SEC: Tavares King

Fast starts for Dawgs and Tigers

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
4:09
PM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia overcame early jitters and Auburn overcame an early deficit.

Things have been pretty fun so far "Between the Hedges" as we are tied at seven after Georgia and Auburn's opening drives.

Word of South Carolina's win against Florida must have crept into Georgia's huddle because the Bulldogs came out sloppy, with a false start and delay of game penalty, along with some happy feet and some over throws by Aaron Murray.

He and his line adjusted as he found some rhythm with a 44-yard strike to Malcolm Mitchell, who is back after suffering a hamstring injury. After an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King, this crowd exploded.

However, Auburn just marched down the field. And it did so throwing the ball. Most expected Michael Dyer to be Auburn's top option today, but the Tigers came out throwing. Clint Moseley threw the ball five times before a trick play that ended with C.J. Uzomah throwing to Philip Lutzenkirchen tied the game.

We knew Auburn would come in pumped and ready and the Tigers haven't disappointed. Let's see how the Dawgs respond now that they know what they're up against and what is no at stake.

Hope and concern: Georgia

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
5:00
PM ET
Georgia yet again has the talent to win the SEC East, but will everything come together to get coach Mark Richt off the hot seat?

Biggest reason for hope: Quarterback Aaron Murray and talented linebacker unit

Murray is arguably the most talented quarterback in the SEC. He's got a huge arm and has great touch on his passes. He went through a few growing pains during his freshman season and endured a 6-7 season, but this spring he really took hold of his team. He stepped up as a leader and made it a point to not only improve his own game but tried to improve the guys around him as well. Georgia's coaches found Murray hanging out in the film room a lot more this spring and could see the subtle changes he was making that made him a much more efficient passer this spring. On defense, Georgia's linebacker unit could be the most athletic in the league. Losing Justin Houston hurt, but two names to remember are Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree. Jones was praised countless times for his play this spring and should shine at strongside linebacker, while Ogletree, a converted safety, will play in the middle. Ogletree will be able to fly all over the field to make plays. Christian Robinson will also be very good in the middle with Ogletree.

Biggest reason for concern: Unproven offensive skill players

The Bulldogs have a ton of offensive talent, but only Murray, wide receiver Tavarres King and tight end Orson Charles have really made any sort of impact. Those three are reliable, but the rest of the group has yet to prove themselves. The Bulldogs haven't found that elite running back. Washaun Ealey's future is unknown and senior Caleb King was solid this spring, but has yet to really break out. Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas struggled with injuries this spring. Incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell will have a ton of expectations to live up to when he arrives and he will immediately be in the thick of the running back competition. At receiver, King will be the go-to-guy, but after him there is a cloud of uncertainty. Marlon Brown seemed to come along at times this spring, but was inconsistent. Rantavious Wooten might be the most athletic receiver, but he, too, was inconsistent this spring and didn't play in Georgia's spring game. The rest of Georgia's group hardly has any experience.
Every year it seems as though more and more high school prospects take the immediate plunge into college life by graduating from high school early.

Instead of getting fitted for prom tuxes, they're getting fitted for pads. Instead of kicking back after school, they're getting kicked around by seasoned vets daring them to even look at their practice field.

It’s a major wake-up call for those who partake in such a transition, but it can really pay off for these young athletes. Getting a head start on college programs not only gets your game in better shape, but your mind and body go through complete overhauls as well.

Over the next two days we'll take a look at some SEC early enrollees and how they did this spring.

Today, we start in the East:

Florida

Jeff Driskel, QB -- He was the most heralded recruit in Florida's 2011 class and rightly so. Driskel was the top quarterback prospect in the nation. However, he struggled to pick up Charlie Weis' pro-style offense at first and played catch-up for most of the spring. He started to pick things up toward the end and finished the spring game with 58 yards on 3-of-8 passing.

A.C. Leonard, TE -- Florida really didn't use the tight end position last season, so getting Leonard on campus early was a major plus. He drew high praise from coaches and players and should complement Jordan Reed, who moved back to tight end from quarterback, nicely in the offense. He caught three passes for 18 yards in Florida's spring game.

Georgia

Christian LeMay, QB -- LeMay didn't play football during his senior year of high school, so it's understandable that he was a little rusty entering spring. LeMay has the tools to be a star in this league and seemed to steadily improve with every practice. However, Georgia's coaches seemed to have pegged Hutson Mason as the No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Murray. LeMay looked pretty poised in the spring game, leading a 10-play, 75-yard comeback scoring drive.

Chris Conley, WR -- Outside of veteran Tavarres King, none of Georgia's receivers really seemed to make much of a statement this spring. Conley is a guy the staff will rely on, but it looks like he'll play the waiting game for now. His time was used to learn this spring and he didn't record a catch in Georgia's spring game.

Kentucky

Maxwell Smith, QB -- Smith's arrival this spring really helped the Wildcats as far as depth at the quarterback position. He not only added a body to the position but he was pretty tough competition for starter Morgan Newton. During Kentucky's spring game, Smith completed 10 of 21 passes for 99 yards and had a 54-yard touchdown pass.

Tim Patterson, LB – He didn’t have the best spring, but it looks as though he’s immersed in learning mode at the moment. The advantage for him is that he can lean on veteran linebackers to help him get accustomed to the college game. Patterson has a lot of potential, but he’s still got a ways to go exiting the spring.

South Carolina

Kelcy Quarles, DT -- Some thought he might take one of those defense tackle spots this spring, but he was listed on the Gamecocks' second team coming out of spring. Quarles, who was an All-American in high school, impressed his coaches this spring and should get playing time this fall. The next step in his maturation is being able to have that spring momentum roll over into summer workouts and fall practice.

Martay Mattox, DB – Mattox started the spring at cornerback and then moved to free safety. He left spring moving back to cornerback. He was a quarterback in high school, so his defensive abilities are a bit raw, but he’s a solid athlete. With that athleticism, the Gamecocks’ staff will probably use him on special teams to start, but with time, he could grow into a solid contributor.

Tennessee

Marcus Jackson, OL -- It's not often that a true freshman offensive lineman comes in and makes an immediate impact. Enter Jackson, who worked most of the spring as the starting left guard for the Volunteers. Jackson, a high school All-American, was one of the more athletic linemen in his class and certainly impressed his coaches from Day 1. The thing about Jackson is he was demoted at one point this spring and fought his way back into the starting rotation.

Justin Coleman, CB -- Coleman also made the most of his early enrollment. It took him a little time to really get noticed out there, but after a solid spring game, in which he lined up opposite playmaker Justin Hunter at times, Coleman enters the offseason as co-starter at one of the corner spots.

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt had no freshmen early enrollees this year.

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