Bama Picked Second In West

Three Alabama football players were selected pre-season all-conference and the Crimson Tide was predicted to finish second in the Western Division as Southeastern Conference Media Days concluded its three-day run in Birmingham Thursday.

Of over 500 media members who registered for the event, only 82 bothered to vote in these pre-season selections, and two of those didn't attempt to pick a pre-season All-SEC team. Balloting was complete before the media heard from Thursday's speakers, Bama Head Coach Dennis Franchione, Mississippi State's Jackie Sherrill, Kentucky's Guy Morris, and Tennessee's Phil Fulmer.

Sophomore offensive guard Justin Smiley, senior defensive tackle Jarret Johnson, and senior defensive end Kindal Moorehead were selected first team pre-season All-SEC. The second team offensive squad included senior center Alonzo Ephraim, while senior defensive tackle Kenny King and junior linebacker Brooks Daniels were on the second defensive squad.

LSU, defending SEC champion, was picked to win the SEC Western Division. Tennessee was the overwhelming choice to take this year's SEC title. The Vols, upset by LSU in last year's title game, received 41 votes as best in the SEC Eastern Division and 34 votes to win the championship game.

Voting was done on the basis of one point for first place, two for second, etc.

Georgia was runner-up in the East, followed by Florida, but in balloting for the championship game Florida was second with 17 votes and Georgia third with 16. LSU got four votes to repeat as league champion with Ole Miss and South Carolina getting two votes each and Alabama getting one vote. Bama, of course, is not currently eligible to participate in the SEC Championship Game because of NCAA sanctions. (Six of the 82 who predicted the division races did not select an overall champion.)

LSU received 43 votes to finish first in the SEC Western Division and had 140 total points. Alabama was a fairly distant second, but nevertheless a solid runner-up in the West with 24 first place votes and 203 points. Ole Miss was third (seven firsts, 291 points), Auburn fourth (three firsts, 311 points), Arkansas fifth (five firsts, 330 points), and Mississippi State sixth (no first place votes and 447 points).

Tennessee had 41 first place votes and 136 points as best in the Eastern Division, followed by Georgia (19 firsts, 175 points), Florida (19 firsts, 197 points), South Carolina (three firsts, 305 points), Kentucky (no firsts and 428 points) and Vanderbilt (no firsts and 481 points.

The team voting was fairly close to that of most publications. The SEC provided a compilation of seven pre-season polls that had LSU first in the Western Division, followed by Alabama and Auburn tied for second, Arkansas and Ole Miss tied for fourth and Mississippi State sixth. That composite had Tennessee first in the East, followed by Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Smiley, a Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC selection last year, barely made it onto the first team as he gathered 22 votes, one more than the highest vote-getter for offensive line on the second team. Johnson, a two-time All-SEC selection, received 56 votes, most of any defensive line pick, while Moorehead, also a two-time all-conference player, received 43 points. King was the top vote-getter among second team defensive linemen with 21, while Daniels barely made the runner-up squad with seven votes. Ephraim, who was All-SEC last year and pre-season second team All-America this year, was a very distant second in voting for center with Mississippi's Ben Claxton getting 60 votes, Ephraim 15.

Florida led the way in pre-season All-SEC selections with six first team and one second. Tennessee had three first team picks and four second team selections, followed by Alabama and LSU with three firsts and three seconds each. Both Georgia and Auburn had two on first team, three on second team. Mississippi had one first team pick, four on second team. Arkansas had two first teamers, one second, while South Carolina had one first teamer, two on second team. Mississippi State had one first team, one second team. Kentucky had one on first team, Vanderbilt one on second team.

In perhaps the most interesting competition, Florida's Rex Grossman received 54 votes at quarterback, followed by Eli Manning of Mississippi with 18.

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