerback -- Victor "Macho" Harris, senior, Virginia Tech; D.J. Moore, junior, Vanderbilt.
Safeties -- Rashad Johnson, senior, Alabama; Trimane Goddard, senior, North Carolina.
Punter -- T.J. Conley, senior, Idaho.

THIRD TEAM

Offense
Quarterback -- Tim Tebow, junior, Florida.
Running backs -- Kendall Hunter, sophomore, Oklahoma State; Jacquizz Rodgers, freshman, Oregon State.
Wide receivers -- Kenny Britt, junior, Rutgers; Jordan Shipley, senior, Texas.
Tackles -- Jason Smith, senior, Baylor; Phil Loadholt, senior, Oklahoma.
Guards -- Louis Vasquez, senior, Texas Tech; Rich Ohrnberger, senior, Penn State.
Center -- Alex Mack, senior, California.
Tight end -- Rob Gronkowski, sophomore, Arizona.
All-purpose player -- Derrick Williams, senior, Penn State.
Kicker -- Kai Forbath, sophomore, UCLA.

Defense
Ends -- Nick Reed, senior, Oregon; George Selvie, junior, South Florida.
Tackles -- Fili Moala, senior, Southern California; B.J. Raji, senior, Boston College.
Linebackers -- Mark Herzlich, junior, Boston College; Sean Witherspoon, junior, Missouri; Michael Tauiliili, senior, Duke (tie); Rolando McClain, sophomore, Alabama (tie).
Cornerback -- Vontae Davis, junior, Illinois; Mike Mickens, senior, Cincinnati.
Safeties -- Myron Rolle, junior, Florida State; Nic Harris, senior, Oklahoma.
Punter -- Pat McAfee, senior, West Virginia.

Ole Miss season review

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty, Ole Miss is back in a bowl game for the first time in five years.

That's not all, either. Houston Nutt, in his first season in Oxford, has the Rebels (8-4, 5-3 SEC) playing some of the SEC's best football entering the postseason.

Ole Miss charges into the AT&T Cotton Bowl on a five-game winning streak, culminating with convincing wins over its two biggest rivals. The Rebels mashed LSU 31-13 in Tiger Stadium and then came back six days later and routed Mississippi State 45-0 in the Egg Bowl.

The only negative about the season is that it could have been even better.

The Rebels gave away a home game to Vanderbilt by fumbling six times. They also fumbled near the goal line in a 31-24 home loss to South Carolina. Their four losses were all by a touchdown or less, and all four were decided in the final minutes.

Ole Miss also owns the distinction of being the only team in the country to beat Florida this season. The Rebels won 31-30 on Sept. 27 in the Swamp.

The key was getting healthy in the defensive line. The Rebels started the season with several starters either coming off surgery or not 100 percent. But as they got everybody back healthy, they took off defensively and led the SEC with a staggering 105 tackles for loss, including a league-leading 35 sacks.

Offensive MVP: Senior offensive tackle Michael Oher was an All-American and the anchor of the Rebels' line, but sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead was the one who took this offense to another level. The transfer from Texas was third in the SEC in passing efficiency, and his 23 passing touchdowns were second only to Tim Tebow's 28.

Defensive MVP: Ask the coaches around the league who had to prepare for senior defensive tackle Peria Jerry the last half of the season, and they'll tell you he was virtually unblockable. Jerry led the SEC with 17 tackles for loss, including six sacks. There wasn't a better interior defensive lineman in the league.

Turning point: The upset at Florida was huge, but Ole Miss proceeded to lose the next two games. Then came Nutt's much anticipated return to Arkansas. The Rebels, in an unbelievably hostile environment, squeaked out a 23-21 win to trigger their five-game winning streak.

What's next: The Rebels drew a tough assignment in the Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl against No. 7 Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' passing game will put a lot of pressure on the Ole Miss cornerbacks. Whatever happens in Dallas, it's been a successful first season for Nutt. He's proved yet again that he's one of best coaches in this league.

Lunchtime links: Who is Dan Mullen?

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
1:33
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Checking out the links from around the SEC:

  • Before taking the Florida job, Urban Meyer called to get Bob Stoops' take. Stoops had been the defensive coordinator at Florida before taking the Oklahoma job. They face off on Dec. 8 for the BCS national championship.
  • Former Ohio State coach John Cooper, inducted Tuesday into the College Football Hall of Fame, can relate to what happened to Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee.

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