NCAA Football News

SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Leonard Fournette, Alabama's LBs and More

No Pressure, Kid

The hype machine around LSU true freshman running back Leonard Fournette just keeps spinning.

After being compared to NBA legend Michael Jordan by head coach Les Miles and referred to as potentially one of the "best ever" by fellow running back Terrence Magee at media days last month, Miles doubled down while speaking at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club this week.

"Leonard Fournette is either the fastest or the second fastest guy on our team at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds," Miles said, according to Trey Labat of Nola.com. "He's going to get two A's in his summer classes and he's proved to be a quality young man."

Before LSU takes the field against Wisconsin, Fournette better have already run for a mile and a half, otherwise he's going to be viewed as a bust.

Let's be real for a second—Fournette may be "the next Adrian Peterson," but he's not going to be the next AD right away. With Magee and senior Kenny Hilliard in the backfield, a new quarterback, new wide receivers and a veteran offensive line, LSU needs all of its running backs to hit the ground running—especially early in the season.

On top of that, the Tigers have to do all they can to make their quarterback comfortable, whether it's sophomore Anthony Jennings or true freshman Brandon Harris. Blitz pickups are often the last piece of the puzzle for young running backs, so expect Magee and Hilliard to be featured early as Fournette eases his way into superstardom.

 

Not Rebuilding, Reloading

It's not easy replacing a legend, but that's exactly what either Reggie Ragland or Reuben Foster will be doing at Alabama.

With C.J. Mosley gone, Alabama is left looking for a replacement at "Will" linebacker alongside Trey DePriest. Andrew Gribble of AL.com surmised that junior Reggie Ragland will get the nod, while his colleague Michael Casagrande backed sophomore (and former recruiting lightning rod) Reuben Foster as the long-term solution.

What does this mean for head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart?

It means they have a "rich man's problem."

Choosing between Ragland and Foster is like choosing between a filet mignon and a bone-in ribeye at a fine steakhouse. You're not going to go wrong either way.

I'll throw my support toward the Ragland campaign. It's important for Alabama's middle linebackers to get the rest of the defense on the same page, so by coupling a senior DePriest with another veteran in Ragland, Alabama's defense will be in good hands.

 

Frustrating Injuries

Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has all the potential in the world and is being counted on to be a major contributor to this year's Georgia Bulldogs.

He just has to find his way to the field.

The 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team member tore his ACL celebrating a touchdown in the season opener versus Clemson last year and then missed spring practice with another leg injury. As fall camp starts, Mitchell is looking at more missed time.

According to Seth Emerson of the Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, Mitchell will miss the start of fall camp in Athens due to another knee injury. The extent of that injury isn't known at this time, but the mounting injuries have to be getting frustrating for Mitchell, head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald reported the specifics of the injury.

UGA: WR Malcolm Mitchell underwent an arthroscopic procedure to address cartilage injury on right knee this week. No timetable for return.

— Marc Weiszer (@marcweiszer) August 1, 2014

Georgia has weapons outside to compensate for Mitchell if he has to miss some time. Chris Conley is a bona fide star, Michael Bennett is a veteran who can be either a deep threat or a weapon over the middle and Justin Scott-Wesley—who also is coming back from an ACL injury—is a burner who can put pressure on the back end of a defense.

Add Mitchell and a punishing running game to that mix, and new starting quarterback Hutson Mason will be just fine.

 

Home Isn't Where The Heart Is

Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones might be the most underrated player in the SEC. 

Note the position: Defensive tackle.

Only don't tell Jones that because he sees himself more as a defensive end. 

"I tell them all the time, I'm not a D-tackle. That's just the position I'm playing right now," Jones told Michael Bonner of the The Clarion-Ledger. "I'm a defensive end at heart."

He says it with a smile, which suggests that the 6'5", 308-pound sophomore knows he'll be inside more than outside. As Bob Carskadon of HailState.com notes, he will do both.

@BarrettSallee and no matter what he's listed as, he'll get plenty of snaps at both. (Though yes, much more at DT.)

— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) July 30, 2014

Jones' heart may be outside, but in a few years, he's going to be a highly paid NFL defensive tackle. In this case, he should follow his mind, not his heart.

 

Aggie Swag

Who could forget this gem from Texas A&M when it entered the SEC?

Texas A&M's new locker room has "Aggie Swag" by the truckloads.

Designated LED screens over every player's locker? Yep. Television screens located within the mirror in front of each sink? Check. In-house barber shop? It's got that too. 

Texas A&M's locker room looks more like a five-star, all-inclusive resort than it does a football locker room.

Well done, Aggies.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.


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Malcolm Mitchell Injury: Updates on Georgia WR's Knee and Return

Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is dealing with another setback in his recovery from an ACL injury. No timetable for his return has been set following arthroscopic surgery.

Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Mitchell was running routes to get prepared for the Bulldogs' preseason camp when he suffered the latest injury. The school provided few details about his outlook after surgery:

UGA on Friday confirmed that Georgia's star wide receiver will miss at least "the first part" of Georgia's preseason practices after suffering the injury while running pass routes with teammates this week. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to repair cartilage damage. A full recovery is anticipated, but his availability for the Bulldogs' season opener against Clemson will have to be determined later.

Mitchell was originally hurt in last season's opener against the same Tigers squad Georgia is slated to face to start this season. He missed the rest of the campaign, but was expected back at full strength in time for the Clemson rematch.

It hasn't been a smooth process, however.

In March, Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports noted Mitchell was forced to miss the latter stages of spring practice after suffering an injury involving his left leg. The report stated he was expected to recover in time for fall practice.

Mitchell seemed on pace to reach that expectation and now he's forced to take another step back. It's an unfortunate string of issues for a wideout that showed so much potential over his first two seasons.

The junior caught 85 passes for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns over that span. He emerged as a key target on third down and in the red zone for the run-first offense.

Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph provided some insight on how long the injury may keep the talented target sidelined:

Michael Bennett and Chris Conley will once again be expected to step up in his absence. They were the team's two leading receivers last season, but it's hard to expect the offense to reach it's full potential if Mitchell isn't ready to go for the opener.

The Bulldogs will hope he's able to make a quick recovery from his latest surgery. The key will then be getting him through a couple practice sessions without any further setbacks. Based on the last 12 months, it's unfortunately far from a guarantee.

 

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Florida Football: 5 Games That Could Ruin Gators' 2014 Season

It only takes one or two losses for a team’s college football season to be completely destroyed. While the Florida Gators should have a little more leeway than that, they saw last year just how quickly things can spiral out of control.

Whether it’s a trap game or a meeting capable of getting absolutely ugly, there are plenty of matchups on Florida’s schedule that could be the deciding factor between success and failure. It’s a battle each week for every team in the SEC.

Here are some of the key games that could make or break Florida’s season. 

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