Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

July 16, 2014

Star power lacking at SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel insists there are still plenty of superstars in the Southeastern Conference.

The only problem is nobody’s heard of them yet.

One year after high-profile players such as Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel brought a rockstar feel to SEC Media Days, the buzz is largely missing this week at the league’s preseason showcase.

Part of the reason is a lack of experienced quarterbacks. McCarron, Manziel, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are gone after impressive careers.

There are still some accomplished players in the league — especially at running back. Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley are among the nation’s best.

Driskel said it won’t be long before others become nationally known as well.

“Some of the guys haven’t put up the numbers or the championships that guys in the past have,” Driskel said. “But there’s always going to be talent in the SEC. It’s just a matter of who makes the plays this year. You get guys who end up being household names who weren’t at the beginning of the year.”

But the shadow of Manziel, McCarron and Co. still looms, even months after they played their last college game.

When Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin took the podium on Tuesday afternoon, two of the first three questions he received were about Johnny Football.

After the second one, an amused Sumlin said “Is this the SEC Media Days?”

The Aggies are one of several teams moving on without their stars. They had three players selected in the first round of the NFL draft — which left gaping holes at quarterback, offensive tackle and receiver — but Sumlin said that’s just part of the challenge of the college game.

“In college football, every two, three years you’re going to have turnover and you have to have a plan for that,” Sumlin said. “Whether it’s quarterback, whether it’s a great defender, whatever it is. To me that’s what’s exciting about college football.”

That might be true eventually, but right now it means there are a lot of unknowns.

Arguably the league’s most recognizable quarterback — Auburn’s Nick Marshall — didn’t come to media days after being cited for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Mississippi’s Bo Wallace is the only returning quarterback in the league who threw for at least 2,000 yards last season.

Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Driskel are among the most intriguing breakout candidates at quarterback.

Prescott threw for 1,940 yards last season and rushed for 829 more as a sophomore despite missing two games because of injuries. Driskel had a promising season in 2012 before missing much of last year with a leg injury.

Prescott said the SEC’s loss of so many star players won’t hurt the quality of the league.

“Those guys were unknown at some point, too, so that’s just part of the game,” Prescott said. “It leaves the door open for guys to step up and get their name out there.”

The strength of the league might be at running back, where veterans like Yeldon, Gurley and South Carolina’s Mike Davis return for another season. All three averaged around 100 yards per game during their sophomore seasons and scored at least 10 touchdowns.

But there’s a good chance some of the league’s best players — along with the league’s best teams — are relative unknowns right now.

“Nobody picked Missouri and Auburn to win the divisions last year,” South Carolina Steve Spurrier said. “That’s why we play the game. We don’t know who’s going to win ‘em.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Former Blazer Kugbila out for season

    Now, after missing the 2013 season with a knee injury, this signals another hardship for the promising guard.

    July 25, 2014

  • LHS baseball signing Two Lowndes grads sign scholarships

    Lowndes graduates Henry Hoff and Nick Higginbotham decided to take the next step in their respective baseball careers together on Thursday as both signed a letter-of-intent with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog
More