SEC Centers Stand Out

HOOVER, Ala. — Southeastern Conference Media Days is typically reserved for stars that play glamorous positions like quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

So why were there so many centers walking around the Wynfrey Hotel last week?

Arkansas senior Jonathan Luigs was one of four who represented their teams at the three-day event. He was joined by LSU's Brett Helms, Alabama's Antoine Caldwell and Auburn's Jason Bosley. All of them were surprised to see how many centers served as team spokesmen.

"I guess it's the year of the center," Helms said.

There's no doubt they were more popular than most other positions. Only two quarterbacks — Florida's Tim Tebow and Mississippi State's Wesley Carroll —attended. Tennessee's Arian Foster was the only running back.

"I guess they're trying to make a little movement from quarterbacks to centers," Luigs said.

The SEC is clearly stocked with talent and experience at the position this season.

Luigs is the most decorated after winning the 2007 Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's top center. He enters his senior season without departed running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but is a first-team, All-SEC performer and a preseason All-American.

Caldwell, Helms and Bosley have been impressive in their own right. So is Tennessee's Josh McNeil, who didn't attend. All four anchor offensive lines considered among the SEC's best.

"It speaks to how centers are leaders on the offensive line, leaders on the team," Bosley said last Friday. "You have to be. ... There are a lot of great centers in the league this year and having them (at SEC Media Days) amplifies that fact."

Another Rival

The Arkansas-Ole Miss and Arkansas-Auburn games have been the topic of discussion around the league this offseason. But one other Arkansas game will have an interesting twist.

Kentucky and coach Rich Brooks have had some bad experiences against Bobby Petrino-coached teams. The Wildcats were 0-4 against Petrino when he was at Louisville and Brooks was asked about the rivalry last Friday.

"He whooped me on the head pretty good," Brooks said. "He had some very good teams at Louisville. He's inheriting a very good program."

Brooks said the next meeting at Commonwealth Stadium should be an "interesting game."

"We're a different team now than we were back when he was coaching at Louisville," Brooks said. "He's coaching in a different environment."

Who Will Emerge?

The loss of offensive stars like McFadden, Jones, Peyton Hillis and Marcus Monk has left uncertainty about which offensive players will produce for the Razorbacks in 2008.

But Luigs said that's not always a bad thing.

"I think it's going to be fun to see who steps up over the course of the season," Luigs said. "Who becomes the playmakers. Who scores all the points and how we play as a team.

"We've got a bunch of new faces and a bunch of guys trying to make a name for themselves."

Davis ‘Working Hard'

Wendel Davis' status for preseason practice hasn't been announced by Petrino. But the linebacker has been nursing a hand injury he sustained in an incident that led to his arrest for felony criminal mischief charges last month.

Linebacker Elston Forte was asked about his teammate's status at SEC Media Days.

"He is doing all he can to be 100 percent," Forte said. "I'm not sure really about what he wants to do, but he is working hard to get back to his normal self."

Coming Up

Petrino and his coaching staff will take part in the annual Arkansas Football/Media Golf Scramble in Fayetteville on Tuesday.

Players will report to campus on Aug. 3. The Razorbacks will hold their first practice on Aug. 4. The school's media day will be held on Aug. 5.

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