SEC Media Days Blog Day Three

News and notes from day three of SEC Media Days in Hoover.

* Florida was picked by 63 of the 64 voters to be the overall SEC Champion this season and the Gators got all 64 votes in the Eastern Division. In the Western Division Auburn was picked to finish fifth with Alabama getting 33 votes, LSU 15 and Ole Miss 16.

* Auburn had three players picked for the All-SEC teams by the media on Friday as Antonio Coleman was selected for the first-team while offensive tackle Lee Ziemba and punter Clinton Durst were picked for the second-team.

* It's no surprise that Florida was the leading team with 12 players selected for the first two teams. Alabama was second with eight members on the teams while Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss all had five.

* The overall leading vote getter for the All-SEC team was Tennessee safety Eric Berry. He was on 62 of the 64 ballots cast. Next both Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes of Florida had 61 votes each. LSU's Ciron Black had 60votes while Charles Scott had 59.

*Auburn was the first team out of the gate on Friday and Coach Gene Chizik as well as defensive end Antonio Coleman and tight end Tommy Trott all handled themselves well. Trott had some interesting things to say about the workouts this summer. He noted the team has had some very good practice-type workouts in the last month because the players have taken it upon themselves to teach the new guys and have a more organized afternoon scheduled.


Antonio Coleman signs autographs while at SEC Media Days.

*South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier had to deal with question upon question about his vote of Jevan Snead as the first-team quarterback. Spurrier admitted there was a mistake in the voting process and has since changed his vote to Tim Tebow, but it didn't keep the questions from coming.

* Spurrier, attending his 17th SEC Media Days, was asked if seemed odd that long-tenured coaches like Tommy Tuberville and Phillip Fulmer weren't in attendance this year. "Well I know Gene Chizik and I just saw that he's here," Spurrier responded. He then recalled something that Pat Dye said in Spurrier's first SEC coaches' meeting back in 1990. "Boys, look around," Spurrier recalled of Dye. "Some of you ain't going to be here next year."

* Spurrier's questions were quite ridiculous this year. If it wasn't about his All-SEC ballot, then it was about Tebow or Florida.

* South Carolina linebacker/defensive end Eric Norwood is the active career leader for sacks in the SEC coming into the 2009 season. When asked where he would rate himself among guys like Antonio Coleman and Carlos Dunlap, Norwood responded "at the top". He said he works hard enough and his game film shows that he's worthy of being the guy.

* When asked the toughest player to tackle for him in the league Norwood said Trindon Holliday from LSU because of his quickness. He did add that Percy Harvin would be that guy if he was still at Florida.

* Norwood said that opening the season on ESPN against North Carolina State is a huge opportunity for the Gamecocks. He said that's what guys go to school in the SEC for is games like that.


Eric Norwood does an interview

* Miles noted that turnovers were a huge impact on his team last season. He said the biggest single statistic for a team is turnover margin and nothing else is close.

* LSU linebacker Jacob Cutrera said it's nice to have just one voice on defense this season with John Chavis moving from Tennessee to the Bengal Tigers this season. With co-coordinators last season Cutrera said the problem of two voices was never addressed with the team, but he noted it's human nature that sometimes guys just don't think alike.

* Cutrera said that one of the newcomers that has caught his eye is freshman linebacker Kevin Minter from Peachtree Ridge High in Georgia. He said that Minter is a physical player and will help out some this season as a true freshman.

* Ciron Black is an impressive guy. In addition to being a possibly first round pick, he's also an excellent speaker. He spoke highly of his head coach Les Miles, a tendency I've noticed over the years from LSU players. LSU was 3-5 in the SEC last year and Black said that Miles took responsibility for all of the losses. "Every loss, he put it on himself," Black said. "Us as players, we knew that it wasn't him. We were the ones out on the field making the mistakes." Black added that they had a few important team meetings leading up to the 38-3 Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Georgia Tech and it has made a difference this offseason as well.

* Asked about a common misconception about Miles, Black joked, "I don't think his hat is too big. I guess it just looks that way on TV, but it's not really too big." Then Black answered the question seriously. "I don't think he's as much of a gambler as people say he is." LSU the last couple of years has won so many close games and converted so many fourth down. Black says they practice those plays and situations constantly and it's not a coincidence that they work.

Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin

* Kiffin said that all of the talk and the troubles that came when he first set foot on the Tennessee campus were part of the plans he had to help get the Vols back on the map. He said based on the signing class they were able to land and the attention that prospects have given Tennessee this summer it's something he would do all over again.

* With three wide receivers injured in the summer, freshman Nu'Keese Richardson could be a player to watch for the Vols this season. He was part of a huge recruiting battle that came down to a signing day surprise with the Vols taking him from Florida at the end.

* Kiffin said he loves the fact that Tennessee and the SEC expects to win right away. He said the days of four and five year plans are gone and he's fine with that because it means people want to win.

* The first-year coach said the biggest thing he would like to see changed is letting the head coach go back on the road in the spring. He said that hurts the evaluation process of recruiting for programs.

* He said Tennessee sent playbooks to players the day they signed them just like they did at USC to try to give them the best chance to be successful early. One of the things he noted was that they try to find out a few things young guys can do successfully and then build on that as the years go along.

* Kiffin said he has a unique view of Tim Tebow after recruiting him for USC out of high school. He said he knew he was in trouble when he pulled into Tebow's driveway and he saw a Florida mailbox. He said the same questions people had about Tebow coming out of high school will be the same ones coming out of college. He said Tebow is just a winner and deserves to be a Top Five pick in the NFL Draft next year.

* He noted that Tennessee's program had the highest GPA for any Vol team in the last four years and had the highest GPA jump between semesters in the last four years for Tennessee football. Told by a recruit's mom that the Vols were now being called a renegade program, Kiffin said they haven't had a single arrest since he was hired.

* Former Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran is definitely a well-respected person in the coaching business and as a recruiter in south Florida. Asked about recruiting in south Florida Kiffin had a few things to say about Gran first. "Eddie Gran has absolutely blown me away as a coach and as a recruiter. Will Muschamp called me and said I normally don't call about coaching hires, but if I became a head coach, Eddie Gran would be the first guy I'd hire on either side of the ball."

* Tennessee safety Eric Berry sat on the big stage to do interviews with everyone in the print media room.

* Former defensive coordinator John Chavis is now at LSU and Lane Kiffin hired his father Monte from the NFL. "They're similar as coaches—intensity and knowledge of the game. Both of them are A+ in my book," Berry said.

* Monte Kiffin came to Eric Berry one day and talked about how he wasn't a big fan of recruiting. "I just want to get on the field and coach you guys," Berry recalled of Monte Kiffin. "I'm tired of flying and recruiting. I just want to coach."

* Berry talked about his Heisman campaign which was launched by Tennessee. "Just hearing that they wanted to push the campaign for me made me feel very good. I really love the UT staff doing that for me. It's pretty cool and I like it. That would be cool to be put in the same category as Charles Woodson, but it'd be better to be in the same category with Florida as national champions."

* On whether or not he could handle snaps at quarterback in addition to safety: "I believe I could, but right now I think I'm helping my team out the most being fresh on defense. I think the biggest contribution I can have for my team is at safety."

* Berry are Taylor Mays are widely considered the stop two safeties in college football. Berry says that he watches film of Mays and says he's a freak of nature being 230 pounds and being able to move.

The ITAT crew hopes everyone enjoyed our three-day coverage of SEC Media Days. We will have more coverage on ITAT radio this afternoon. You can listen over the internet at http://www.wani1400.com/itat. Have a great weekend.


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