SEC: Rahim Alem

SEC players in East-West Shrine Game

January, 14, 2010
1/14/10
5:24
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Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy, who was injured for much of the season, has been selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.

Other SEC players on the East roster include Ole Miss kicker Joshua Shene, Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Chaney, LSU tight end Richard Dickson, LSU defensive end Rahim Alem, Alabama safety Justin Woodall, Arkansas offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, Florida linebacker Ryan Stamper, South Carolina safety Darian Stewart and Tennessee offensive tackle Chris Scott.

Lunchtime links: McClain hard on himself

October, 7, 2009
10/07/09
12:41
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


Some SEC links to munch on:

SEC Players of the Week

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
10:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


The league office has honored this week's top SEC performers:

OFFENSE

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: It was a Heisman Trophy-like performance for Tebow after a quiet opener. He matched a career high with four touchdown passes and also ran for a touchdown in Florida's 56-6 win over Troy. It looked like Tebow was warming up for SEC defenses, because he lowered his head and carried the ball 13 times for 71 yards.

DEFENSE

Rahim Alem, DE, LSU: One of the anchors of LSU's defensive line, Alem had a career-high seven tackles in the 23-9 win over Vanderbilt, including a key third-down sack in the fourth quarter when the Commodores only trailed by a touchdown. Alem also broke up a pass.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia: He racked up 187 kickoff return yards, the second most ever for Georgia. His 100-yard return for a touchdown set a school record, and he also had a 48-yard return that set up the Bulldogs' second touchdown. Boykin's interception in the second quarter led to a field goal.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

Clint Boling, OT, Georgia: Credited with 10 knockdown blocks and graded out at 94 percent from his right tackle position in the Bulldogs' 41-37 win over South Carolina.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN

Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn: Returned his first career interception 20 yards for a touchdown to give Auburn the lead for good, 21-17, in the second quarter.

FRESHMAN

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Seeing his opportunities increase against Florida International, Richardson led the Crimson Tide with 118 yards rushing on 15 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 35 and 9 yards.

LSU spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

LSU Tigers
2008 overall record: 8-5

2008 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Jordan Jefferson, RB Charles Scott, WR Brandon LaFell, TE Richard Dickson, OT Ciron Black, DE Rahim Alem, LB Perry Riley, CB Patrick Patterson, CB Chris Hawkins, S Chad Jones

Key losses

FB Quinn Johnson, WR Demetrius Byrd, OG Herman Johnson, C Brett Helms, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Darry Beckwith, PK Colt David

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Charles Scott* (1,174 yards)
Passing: Jarrett Lee* (1,873 yards)
Receiving: Brandon LaFell* (929 yards)
Tackles: Harry Coleman* (71)
Sacks: Rahim Alem* (8)
Interceptions: Chris Hawkins* (3)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 at Washington
Sept. 12 Vanderbilt
Sept. 19 La.-Lafayette
Sept. 26 at Mississippi State
Oct. 3 at Georgia
Oct. 10 Florida
Oct. 24 Auburn
Oct. 31 Tulane
Nov. 7 at Alabama
Nov. 14 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 21 at Ole Miss
Nov. 28 Arkansas
New chief in charge: First-year defensive coordinator John Chavis didn't waste any time placing his imprint on the LSU defense this spring. Nicknamed "Chief” during his time at Tennessee, Chavis restored the intensity, emotion and hustle to the practice field, and the LSU defenders responded. Chavis was a perfect fit for what LSU coach Les Miles was looking for in a defensive coordinator.

Jefferson makes his move: Jordan Jefferson showed his potential at the end of last season as a true freshman. But this was his first spring practice, and he didn't disappoint. He was more consistent as a passer, made plays scrambling and also established himself in the huddle. Make no mistake. He's the Tigers' starting quarterback and ready to take on a much larger role in the offense.

Getting the edge back: Somewhere along the way, LSU lost its edge last season, particularly on defense, that was so vital in the Tigers' run to the 2007 BCS national championship. This spring in Baton Rouge was all about getting that edge back, and Miles likes what he saw from his team. There was competition for spots, better leadership and nobody taking anything for granted.

Fall questions

Shepard's role: Russell Shepard is a quarterback at heart, but may have to do most of his damage at receiver next season. The explosive true freshman proved this spring that he can do some serious damage in the open field. Now it's up to LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to figure out different ways to get him the ball. He'll definitely be behind center some in the Wildcat package.

Looking for receivers: Senior Brandon LaFell is coming off a big season and is the anchor of the Tigers' receiving corps. But he needs help. They can't wait on the Bayou to see highly touted signee Rueben Randle in an LSU uniform. He could start right away. The Tigers also need more production from the likes of Terrance Toliver, Jared Mitchell and Trindon Holliday.

Defensive line depth: LSU's defensive line depth took a hit with the loss of Tyson Jackson, Ricky Jean-Francois and Kirston Pittman. The Tigers got some good news when tackle Charles Alexander received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, and tackle Drake Nevis has a chance to be one of the breakout players in the league. But some of the younger players have to keep coming in order to build the depth back.

LSU, Miles looking to vault back into SEC limelight

March, 31, 2009
3/31/09
1:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

BATON ROUGE, La. -- In four years at LSU, Les Miles has seen it all.

He's won a national championship, freed himself from Nick Saban's shadow to engineer the most successful four-year run in school history, weathered three hurricanes and carved out his own little niche on the Bayou.

 
  Nelson Chenault/US Presswire
  LSU coach Les Miles overhauled his defensive coaching staff this offseason in hopes of getting back to 2007 form.
From afar, he's the guy who wears his hat smack dab on the top of his head and tends to say some things in front of the camera that cause you to scratch your head and ask, "What did he just say?"

But that's just Les, a phrase you hear frequently from those who know him best.

He's been known to eat at the Waffle House near his house in Baton Rouge, not so much because he's fond of their hashbrowns -- scattered and smothered, no less -- but because it's a favorite spot of his four kids.

It's an area where Miles relents. What father doesn't for his kids?

But when it comes to accepting what happened a year ago on the football field, Miles isn't budging.

"There's a standard we all expect here that we didn't meet [last season]," Miles said. "I look forward to getting back to that point and competing with the kind of personality and passion that will get us there."

It was a long, hard fall for the Tigers in 2008. They became the first consensus national champion since Ohio State in 1943 to lose five games the next season.

Their defense, despite being laden with several future pros, collapsed. They earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first LSU team in history to give up 50 points twice in a season and allowed 30 or more five times.

Offensively, LSU struggled to find any consistency at quarterback. Jarrett Lee started most of the way as a redshirt freshman and threw 16 interceptions, including seven returned for touchdowns.

"It wasn't just quarterback," Miles said. "We needed to become more efficient in several areas."

His solution was to overhaul his defensive coaching staff and bring in former Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis. And on offense, it appears that sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson will get first chance to show that he can lead this team with an assist from true freshman Russell Shepard, who's an absolute blur with the ball in his hands.

The biggest change, though, has been the team's attitude.

Any sense of entitlement that might have existed last season is long gone.

"It's starting from the coaches all the way down to us," senior receiver Brandon LaFell said. "We changed up our whole routine in the weight room. Whether it's lifting or running, we're doing way more than we did last year.

"Just being good ain't good enough around here. You've got to be great."

Senior running back Charles Scott, one of the SEC's rushing leaders last season with 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns, has sensed more of a "can-do" attitude with this team.

He plans on walking the walk, too.

The Tigers are extremely thin at fullback, so much so that Scott has worked there some this spring.

It's not every day that an SEC tailback coming off a 1,000-yard season is so willing to move into the less glamorous role of fullback.

But Scott is willing to do anything that will help the Tigers get back to winning championships and going to BCS bowls.

"I don't mind at all putting my hand in the dirt," Scott said. "You look at people like Jacob Hester and everything he did, and I look at it as following in his shoes. We've got to have more of that, more of doing whatever it takes for this team to win. If I need to get to fullback and block, I don't mind that at all. I can handle anything they want to give me."

What Scott or none of the Tigers can handle is another season like last year.

Not after winning 34 games and finishing in the Top 5 in the polls each of the previous three seasons under Miles.

"We've got a bunch of guys battling, a bunch of guys hungry," senior defensive end Rahim Alem said. "I think a lot of guys remember what it's like to be hungry around here again.

"And that's a good thing."

Rushing the passer just part of Alem's repertoire

March, 27, 2009
3/27/09
11:04
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Rahim Alem thinks he's finally found his niche on the LSU football team.

He's not the guy who used to be known as Al Jones, Jr. only to change his name to reflect his African roots.

 
  Greg McWilliams/US Presswire
  LSU's Rahim Alem is out to prove he can do more than rush the passer.

He's not the older brother of safety Chad Jones, one of the most sought after prospects in the country when he signed with the Tigers.

He's not a role player, and he's definitely not just a pass-rusher.

Don't even think about referring to him as such.

"It's like everybody wants to box me in as a guy who just rushes the passer," said Alem, who was third in the SEC last season with eight sacks. "I'm the starting right end."

The 6-foot-3, 254-pound senior was the Tigers' best pass-rusher a year ago. For that matter, he was one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC. But because of LSU's depth and bulk on the defensive line, Alem only started one game.

In a lot of ways, he was pigeonholed as the Tigers' designated pass-rusher and was used as part of their "Express" package on passing downs.

But there's much more to his game than just getting after the quarterback, and he's determined to show his full repertoire next season.

"When you're on a team where everybody else is 270-plus and then they see me, they say, 'Oh, he must be the pass-rusher,'" said Alem, clearly miffed by that label. "I'm good at it, but I'm an end. They didn't recruit me to pass-rush. I'm not on half scholarship. I'm on full scholarship. I can do what any defensive end does."

He points to the Alabama game last season as proof. That was his only start, and he went against All-American offensive tackle Andre Smith all game.

"They had the best running game in the SEC behind Florida. Alabama was a downhill running team," Alem said. "The coaches started me because they knew I could play against that kind of team. I played against Andre Smith for four quarters and overtime, so I've played against the best and held up."

(Read full post)

LSU's front four on defense will have a new look

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Few teams in the country have been able to boast the kind of defensive line talent LSU has put on the field in recent years.

 
  Crystal LoGiudice/US Presswire
  LSU has high expectations for Chancey Aghayere.

But this spring, there are more than a few question marks for the Tigers up front defensively. Gone are four seniors, including All-SEC defensive end Tyson Jackson, and junior tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who left early for the NFL draft.

That doesn't mean the talent well has run dry. It's just that some new faces will get a shot up front, and that starts this spring.

In particular, first-year defensive coordinator John Chavis is anxious to get a look at the four defensive linemen the Tigers redshirted last season. One of those, Chancey Aghayere, was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 3 defensive end prospect in the country when he came out of Garland, Texas, last year.

The other three defensive linemen the Tigers redshirted last season were ends LaVar Edwards and Chase Clement and tackle Cordian Hagans.

"There are some young guys who haven't played yet, but they're very talented," Chavis said. "It's up to us to develop that talent."

This will also be a big spring for senior tackle Al Woods and junior tackle Drake Nevis. They need to prove that they can be consistent performers at this level. The Tigers got good news during the offseason when tackle Charles Alexander was granted a sixth year of eligibility, and they also return senior Rahim Alem at end. Alem was third in the SEC last season with eight sacks.

LSU season review

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It wasn't a revelation that LSU was probably going to take its lumps at the quarterback position this season.

The dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux left the Tigers without anyone who'd ever taken a snap against an SEC defense. Sure enough, redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee did struggle, and sophomore Andrew Hatch was injured for much of the second half of the season.

But the Tigers' plummet this season after winning the BCS national championship in 2007 had just as much to do with their defensive struggles as it did any deficiencies at quarterback.

In short, LSU (7-5, 3-5 SEC) was a shadow of itself defensively from the unit that paved the way to a national title in 2007. What was so frustrating for LSU fans was that it was a talented defense, too. Several of the players lining up for the Tigers this season in their defensive front seven will play in the NFL.

Yet, they managed to be shredded by Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas in losses. The Tigers gave up more than 50 points twice this season and 30 or more points five times, including their last three games.

It was a rough debut for Lee, who threw 16 interceptions and had seven of those returned for touchdowns. LSU coach Les Miles probably waited too long to get true freshman Jordan Jefferson involved. Jefferson finally started the Arkansas game and will also get the start in the bowl game.

Offensive MVP: With all the Tigers' woes in the passing game, you wonder why they didn't ride junior running back Charles Scott even more than they did. Scott rushed for 1,105 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. He scored 15 touchdowns and was one of the more durable backs in the league.

Defensive MVP: Junior defensive end Rahim Alem had a breakout season and excelled when the Tigers went to their package with four defensive ends in the game. He was third in the SEC with eight sacks and led LSU with 11 tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles and blocked a kick.

Turning point: Even with the blowout loss at Florida, LSU was still in the West race going into the Georgia game. But Lee threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, and the Tigers' defense was carved apart in a 52-38 beatdown at Tiger Stadium that was the first of four losses in the last six weeks of the season.

What's next: The Tigers will get a heavy dose of defending the triple-option offense when they face Georgia Tech on Dec. 31 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. After the bowl, Miles will likely make some changes on his defensive staff, and the Tigers are anxious to get highly touted quarterback Russell Shepard on campus in January.

Alem emerges as LSU's top pass-rusher

November, 4, 2008
11/04/08
3:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

If somebody would have predicted back in August that an LSU player would be leading the SEC in sacks 10 weeks into the season, I probably would have agreed.

Tyson Jackson or Ricky Jean-Francois would have been logical candidates or even Kirston Pittman, who led the Tigers with eight sacks last season.

But Rahim Alem?

The LSU junior defensive end is tied with Auburn's Antonio Coleman for the SEC lead in sacks. They each have six. Alem's sack last week against Tulane resulted in a fumble by Tulane quarterback Joe Kemp that LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins picked up and returned 24 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 21-3 halftime lead.

"He's a guy that has grown up in the program and has leadership ability and really has taken the responsibility to heart to make his team better and make himself better," LSU coach Les Miles said of Alem, who had two career sacks entering this season.

Alem has six of the Tigers' 18 sacks this season. They had 37 a year ago and would like it if a few more front guys could consistently get to the quarterback.

Aside from being one of LSU's top pass-rushers, Alem is a pretty interesting story all the way around. He legally changed his name during the spring of 2006. His given name was Alfred Marvin Jones Jr. His new name is part Swahili, part Arabic and has nothing to do with a religious conversion, but rather his African heritage.

Alem is also the older brother of LSU safety Chad Jones. Their father, Al, was a defensive end at Tulane from 1976-78.

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