SEC: Sidney Rice
- This season, the SEC has had eight teams ranked in the AP top-25 poll a total of 59 times after the first 10 weeks — above the league's average for the past five seasons.
- Using the latest published depth charts from the 12 SEC teams, South Carolina has the youngest offensive starting lineup and the most experienced defensive starting lineup in the league.
- Using a numerical formula of 1 point for freshmen, 2 points for sophomores, 3 points for juniors and 4 points for freshman, the Gamecocks average 2.33 on offense and 3.45 on defense.
- The most experienced offense is Kentucky at 3.25, the least experienced defense Florida at 2.36.
- On defense, there are just eight freshman starters in the SEC, three of them at Tennessee. On offense, South Carolina starts four freshmen and Ole Miss three.
- Mississippi State starts six seniors on offense, followed by Alabama, Kentucky and LSU with five each. On defense, Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina start five freshmen each.
- Alabama has started slowly in the first quarter this season, but has quickly turned things around and finished strong. The Crimson Tide have outscored its opponents 243-25 in the final three quarters of games this season after holding just a 72-30 edge in the first quarter. The disparity has grown even wider over the past six games, when Alabama owns a 44-27 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 196-10 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama has outscored its opposition in the second half of the past six games by a score of 142-7, but has not allowed a second-half point in the past four. Arkansas, in Week 4, was the last team to score against Alabama after halftime.
- Arkansas has won five consecutive games against opponents from the SEC Eastern Division, the longest winning streak against Eastern Division foes in school history and the third-longest current interdivision win streak in the SEC. Arkansas’ previous record for consecutive games won against the Eastern Division was three (1992-93 and 2006). Arkansas is off to its best start under Bobby Petrino and is 7-1 for just the third time since joining the SEC in 1992.
- With its victory over Ole Miss, Auburn has extended its Jordan-Hare Stadium winning streak to 13 games, its longest at home since winning 13 in a row from 1993-94. It is tied for the sixth-longest home winning streak in school history. The Tigers are 25-4 in night games (5 p.m. or later) at Jordan-Hare dating back to the 2000 season.
- Florida quarterback John Brantley returned from injury to start last week against Georgia, throwing for 245 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 20.4 yards per completion, the highest of his career as a starting quarterback. The mark is the highest in the SEC and eighth-best in the country this season for quarterbacks with a minimum of 10 completions). In his career, the fifth-year senior has completed 332 of 541 passes (61.4 percent) for 3,893 yards and 25 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 131.9.
- Georgia senior Brandon Boykin and junior Branden Smith are seeing action on defense, offense and special teams this season. Boykin has four career kickoff returns for touchdowns, and against No. 5 Boise State, he had an 80-yard rushing touchdowns on his first career carry. He had a school-record seven kickoff returns and tallied 198 all-purpose yards against No. 12 South Carolina. Smith and Boykin split time as punt returners while Boykin is one of the top kickoff returners in the nation.
- Kentucky seniors Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy are the SEC’s top two tacklers. Trevathan charted a career-high-tying 17 tackles last weekend and is now the league’s top tackler with 94 to Guy 's 83. The duo are tied for fifth and 16th, respectively, in the nation with 11.75 and 10.38 tackles per game.
- LSU went the entire month of October without a turnover. The Tigers have turned the ball over just three times this season (two fumbles, one interception), with their most recent turnover coming in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State in Week 3. LSU has gone 336 offensive snaps, 59 possessions and 174 minutes and 52 seconds of possession time since its last turnover. LSU has given up just 41 points in the first five SEC games, the fewest since 1985, when the Tigers also allowed 41 points in their first five league games. LSU has won 17 consecutive games when winning the turnover battle. Under Les Miles, LSU is 33-4 when forcing more turnovers than it gives up.
- Six true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen have started for Ole Miss this season. True freshmen have made a combined 18 starts, while redshirt freshmen have made a combined 10. Freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief is tied for fifth in the nation among true freshmen with four touchdown receptions.
- Mississippi State has won nine consecutive non-conference games dating back to head coach Dan Mullen’s first season in 2009. Mullen’s teams have posted a 10-2 non-conference mark, with a pair of losses in 2009 to nationally ranked Georgia Tech and a Houston team that received votes in both polls the week of the game. The Bulldogs’ 10 consecutive out-of-league wins marks the longest such streak since an 11-game run from 1989-91.
- Junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (167 receptions for 2,748 yards) needs just 33 yards to match Kenny McKinley (2,781) as South Carolina’s all-time leader in receiving yards. He needs three catches to pass Sterling Sharpe (169) for second all-time in career receptions. He also needs three touchdown catches to tie Sidney Rice on the school’s all-time list for touchdown receptions at 23. Jeffery is also tied for first at South Carolina with 11 100-yard receiving games and is sixth in school history with 16.5 yards per reception.
- Three of Tennessee’s six leading tacklers are freshmen in A.J. Johnson (1st with 57), Curt Maggitt (fourth with 34) and Brian Randolph (sixth with 31), making the Vols the only team in the country with freshmen as three of its top six tacklers. Tennessee is the only team in the country with two true freshmen among its top four tacklers. In fact, there are only a pair of schools – Miami (Fla.) and Army – that even have two in their top six.
- Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward knocked down six Arkansas passes last weekend – tied for most in any one game in the country this season with Duke’s Matt Daniels, who did it against Richmond. Hayward was named this week as one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back. Hayward is tied for fourth nationally with five interceptions and is the SEC active leader in career picks with 13.
- Mississippi State is 27-16 against non-conference foes since 2000 and has a nine-game win streak against out-of-SEC competition.
- South Carolina and Arkansas are 1-2 in the SEC in non-offensive touchdowns scored this season. Carolina has five (four defense/one punt return) while Arkansas has four (one defense/one kickoff return/two punt return) and tied with LSU and Vanderbilt.
- Florida leads the SEC with 291-game scoring streak. The last time Florida was shut out was Oct. 29, 1988, when it lost 16-0 to Auburn.
- South Carolina is 3-0 in SEC road games this season. The Gamecocks have never gone 4-0.
- Vanderbilt’s scoring drives average 6.77 plays, fewest in the SEC.
- South Carolina is 21-37 against the Western Division and Arkansas is 24-34 against the Eastern Division. Arkansas has won five in a row against the Eastern Division.
- Ole Miss’ Brandon Bolden is the SEC’s second active leading rusher with 2,426 yards, trailing active leader Trent Richardson of Alabama by only 14 yards (2,440).
- Georgia leads SEC with 21 scoring drives of less than two minutes.
- South Carolina is second in the SEC in holding opponents to three-downs-and-out at 42.5 percent (45 of 106).
- Georgia sophomore QB Aaron Murray is already SEC’s leading active player in total offensive yards (5,077), completions (344), TD responsibility (48), TD passe (42) and passing yards (4,871).
- Tennessee is one of four SEC teams not to allow a non-offensive touchdown this season (Alabama, LSU and South Carolina).
- Georgia has scored first in seven of its eight games this season, second in the league to LSU, which has scored first in all eight.
Don’t sweat the three-star or even the two-star prospects that sign on the dotted line Wednesday. It’s not always about the stars. In fact, it’s rarely about the stars.
To prove that, here’s a look at a different kind of All-SEC team from the last five years.
These are guys who weren’t on everybody's prep All-America teams and rated no higher than three stars in most cases, yet ended up being All-SEC players and/or successful NFL players.
We’ll start with offense:
QB Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt: He had some interest among the lower tier Big Ten teams as a safety, but Vanderbilt offered him as a quarterback about a month before signing day. Cutler would go on to be the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
RB Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss: He’s been perhaps the best running back at the Senior Bowl practices this week after becoming the first player in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards and have 500 yards receiving in the same season. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t rated among the top 100 prospects in Florida his senior year of high school.
RB Jacob Hester, LSU: One of the stars of the Tigers’ 2007 national championship team, Hester played nose guard his first two years of high school in Shreveport, La. In some quarters, he was a two-star prospect. Until LSU promised him he could play running back, some of his best offers were as a fullback or linebacker.
WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina: There were concerns about his speed coming out of high school, and he wasn’t even ranked among the top 10 players in the state of South Carolina. Suffice it to say that he’s one of the top 10 receivers in the NFL right now.
WR Earl Bennett Vanderbilt: A Birmingham, Ala., product, Bennett didn’t get much of a sniff from Alabama or Auburn, but went on to set the SEC career record with 236 catches at Vanderbilt. He’s the only player in league history to reach the 75-catch plateau in three different seasons.
AP Randall Cobb, Kentucky: A quarterback in high school, Cobb was one of those guys a lot of schools weren’t sure where he would play in college. He wanted a shot at quarterback and has proven the last two seasons to be one of the most versatile player in the SEC.
TE Jacob Tamme Kentucky: His scholarship offer was initially pulled by the Wildcats because they decided they liked somebody else better. Rich Brooks re-offered Tamme when he replaced Guy Morriss, and it’s a good thing. Tamme ended up catching more passes (133) than any other SEC tight end of the last decade (2000-09).
OL Clint Boling Georgia: He’s started since he was a freshman and has lined up just about everywhere up front for the Bulldogs while earning first- or second-team All-SEC honors both as a sophomore and junior. Georgia beat Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Duke and Wake Forest to get Boling.
OL Mitch Petrus, Arkansas: He wasn’t ranked anywhere (statewide or nationally) after coming to Arkansas as a tight end, but earned first-team All-SEC honors this season by the coaches and is participating in the Senior Bowl. He was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2007.
OL Chris Williams, Vanderbilt: Despite being a Baton Rouge, La., product, Williams wasn’t recruited by LSU. He weighed 245 pounds when he came out of high school, but left Vanderbilt as one of the top tackles in college football and was taken 14th overall in the 2008 NFL draft.
OL Antoine Caldwell, Alabama: Only 250 pounds when he finished high school, Caldwell was anything but a national recruit. But he blossomed at Alabama and earned first-team All-America honors as a senior in 2008 and was the rock of that offensive line.
OL Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas: A two-star prospect from Little Rock, Luigs wasn’t listed among the top 10 prospects in Arkansas his senior year. He wound up winning the Rimington Trophy in 2007 as the most outstanding center in college football.
Noting: Just looking at this past season alone, there were several guys who had big years that weren't rated through the roof coming out of high school. Ole Miss' Shay Hodge and Auburn's Darvin Adams combined to catch 18 touchdown passes. Neither was among the top 15 prospects in his state. Two of the best freshmen in the league were Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Vanderbilt's Warren Norman. Both were three-star prospects. Defensive end Marcell Dareus, who was the defensive star of the BCS National Championship Game, wasn't one of the highest-rated prospects in Alabama's star-studded 2008 signing class. Linebacker Nick Reveiz was the leader of Tennessee's defense in 2009 and one of the Vols' most productive players until he hurt his knee, and he was a former walk-on.
Alabama and Tennessee lead the way with three players apiece. Here's a look at the SEC players who made it this season. The game will be played Sunday in Miami:
Roman Harper, S, Saints, NFC
Le'Ron McClain, FB, Ravens, AFC
DeMeco Ryans, LB, Texans, AFC
Jay Ratliff, DT, Cowboys, NFC
Percy Harvin, KR, Vikings, NFC
Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos, AFC
Jon Stinchcomb, OT, Saints, NFC
Alan Faneca, OG, Jets, AFC
Kevin Mawae, C, Titans, AFC
Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers, NFC
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings, NFC
Shaun Ellis, DE, Jets, AFC
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts, AFC
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys, NFC
On Tuesday, we ranked the top 10 players of the decade. So today, we unveil our all-decade team, which is broken down by position. The only rule was that a player had to play at least two seasons from 2000 to 2009 to be eligible.
This is what we came up with, so fire away:
QB Tim Tebow, Florida
RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
WR Josh Reed, LSU
WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina
AP Percy Harvin, Florida
TE Ben Watson, Georgia
OL Shawn Andrews, Arkansas
OL Marcus McNeil, Auburn
OL Andre Smith, Alabama
OL Michael Oher, Ole Miss
C Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas
DE David Pollack, Georgia
DE Alex Brown, Florida
DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
DT John Henderson, Tennessee
LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
LB Rolando McClain, Alabama
LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
CB Joe Haden, Florida
CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn
S Eric Berry, Tennessee
S LaRon Landry, LSU
K Billy Bennett, Georgia
P Dustin Colquitt, Tennessee
KR Derek Abney, Kentucky
PR Javier Arenas, Alabama
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
It's the essence of the recruiting craze in the SEC. It's what everybody does come national signing day and beyond.
Fans scour the All-America lists to see how many of the "can't-miss" prospects signed with their school. They salivate over the five-star players, hope for four-star players and frown at the thought of signing anybody that hasn't already become a star during the recruiting process.
|Joe Robbins/US Presswire|
|Jay Cutler was recruited to play defensive back out of high school.|
Here's a tip, though. Don't sweat it if your class includes a few prospects who weren't rated particularly high, prospects who were two- and three-star players and prospects who haven't already gone Hollywood before they show up on campus.
The dirty little secret in recruiting is that some of the best players in the SEC over the last few years were guys who flew under the radar in the recruiting process for various reasons.
In keeping with that spirit, we've come up with our own All-SEC team of recruiting nobodies, guys who weren't rated very highly coming out of high school, but went onto have stellar careers in the SEC and many of them are now playing in the NFL.
The players comprising this team had to play in the SEC in the past four years (2005-08):
We'll look at the offensive team first and the defensive team a little bit later Thursday morning:
QB Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt: Any interest Cutler received from Big Ten schools such as Purdue, Indiana and Illinois was as a safety. Finally, about a month before signing day, Vanderbilt offered him as a quarterback, and Cutler wound up being the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.
RB Jacob Hester, LSU: Played nose guard his first two years at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La. He was a two-star prospect coming out of high school, but still got some good offers as a fullback or linebacker. LSU promised him he could play running back. He rushed for 1,103 yards as a senior in leading the Tigers to the 2007 BCS national championship. The San Diego Chargers traded up in the NFL draft to be able to get Hester in the third round.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ole Miss: Signed in 2003 with Indiana after playing high school football in New Orleans and not receiving a sniff from SEC schools. Green-Ellis transferred to Ole Miss following the 2004 season and became only the second running back in Ole Miss history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2006 and started some games at running back this past season for the New England Patriots.
WR Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt: One of those players from the state of Alabama the big boys didn't want. Bennett was unranked nationally as a receiver when he came out of West End High School in Birmingham, Ala. His only other official visits were to Kentucky and Southern Miss. All he did at Vanderbilt was set the SEC record with 236 career catches, becoming the only player in league history to reach the 75-catch plateau in three different seasons. He turned pro early and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round.
WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina: Deemed a step slow coming out of high school in Gaffney, S.C., Rice wasn't ranked among the top 50 receiver prospects nationally. He redshirted his first season at South Carolina, but caught 23 touchdown passes the next two seasons and turned pro. He was drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings.
OL Antoine Caldwell, Alabama: Other than Auburn, his main suitors coming out of Montgomery, Ala., were Louisville, Southern Miss and Vanderbilt. Caldwell capped a stellar career at Alabama by being selected first-team All-America this season at center by the Associated Press.
OL Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas: Luigs was a two-star player from Little Rock and wasn't even listed as one of the top 10 prospects in Arkansas his senior year of high school. Similar to Caldwell, he developed into one of the best centers in the country and won the Rimington Trophy in 2007 as the nation's most outstanding center.
OL Tyronne Green, Auburn: Rated by many as a defensive tackle when he came out of Pensacola, Fla., in 2004, Green picked Auburn over Southern Miss and Florida A&M after missing half of his senior season in high school with an injury. He started in 25 straight games at Auburn and was voted the Tigers' best blocker as a junior.
OL Chris Williams, Vanderbilt: Weighed just 245 pounds coming out of high school in Baton Rouge, La., and wasn't recruited by LSU. Williams blossomed in Vanderbilt's strength program and wound up being the 14th pick overall in the 2008 NFL draft. He's the highest SEC offensive lineman to be drafted since Alabama's Chris Samuels in 2000.
OL Clint Boling, Georgia: When he came out of Alpharetta, Ga., in 2007, Boling was the 112th-ranked defensive end prospect nationally by Scouts Inc. and was nowhere to be found among the top 20 prospects in the state of Georgia. The Bulldogs' main competition for Boling was from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest. Boling wound up starting as a true freshman and was Georgia's most versatile offensive lineman last season.
TE Jared Cook, South Carolina: A 205-pound receiver when he came out of high school in the Atlanta area and missed his junior season at North Gwinnett High after breaking his ankle. His other offers were from Mississippi State, Tulane and Missouri. Cook developed into one of the more athletic tight ends in the SEC and decided to turn pro following last season.