SEC: Robby Green
Redshirt freshman receiver Keiwone Malone and sophomore defensive end Darrington Sentimore have been indefinitely suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. Also, Saban announced that senior defensive back Robby Green would not return this fall after missing the entire 2010 season because of an NCAA-mandated suspension.
Green's dismissal is not a surprise. He was all but done after Saban suspended him this past spring. Sentimore was competing for a starting job at one of the end spots on defense and had shown some signs of being an effective pass-rusher in the spring. Malone was one of two redshirt freshmen (DeAndrew White being the other) that the Crimson Tide were hoping could help fill the void at receiver with the early departure of Julio Jones to the NFL.
Green is the sixth player to leave the football program since the end of the 2010 season, joining running back Corey Grant, running back Demetrius Goode, defensive end Glenn Harbin, cornerback B.J. Scott and linebacker Petey Smith. In addition, defensive lineman Kerry Murphy is expected to go on medical scholarship because of recurring knee problems, which would end his playing career at Alabama.
Here’s an alphabetical list of some of those guys:
- Justin Anderson, NT, Georgia
- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- Jeremy Brown, CB, Florida
- Chad Bumphis, WR, Mississippi State
- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas
- Mister Cobble, DT, Kentucky*
- Chris Dunkley, WR, Florida
- Marcus Green, TE, Mississippi State
- Robby Green, DB, Alabama*
- A.J. Greene, OT, Auburn
- Dennis Johnson, RB, Arkansas
- Greg King, LB, Tennessee
- Kentrell Lockett, DE, Ole Miss*
- Ben Martin, DE, Tennessee
- Gene McCaskill, WR, Kentucky
- Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
- Warren Norman, RB, Vanderbilt
- Matt Patchan, OT, Florida
- Trovon Reed, WR, Auburn
- Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt
- Richard Samuel, LB, Georgia
- Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt
- T.J. Stripling, LB, Georgia
- Brandon Taylor, S, LSU
- Marlon Walls, DT, Tennessee
- Shaq Wilson, LB, South Carolina
* Cobble was academically ineligible for the 2010 regular season.
* Robby Green was suspended for the 2010 season by the NCAA.
* Lockett is applying to the NCAA for a sixth season after injuring his knee early during the 2010 season.
But what about those players who won’t be returning or playing this season for other reasons?
Here’s a team-by-team list of some of the more notable scholarship players who won’t be back, keeping in mind that this list may grow once semester grades are in. There's sure to be a few academic casualties:
S Robby Green (NCAA suspension)
RB Terry Grant (graduated, gave up football)
QB Star Jackson (transferring)
CB David Gordon (transferring)
OT Matt Hall (transferring)
QB/TE Jim Youngblood (transferring)
QB Tyrik Rollison (transferring)
FB John Douglas (transferring)
CB Adrian Bushell (transferring)
LB Brandon Beal (transferring)
DT Gary Brown (dismissed)
QB Zach Mettenberger (dismissed)
OLB Montrez Robinson (dismissed)
S Matt Lentz (injury)
WR Kyrus Lanxter (left the team)
WR Eric Adeyemi (transferring)
WR John Williams (injury)
WR O’Neal Wilder (concentrating on track)
WR Andrew Harris (transferring)
QB Aramis Hillary (transferring)
QB Reid McCollum (left the team)
OT Aaron Douglas (transferring)
RB Bryce Brown (transferring)
QB Nick Stephens (transferring)
OT Reilly Lauer (transferring)
WR Collin Ashley (transferring)
Strongest position: Running back
Key returnees: Junior Mark Ingram (271 carries, 1,658 yards, 17 touchdowns), sophomore Trent Richardson (145 carries, 751 yards, eight touchdowns)
Key departures: Roy Upchurch (48 carries, 299 yards, two touchdowns)
The skinny: Good luck in finding a better and more explosive running back tandem anywhere in the country than Ingram and Richardson. Ingram is coming off a Heisman Trophy season in which he established himself as a punishing runner after contact. He also caught 32 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Richardson is equally good after contact and has the kind of speed to turn missed tackles into touchdowns. Look for his carries to increase in 2010. The Crimson Tide will also add redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy to the mix. He would be starting for a lot of teams and showcased his talents with a very good spring. Alabama won’t have a problem in finding a way to utilize all three in the fall.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returnees: Junior safety Mark Barron (seven interceptions, 18 passes defended, 76 tackles)
Key departures: Cornerback Javier Arenas (12 tackles for loss, five interceptions), cornerback Kareem Jackson (14 passes defended), cornerback Marquis Johnson (18 passes defended), safety Justin Woodall (three interceptions), safety Robby Green (7 passes defended, one interception)
The skinny: The good news is that Barron led the SEC with seven interceptions last season and was second only to Rolando McClain on Alabama’s team with 76 tackles. But he’ll be surrounded by a ton of inexperience, which is never a good thing in the defensive backfield. That said, the Crimson Tide won’t be short on talent. Sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is a budding star, and LSU transfer Phelon Jones has at least played in the SEC. True freshman cornerbacks DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton both went through spring practice and will challenge for playing time. Sophomore B.J. Scott, who moved from receiver to cornerback last season, also made a lot of progress this spring. One of the keys will be settling on the other safety opposite Barron. Alabama had hoped that junior college signee DeQuan Menzie would be able to come in and help right away, but he tore his Achilles tendon and will likely redshirt. Green also would have been a candidate for a starting spot, but will sit out this season because of an NCAA-imposed suspension.
He's been ruled ineligible for the 2010 season by the NCAA. Alabama had hoped he might be able to play at least part of the season after appealing, but the NCAA left the one-year suspension in place.
This was an NCAA matter and not an institutional matter, meaning there was no violation involving the team.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said last week that the Crimson Tide were preparing as if Green wouldn't be able to play next season. Exiting last season, he was one of the leading candidates to replace Justin Woodall at safety.
Sophomores Robert Lester and Rod Woodson now move to the forefront and have been working with the first two units at safety most of the spring alongside Mark Barron. True freshman signees Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry will arrive this summer. Receivers Kendall Kelly and Brandon Gibson have also seen some work at safety this spring.
However it shakes out, there's not going to be a surplus of experience in Alabama's secondary next season.
- Florida freshman quarterback Trey Burton has made a big impact this spring, but he also helped keep the Gators' recruiting class together last December and January when all the uncertainty was surrounding Urban Meyer.
- Jakar Hamilton, who's been impressive at safety this spring, has taken the long road to Georgia.
- South Carolina's hardluck receiver, Dion LeCorn, has another injury. He lacerated his kidney Tuesday in practice and spent some time in the hospital.
- David Brandt of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger takes a look at five Ole Miss players making a move this spring.
- Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba is back for his senior season after considering a jump to the NFL and shrugs off his rap for committing too many penalties.
- Despite key absences, Tennessee secondary coach Terry Joseph is encouraged by what he sees back there.
- Several leaders for Arkansas are stepping up, writes Brandon Marcello of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
- Alabama coach Nick Saban expects a decision "shortly" on safety Robby Green's status for the upcoming season.
Junior college signee DeQuan Menzie ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing pickup basketball earlier this week and expects to redshirt during the 2010 season. He underwent surgery Thursday, and his recovery could take up to six months.
Having lost so many players in the secondary, Alabama signed Menzie with the thought he would be able to come in and play right away.
But with Menzie sidelined and junior safety Robby Green's eligibility for the upcoming season in question, Alabama's secondary for the 2010 season will easily be the most unproven unit on the team.
The stalwart back there is junior Mark Barron, who returns as one of the best safeties in the SEC. But after him, it gets dicey.
Right now, sophomores Dre Kirkpatrick and B.J. Scott are working with the first team at cornerback, although true freshmen DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton are both extremely gifted. Kirkpatrick is pretty well entrenched. He's probably the next star cornerback for the Crimson Tide with his mix of speed, instincts and confidence.
Given Nick Saban's track record, it's unlikely that he's going to throw a true freshman out there at cornerback, particularly early, which makes the addition of LSU transfer Phelon Jones all the more important.
Jones is also working in the cornerback rotation and is a candidate for the Crimson Tide's all-important "star" position in the nickel package. It's the same position Javier Arenas played in the nickel last season.
Sophomore Robert Lester is working as the other starting safety opposite Barron.
Saban said this week that he likes what he sees from a talent standpoint in the secondary, but he'd trade some of that talent for more experience.
"To me, you’re always better off when you have guys who have experience, because they will make less mistakes," Saban said. "Even if guys are talented and are going to be really good players, they usually end up costing you back there."
Case in point: Alabama's loss to eventual national champion LSU in 2007.
Arenas, an inexperienced sophomore at the time, was forced into action late in that game. Granted, he left Alabama as an All-American, but Saban said Arenas' inexperience that night was probably the difference in the game.
"He messed up in two-minute, didn’t cover the right guy, covered him wrong and made a couple of mental errors," Saban recalled. "He was a talented kid who was going to be a really good player, but he wasn’t ready to play and he hadn’t played.
"And when he got out there, he kind of froze up, and one mistake led to another. So to have that maturity about you is critical, and that has to develop with these guys."
Saban said he expects to have an answer on Green before the summer. At this point, Saban is planning on not having him.
"But it would be helpful if he was here," Saban said. "We just don't have enough guys who've played back there."
- The eligibility of Alabama safety Robby Green is in question, and he faces a possible suspension, reports Gentry Estes of The Mobile Press-Register.
- The recovery time of three to four months for Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is very conservative, according to Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who expects Mallett to be able to return to some activity after two months.
- Florida's Emmanuel Moody gets another shot to be the go-to guy at running back for the Gators.
- Rajaan Bennett's apparent killer was a family friend and was at the high school the day Bennett signed with Vanderbilt.
- Bennett's shooting stole a light from all of Vanderbilt, writes David Climer of The Tennessean.
- Georgia's Richard Samuel is entering his junior season, but he might as well be a rookie as he makes the switch to linebacker, writes Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald.
A look at what's making headlines around the SEC:
- Florida returns to the site of one of the most important days in the program's history, writes Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun.
- For Alabama defensive back Robby Green, football was all that was normal after Hurricane Katrina, writes Gentry Estes of The Mobile Press-Register.
- SEC commissioner Mike Slive issues memos, not penalties, in what's been a busy week for the league office.
- South Carolina's receivers are taking turns in the starring role this season, writes Travis Haney of The Charleston Post and Courier.
- Despite not starting in a month, Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins is coming off his best game of the season against Vanderbilt.
- Kentucky running back Derrick Locke is upgraded to probable for Saturday's game after spraining his knee last week.
- Ole Miss' Marshay Green is a different cornerback than the guy Arkansas went after a year ago.
- Freshman DeQuinta Jones has had a big impact on Arkansas' defensive front.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
We're counting down the 30 best players in the SEC. We've taken a look at 10 players who may well emerge as stars in this league. Now, let's examine five players who came out of nowhere this spring to become major factors heading into the fall.
1. Ron Brooks, S, LSU -- A quarterback and receiver in high school, Brooks made his name as a special teams player last season as a redshirt freshman. He made another move this spring, from cornerback to safety, and was an instant hit. Every time you turned around, he was intercepting a pass or making a big play. With Harry Coleman sliding over some to outside linebacker, look for Brooks to play a major role in what should be a deep, talented LSU secondary in 2009.
2. Montori Hughes, DT, Tennessee -- A little-known recruit coming out of high school, the 6-4, 312-pound Hughes exploded this spring on the practice field after spending last year at prep school. He was dominant enough that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin evoked an Albert Haynesworth comparison after one scrimmage. Hughes is incredibly quick for a guy his size and gives the Vols that big, physical presence inside on the defensive line. He should be a nice complement to Dan Williams and Wes Brown this fall.
3. Carlton Thomas, RB, Georgia -- All eyes were on Caleb King coming into the spring, especially with Richard Samuel recovering from wrist surgery. King was supposed to be the heir apparent to Knowshon Moreno and still may be. But the most impressive running back for the Bulldogs this spring was the 5-7, 178-pound Thomas. He has great moves, is tough as nails and is one of those guys who's impossible to get a good hit on in space. The Georgia coaches think he can be a Thomas Brown-type of player.
4. Robby Green, S, Alabama -- One of the most important jobs for Alabama this spring defensively was finding somebody to replace Rashad Johnson, who did so many things for the Crimson Tide defense a year ago. The guy who emerged was at one time thought to be too small to play cornerback in this league, let alone safety. Green, who was about 170 pounds when he arrived at Alabama, played almost exclusively on special teams last season. But his smarts, hustle and ability to hit a lot bigger than he weighs made him one of the surprises of the spring for the Crimson Tide.
5. Justin Albert, RB, Auburn -- He came to Auburn as a walk-on after blowing out his knee during his senior year of high school and spent last season on the scout team. Scholarship or no scholarship, Albert was one of those guys this spring that his teammates kept talking about in glowing terms. He's hungry, talented and willing to do whatever he can to contribute. He showed a knack for making the big plays in scrimmages and should fit in nicely to Gus Malzahn's new spread offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
How about a few helmet stickers from the spring?
Yeah, yeah, I know. They don't play any games against real opponents, just spring games and scrimmages.
But there's still plenty of material to work with, so here goes:
Best numbers: Did you see some of the receiving statistics the Arkansas receivers put up? Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, in particular, had touchdown-fests this spring. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is hoping that's good news for his offense and not necessarily bad news for the Hogs' defense.
Best performance by a freshman: Easy choice here. South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore walked onto campus after graduating from high school early and promptly won one of the starting cornerback jobs. Steve Spurrier is also going to give him a shot to play quarterback in certain situations. And if that's not enough, Spurrier said recently on the booster club speaking circuit that Gilmore is one of the best football players to ever come to South Carolina.
Best no-show: For a guy who was supposed to be next in line to take over for Knowshon Moreno, Georgia's Caleb King sure had a pretty mediocre spring. He has gobs of talent. What he's yet to prove is that he has the toughness to be a great running back in this league.
Best comeback: Has to be LSU's Chad Jones. The Tigers tried to play him at too many positions in 2008 and he didn't play up to his potential. But he's at free safety to stay now under new defensive coordinator John Chavis and was a force this spring. Look for him to be a force in the fall as well.
Best surprise: Some thought Alabama's Robby Green was barely big enough to be a cornerback in the SEC. But he played plenty big this spring and laid claim to Rashad Johnson's old safety position. Talk about some big shoes to fill, but Green is smart, tough and driven -- all the qualities Nick Saban likes in a player.
Best surprise II: Florida's found itself a quarterback. OK, a backup quarterback. John Brantley was slinging the ball over the field in Gainesville this spring, and Urban Meyer was impressed enough to say that Brantley would see meaningful action next season. Maybe they'll line Tim Tebow up in the slot and let Brantley throw to him.
Best news: It was actually post-spring, but Auburn receiver signee DeAngelo Benton received word from the NCAA Clearinghouse that he was eligible to play next fall. Benton was a "must-have" for the Tigers.
Best hands: Some of the catches Vanderbilt receiver Terence Jeffers made this spring had his teammates oohing and aahing. The transfer from Connecticut isn't too bad after the catch, either. He's still working toward passing enough credit hours to be eligible in the fall, but Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said at the end of spring that he was somewhat optimistic that Jeffers would make it. The Commodores sure need him to.
Best breakthrough: We'll start with Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker, who's joined in that club by Ole Miss linebacker Patrick Trahan, Georgia running back Carlton Thomas, Kentucky safety Winston Guy and Alabama safety Robby Green.
Best quote: "The feeling around here is that we've got new life. We've got a new coaching staff, a new offense, a new attitude. Coach (Dan) Mullen said everybody was starting back to square one. That changed everybody's attitude, because everybody was going to get a chance to show what they could do," Mississippi State tailback Anthony Dixon on the impact of the new coaching staff.
Best quote II: "The number I'll be looking at is wins. Nobody wants to go through what we did last season," Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman on how many sacks he'll get in 2009.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Any questions about who's going to be Alabama's quarterback next season were answered this spring.
It's Greg McElroy's job.
He was the most consistent quarterback for the Crimson Tide this spring. He made the most plays, took care of the ball the best and was the kind of leader Nick Saban is looking for at the quarterback position.
One of the other questions facing Alabama was who was going to help Julio Jones when defenses gang up on the toughest guy to cover one-on-one in the SEC. Well, Mike McCoy caught a touchdown in Saturday's A-Day game, while receiver Marquis Maze and tight end Colin Peek both came up with big plays.
Saban wasn't especially thrilled with his defense, but rest assured that the Tide will be stout next fall. One of the most pleasant surprises of the spring was Robby Green's emergence at safety. The converted cornerback will take over Rashad Johnson's safety spot opposite Justin Woodall.
Here's a link to Alabama's official Web site with a roundup from the A-Day game, including stats and quotes.
One of the things Saban does for spring games is allow select media members to be coaches. They even get to call a play. Sports editor Tommy Deas of The Tuscaloosa News provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Crimson Tide.