Chat with Chris Low
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com's SEC blogger Chris Low will stop by to talk some college football.
Low joined ESPN.com in 2007 after 10 years with The (Nashville) Tennessean covering the University of Tennessee and SEC. The Rock Hill, S.C., native lives with his wife in Knoxville and has three sons.
Send your questions now and join Low Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Chris Low (1:02 PM)
Good to be back after a couple of weeks on the road. I trust there are no controversies brewing in the SEC.
OldRebel (South Carolina)
Is there any news on the status of Kentrell Lockett? I know his request for a medical redshirt has been submitted but I've been unable to find any news.
Chris Low (1:04 PM)
Now news yet. Kentrell and Ole Miss are still waiting on an answer from the NCAA. He's been out at practice, but just watching as he's still recovering from his ACL surgery. Houston Nutt said they should know something very soon.
Who do you see being UGA's best receivers this year with AJ Green gone?
Chris Low (1:07 PM)
I believe Tavarres King will emerge as the Bulldogs' go-to guy. They really like Michael Bennett as well. He redshirted last season. The other thing to watch for is how they use Orson Charles. You're going to see him in more spots next season and the Bulldogs doing more things with him to get him the ball.
Chris (Pigeon Forge)
Chris,Was the mood at Bama's spring practices much different from last year's, when the team was coming off a national title? Did the players seem hungrier?
Chris Low (1:09 PM)
Definitely more of a chip on the shoulder feel around the Alabama camp. The players I talked with all know they underachieved last season, and Nick Saban also feels good about this defense being much more consistent and not making some of the crippling errors that killed the Tide in key games last season.
Matt (Ardmore, TN)
Which players out to you the most during your trip to Alabama? Who do you think will surprise us this season and why?
Chris Low (1:12 PM)
Courtney Upshaw is going to be a beast next season. Having him on one side and Dont'a Hightower on the other on passing downs will be something to see. Freshman running back/return specialist Dee Hart is a guy who's going to help them, and DeAndrew White is the up-and-coming receiver to keep an eye on. You're also going to see a healthy version of DeQuan Menzie and more of him at cornerback. Saban really likes Menzie.
Mike (Baton Rouge)
What's your early pick for must-see SEC game next year?
Chris Low (1:14 PM)
LSU at Alabama on Nov. 5.
deputy Gator (Vero Beach, FL)
whats is the chatter coming out of florida with new offense and new defense
Chris Low (1:16 PM)
The best news is how comfortable John Brantley has been in Charlie Weis' offense. He's throwing the ball with confidence from the pocket, and the downfield passing attack has returned to Florida's offense. Chris Rainey is another guy who's having an excellent spring, and Weis is committed to getting him the ball. They still need to develop that every-down running back. Mack Brown breaking his leg didn't help any. The offensive line is also a bit of an unknown at this point.
What do you think of the attitude and commitment of SC players this spring compared to past teams?
Chris Low (1:19 PM)
Coach Spurrier told me it's among the best he's been around since arriving in Columbia in 2005. He pointed out that some of the Gamecocks' most talented players and best players (Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, etc.) were also their hardest workers, which is always the way you want it to be. Spurrier thinks this will be a player-driven team. Junior center T.J. Johnson will also be a strong leader.
So why do you think HBO didn't air the other players for Auburn saying differently, or why didn't they promote their sponsorship of McClover's charity in south Florida?
Chris Low (1:23 PM)
I really can't answer either question. I just know there are several former Auburn players who flatly deny that they ever got any money. I talked to one of them myself, All-America offensive tackle Lee Ziemba. That said, it doesn't make much sense for those four players to go on TV and lie about being paid. It doesn't make Auburn guilty, either. I'm sure Auburn and the NCAA will be spending a lot of time over the next few months looking into those claims.
The news from Nashville is terrific. Franklin seems to be doing a wonderful job and not just with the football team. He is really doing a lot of off field stuff in the community that can impact Vandy football. While I don't think you have visited Vandy yet on your travels, are you finding that your expectations for Vandy this year have changed?
Chris Low (1:26 PM)
I had a chance to talk with Coach Franklin yesterday and I plan to spend a day at Vanderbilt next month. His energy around that program has been infectious. He understands what a challenge he has, but embraces that challenge. They had their first scrimmage last Saturday, and he was pleased with what he saw. He's been pushing for more big plays on both sides, and the Commodores produced some of those plays in the scrimmage. Sounds like Larry Smith is playing with more confidence, too.
Hunter and Rogers should be a solid 1-2 combo for the Vols but is the O-line gonna be able to give Bray enough time to get them the ball?
Chris Low (1:28 PM)
I think it comes down more to the Vols being able to run the ball more consistently than they did last season. If they can add some pop to that running game, teams will have to play Hunter and Rogers honestly. I said last year that if Tennessee could keep that offensive line group together (three true freshmen started) that they would be one of best lines in the SEC by 2012. I think you see them take another big step next season.
Who will get the hammer first: Auburn or Ohio State?
Chris Low (1:30 PM)
I would think these are uneasy times for both. But given the fact that Tressel is already suspended for five games next year for sitting on information that should have been turned over to the proper authorities, I think he may well go the route of former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl -- and that's out of a job.
Chris, in your honest opinion, do you think some measure of pay for play takes place at most big-time universities?
Chris Low (1:34 PM)
Absolutely, I do, and I'd say most of it happens out of the sight of coaches, administrators and other school officials. Players know what boosters they can go to if they need cash, and as the old saying goes, you can't trace cash. You also can't be with these players 24-7, if you're a coach or school official. The key is monitoring them as closely as possible and not looking the other way.
when will you get to the hill to do reports on my hawgs? and i can arrange a plastic hog hat for u?
Chris Low (1:35 PM)
As a matter of fact, I'll be there next week ... and I already have a Hog Hat. It's sitting in my office.
Will John Brantley win the Heisman again this year? He did win it last year didn't he???
Chris Low (1:37 PM)
Last I checked, he didn't win it. But who knows about next year? We all had Cam Newton winning it this time last year and Mark Ingram winning it this time two years ago, right? You did have both of those guys on your preseason Heisman ballots, I'm assuming.
Nathan (Morganton, NC)
Any visit plans for Mississippi State? With the exception of LB I like their depth at most positions. I am very interested to see if they can improve on last season's success.
Chris Low (1:42 PM)
I hope to get everywhere, either this spring or the preseason, or least one of our ESPN.com college football writers will get there. Getting Brandon Maye from Clemson was a big get for the Bulldogs at linebacker. I also think redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna has a chance to be a really good player. The good thing is that Mississippi State is strong at defensive tackle with Cox and Boyd and has its entire secondary coming back. If quarterback Chris Relf improves as much as he did a year ago, Mississippi State will definitely be heard from in the West race.
When you say Florida's oline is an unknown, do you mean to say that is their problem area? From some of the practice videos I've seen theyre getting beat consistently by the dline.
Chris Low (1:44 PM)
Right, a lot of new guys up front offensively. The other way to look at that, though, is that Florida's defensive line has a chance to be really good. Powell, Floyd and Easley, I bet, figure it out this next season and become the forces everybody predicted when they signed.
Lots of people here impressed with the recruiting the new Gator staff has done so far hitting the lines of scrimmage and running backs. Too early to expect a top 5 or 3 class?
Chris Low (1:47 PM)
Honestly, I don't think it matters where they're rated. Every one of those classes under Meyer was rated in the top 3. More importantly, it looks like this new staff really has some momentum on the recruiting trail.
Steve (Chicago, IL)
It doesn't really matter if other players didn't get paid. The fact is that some of them DID. All it takes is one player to get paid to receive sanctions. SMU didn't pay all of their players either...
Chris Low (1:48 PM)
You are correct, although you'd think some of the more highly recruited players were getting paid, too. A lot of it gets down to who you believe. Something tells me Stanley McClover won't be coming back to the Plains any time soon for any reunions.
Chris in your opinion what do you think Mississippi States final record will be at the end of this year?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
They won nine games last season and were 8-4 in the regular season. The nonconference schedule is pretty soft in 2011, so I'll go with four wins there and 4-4 in the SEC and a win in another bowl game. So back-to-back 9-4 seasons sounds pretty good.
Does that sec speed help players know which booster to run to when they need some cash?
Chris Low (1:53 PM)
Gotta give you props on that one. Pretty good. Of course, that kind of thing never happens in the Big 12 or Big Ten.
Kris (Big 12ish Country)
So are ever compared to the other bloggers when it comes to the amount of questions you answer in your chats? I gotta say brother your a little on the slow side. Might want to pick it or your gonna get called into the corner office of the blog boss..
Chris Low (1:54 PM)
I'm on probation as we speak.
Hey Chris i know Garcia was "out" when you were at south carolina but did you get a look at qb Dylan Thompson? I hear he's doing better at practice than Shaw. How'd he look? Thanks
Chris Low (2:00 PM)
Hey, just for you and because Pawleys Island is one of my favorite places in the world, I scrolled back to find your question. As you might imagine, sometimes they come in at rapid pace. Can't really give you much of a scouting report on Thompson, other than Garcia and Shaw would both have to tank before he's a realistic candidate as a starter. Spurrier will play the best guy. He's definitely over Garcia and admitted to me that he's quit getting mad at him because it doesn't do any good. But if Shaw doesn't outplay Garcia this spring, the Head Ball Coach isn't just going to hand the job to Shaw. This thing will go into the fall for sure. And, yes, I read the comments when I have a chance. It's flattering that so many people have so many nice things to say about me. Welcome to covering SEC football!
What rumblings are you hearing out of UA about DeAndrew White?
Chris Low (2:01 PM)
That he's the receiver to watch in the group and will be an excellent complement to Hanks and Maze.
Clay (Charlotte, NC)
Can you explain your obsession with Larry Bird?
Chris Low (2:02 PM)
You mean the greatest passing forward to ever play?
Chris, do you see Hogs offense taking a step back this year or possibly being better with the emergence of Knile Davis and the return of Greg Childs?
Chris Low (2:03 PM)
Losing both tackles is a concern, but I really believe Tyler Wilson will step in and have a big season. And there's not a better collection of running backs and receivers in the league. To me, the Hogs have four of the top 10 receivers in the league, and Davis is one of the top three running backs. They have depth at running back, too.
A good season for Auburn this year would be what?
Chris Low (2:04 PM)
When you look at that schedule and all the tough road dates, 8-4 would be an excellent season.
Dave (New Orleans)
Is there a Smear Campaign going on against Ryan Mallett for the draft?
Chris Low (2:05 PM)
Sure sounds like it. Every time you hear his name mentioned, you hear the character concerns come up.
Re: Kris (Big 12 country) I agree Chris. You are kinda slow. Ted Miller really pushes through the questions. He's got you beat.
Chris Low (2:06 PM)
That's because Ted Miller is an absolute beast. I'm nowhere close to being on his level.
doesn tennessee have a chance at beating any of the "big" sec programs this year (alabama, florida, georgia,)????
Chris Low (2:07 PM)
I think Tennessee will get one of those teams next season, although Georgia is the only one the Vols get at home.
Clay (Charlotte, NC)
Looking back why do you think it is that the SEC has been able to separate itself form the other conferences over the last 5 seasons?
Chris Low (2:08 PM)
Defensive line play, the speed of the players in the defensive line and front seven on defense, in particular the number of dominant interior defensive linemen who've come through the SEC the last several years.
come on chris get one my question in/the qb at ole miss/ and bolden and jeff scott combo/ your pick for surprise team?
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
I've said many times that Bolden was perhaps the most underrated players in the SEC lsat season, and Scott's speed makes him a threat every time he touches it. That combo stacks up favorably with Onterio McCalebb and Mike Dyer at Auburn, although McCalebb and Dyer probably have the edge. I think Stanley wins the QB job based on experience, but Mackey will be a guy they use in packages. The wild card is Brunetti, although we don't know if he will be eligible. My pick for a surprise team next season in the SEC would be Georgia.
Leroy (Memphis, TN)
Is Houston Nutt on the hot seat?
Chris Low (2:11 PM)
Yes, if he goes 6-6 or worse again next season.
You said that Davis is one of the three best backs in the SEC. Who are the top 3 in your opinion?
Chris Low (2:13 PM)
I won't give you order right now, because I go back and forth on it. But if I could take three right now, it would be Knile Davis, Marcus Lattimore and Trent Richardson (alphabetically).
Patrick McKinney (hillsboro, OR)
Geez Chris! Garcia is the starter next year!!!! Get that through your head. there is not a competition going into the fall.
Chris Low (2:13 PM)
OK, but you might want to tell that to the guy with the visor in Columbia.
Jhett (Hawthorne, Fl)
What's the chance of seeing Urba Myer on the OSU sideline next fall??
Chris Low (2:15 PM)
I don't think it's going to happen this coming season. But I definitely think he wants to coach again and that Ohio State will be looking when this whole Tressel thing comes to a head. Meyer makes a ton of sense there.
Chris Low (2:20 PM)
OK, feeling guilty because I'm so slow compared to all of my ESPN.com colleagues, I gave you 15 bonus minutes today. Seriously, it's always a blast and I appreciate all the questions, ribbing and scorn. See you next week.