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SEC MEDIA DAYS: Nine UGA players named preseason All-SEC

HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia placed nine players on the media’s preseason All-SEC team, which was announced Thursday morning at SEC Media Days.

Two Bulldogs, tailback Todd Gurley and tight end Arthur Lynch, were named preseason first-team All-SEC in the annual media vote.

Four Georgia players made the second team: tailback Keith Marshall, offensive lineman Chris Burnette, linebacker Jordan Jenkins and cornerback Damian Swann.

And three Bulldogs were picked for the third team: quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive lineman Garrison Smith.

Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Alabama’s AJ McCarron were named the first- and second-team preseason All-SEC quarterbacks, respectively.


2013 Preseason Media Days All-SEC Team

OFFENSE

First Team

QB — Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (119)

RB — T.J. Yeldon, Alabama (221)

RB — Todd Gurley, Georgia (206)

WR — Amari Cooper, Alabama (194)

WR — Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (106)

TE — Arthur Lynch, Georgia (148)

OL — Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama (193)

OL — Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (176)

OL — Anthony Steen, Alabama (109)

OL — Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (88)

C — Travis Swanson, Arkansas (92)

Second Team

QB — AJ McCarron, Alabama (67)

RB — Tre Mason, Auburn (15)

RB — LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State (12)

RB — Keith Marshall, Georgia (12)

WR — Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss ( 46)

WR — Mike Evans, Texas A&M (33)

TE — Rory Anderson, South Carolina (33)

OL — Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (76)

OL — Jon Halapio, Florida (51)

OL — Chris Burnette, Georgia (50)

OL — Ja’Wuan James, Tennessee (50)

C — Reese Dismukes, Auburn (33)

Third Team

QB — Aaron Murray, Georgia (52)

RB — Matt Jones, Florida (5)

RB — Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (5)

RB — Alfred Blue, LSU (5)

WR — Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (28)

WR — Jarvis Landry, LSU (19)

TE — Brian Vogler, Alabama (18)

OL — La’el Collins, LSU (37)

OL — Josh Williford, LSU (30)

OL — Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt (18)

OL — A.J. Cann, South Carollina (14)

OL — Zach Fulton, Tennessee (14)

C — James Stone, Tennessee (30)

C — Jonotthan Harrison, Florida (30)

DEFENSE

First Team

DL — Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (223)

DL — Dominique Easley, Florida (162)

DL — Anthony Johnson, LSU (127)

DL — Chris Smith, Arkansas (56)

LB — C.J. Mosley, Alabama (231)

LB — A.J. Johnson, Tennessee (107)

LB — Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (94)

DB — Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama (203)

DB — Craig Loston, LSU (135)

DB — Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (117)

DB — Deion Belue, Alabama (77)

Second Team

DL — Xzavier Dickson, Alabama (49)

DL — Ed Stinson, Alabama ( 39)

DL — Dee Ford, Auburn (38)

DL — Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama (31)

LB — Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (66)

LB — Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (64)

LB — Lamin Barrow, LSU (29)

DB — Damian Swann, Georgia (70)

DB — Andre Hal, Vanderbilt (69)

DB — Marcus Roberson, Florida (50)

DB — Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama (36)

Third Team

DL — Garrison Smith, Georgia (26)

DL — Daniel McCullers, Tennessee (23)

DL — Alvin Dupree, Kentucky (23)

DL — C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss (22)

LB — Ronald Powell, Florida (24)

LB — Tahj Jones, LSU (20)

LB — Trey DePriest, Alabama (16)

LB — Avery Williamson, Kentucky (16)

DB — E.J. Gaines, Missouri (34)

DB — Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss (25)

DB — Jalen Mills, LSU (22)

DB — Chris Davis, Auburn (20)

SPECIALISTS

First Team

P — Kyle Christy, Florida (108)

PK — Carey Spear, Vanderbilt (100)

RS — Odell Beckham Jr., LSU (74)

AP — Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (69)

Second Team

P — Cody Mandell, Alabama (54)

PK — Cody Parkey, Auburn (71)

RS — Bruce Ellington, South Carolina (62)

AP — Odell Beckham Jr., LSU (44)

Third Team

P — Steven Clark, Auburn (33)

PK — Zach Hocker, Arkansas (39)

RS — Andre Debose, Florida (53)

AP — Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida (36)


SEC’s four new coaches inherit tough jobs

HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee combined to lose 29 of 32 SEC games last season. Which explains why there are so many new faces at SEC Football Media Days.

The league’s four new head coaches — Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Tennessee’s Butch Jones — were introduced to the madness and massiveness of the SEC’s preseason media event Wednesday.

“Everyone asks me, ‘What’s it like to be in the SEC?’” Jones said. “The best analogy I can give you is that every day in the SEC is like fourth-and-1 for the national championship.”

The four coaches inherited teams far from championship caliber, though, as evidenced by last year’s SEC records -- Auburn 0-8, Kentucky 0-8, Tennessee 1-7 and Arkansas 2-6.

The only SEC opponents any of those teams beat? Each other. Arkansas defeated Auburn and Kentucky. Tennessee defeated Kentucky. Suffice to say, the new coaches have their work cut out for them.

“I told our guys last year is last year,” Malzahn said. “When I first got there, we had to do some Dr. Phil-ing. There were some mental scars.”

Stoops found the same at Kentucky. “You felt like the guys were a little beat down, a little bit lacking some confidence,” he said.

The four coaches bring different resumes and styles to their new jobs and new league.

Bielema came from Big Ten champion Wisconsin, which he led to a 68-24 record in seven years and Rose Bowl berths in each of the past three seasons. His teams are known for stout running games and physical defenses -- “a little bit of normal American football,” he called the style.

Jones, hired after Tennessee pursued at least two other candidates, bought a 50-27 record in six years as a head coach, three at Central Michigan (27-13) followed by three at Cincinnati (23-14). He is known as an innovative offensive coach.

Malzahn returned to Auburn, where he formerly was offensive coordinator, after going 9-3 and winning the Sun Belt Conference in one season as head coach at Arkansas State. Known for a high-scoring, no-huddle spread offense, Malzahn said, “Our goal is to play faster than anybody in college football.”

And Stoops, the only first-time head coach among the four, left the defensive coordinator position at Florida State to take over the Kentucky program. Like Jones and Malzahn, he wants an up-tempo offense.

Of the four coaches, Jones is most experienced at taking over new programs, Tennessee being his third head-coaching job.

“I think that’s why the transition has been so seamless,” Jones said. “We have relied upon those experiences that we gained in the other two places.”

Only one of the four, Malzahn, previously worked in the SEC as an assistant. He was Auburn’s offensive coordinator when the Tigers won the national championship in 2010.

“The No. 1 thing that our players have to do for us to be successful is get our edge back,” Malzahn said. “History shows if Auburn has their edge, they can compete for championships.”

When Malzahn arrived for his Media Days appearance, he was greeted by a throng of Auburn fans in the hotel lobby. “Coming off a year like we had last year, that says everything about them,” Malzahn said. “It was a special feeling for me to come through and see those guys.”

The other new coaches also were impressed by their introduction to the annual event.

Jones: “When the SEC does something ... it’s a spectacle.”

Bielema: “It’s kind of been a whirlwind. I’ve had media days in my past, but nothing to the extent of today. ... The thing that jumped out to me, I saw a stat that there were more credentials issued for this event than there were for the national championship game.”

The first question Stoops faced in his turn at the podium was about a 2-month-old comment from his brother, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who dismissed accounts of SEC football supremacy as “propaganda” because, he said, its seven consecutive national championships are offset by poor performances by teams in the bottom half of the league.

“I certainly understand Bob defending his conference,” Mark Stoops said. “... With that being said, I don’t think any of us need to defend what’s going on here in the SEC.”

It’s a fact, though, that the league’s lower-echelon teams were not competitive last season, resulting in the flurry of coaching changes. And none of the four teams under new coaches are expected to be picked highly when the media’s predictions for the 2013 season are announced Thursday.

“The lower the better,” Bielema said. “For those of you that want to, vote us lower. I mean that with all my heart. Then just sit back and watch.”


Ex-UGA assistants settling in with new programs

HOOVER, Ala. — New Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said hiring associate head coach and defensive line coach Rodney Garner away from Georgia was a priority for him when he arrived on The Plains.

“I believe the last two coaches at Auburn tried to hire him,” said Malzahn, who is paying Garner $550,000, or about $200,000 more than the Bulldogs were. “He’s an excellent recruiter and an excellent coach on the field. I really felt strongly coming into this situation that we went after some successful former Auburn players.”

Two of Butch Jones’ first hires at Tennessee also have strong ties to Georgia. Jones brought John Jancek, who coached linebackers at Georgia from 2005-09, with him from Cincinnati to be the Vols’ defensive coordinator.

He also hired former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Willie Martinez to coach defensive backs.

“Putting the staff together, I wanted individuals who understood what it was to recruit and compete at a high level in the SEC,” Jones said Wednesday.

“So these individuals have brought a lot to the table. ... I think being able to rely on them and them to mentor the staff on what it is to recruit at this level and the daily grind that it is competing at this level, they’ve been a great resource for all of us.”

Georgia Who?: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops won’t make any new friends among Georgia fans.

He was asked Wednesday if there were any SEC East teams that stood out to him and he failed to mention the two-time defending East champion Bulldogs.

“On our side of the division, certainly you have to look at Florida and South Carolina, you expect them to be very good,” he said. “Shoot, we’re just worried about ourselves to be honest with you. We have so much work to do. All the teams in this league are good. We all know that. ... Top to bottom there’s no break.”

Etc.: Asked to name the SEC player he most wants to hit, Kentucky defensive tackle Donte Rumph said: “Mr. Johnny. That’s someone I would love to hit.” He meant Manziel, of course. ... Asked if he tires of questions about Manziel, A&M tackle Jake Matthews said: “Yeah, maybe a little bit. I wish you guys cared more about me.”