With spring football past the midway point at the University of Florida, here are three things I would like to see happen:
1. Ahmad Fulwood continues to emerge as a go-to guy: Demarcus Robinson is going to be a marked man at one wideout. Fulwood has the speed, size and talent to become a go-to guy on the other side. He needs to finish strong and go into August as a guy who’s going to catch 40-50 balls during the season.
2. Find a DT who can get pressure up the middle: With Alex McCalister showing he’s got what it takes to be a terror off the edge at one end and talented guys such as Jonathan Bullard, Bryan Cox Jr. and Taven Bryan on the other side, the Gators should have a strong pass rush from the outside. The Gators need an interior guy like Thomas Holley, Khairi Clark or Caleb Brantley prove he can push the center into the backfield and create pressure up the gut.
3. Finish spring practice with three solid quarterbacks: Do not expect Jim McElwain to name a starting quarterback unless the lights go on and someone has an unconscious week and a half. It’s not really an advantage for McElwain to declare either Will Grier, Treon Harris, Jacob Guy or Skyler Mornhinweg as the starter, but it is important for him to finish the spring with three guys who fully grasp of the offense and know what they’re supposed to do with the football. This is a position where depth is a serious issue so being comfortable with three of the four is imperative.
Alabama: As if there isn’t enough trouble at Alabama with the arrests of Jonathan Taylor (domestic violence) and Geno Smith (second DUI of the year) over the weekend, running back Tyren Jones was arrested Tuesday and charged with second degree possession of marijuana. Jones is the eighth arrest of a Bama player in the last year. It was announced Tuesday evening that Jones has been kicked off the team.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks resumed practice after taking a week off for spring break. With tailbacks Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins held out this spring, sophomore Denzel Evans and redshirt freshman Juan Day are competing with senior Kody Walker for the reps at tailback.
Auburn: With a full scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, Auburn is working hard to finish installing he offense this season. Jeremy Johnson and redshirt freshman Sean White are running 1-2 at quarterback. Former quarterback Jason Smith has moved to wide receiver.
Florida: Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris was back at practice Monday after missing a few days to attend the funeral of a cousin down in Miami. With Adam Lane injured, Kelvin Taylor is getting all the work at tailback and looking very good. Until he gets a special shoe to protect a foot that has a screw in it from a previous surgery, all-purpose Brandon Powell will be held out of contact and scrimmage work.
Georgia: Georgia’s first spring scrimmage resulted in changes made on the defensive side of the ball. Juco transfer Chuks Amaechi was moved to outside linebacker and redshirt freshman Keyon Brown moved from outside linebacker to defensive end. Freshman Natrez Patrick moved from outside linebacker to the inside.
LSU: Anthony Jennings continues to hold a slight edge over Brandon Harris in the battle for the starting quarterback job. Jennings says his obvious improvement this spring is because he’s more confident and comfortable in the offense.
Mississippi State: The Mississippi State averaged 513.8 yards and 36.9 points per game last year using a no-huddle attack but quarterback Dak Prescott (42 touchdowns running/passing; 4,470 yards) expects a faster tempo and better offensive production in the fall.
Missouri: Missouri will pay nearly $5 million in guarantee games over the next six years including $1.3 million for a home game with Eastern Michigan in 2016 and $1.1 million for another home game with EMU in 2020. Missouri will also pay Idaho $1.3 million for a 2017 home game.
South Carolina: Defensive end Devin Washington’s career is over. He’s taking a medical hardship ... Junior left tackle Mason Zandi (6-9, 313), who is expected to start in the fall, is limited through eight practices because of a lingering hamstring injury.
Tennessee: Four practices into the spring, the Vols are going without offensive lineman Coleman Thomas (arrested for felony theft) and corner Emmanuel Moseley (mononucleosis). Additionally, defensive linemen Curt Maggitt, Derek Barnett, Danny O’Brien and Trevarris Saulsberry are out for the spring with injuries.
Texas A&M: Emphasis on the defensive side of the football this spring is developing depth, particularly up front where they didn’t have enough bodies last year … The Aggies have scheduled a home-and-home with Colorado for 2020-21 and a home game with New Mexico State scheduled for 2016.
Vanderbilt: Patton Robinette, who was in the running for the starting quarterback job when Vandy’s spring practice ended, has elected to end his career in favor of going to medical school although concussions also factored into his decision.
The Georgia State senate passed a bill Tuesday being dubbed as the “Todd Gurley Bill.” If signed into law it would make it an aggravated misdemeanor to bribe or entice student athletes with money to break NCAA rules. Punishment could be as much as one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. University of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley was considered one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy before he was suspended four games for accepting money for signing autographs.
Tennessee wasted no time scooping up former Texas coach Rick Barnes. Fired just this past Saturday, Barnes was named head coach at Tennessee on Tuesday. The Vols could have a very Florida feel to their basketball staff if, as expected, former Texas assistants Rob Lanier and Russell Springmann join him. Lanier was a Florida assistant for four years while Springmann, considered the ace recruiter largely responsible for 15 McDonald’s All-Americans at Texas, spent two years working in the basketball office for Billy Donovan.
While Alabama awaits a decision by Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, it appears Plan B could be former Florida assistant Richard Pitino, the head coach at Minnesota and son of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. Richard Pitino is 61-42 in three years as a head coach, 18-14 at Florida International and 43-28 at Minnesota including a 25-13 season in 2014 when the Gophers won the NIT.
ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale says the pressure is on Alabama to keep pace with Mississippi State, which hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland, and Tennessee, which hired Barnes.
“That’s why Alabama now really is in a bind,” Vitale told al.com reporter Mike Herndon. “They’ve got to deliver big time. They’ve got to deliver and get somebody that has got great respect, credibility, someone that’s going to attract kids because that’s the situation.”
During his NBA career, Alonzo Mourning was one of the most polished defenders in the pro game. Judging by what he saw of Michael Jordan and what he sees of today’s NBA, Mournning told Fox Sports that MJ would average “almost 50 a game” if he played against what passes for defense today.
“You wouldn’t be able to touch him on the perimeter so he would be shooting a ton of free throws,” Mourning said, adding that the game played today and the game played in the 1980s and 1990s was a far different game. Jordan played when hand checking was allowed. Hand checking is a foul these days and allows players like James Harden of the Houston Rockets to practically live on the foul line.
Mike Kryzyzewski (Duke), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), John Calipari (Kentucky) and Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) have accounted for six NCAA championships (Coach K has 4 while Izzo and Cal have 1 each) and 25 Final Four appearances (Coach K 12, Izzo 7, Cal 4 and Ryan 2) ... Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky was named national Player of the Year by CBS Sports. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor finished second in the voting and Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein finished third … ESPN’s Andy Katz says that Kentucky and Duke could win their Final Four games by double figures but if Wisconsin and Michigan State prevail those games will come down to final possessions … UConn coach Kevin Ollie and his staff won’t attend the Final Four because of a controversial new religious objections bill signed into law in Indiana.
Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed from Duke back in February and spent a good bit of his career in Coach K’s doghouse, but he played for Billy Donovan on a couple of Team USA tournaments and has a great relationship with Billy. Although it appears Florida is full up when it comes to scholarships next year, it’s possible that the Gators could still lose one or two players. Sulaimon is a former McDonald’s All-American and a deadly outside shooter who could certainly help make up for the loss of Michael Frazier, who has declared for the NBA Draft. Sulaimon will graduate from Duke this summer and will be eligible immediately. While most expect Sulaimon to head back to his native Houston, watch carefully what happens with the Florida roster in the next three or four weeks.
Now that Jordan Mickey has joined Jarrell Martin in declaring for the NBA Draft, LSU’s signing coup of national high school player of the year Ben Simmons doesn’t seem quite as impactful … Jeff Capel is expected to become the next head coach at Arizona State, but there will be no announcement until after Duke completes its season … Georgetown shooter D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has declared for the NBA … Iowa State’s Georges Niang and Vandy big man Damion Jones have announced they’re coming back to school … Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder ended speculation that Travis Ford will be fired. Ford may not win like Holder and OSU boosters would like, but he’s got a $9.6 million buyout on his contract.
If Michael Jordan in his prime could play in today’s NBA, do you think he could average 50 points per game?
From 1967-70, the Box Tops were one of the most bankable bands in the country with their combination of Memphis soul and rock and roll. They followed up their #1 hit “The Letter” with eight songs that got plenty of air play including “Cry Like a Baby,” which reached #2 on the American charts in February of 1968. Alex Chilton and Gary Talley broke up the band in February of 1970 over running disputes with managers and producers who fleeced them out of millions. Today’s music is “Cry Like a Baby.”