SEC: Tyrik Rollison
Even coaches admit it’s hard to predict who will play early and who won’t. Everybody adjusts to the college game at a different pace.
Soon after picking the 10, I started thinking about highly-rated guys who’ve come into the SEC in recent years and were expected to make a big impact early, but haven’t to this point for various reasons. Several have already bolted for another school.
In some instances, injuries have held them back, while other players were simply overrated, couldn’t cut it academically, ran into trouble off the field or just never adjusted to the whole college scene.
A few are still hanging in there, and perhaps this will be their season.
So before we get too caught up in who is supposedly a “can’t-miss” prospect, remember some of these guys, who are listed in alphabetical order:
Brendan Beal, LB, Florida: Said last week he plans to transfer after struggling with injuries and playing sparingly.
DeAngelo Benton, WR, Auburn: Still trying to work his way up the depth chart after catching just six passes as a freshman last season. Signed with LSU twice before landing at Auburn.
Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee: Had a solid freshman season, but didn’t go through spring ball and plans to transfer. Several on the team thought Tauren Poole was better.
Gary Brown, DT, Florida: Dismissed from the team earlier this year following his arrest on battery charges. Redshirted last season after showing up overweight.
Marlon Brown, WR, Georgia: Hopes to see his role increase after catching just two passes last season as a true freshman.
Enrique Davis, RB, Ole Miss: Coming off a solid spring, Davis wasn’t a factor his first two seasons after arriving as the No. 1 prep school player in the country.
Torrey Davis, DT, Florida: Struggled with grades and off-the-field issues his whole career and left the program following the 2008 season.
Chris Donald, LB, Tennessee: Came to Tennessee as one of the top linebacker prospects in the country, but was never able to get on the field and transferred to Chattanooga.
David Gordon, CB, Arkansas: Showed some promise last season as a true freshman, but was arrested this month on drug charges and plans to transfer to Oklahoma State.
Omar Hunter, DT, Florida: Injuries have been his biggest problem, but he’s yet to live up to the hype. Remember how much Urban Meyer talked him up?
Alonzo Lawrence, CB, Alabama: A big-time defensive back recruit for the Crimson Tide who wound up transferring to Southern Miss.
Tyler Love, OT, Alabama: One of the top-rated offensive line prospects of the 2008 class. Love is still trying to crack the Tide’s rotation.
Nu’Keese Richardson, WR, Tennessee: Arrested on robbery charges and dismissed from the team. Caught just eight passes last season as a freshman.
Tyrik Rollison, QB, Auburn: Once thought to be Auburn’s future quarterback, Rollison is leaving the program and transferring to Sam Houston State.
Chris Strong, LB, Ole Miss: Academic issues derailed Strong’s career. He left school following his freshman season after making a few starts at middle linebacker.
- Ole Miss lands its first verbal commitment, offensive lineman Mitch Hall of Russellville, Ark. His brother, Matt Hall, recently transferred to Ole Miss from Arkansas.
- With Alabama's punting game struggling in the spring, incoming freshman Jay Williams knows he has an excellent chance to make a big impact.
- Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald wonders if a supposedly easier schedule in 2010 will mean more wins for Georgia.
- Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun takes a closer look at whether the Florida assistants are overpaid or underpaid.
- Auburn quarterback Tyrik Rollison has been granted a release and is officially gone from the Tigers' football team.
- Top defensive back prospect Christion Jones of Adamsville, Ala., has Tennessee in his top five along with Auburn, Florida, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.
- Florida quarterback John Brantley says his father is battling prostate cancer and will undergo surgery in March, reports David Jones of Florida Today.
- Georgia's offensive coaches are feeling the heat, too, writes Tim Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The system and Nick Saban give Alabama players an edge in the NFL, writes Don Kausler Jr. of The Birmingham News.
- Evan Woodbery of The Mobile Press-Register weighs in on freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison's apparent departure.
- LSU's Les Miles has the running game on his brain, writes Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana Newspapers.
- Tennessee's athletic department drug policy is going back to three strikes. Previously, it was four strikes before a Vols' athlete was automatically dismissed for a positive marijuana test.
- Central Florida coach George O'Leary says he's particularly troubled by the actions of current Tennessee intern Steve Rubio, who placed improper phone calls and text messages to recruits while working at Central Florida, leading to major NCAA rules violations at UCF. Current Alabama staff member Ed Marynowitz was also involved in placing improper calls and text messages.
- A Georgia student claims he was knocked unconscious by former Georgia star running back Knowshon Moreno following a bar fight in downtown Athens last weekend.
- Nathan Stanley, the favorite to win Ole Miss' starting quarterback job this spring, says he was caught off guard by Jevan Snead's decision to turn pro.
- Former South Carolina outside linebacker Eric Norwood has trimmed down below 250 pounds as he gets ready for his NFL combine workout.
- Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, after keeping a low profile, makes his first public speaking engagement since signing day.
- Four remain in Auburn's quarterback race following Tyrik Rollison's decision to leave, writes Charles Goldberg of The Birmingham News.
Rollison was redshirted last season, but was suspended prior to the Outback Bowl. His father told ESPN's Joe Schad that the suspension was due to academics and that Rollison wasn't happy at Auburn. According to his father, Rollison also considered Texas Tech, but didn't want to have to sit out another season.
Auburn signed former Florida quarterback Cameron Newton in December out of junior college, and Newton heads into the spring as perhaps the favorite to win the starting job.
Junior college quarterback Cameron Newton said Thursday he plans to sign with the Tigers and will enroll in school in January. Newton, who started his career at Florida before getting into trouble off the field and transferring to Blinn (Texas) College, will be able to go through spring practice -- which gives him a legitimate chance to compete for the starting job next season.
Newton was also considering Mississippi State. He passed for 22 touchdowns this season at Blinn and ran for 16 more touchdowns.
Newton joins a whole cast of players who will be vying for the Auburn starting quarterback job next season. Among them: juniors Neil Caudle and Kodi Burns, redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter and true freshmen Clint Moseley and Tyrik Rollison. It remains to be seen what Rollison's status will be. He was suspended indefinitely from the team back in December.
- With the NCAA now poking around into Tennessee's use of recruiting hostesses, the Vols' controversies have hit a crescendo, writes Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean.
- One of the Byrnes, S.C., players who was visited by the Tennessee recruiting hostesses at his game said they didn't influence his decision to commit to the Vols.
- Ray Melick of The Birmingham News writes that maybe Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin has it all figured out.
- John Adams of The Knoxville News-Sentinel writes that the Vol Nation has no reason to panic.
- Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that it didn't take Kiffin long to land in hot water again.
- LSU receivers coach D.J. McCarthy, linked to a possible NCAA violation that the school is investigating, turns in his resignation.
- The Louisville head coaching opportunity excites former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, writes David Jones of Florida Today.
- Ole Miss' football program was flagged for five secondary violations over the past five months, reports David Brandt of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
- Evan Woodbery of The Mobile Press-Register wonders what Tyrik Rollison's suspension means for 2010.
In announcing the suspension, Auburn coach Gene Chizik didn't specify if Rollison would be making the trip with the rest of the team to the Outback Bowl.
"We have high standards that we have set and fully expect our team to meet," Chizik said in a university release. "When these expectations are not met, I will make decisions based upon what is best for the entire football team and the Auburn Family."
Rollison was redshirting this season. This coming spring practice will be critical for him if he's going to take over as the Tigers' starter next season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
HOOVER, Ala. -- The Auburn quarterback race could go in any direction this preseason.
The Tigers will have seven quarterbacks on the roster, including three guys -- Kodi Burns, Chris Todd and Neil Caudle -- who have played. But coach Gene Chizik said he's going into preseason practice with an open mind.
In other words, don't rule out freshman Tyrik Rollison, who looks like a perfect fit on tape to run Gus Malzahn's spread offense.
"There's a unique dynamic there," Chizik said. "There's some older guys with experience. Some of them went through spring. One of them didn't. Then all of a sudden, you have some young guys coming in on campus. When you haven't locked down on a position and said, 'This is my starter,' that means it's up for grabs for everybody that walks through the doors.
"We would like to get that situation resolved. How long that will take, we don't know. Obviously the guys that have more experience have probably a little bit of a leg up. But that doesn't always tell ... the final tale."
My prediction is that three different players will take meaningful snaps for the Tigers at quarterback this season, including Rollison. But the opening-game starter? I'm going with Caudle. The wild card might be Todd depending on how healthy his shoulder is.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
A little SEC linkage for your lunchtime enjoyment:
- Auburn freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison is on campus for summer school and says his ACT score has been validated by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Mike Herndon of The Mobile Press-Register reports.
- Not so fast on Florida and Georgia both agreeing that their contract to play every year in Jacksonville will definitely be extended.
- The vacating of wins as an NCAA penalty can't change what actually happened on the field for Alabama and is purely superficial, writes Mike Herndon of The Mobile Press-Register.
- Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun offers five summer predictions for this coming season. Among them: Tim Tebow and the Gators will go undefeated and win another national title. He also predicts that Tennessee will be better than some anticipate.
- South Carolina's Byron McKnight has returned to defensive end after spending some time at tight end in the spring.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The spring is behind us, and the start of voluntary summer workouts is just around the corner.
That means freshmen start rolling in, and players still recovering from surgery in the spring are sprinkled back into the mix.
Here are three teams that need to make the best use of the summer months:
1. Auburn -- The Tigers still need to find a quarterback. Coach Gene Chizik said earlier this week that the race between Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle could easily go into late August. Neither has established himself as the starter, and neither has established himself as the leader of this team. These next few months are sure to provide a few more answers. Whoever wins the most trust among his teammates will likely emerge as the starter, and Chizik also isn't ruling out the two freshmen -- Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley. If they're genuinely going to compete for the job in the fall, they have to make big strides this summer in terms of learning the offense and getting a feel for their teammates.
2. Georgia -- We know A.J. Green can play, and we know he's one of the best playmakers in the league. But where are all the other plays for the Bulldogs going to come from on offense? Running back Caleb King still has a lot to prove to a lot of people after a so-so spring. Richard Samuel should be able to do more this summer after missing the spring with a wrist injury, and is Carlton Thomas as good as he looked in the spring? Green's best friend next season may well be freshman receiver Marlon Brown, who arrives on campus this summer. The tight end position, especially with Bruce Figgins' six-game suspension, could also use some immediate help. Freshman Orson Charles had better be ready to go once he steps onto campus.
3. Ole Miss -- Outside of Florida, Ole Miss probably has the fewest holes to fill among the SEC teams. Depth and talent won't be the Rebels' issue. But these next couple of months will go a long way toward determining whether Ole Miss is going to be a genuine contender in the SEC race next season. The championship teams police themselves. The championship teams push themselves, and the championship teams do the little things right. Does this team have the kind of leadership and maturity that it takes to make a run at a title? Does this team buy into the hype, or does it buy into hard work? Houston Nutt has his hands full. This is a completely different challenge than he faced a year ago at this time, and he knows as well as anybody how critical the summer months will be in establishing the right kind of mindset entering the most anticipated season at Ole Miss in decades.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Making the rounds in the SEC:
- David Jones of Florida Today writes that Florida's Jeffery Demps is taking his shot at winning a second national title this year for the Gators' No. 1-ranked track team.
- Auburn coach Gene Chizik says not to expect a quick decision on who will start at quarterback for the Tigers, and he adds that incoming freshmen Tyrik Rollison and Clint Moseley will also get a serious look this fall.
- Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at some of the things we don't know about the SEC East heading into next season.
- Alabama sophomore linebacker Jennings Hester will go on medical scholarship, ending his playing career with the Crimson Tide, Gentry Estes of The Mobile Press-Register reports.
- Columnist Wally Hall of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that Bobby Petrino is committed to putting the Hogs on solid ground.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
The spread is back at Auburn.
That's right. Another spring, another new offense.
|AP Photo/Dave Martin|
|Gus Malzahn's version of the spread offense has worked wherever he has coached.|
This time, it's Gus Malzahn bringing his version of the spread to the Plains. He's not real interested in what they've done before at Auburn, how miserably the spread failed last season at Auburn or how his offense might be perceived around the SEC.
It's worked everywhere Malzahn has been, and that's good enough for him.
"Nowadays, there are so many versions of what people call the spread," Malzahn said. "We're going to have a physical, hard-nosed attitude, and that's the No. 1 thing we want to do. You look back at the history of Auburn, and that's kind of been their trademark. We'll focus on running the ball downhill and be a run/play-action pass team. That's a little bit different than what they did here last year.
"It's a new start, and we'll see what happens."
First-year Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who has a defensive background, didn't have to look long to find his offensive coordinator. He wanted somebody who was creative and wanted somebody who was proven.
Those prerequisites led him straight to Malzahn, whose offenses at Tulsa were ranked first nationally in total offense each of the past two seasons. Malzahn had also previously coached in the SEC when he was at Arkansas as offensive coordinator in 2006. Moreover, he's one of the people who engineered the rebirth of the single wing that's now the rage in college football.
At Arkansas, they called it the Wild Hog. They call it the Wild Rebel at Ole Miss, and it's also known as the Wildcat package. Even the Miami Dolphins ran some of it last season with Ronnie Brown. Malzahn's been running it since he was coaching at Springdale High School in Arkansas.
Malzahn has already identified some candidates to run it at Auburn, namely Mario Fannin.
But a more pressing priority this spring is finding his quarterback. Notice he didn't say "quarterbacks." Malzahn wants one guy and hopes to find him this spring. The Tigers open practice on March 24.
"We're a quarterback-oriented offense, so you've got to find somebody who's a leader," Malzahn said. "That's what we'll be looking for."
Even though junior Kodi Burns ended last season as the starter, Malzahn insists that he's wiping the slate clean. He's a little more familiar with Burns because he coached against Burns in high school in Arkansas. Malzahn was at Springdale while Burns was at Fort Smith, and Malzahn recruited Burns the year he was coaching at Arkansas.
He's also familiar with junior Neil Caudle, because Malzahn took his Springdale High team down to a 7-on-7 league in Hoover, Ala., and he had a chance to watch Caudle play there.
"I know more about those two than I do the rest," Malzahn said. "But we'll go into this wide open and hopefully be able to narrow things in a short period of time and have a guy at the end of the spring who's our quarterback ... if that's possible and somebody earns it."
What he's looking for at the quarterback position is an "operator."
Malzahn wants to run at least 80 plays every game, which means he's got to have a quarterback who can keep up.
"We run plays at a fast pace, and we need somebody that can make plays," Malzahn said. "You don't have to be a 4.4 or 4.5 guy (in the 40-yard dash), but you have to be able to make a play on your own sometimes when things break down. Obviously in this league, that holds truer than most."
The Tigers signed just that kind of player in prized high school quarterback Tyrik Rollison of Sulphur Springs, Texas, but Rollison doesn't arrive until this summer.
Job No. 1 this spring is evaluating the Tigers' talent. Malzahn and his staff have been careful not to pigeonhole players based on what they've seen out of them on tape from last season.
"We'll also put in our base offense this spring and try and execute base plays, and then we'll get to all the fancy stuff later," he said.
Having coached in the SEC, Malzahn knows exactly what he's getting into when it comes to the speed of SEC defenses. This remains a defensive league.
And there are some who remain skeptical that a spread offense without a quarterback not named Tim Tebow can make it big in this league consistently.
A year ago, Tulsa averaged 569.8 yards per game in total offense. Meanwhile, all but two SEC teams allowed fewer than 330 ypg, and 10 of the top 35 defenses nationally belonged to SEC clubs.
Malzahn's not coming in expecting to put up Tulsa-like numbers in the SEC. But he's not saying it's impossible, either.
"To put up those kind of numbers in this league would be a much harder challenge," he said. "It would be a lot tougher, but that's yet to be seen."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
There was no bigger priority for Auburn during this recruiting period than finding a quarterback that was a fit for Gus Malzahn's spread offense.
That's why you heard the collective cheer coming from the Plains earlier this week when Tyrik Rollison of Sulphur Springs, Texas, said he planned to sign with the Tigers.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Rollison was made for the spread offense. He passed for a school-record 4,728 yards last season and 53 touchdowns and also rushed for 1,094 yards. The best thing he does is buy time to find open receivers and he has excellent feet. He's one of those quarterbacks in high school who specialized in making things happen even when there wasn't much there.
Now comes the hard part: Taking it to the college game against SEC defenses.
Rollison, who was also recruited by Arizona, Florida State and Nebraska, will be able to work with Malzahn from the outset when he arrives on campus, meaning he won't have to make the adjustment from other systems Auburn has run in the past two years.
Kodi Burns, who will be a junior next season, has already had to learn two different offenses under two different offensive coordinators. Malzahn will be his third offensive coordinator. And in reality, it was like the Tigers ran two different offenses last season -- one with Tony Franklin and another one after Franklin was fired.
12:00 PM ET Troy 13 Georgia 3:30 PM ET 6 Texas A&M SMU 3:30 PM ET Florida 3 Alabama 4:00 PM ET Indiana 18 Missouri 7:00 PM ET Northern Illinois Arkansas 7:00 PM ET Mississippi State 8 LSU 7:30 PM ET 14 South Carolina Vanderbilt