No Hargrave, No Problem: Enter Jireh Prep

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In the football crazed south our passion goes further than on the field outcomes. We even obsess over the recruitments of high school athletes before they arrive at the schools we root for. In this recruiting crazed environment, SEC football fans are well aware of postgraduate programs or prep schools, as they are better known. These institutions offer kids the opportunity to gain entrance to the 4-year universities without burning any eligibility as they would at a traditional junior college.

Last week Andrew Bone, of rivals, was the first I saw to report the closing of Hargrave’s postgraduate football program. While it may be just a blip on many football fans’ radars, it immediately caught my eye as big news going forward for SEC recruiting. There are other programs such as Georgia Military but no other postgraduate institution has been able to become ingrained in the southern recruiting fabric as Hargrave.

I immediately made a comment on my twitter about the news and not soon after was informed by Jireh Prep linebacker coach Ryan Williams that they were out there and ready to fill the void left by Hargrave. If you aren’t familiar with how twitter works, Coach Williams did not previously follow me, nor did I follow him. His immediate reaction to me regarding the news showed that the Jireh staff is working hard through all mediums to promote their program.

After exchanging a few tweets with Coach Williams and being impressed with how friendly and responsive their staff was, I reached out to Jireh Prep head coach Scott Smith. Coach Smith was kind enough to give me some of his time and discuss the Warriors program and what they are about. The first thing I brought up was how impressed I was with how proactive they were in using the opportunity of Hargrave closing to promote their program and how they are striving to take the next step.

“Something you believe in wholeheartedly, you want to push it. It’s good for kids academically. We’re different than the military schools. We focus on the academics first, then the sports. We’re using twitter and Facebook to help build faster.”

One of the main reasons so many SEC fans were familiar with Hargrave is because of how often it was used by the conferences coaches. It would seem that a certain level of trust with coaches like Nick Saban, Dan Mullen, and Hugh Freeze would be essential to getting your foot in the SEC door. We spoke about what it takes to cultivate these relationships.

“We definitely reach out to as many of those guys as possible. The main thing they hold against us is that we haven’t been around that long. I’ve been here for five years now. Getting to that level takes time. We’re getting there. We have already had ACC and Big 10 kids. We want to get those SEC kids. We’ve gotten those SEC types of kids but getting to that level just takes time. It’s starting to happen. ”

In the beginning of my conversation with Coach Smith I noticed that academics was one of the first things he mentioned. When you look at Jireh Prep’s website, ( jirehprepwarriors.com ), you’ll quickly notice that their mission statement contains the phrase that they “prepare student athletes to become lifelong learners in the classroom…” Coach Smith explained that academics truly are the #1 goal at his program.

“Our academics are under so much scrutiny; so many people watch everything. The guys cannot do anything without us knowing. I get a weekly report on my desk to know who is they’re eligible on a weekly basis. That’s what we want. We want that retention. Weights, film, and everything else is built in but based first on academic performance.”

Most prep school kids are only with their respective institutions for a year. One thing I’ve always been curios about is how much better developed the players get football wise from their 1 year of prep school as opposed to a high school player. I asked Coach Smith how much these kids can absorb in that short time and how advanced they are from a true freshman who came straight from high school.

“There are a lot of benefits on and off the field. The biggest thing is the time management issue. That’s the number one thing college coaches tell us that our kids are much better at their time management. We work that in to everything that we do. It’s all based like a college program on a schedule. I tell people it’s just like college but with a 24-hour chaperone. A kid can also develop academically and increase his chances to go to a better college.”

I thought the time management issue was pretty interesting because of how true it rings. It’s not just athletes but all freshmen that have to adjust to being on their own and wisely managing their time for school and social activities. The kids having a year at Jireh Prep really has to help ease that transition to a 4-year institution. Coach Smith also touched on a few things unique to Jireh Prep.

“We have a 36,000 square foot workout facility just like many of the major colleges. We can really help them get better athletically. We also play a lot of better competition. We play juco level competition. Every aspect of our program has kids better prepared.”

We had been talking for a bit and I was really getting the feel for what I thought about Coach Smith and the Jireh Prep program. They really seemed to stress the academics first then athletic and personal development. I wanted to end our conversation with a better look a Coach Smith personally. There are a myriad of reasons that a kid ends up at a postgraduate program. Many kids in high school just don’t get the individual academic support they need to succeed may it be overcrowded classrooms, under funded districts, tough family situations, etc… I asked Coach Smith about what kind of feeling he gets when a kid like that comes to Jireh Prep and gets the help they need to get eligible and further pursue their dreams at the next level.

“It’s a better feeling than winning football games. Wins and losses come and go. Getting a kid qualified excites me more than anything. There are kids that have odds against them, like learning disabilities, and come here and get qualified. Those are the one’s we root for. It’s the best feeling in the world. When you go out recruiting, they don’t ask what the record was. They ask how many kids you got in to school. When I can walk into a quarterbacks home and tell him our last 2 quarterbacks are playing at a 4 year college, that sells.”

Throughout our conversation I was constantly struck by how honest Coach Smith sounded. I’m generally pretty good at picking up coach speak but I really believed what he was saying. Since there now is a hole in the prep school chain as far as SEC recruiting is concerned, I’d keep my on Jireh Prep in North Carolina. Their open eagerness to sell me their program shows that they are serious because lets face it; I’m not ESPN or SB Nation. The Warriors are definitely a program that I will be keeping my eye on. I would love to be the one who told you in the future, “I told ya’ll no Hargrave, no problem.”

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Coaches Get Canned At High Cost

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While leisurely reading other blogs leading me to USA today articles on coaching changes, I came across this gem. I did not remember that USM actually sold a home game to raise the required funds to fire Ellis Johnson. That is just unbelievable.

I like USM and support them in most things they do. My original plan for college included USM because they had a major that MSU didn’t. I finally decided that I wouldn’t feel right not going to MSU and a degree from the College of Business was just going to have to do. One thing that SEC fans, regardless of school, take for granted is the unbelievable booster support they receive. If a seat gets hot we usually talk about the big buyouts like they are an issue but in reality they aren’t. When the big boosters want a change, they get change.

I was shocked at first by the lengths USM went to fire Johnson. I then wondered again why their fanbase doesn’t give back like others do. It’s an interesting situation that doesn’t make sense and probably never will. The link to the USA today article outlines many other costly firings in CFB.

For as short as Embree’s tenure was, Ellis Johnson got even less time at Southern Mississippi after going 0-12 in his first season. Faced with growing fan unrest, interim president Aubrey Lucas and Southern Miss’ administration confronted a dilemma: find a considerable sum to fire Johnson or potentially lose more money if he couldn’t turn the program around. In response to a fan’s request to terminate the first-year coach and his staff, Lucas wrote, “To do as you recommended, I will need to raise $3million. Can you help? This is not intended to be a ‘smarty’ reply, but a sincere request for assistance.” The fan offered $1,000 and vowed to reach out to his family for help. Many other fans wrote saying they were willing to give from $100 to $1,000. But in the week leading up to Johnson’s firing, Southern Miss sold a home game vs. Nebraska for more than $2.1 million, according to letters between the schools’ ADs obtained by Deadspin. A longtime assistant, Johnson took over in 2012 after Larry Fedora parlayed a 12-2 record into a job at North Carolina. But Southern Miss followed the best season in school history with its worst, ending a run of 18 consecutive winning seasons. Richard Johnston, president of the USM Athletic Foundation, wrote to say that he was part of the mistake as a member of the search committee that chose Johnson. “I thought we made a good hire, even though he was our second choice,” Johnston wrote. “We need to cut our losses and salvage our supporters by showing them we acknowledged making a mistake and will, with their help, begin to rebuild this historical successful program.” He pledged $50,000 to help with the buyout. One fan summed up Southern Miss’ situation — as well as that of the other schools that fired coaches — better than others. “Whatever the cost now, it will be so much more if he’s allowed to coach another season,” he wrote.

Top 10 Combine Fueled NFL Draft Fails

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Today is the day of the NFL draft and many dreams will be made. One of my favorite happenings are the guys who kill the combine and their stock skyrockets. The workout warriors if you will. These guys showed freakish athleticism that teams drooled over and they used their top picks to acquire them. Many of these guys never live up to the hype and are labeled as a “bust”. Here are the top 10 NFL draft bust brought to you by The Lost Letterman http://www.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/13455118?no_yb=true&mailing_id=2341&linksrc=mb_main_col_8 . Great work by him as usual.

10. Adam Archuleta (2001)

How a college player performs in workouts after their college career often has just as much (if not more) bearing on their draft stock as their college careers themselves. Yet Brian Urlacher or Chris Johnson, many other “workout wonders” have failed to deliver in the NFL. We rank the NFL Draft’s Top 10 Workout Warrior Busts.

Archuleta’s size (5-foot-11 and 215 pounds) raised doubts about his draft stock. He rendered those concerns moot by running a 4.42 40-yard dash, posting a 39-inch vertical leap and benching 225 pounds 31 times (staggeringly high for a DB).

Archuleta was actually solid in five seasons with the Rams after they drafted him 21st overall. The dreaded b-word only became attached to him after he failed to live up to the six-year, $30 million contract the Redskins handed him following the 2005 season. Benched in D.C. and then traded, Yahoo’s Jason Cole recently ranked Archuleta the 10th-worst free agent signing ever.

9. Darrius Heyward-Bey (2009)

In defense of Heyward-Bey, he was likely just as shocked as everyone else when Oakland (now infamously) took him seventh overall four years ago.

Although the Maryland WR wasn’t a bad player by any means — he had 138 receptions and 13 TDs in three seasons with the Terps — most pundits predicted that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin would be off the board before DHB.

At this point, the late Al Davis’ infatuation with speed (Heyward-Bey ran the fastest 40-yard dash [4.25 seconds] at that year’s combine) is largely to blame for this epitome of a reach pick. DHB managed just 11 TDs in his four seasons with Oakland before being released this past March. The Colts inked him to a one-year deal on April 1st and are hoping for better results.

8. Mike Mamula (1995)

If the phrase “workout wonder” ever finds its way into an actual dictionary, they might as well put Mamula’s picture next to it.

The former All-Big East defensive end from Boston College was one of the first players to train specifically for the drills at the NFL combine and it showed with his eye-popping performance: A 4.58 40-yard dash, 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 38.5-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 5-inches on the broad jump. For “good measure,” he also scored a 49 out of 50 on the Wonderlic — the second-highest score ever recorded by an NFL player.

So what did the Philadelphia Eagles get out of Mamula after investing the eighth overall pick in him? Six seasons and a disappointing 31.5 sacks. By 2000, at the age of 27, he was already out of the league.

7. Matt Jones (2005)

After spending four years as Arkansas’ starting quarterback, Jones had scores of draft pundits — among them ESPN’s Chris Mortensen — gushing about the physical potential he possessed as a converted receiver/H-back.

It’s easy to see why Jones was referred to as “The Freak.” The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder turned in a gaudy combine performance: 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump.

Jacksonville surprised many by drafting him 21st overall, only to watch Jones start just 15 games over the next four seasons. He never caught over 65 balls or had over 800 yards receiving in any one season. What was really Jones’ undoing with the Jaguars was his pair of substance abuse-related arrests, which led to his release in March 2009. He is now out of the league.

6. Charles Rodgers (2003)

Rogers inspired comparisons to Randy Moss both in high school (he was Tom Lemming’s top recruit in the Class of 2000) and at Michigan State, where he won the 2002 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout and set a still-standing school record for career TD receptions (27).

Those comparisons only gained more credence after Rogers ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the combine — a blisteringly fast time for a receiver as big as he was (6-foot-3 and 220 pounds). To the Detroit Lions, it was a no-brainer to select the Saginaw, MI, native second overall.

His drug-fueled fall from grace makes it easy to forget about the 22 receptions, 243 yards and three TDs he had during the first five games of his ’03 rookie season before a broken clavicle ended Rogers’ year. (He sustained the same season-ending injury on just the third play of the following season.)

Yes, injuries were a huge part of Rogers’ career, which he couldn’t control. But his off-the-field issues and a 36-catch NFL career is too much not to consider him a huge bust.

5. Brian Bosworth (1987)

There was a lot that made “The Boz” one of the most memorable players of the 1980s: His hatred of the NCAA, gaudy blonde Mohawk and undying love of the spotlight.

And he could play; the 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker was a two-time First Team All-American at Oklahoma. In preparation for the 1987 supplemental draft, Bosworth backed up those on-field credentials by running a 4.6 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 450 pounds.

In retrospect, unfortunately, the only substance to that style might have been the anabolic steroids that Bosworth tested positive for prior to the ’87 Orange Bowl. After selecting Bosworth in the first round of the ’87 supplemental draft, the Seahawks signed him to a 10-year, $11 million contract — then the biggest one in history given to a rookie — only for Bosworth’s most memorable NFL moment to be getting trucked by Bo Jackson.

Bosworth retired after just three years due to injury.

4. Akili Smith (1999)

A one-year wonder at Oregon who threw for 3,763 yards and 30 TDs in his 1998 senior season, Smith had the size (6-foot-3 and 227 pounds), speed (4.66 seconds in the 40), smarts (a 37 on the Wonderlic test), arm and athleticism (he had played two years of minor league baseball) that made scouts drool.

Smith flew up draft boards and was selected No. 3 overall, one spot behind Donovan McNabb. Alas, a long holdout impaired his efforts to grasp Cincy’s playbook fully. It didn’t help that Smith spent far too much time partying in the Queen City. He started just 17 games over four seasons with the Bengals — throwing five TDs and 13 INTs — before they released him in 2002.

3. Tony Mandarich (1989)

Before he was “The Incredible Bust,” steroid-fueled Tony Mandarich of Michigan State was “The Incredible Bulk” — a player who Sports Illustrated proclaimed to be “the best offensive line prospect ever.” His workout numbers are still the stuff of legend: 39 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press and a mind-boggling 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Taken second overall in the 1989 draft by the Packers, Mandarich was done in Green Bay after three years spent mostly in the throes of painkiller and alcohol addiction. While he enjoyed a nice three-year comeback with the Colts (1996–1998), it’s not enough to prevent him from being one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Making this selection even more painful for Packer fans, a running named Barry Sanders was taken one pick later by the Detroit Lions.

2. Vernon Gholson (2008)

In retrospect, the glowing (and lengthy) praise in Gholston’s ’08 NFL draft profile just seems silly. But at the time, most scouts really thought he was going to turn into a “legendary pass rusher.”

After all, Gholston was a stud at Ohio State, registering 30.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks in three seasons with the Buckeyes. And he was even more of a stud at the combine, running a 4.58 40-yard dash (blazing for a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end), doing 37 reps on the 225-pound bench press and recording a 41-inch vertical leap.

Jets fans at Radio City Music Hall were overjoyed when their team supposedly got something right, taking Gholston sixth overall. They were decidedly less pleased after Gholston recorded zero sacks in three lackluster seasons with them. Gholston hasn’t played a down since.

1. JaMarcus Russell (2007)

It’s easy to forget now, but Russell was considered a freak of nature prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft.

NFL network analyst Mike Mayock called Russell’s pre-draft workout “the best pro day I’ve ever seen in my life.” Weighing in at 256 pounds and running the 40 in an impressive 4.8 seconds, the 6-foot-6 Russell showed off a cannon arm with which he could reportedly throw the ball 65 yards from one knee.

Of course, none of that mattered when Russell got to the league out-of-shape and looking completely lost in the pocket. In three seasons with the Raiders, Russell had more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18) before getting the boot. Russell is widely considered the co-biggest NFL draft bust ever alongside Ryan Leaf.

Now mounting a football comeback, don’t hold your breath for an NFL team to give Russell another chance.

What SEC East Players Do You Fear?

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As I did on the 23rd, I will go through all the SEC East teams and pick a player from every team. The premise is to pick a player that strikes fear into your heart. The player that your coordinators will loses sleep trying to come up with a scheme to slow them. Make no mistake that to beat these teams, you must slow these guys.

South Carolina Jadeaveon Clowney- The junior DE is a freak of nature. Whether it’s blowing up Michigan running backs (http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2013/1/1/3825442/jadeveon-clowney-dot-gif ) or just generally striking fear into offensive players, Clowney makes USC go. He terrorized offenses last year racking up 23.5 TFL and 13 sacks on his way to being the most celebrated defensive player in the SEC (Should have been the country but don’t get me started on the Teo fraud). I think Clowney has a legitimate chance at making a Heisman run from the DE position.

Georgia Aaron Murray- The senior QB raised some eyebrows when he decided to return for his senior year with many thinking he was NFL bound. Over his career he has thrown for 10,091 yards and 95 TD’s. Not only that, he’s done it in the best conference in America. Murray is battle tested and knows what it takes to get the job done. He finished just a few yards short of what would have ended up being a national championship when they fell to Bama in the SEC title game. Make that 2 Heisman contenders in the East.

Florida Loucheiz Purifoy- With the loss of Matt Elam, the Gators have a new playmaker to lead the secondary and Purifoy did it all last year. He was 4th on the team in tackles getting 51 from his CB position. The Jr also filled up the stat sheet with 5 PBU, 3 FF, and 2 blocked kicks. In short, Purifoy makes big plays again and again and I expect it to go to the next level this year. Look out for him getting 1rst team All-SEC looks and making it on Sports Center’s top plays.

Vanderbilt Brian Kimbrow- Some may call this a surprise pick but I don’t think you’ll be surprised by seasons end. Last year he was behind star Zack Stacey and still got 66 carries for 413 yards and 3 TD’s. For those counting, that’s a 6.26 average per carry. Vandy will have a new QB and I look for them to lean on the sophomore RB’s elite speed and playmaking ability, particularly early in the schedule. He only had 3 catches last year and I expect that to be much more utilized next year. All Kimbrow needs is a crease and he can take it in for 6. This is one of the guys I’ll be telling you “I told you so” after a few games.

Tennessee AJ Johnson- The junior LB was an absolute tackling machine last year getting 138 total stops and 8.5 TFL. With Butch Jones having to replace a ton of guys on offense it makes it easy to look defense and you can’t look past Johnson. He also registered 1 sack and 8 QB hurries. After another year of training and his teammates around him expecting to perform better, I expect even more from AJ. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him grab some All-SEC honors at seasons end.

Kentucky Demarco Robinson- This pick is based on a lot of potential and my expectations of what a Stoops offense will bring to the Wildcats. Robinson isn’t the biggest guy at 5’10 160 but he is an outstanding playmaker. Last year he was 2nd on the team with 28 catches with what could be described as a lethargic offense. Stoops will throw much more and utilize his speed guys and playmakers and I expect Robinson to be the main guy to benefit.

Missouri James Franklin- Last year was a down year for the rising senior QB. We saw a significant production decrease from the year before. On his career he has 4,533 yards through the air and 32 Td’s. I’m counting on a rebound year for Franklin. Old OC Daivd Yost is gone so look for new wrinkles and ways to use his talent more efficiently. Last year was a rough year for Missouri as a whole and not just Franklin in their 1rst in the SEC but I expect a much better year out of them led by the James Franklin of 2011 where he threw for 2,872 yards and 21 Td’s and was a dynamic playmaker.

If you missed the SEC West picks https://3rdand57.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/what-sec-west-players-do-you-fear/

Follow me on twitter @BeastManSteve

MSU Spring Wrap-Up

Now that the spring sessions are over and SBW 2013 is done its time for a summary. I’ll start with general thoughts about the offense and defense and move on to position by positions details. Lastly, I’ll take a stab at our depth chart for the fall. It’s just my best guesses so don’t hold me to it.

Offense- I’m cautiously optimistic here. A 5th year senior quarterback and returning the entire starting offensive line is usually a good recipe. A lot of inexperience at WR but the talent ceiling is higher than last year. TE is a big strength and should be exploited to our advantage next year. RB is loaded with able bodies and we should see a more balanced workload that benefits us. The biggest key is QB play. MSU’s offense will go as far as Tyler Russell takes it.

Defense- New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has instilled a new sense of excitement with players and fans. He promises to bring the mayhem and we saw LB and S’s practice blitzing more than in the past. New CB coach Deshae Townsend has been feverishly teaching a slew of inexperienced CB the ropes. New DL coach David Turner has a bunch of talent and is working hard to get it game ready. We saw much more team focused drills and less compartmentalization. Collins appears to want the whole defense to know everyone’s assignments. Hopefully this team teaching approach will translate to less miss assignments and better overall play.

Special Teams- I didn’t see a lot of consistency in the kicking game and that worried me. Devon Bell has all the leg he needs but misses perhaps a few too many. He’s only a rising sophomore and I still have plenty of faith in him gaining confidence and excelling.

QB- Tyler Russell was the only scholarship QB and protecting him was a must. He did work some under center and we saw a few new wrinkles. I didn’t expect Russell to be unseated but I did really want to watch the competition between TR and Dak Prescott. I really hoped to see Dak push him to the limit and we still may see that this fall.

RB- Ladarius Perkins established himself as the most complete back, no question. His starting job was never in jeopardy and he practiced very well before being held out for minor injuries. The competition between Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson was spirited. Both guys showed a lot of promise and provide MSU with plenty of options for the fall. Nick Griffin was held out because of an ACL injury and when fully recovered will add to this good problem.

WR- Robert Johnson and Jameon Lewis were consistently productive and I expect them to be our leaders next year. Jeremy Chappelle looked better by the day and Fred Brown was perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring. Michael Carr returned after a 1 year break and was brought along slowly but showed why he was such a highly regarded talent in high school. Joe Morrow has all the tools. Sometimes he makes unbelievable plays and other time he drops one that leaves you scratching your head. Brandon Holloway made plays all spring long and seems to have made it impossible for the coaches not to get him the ball, may it be at slot or RB.

TE- Malcolm Johnson showed all spring that he is a major weapon to use. Great hands, size, and use of his body make him an asset across he middle and in the redzone. Brandon Hill looks like another good receiving option. Rufus Warren is huge. He blocks better than the rest but runs surprisingly well and has decent hands. Gus Walley was a pleasant surprise as well after coming of a redshirt year were he rehabbed an ACL injury. Christian Holmes has really good hands and always seemed to make plays around the goal line. Artimas Samuel is huge and has great hands but expect a redshirt. Make no mistake, this is the deepest position on the team.

OL- We return our starting 5 and they looked more comfortable together. Gabe Jackson looks like the All-American candidate that he is. Dillion Day assumed a leadership role and really seems to have improved. Justin Malone has a really high ceiling and looked more comfortable than he did in the fall. Blaine Clausell has further developed at LT and Charles Siddoway looked better due in part to being healthy after being injured all season long. Damien Robinson showed he is our best tackle off the bench but not a starter. Justin Senior looks to be the tackle of the future. Dylan Holley cemented himself as the backup center. Ben Beckwith is the next option at guard after the starters. Archie Muniz looked decent at guard as did Devon Desper.

DE- Can’t say enough about how improved the pass rush should be with Denico Autry and Preston Smith. Both looked very good this spring. Right on their heels and receiving some 1rst team reps was Ryan Brown. At 6-6 260 he provides another legitimate SEC pass rushing option. Redshirt freshmen AJ Jefferson and Torrey Dale showed a lot of promise as well. Even without the arrival of Chris Jones, the may be the best shape MSU has been in at DE in a very long time.

DT- PJ Jones really turned it on and asserted himself as the leader. I’ve been really tough on Kaleb Eulls production at DE but it appears he is much better suited at DT. He looked much more effective in there and is reason for excitement. Curtis Virges had a solid spring as well. Nick James showed why he was a top recruit and really started playing to his talent. If that continues, he will get a ton of snaps. Quay Evans battled an ankle injury and was limited all spring but his physical conditioning made it easy to see the work he has put in. Redshirt Freshmen Nelson Adams and Jordan Washington showed that they will be solid contributors in the future. They just need a bit more development. 1 thing to keep in mind is that our 2 starters at DT were 5.1+ 40 guys last year. No matter the DT combination, we will see much more athleticism on the DL next year.

LB- Benardrick McKinney looks to have taken it up a notch coming off freshman All-American honors. Deonte Skinner has his spot nailed down as well. Matt Wells looked to gain the most from Collins change of scheme. He may have been the most underutilized guy on defense last year. He is a blitzing machine and I expect a big spike in his production. Chris Hughes probably won’t start but has made it impossible on the coaches to not play him. He plays angry and always meets the ball violently. The future is in great hands as well with Richie Brown and Beni Brown. They have speed, athleticism, and football IQ that can’t be taught and its indicative of their 4 star ratings they received in high school. Zach Jackson is somewhat forgotten but shouldn’t be because he had his moments as well. This position is in great shape for the future.

CB- There is a 4 way battle for 2 spots that is about as close as it can be. Justin Cox, Will Redmond, Cedric Jiles, and Jamerson Love are all battling intensely. Cox has the most high end talent possessing the looks of an NFL CB. I trust that whoever gets these spots have earned it and I really don’t mind who. It’s also easy to forget that Taveze Calhoun was out this spring due to injury and played well as a backup last year. In somewhat of a surprise, Kivon Coman got CB reps this spring. Ultimately I think he ends up at safety but he’s a good looking athlete in he secondary. A lot of experience was lost but a lot of talent returns.

S- Nickoe Whitley looks like he has returned to 2011 form. Very excited that MSU gets its ruthless enforcer back. Jay Hughes had a really good spring probably grabbing the other spot. He’s always around the ball making plays. Dee Arrington got some 1rst team reps and certainly looks the part. I expect him to play plenty of snaps. Deonte Evans was the next guy that really jumped out at you. Kendrick Market has noticeably developed as well and had a good spring. Quadry Antoine showed some promise as well but safety game reps are crowded this year. This is a very deep spot that at the least should supply plenty of guys to coverage units because they can all run and hit.

QB- Tyler Russell
2nd- Dak Prescott

RB- Ladarius Perkins
2nd-Derrick Milton/Josh Robinson

WR- Robert Johnson
2nd-Fred Brown

WR- Jeremy Chappelle
2nd- Michael Carr/Joe Morrow

Slot- Jameon Lewis
2nd- Brandon Holloway

TE- Malcolm Johnson
2nd- Brandon Hill

LT- Blaine Clausell
2nd- Damien Robinson

G- Gabe Jackson
2nd- Ben Beckwith

C- Dillion Day
2nd- Dylan Holley

G- Justin Malone
2nd- Ben Beckwith

RT- Charles Siddoway
2nd- Damien Robinson

DE- Denico Autry
2nd- Ryan Brown

DT- PJ Jones
2nd- Curtis Virges

DT- Kaleb Eulls
2nd- Nick James/Quay Evans

DE- Preston Smith
2nd- Ryan Brown

LB- Deonte Skinner
2nd- Chris Hughes

LB- Benardrick McKinney
2nd- Ferlando Bohanna

LB- Matt Wells
2nd- Beni Brown

CB- Justin Cox
2nd- Jamerson Love

CB- Will Redmond
2nd- Cedric Jiles

FS- Nickoe Whitley
2nd- Deonte Evans

SS- Jay Hughes
2nd- Dee Arrington

Follow me on twitter @BeastManSteve

MSU Spring Game Notes and MVP’s

First my game notes, followed by spring game mvp’s.

-Jameon Lewis w/a 10 yard grab

-long run by Josh Robinson for about 40 yards

-10 yard td for Brandon Hill

-12 yard completion to Chappelle

– -1 TFL by Jay Hughes

-30 yrd rec by Malcolm Johnson

-another good short gain tackle by Jay Hughes

-Nice TFL by Matt Wells

-nice 20 reception by Gus Walley

-nice pbu by Kendrick Market on big hit

-big hit by Deonte Evans on a Jameon Lewis reception

-sack by Smith/Autry pressure

-11 rec for Derrick Milton on screen pass

-12 yard run by Derrick Milton

-6 yard run for Josh Robinson

-20 yard catch for Joe Morrow

-nice tackle by Cox. Came up quick on a Josh Robinson reception

-7 yard catch by Jeremy Chappelle on screen

-nice pick by Jay Hughes but he fumbled. Recovered by Quadry Antione

-20 yard swing pass to Josh Robinson

-nick james just made a tackle on a running play 2 yards from the sideline

-Jameon Lewis for a 7 yard reception

-nice contested TD catch by Rojo but 1 step out of bounds

-11 yard slant reception by Rojo

-nice TD grab in the corner of the end zone Brandon Hill. Contested ball

-another nice tackle in space by Jay Hughes on a Malcolm Johnson reception

-really nice grab over the middle by Holmes for 15 yards

-really nice hard cut back by Milton for a 6 yard TD run

-11 yard run by Multon

-long TD rec by Chappelle. Broke a few tackles and great block by Malcolm Johnson to spring him

-Houdini TD catch by Lewis where he lost his helmet on a contested catch.

-Milton running for 7 yards has been the norm

-Big hit by Jay Hughes in Milton

-15 yard scamper by Brandon Holloway

-nice 11 yard grab by Fred Brown. Had been quiet before that.

– 2 straight really nice runs by Brandon Holloway

-short td run for Derrick Milton

– A long gainer for Brandon Holloway. About 50 yards. I’m shocked he was caught.

-Nice TD run by Holloway after eluding a tackler

-Holloway gets another TD. He’s finishing strong

All in all a good scrimmage for MSU. The main thing you want to see is good competition. Neither side of the ball dominated the other and we saw good competition out of the 2nd teamers as well. The fact of only 1 healthy scholarship QB did hurt but I thought the walk-ons did a good enough job for the guys to compete. Beautiful weather led to a great crowd on the East Side of DWS and 1 of everyone’s main thoughts was the progress of the stadiums expansion. It will be awesome when it gets done.

Offensive MVP- Brandon Holloway /Derrick Milton – The Maroon team running back duo ran for a combined 227 yards and 4 TD’s while running behind the 2nd team O Line. Milton ran hard the whole scrimmage long and Holloway showed his home run threat ability.

Defensive MVP- Jay Hughes- I couldn’t find total tackle numbers for Hughes but I don’t need him. He was the best player on D the whole scrimmage. He stayed around the ball and made 1 play after another. He showed big hits, open field tackles, pbu’s, and had an interception. Great way to wrap up the spring for Hughes.

Final Spring wrap up, depth chart guess, and thoughts coming tomorrow.

What SEC West Players Do You Fear?

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The SEC is loaded with playmakers and looking at your weekly opponent usually brings at least 1 individual to mind that worries you. The head coach always gets hit with the question about how to stop “player x”. As fans we often worry that this guy will torch us or we have hope that if we shut them down we can win the game. Even the really elite teams usually have a player that drives them. Lets look at the SEC West and see who my picks are that should keep coordinators up at night.

Alabama TJ Yeldon- As a freshman he ran for 1108 yards and 12 TD’s averaging 6.33 yards a carry. That’s while splitting time with Eddie Lacy who is now departed for the NFL. Yeldon is a natural with the ball in his hands and could be a Heisman darkhorse candidate especially considering recent RB’s from Bama. You can ask LSU fans about how he can change the course of the game.

LSU Jeremy Hill- Another star freshmen RB who was able to rack up 755 yards and 12 TD’s on the ground despite 4 LSU backs getting at least 70 carries. He is so good, 2 of the upperclassmen from last year opted for the NFL draft rather than backing up the young star. Hill is a primed to run through and over SEC defenses again.

Texas A&M Johnny Manziel- The Heisman Trophy winner torched defenses for 3,706 passing yards and threw for 26 TD’s in his coming out party. It has been a long offseason of nightmares for defensive coordinators in the SEC. This year will be an interesting challenge for Manziel as every team will throw the kitchen sink at him to try and slow him down.

Ole Miss Donte Montcrief- Last year Donte was a hungry fellow and was fed the ball to the tune of 66 receptions, 979 yards, and 10 TD’s. Rebel fans expect more production from the WR attributed to another year in Coach Freeze’s system and a better comfort zone. With a viral music video in his honor, I’m sure Donte and The King Kobraz are ready for a remix.

Arkansas Chris Smith- My first defense pick terrorized QB’s from his DE position for 9.5 sacks and 12 QB hurries. He also had 52 total tackles. Smith flirted with the NFL but decided to return to Arkansas for his senior year. He might be the best DE in the SEC not named Clowney.

Auburn Tre Mason- Gus Malzahn will bring the high powered offense but is lacking a proven QB and lost a lot of top end talent on defense. I expect the Tigers to lean heavily on the rising junior RB. Last year he amassed 1002 yards on the ground and 8 TD’s. He only had 7 receptions but I also expect that to go up in Malzahn’s system. He will be the guy you game-plan against for Auburn.

Mississippi State Tyler Russell- Last year was a good one for Russell where he rewrote MSU passing records throwing for 2897 yards and 24 TD’s. The 5th year senior has all the goods to guide MSU. This year he will be breaking in new WR’s so expect opposing defenses to scheme directly at Tyler. Although the Aaron Murray’s and AJ McCarron’s get more media hype, I fully expect Tyler to make his case as 1 of the best senior signal callers in the SEC.

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