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Tag:LSU
Posted on: January 17, 2012 4:22 pm
 

SEC official: 'We're not going to nine' games

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Slive and the SEC have stated (on multiple occasions) that the league's 2012 schedule is a stopgap solution before more permanent answers to the questions of cross-divisional rivalries and rotations are established in 2013. But according to conference official Larry Templeton, there's one thing that won't change in the schedule between 2012 and 2013: the number of games in it.

Templeton, chair of the SEC's transition team, confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Missouri Monday that the conference will not be considering moving to a nine-game schedule in 2013 ... or ever.

"We're not going to nine," he said. "The competitiveness in our league week-to-week is just too strong. It would be an easier scheduling format, but I don't think it would be fair to our players or our coaches."

In November, South Carolina president Harris Pastides said the league planned to move to a nine-game slate, but that claim was quickly shot down by the league and Slive himself, who said in December he didn't "sense any interest" from member schools in adding an additional league game.

Assuming the SEC sticks with Templeton's assertion that a nine-game schedule is off the table, the league faces a difficult catch-22. With six of the eight games already guaranteed to be divisional games (thanks to the 14-team expansion and seven teams in each division), only two will be devoted to cross-divisional contests. Make one of those a permanent cross-divisional rival and rotate through home-and-home series in the last remaining slot, and non-rival teams in opposite divisions will play each other just twice in a span of 12 years. Give both slots over to rotations, and suddenly some the bedrock rivalries of the league -- Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee, to name the two most prominent -- are no longer annual affairs.

"That is a huge question that has not been answered ... It will be an interesting debate," Templeton said. "I think anything else is on the table for discussion. We're going to have to make some tough decisions. Are we going to stay with the permanent opponent, and then how are we going to rotate that one other game?"

One possible solution would be for some teams (like the Tide and Vols, or Tigers and Bulldogs) to keep their permanent cross-division rival while the others have both their East-West games rotate. But that could prove unnecessarily complicated, and would still force those teams with permanent rivals to see opposite-division teams exceedingly rarely. 

Of course, there are some positives to sticking with an eight-game schedule; teams with annual nonconference rivalries like South Carolina (with Clemson) or Florida (with Florida State) will find it much easier to maintain those with four non-league games available, and the capacity to schedule an extra "paycheck game" will greatly aid the league's lower-rung teams in reaching bowl eligibility. 

But already, many SEC fans would say the conference's traditional powers -- say, Alabama and Florida, or LSU and Georgia, or old rivals Auburn and Tennessee -- don't play often enough. The most likely outcome of an eight-game schedule is that games between those teams would become even more scarce. Expansion may boost the league's bottom line if its forthcoming post-14-team TV negotiations prove fruitful, but it will still come at a price, and games like this past two season's showdowns between the Tide and Gators look like they'll going to be that price.

HT: Get the Picture. 

For more from the Eye on CFB on the SEC, click here.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 7:57 pm
 

LSU leading WR Rueben Randle entering draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU may have kept one receiver in the fold. But their best one is off to the NFL.

Junior Rueben Randle -- the Tigers' leading receiver in their undefeated (and ultimately unfulfilled) march to the BCS National Championship game -- announced Friday that he would be forgoing his final season in Baton Rouge to enter this April's NFL draft. Randle's father Emmett Randle confirmed that his son had filed the necessary paperwork to join the draft as a third-year player.

“There was no one particular thing,” Emmett Randle told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “It was a combination of things that told him he needed to move on.”

One of those things is likely that Randle could prove to be a first-day draft pick; Emmett said that the NFL had graded Rueben as a potential second-round pick, and with prototypical pro size at 6'4", 208 pounds, Randle's stock shouldn't be harmed by pre-draft workouts.

It's that same rare combination of size and athleticism that made Randle one of the nation's most elite, highly sought-after recruits in the class of 2009, when he was regularly tabbed as one of the top five prospects at any position. The sky-high expectations meant that his production as a freshman and sophomore -- 44 total receptions, just over 700 yards -- was viewed as something of a disappointment.

Randle made good on his potential and then some in 2011, however, leading the Tigers with 53 receptions, 917 yards, and 8 touchdowns. His 17.3 average yards per-reception led the SEC among receivers with at least 50 catches. (We here at Eye on CFB named him first-team All-SEC for the impact his downfield receiving threat made on the LSU offense.)

So the move makes sense from Randle's perspective. But it won't make it any easier for the Tigers to take, not with Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers having already elected to enter the draft as well. Fellow receiver Russell Shepard will be staying in Baton Rouge, but the national title game (as well as the Tigers' first meeting with the Tide) showed how badly the LSU offense needs to develop its deep passing game against truly elite defenses--and now the Tigers will lose their only bona fide downfield threat. The hole left by Randle's decision won't be an easy one for Les Miles to fill.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Tyler Wilson returning to Arkansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The SEC West is going to be rather tough again in 2012. Arkansas, which found out earlier this week that running back Knile Davis would be returning from a knee injury next year, got some more good news on Friday. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will be returning to Arkansas for his senior season.

“I have decided to stay at Arkansas for the 2012 season because I am extremely excited for what this team has the opportunity to accomplish and to finish earning my degree," said Wilson in a release. "After the feedback I received, the decision was difficult to make. Ultimately, the chance to complete my academics and play one more season as a Razorback were  compelling reasons for me to remain in Fayetteville. This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish and we want to build on that. The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships. Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit greatly from another year of working with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Coach Paul Petrino. I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”

Wilson took over as Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2011 after Ryan Mallett left for the NFL, and had great season for the Razorbacks. He finished the year throwing for 3,638 yards and 24 touchdowns for an offense that averaged 36.8 points per game.

Considering that Wilson will have a full year of experience under his belt heading into 2012 and the return of Knile Davis, an Arkansas team that finished the season 11-2 -- with those losses coming to Alabama and LSU -- and ranked fifth in the country will be a darkhorse candidate to be the SEC's newest national champion. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 4:05 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 5:57 pm
 

LSU losing Claiborne and Brockers

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Though LSU lost the BCS National Championship Game to Alabama, there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic in Baton Rouge because the Tigers are a young team that will be returning most of its starters on both sides of the ball. However, Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers will not be among those returning.

The school announced on Thursday that both players were leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.

“There are different times for guys to leave our program and the things that both of these men have done is have consistent growth as people and as student-athletes academically,” said Les Miles in the school's release. “Both men have been very humble in their approach to learning football. It started at a level much less to the level they are at now. They improved and improved and became tremendously competitive. They have put themselves in a position to enter the NFL Draft early at an advantaged position.

“Mo is expected to be in the top 10 players if not in the top five players selected in the NFL Draft. The opportunity to improve his draft position really doesn’t exist. I think Michael Brockers has the potential to improve his overall draft position but is making in my opinion a decision that allows him to fulfill an obligation to his family. Both men have done everything we have asked them to do, and they have both represented this program in an exemplary way both on and off the field. We are going to miss them. They are quality men. I have been fortunate to call up a huddle with these guys in it. I can tell you that their teammates will miss them as well.”

Claiborne is widely considered to be the best cover corner in all of college football, even if Tyrann Mathieu received more national attention for his playmaking ability. Which is why Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award this season, given to the best defensive back in college football. Claiborne finished the 2011 season with 51 tackles and had 6 interceptions and 6 passes broken up.

He's the top-ranked cornerback in CBSSports.com's position rankings, and is projected to go as early as third overall and no later than sixth in our mock drafts

Brockers is a redshirt sophomore who had 54 tackles, 10 for a loss and 2 sacks from the defensive tackle position. He also blocked a field goal and had an interception.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Alabama losing talented duo to the NFL

Posted by Tom Fornelli

if Alabama plans on defending its national championship, it'll have to do so without two of its most talented players from the 2011 team. It was announced at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that running back Trent Richardson and defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick were all leaving school to enter the NFL Draft.

While both players are great, Trent Richardson is the biggest household name, as he went to New York this season as a Heisman finalist. Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Tide in 2011 and finishes his Alabama career with 3,860 total yards and 42 total touchdowns. Richardson is ranked as the top running back in the 2012 draft class by CBSSports.com, and is projected to go in the first five picks of the draft.

As for cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, he's not exactly a slouch. Kirkpatrick had 29 tackles and broke up 9 passes this season while also forcing 2 fumbles. He did not have an interception in 2011, but that's because opposing quarterbacks tested him as little as possible. CBSSports.com has Kirkpatrick ranked as the second best cornerback prospect in the 2012 draft, behind only LSU's Morris Claiborne. He's expected to go within the first ten picks of our mock draft.

So if it wasn't already clear, this is a lot of talent leaving Tuscaloosa early, and it doesn't even include the seniors like Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron that are graduating. Of course, this is where we point out that Alabama had four players drafted in the first round of last year's NFL Draft, and that loss of talent didn't stop the Crimson Tide from winning a national title this season.

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:01 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

LSU's Russell Shepard entering NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In a rather surprising decision, LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard announced that he was leaving school to enter the NFL Draft on his Twitter account Wednesday. Shepard said that it was "a hard decision to make" but that he had "to do what's best for me and my family." Whether leaving school to go pro is doing what's best for Shepard and his family remains to be seen.

He wasn't expected to leave school, and as a result, he's not even listed on CBSSports.com's top draft prospects at wide receiver. Even if he had been listed, there's no guarantee that Shepard would be drafted.

After coming to LSU as a quarterback, Shepard was moved to wide receiver, and while he had a fair share of rushing attempts in his three years with the Tigers, Shepard only caught 52 passes for 478 yards and 5 touchdowns. Only 14 of those receptions, and 4 touchdowns, came this season. This is due to the suspensions that Shepard had to deal with in 2011.

There was a housing issue that he was cleared of, but he was suspended for three games due to an NCAA violation after talking to the NCAA about his relationship with Willie Lyles. It was because of this suspension that he was passed on the depth chart by freshman Odell Beckham Jr. who joined Reuben Randle as LSU's starting receivers.

And that's likely the reason why Shepard has decided to leave the school. For further evidence, you don't have to look past his Twitter account once again. Shortly after LSU's 21-0 loss to Alabama on Monday night, this tweet appeared in Shepard's timeline.



The next tweets on his timeline were the ones that explained he was leaving school, so I hardly think it's a coincidence.

Shepard has until January 18th to withdraw his name from the NFL Draft should he choose to do so. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 4:17 pm
 

2011-12 All-Bowl Team

J. Darin Darst

Another season gone and another SEC team has been declared BCS Champions.

And after 35 bowl games, it's time to look back and remember some of the great individual performances of the past month. Here are the best in this year's All-Bowl Team:

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia (Orange): The junior had quite a homecoming in South Florida, setting three Orange Bowl records. He threw for a record 407 yards and accounted for seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in the Mountaineers' 70-33 thrashing of Clemson. Smith finished 32 of 43 passing, while also rushing for 26 yards on five carries.Geno Smith

RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Alamo): All the attention was on Robert Griffin, but the senior had quite a game. He rushed for 200 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns -- all in the second half. He scored on runs of 89, 1, 1, 4 and 43 yards.

RB: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (Fiesta): Another running back in the shadow of his quarterback, Taylor had a strong performance in the loss to Oklahoma State. In his best game of the season, the junior ran for 177 yards on 35 carries, while scoring two touchdowns (1 and 4 yards).

WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Orange): Not to be overshadowed by teammate Smith, the junior receiver had his own amazing Orange Bowl. He set a bowl record with 280 all-purpose yards, including 117 receiving yards on 11 catches. He also recorded four receiving touchdowns. Austin, who was a member of the CBSSports.com All-America Team as an all-purpose player, also finished with a 23.4-yard average on five kickoff returns.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Fiesta): The junior playing in his final college game, went out with a bang. He had eight catches for 186 yards (23.3-yard average) and scored three touchdowns. Blackmon was a huge part of the Cowboys offense, scoring on catches of 43, 67 and 17 yards.

WR: Patrick Edwards, Houston (TicketCity): In an era of huge offenses, it's only fitting to have three receivers on this year's All-Bowl Team. The senior had one of his best games of the season, catching 10 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns in the victory over Penn State. Edwards scored on passes of 40 and 75 yards.

TE: Ladarius Green, La.-Lafayette (New Orleans): The senior has had quite a career at Louisiana-Lafayette, but before bolting off to the NFL, Green helped the Rajin Cajuns win their first bowl game. He had five catches for 121 yards and scored on a 20-yard reception.

Offensive Line: Nate Potter (LT), Joe Kellogg (LG), Cory Yriarte (C), Chuck Hayes (RG), Charles Leno (RT), Boise State (Maaco): The offensive line not only blocked for Doug Martin, who ended up with 151 yards rushing, but didn't allow a sack in Kellen Moore's final game of his college career. Potter, Yriarte and Hayes go out with Moore as one of the most successful senior classes in history.

DL: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Fight Hunger): In his final college game, the junior recorded five tackles, including three for a loss and 1.5 sacks against UCLA. The Bruins were held to 18 yards rushing and Mercilus was a big reason for that.

DL: Cordarro Law, Southern Miss (Hawaii): The defensive MVP of the Hawaii Bowl led the Golden Eagles with seven tackles, 4.5 for a loss and recorded two sacks.

Courtney UpshawDL: Mike Martin, Michigan (Sugar): The senior had a strong performance, recording 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks in Michigan's victory over Virginia Tech. The defensive end helped limit the Hokies to just one touchdown.

DL: William Gholston, Michigan State (Outback): The sophomore had a great game against Georgia, recording seven solo tackles, including five for a loss, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

LB: Kiko Alonso, Oregon (Rose): The junior recorded five tackles, including 2.5 for a loss with 1.5 sacks. But his biggest play of the game was when he intercepted Russell Wilson late in the third quarter, which set up Oregon's go-ahead touchdown. Alonso earned defensive MVP honors from the Rose Bowl for his outstanding play.

LB: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (BCS championship): The defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game, Upshaw was the leader for the Crimson Tide, allowing LSU to cross the 50-yard line only once. Upshaw finished with seven tackles, including six solo with one sack.

LB: Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (Pinstripe): He led the Scarlet Knights defense with 13 tackles, including seven solo, to go along with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in the victory over Iowa State.

DB: David Amerson, N.C. State (Belk): The sophomore added two more interceptions to his total, giving him an ACC record 13 for the season. Amerson also returned one for a 65-yard touchdown and recorded five tackles in the victory over Louisville.

DB: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt (Liberty): One of the best defensive backs in the SEC went out in style, recorded eight tackles with two interceptions while being named defensive MVP for the game.

DB: Dexter McCoil, Tulsa (Armed Forces): The junior had one of his best career games, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions against BYU. McCoil actually intercepted a third pass from quarterback Riley Nelson, but it was nullified after a Tulsa penalty.

DB: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (BCS championship): The leader of the Alabama secondary recorded four tackles, including two for a loss, while shutting down LSU's Rueben Randle in the BCS championship game.

Eric PageP: Paul Hershey, Ohio (Idaho Potato): The senior had six punts for 300 yards (50.0-yard average), including three inside the 20 (two inside the 10). With 4:23 remaining and Ohio down by a touchdown, Hershey nailed a 49-yarder down to the Utah State 7. That punt allowed Ohio to play the field position game, getting the ball back at their own 39 and scoring the game-winning score with seven seconds remaining.

K: Jeremy Shelley, Alabama (BCS championship): Shelley had quite a redemption game against LSU the second time around. The junior hit five field goals -- 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards in the championship game to help Alabama build a 15-0 lead.

KR: Eric Page, Toledo (Military): One of the best kick return man in the nation, Page returned four kick returns for 153 yards (38.25 avg), including a 87-yard touchdown in the victory over Air Force.

PR: Joe Adams, Arkansas (Cotton): Adams did it again, returning his fourth punt this season for a touchdown, breaking a 51-yarder in the victory over Kansas State.

All-Purpose: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (Rose): The freshman had quite a game against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He rushed for 155 yards on two carries, scoring both times. One of those runs was a 91-yard burst. Thomas also had 125 yards on four kickoff returns, to go along with 34 yards receiving on four catches.







Posted on: January 11, 2012 1:08 am
Edited on: January 11, 2012 1:10 am
 

SEC Recruiting Reset

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the SEC 
Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the SEC and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.

TOP THREE CLASSES

1. Alabama. The new national champions continue to roll on the recruiting trail with what's currently nation's No. 1 class. The Tide already have five commitments from the Maxpreps Top 100 and 26 overall, nearly every one a blue-chipper. In particular, don't expect the passing game lockdown on display vs. LSU to change anytime soon; the highest-ranked three of those top 100 recruits are all defensive backs, and athlete Cyrus Jones (the No. 88 overall prospect) could play in the secondary as well. Sweetest of all is that much of the Tide's success has come at the expense of their SEC West rivals--the Tide just stole top safety (and No. 12 player overall) Landon Collins out of Louisiana from LSU, and flipping powerhouse running back T.J. Yeldon in mid-december was a huge blow to Auburn.

2. Florida. The bumpy transition from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp meant that the Gators' 2011 class wasn't up to the program's usual standards, but that's not going to be an issue in 2012. Five of the Gators' 18 commitments are top 100 prospects, led by 6'6" five-star offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, No. 14 overall. Though (as always) the Gators are getting a huge boost from their home state -- as with Seffner (Fla.) five-star running back Matt Jones -- Muschamp hasn't hesitated to take the Gators national again, landing Humphries from Charlotte, linebacker Antonio Morrison (No. 76 overall) from Illinois, and tight end Colin Thompson from Pennsylvania.

3. LSU. As long as Les Miles is on the Bayou and winning games, there's going to be too much talent in Louisiana for the Tigers to not finish with one of the nation's best recruiting classes, and that's true again this year; 14 of the Tigers' 21 commitments are from their home state, with six more hailing from Texas, Georgia, or Florida. What is a surprise is that the single commitment from outside SEC country just so happens to be the headliner: top-ranked quarterback and No. 2 overall recruit Gunner Kiel, who'll be expected to solve the passing woes on display in the Superdome by no later than 2013.

TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE

1. Stefon Diggs -- Many of the top local prospects across the Southeast have already made their decisions -- or have said so publicly, anyway -- but that doesn't mean SEC schools aren't still battling away over available prospects in other parts of the country. One of those is Olney, Md. wideout Stefon Diggs, a total-package burner who ranks as the cuntry's No. 18 overall prospect. Though Diggs has been highly noncommital about his recruitment and has discussed possibly waiting past Signing Day to sign, Auburn received one of his early visits and Florida has long been considered one of Diggs' favorites. The Tigers and Gators will have to fight off a long list of national suitors for Diggs' signature, however.

2. Josh Clemons -- This 6'5" safety/wide receiver prospect (and the nation's No. 54 overall recruit) hails from Valdosta, Ga., only minutes from the Florida-Georgia border. So it's no surprise the two schools believed to be battling it out over Clemons are, you guessed it, Georgia and Florida. The Gators may have a slight edge, but in a race still far too close to call, expect Clemons to take his decision down to the wire.

WORK TO DO

1. Ole Miss. No one will blame Hugh Freeze if the Rebels don't boast a top-25 class after their miserable 2-10 season and coaching overhaul, and early signs -- like the commitment of highly prized in-state defensive end Channing Ward -- are good. But he still needs to find a way to get his first class's numbers up; the Rebels are currently sitting on an SEC-low 12 commitments.

2. Auburn. The Tigers currently check in at No. 16 in the Maxpreps rankings and have four top-100 recruits, so it's not as if there's alarm sirens going off for Gene Chizik or anything. But with just 15 commitments as of Tuesday, Auburn is banking on a big finish with lots of big names choosing the orange-and-blue. If those names go elsewhere, Chizik could be left with the league's eighth- or ninth-best class.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com