If it’s true that it’s what’s up front that counts, here is a look at the returning starters on all SEC offensive lines for 2016:
Alabama (3): LT Cam Robinson (JR), LG Ross Pierschbacher (SO), RG Alphonse Taylor (SR)
Spring Notes: Pierschbacher has moved to center. Lester Cotton is the likely starter at RT. Cam Robinson has missed the spring with an injury but will be ready to go in August.
Arkansas (2): RG Frank Ragnow (JR), RT Dan Skipper (SR)
Spring Notes: Ragnow has moved to center. Hjalte Frholdt is at LG, Colton Jackson is at LT. Brian Wallace is the likely RG.
Auburn (3): LG Alex Kozan (SR), C Austin Golson (JR), RG Braden Smith (JR)
Spring Notes: Golson has moved out to LT. Xavier Dampeer has moved to center. Robert Leff is the LT.
FLORIDA (3): LT David Sharpe (JR), LG Martez Ivey (SO), C Cam Dillard (RJR)
Spring Notes: The starting OL heading into August will probably have Sharpe at LT, Antonio Riles at LG, Dillard at C, Tyler Jordan at RG and either Martez Ivey or Fred Johnson at RT.
Georgia (2): LT Isaiah Wynn (JR), RG Brandon Kublanow (SR)
Spring Notes: As UGa heads into the final days of spring practice, the OL looks like LT Kendall Baker, LG Wynn, C Kublanow, RG Dyshon Sims and RT Greg Pyke.
Kentucky (4): LG Nick Haynes (RJR), C Jon Toth (RSR), RG Ramsey Meyers (RJR), RT Kyle Meadows (RJR)
Spring Notes: Cole Mosier, who played everything but C as a backup last year, is the starting LT.
LSU (3): LG Maea Teuhema (SO), C Ethan Pocic (SR), RG William Clapp (RSO)
Spring Notes: Teuhema has moved out to LT with Toby Weathersby taking over at RT. Pocic and Clapp have been injured this spring but will return in the fall. The RG spot is up for grabs.
Mississippi State (3): C Jamaal Clayborn (SR), RG Devon Desper (SR), RT Justin Senior (SR)
Spring Notes: Senior has moved to LT. RT has been taken over by Martinas Rankin with Deion Calhoun playing #1 at RG.
Missouri (1): LG Nate Crawford
Spring Notes: Crawford could move out to one of the tackles. A.J. Harris has been hindered by a wrist injury but he will likely take over at C.
Ole Miss (1): RG Jordan Sims (RSO)
Spring Notes: After the final practice of the spring, the OL was LT Alex Givens, LG Javon Patterson, C Sean Rawlings, RG Sims and RT Jeremy Liggins. Robert Conyers should move Rawlings out to LT when he returns from injury in August and Rod Taylor will likely play RT.
South Carolina (2): C Alan Knott (RJR), RT Blake Camper (SO)
Spring Notes: Mason Zandi is the starting LT with Zack Bailey starting at LG. Corey Helms is the starting RG.
Tennessee (4): LG Jashon Robertson (JR), C Coleman Thomas (JR), RG Dylan Wieseman (SR), RT Chance Hall (SO)
Spring Notes: Venzell Boulware could win the LT job.
Texas A&M (2): LT Avery Gennesy (SR), Keaton Sutherland (SO)
Notes: Koda Martin looks to take over at RT while RS freshman Eric McCoy probably locked down C during spring drills.
Vanderbilt (3): LT Will Holden (RSR), RG Barrett Gouger (RSR), RT Bailey Granier (RSO)
Spring Notes: The return of Andrew Jelts moved Holden over to RT. Delando Crooks took over at LG with Cole Hardin at C.
GATORS BOUNCE BACK WITH 8-2 WIN OVER FSU
The Gators (30-5) bounced back from two straight SEC losses to Mississippi State last weekend with an 8-2 pounding of #8 Florida State (22-9) Tuesday night in Tallahassee. The 2nd-ranked Gators, who struggled to hit the ball last Saturday and Sunday against MSU, had no problems with the FSU pitching. JJ Schwarz put together one of his best games of the season with a 3-4 effort that included a home run and 3 RBI, while Dalton Guthrie had three hits and an RBI and Peter Alonso chipped in with three more hits.
Jackson Kowar got the start for UF, going 4 innings while giving up 1 run, 3 hits and striking out 7. Frank Rubio got the win in relief but he had help from Kirby Snead and Brady Singer to close things out.
The win ensured the Gators of a sweep of the regular season series with the Seminoles.
Next up for the Gators (30-5, 8-4 SEC) is a 3-game SEC series with Arkansas (20-12, 4-8 SEC) in Fayetteville starting Thursday night.
OTHER UF SPRING SPORTS
Softball: The Gators (38-3) regained the #1 spot in the ESPN/USA Softball top 25 rankings, jumping past Michigan (29-4) and Auburn (37-4), which are tied for second. Alabama (35-7) improved to #5 in the rankings. Also ranked from the SEC are #10 Georgia (34-8), #12 Kentucky (33-8), #13 LSU (29-11), #15 Texas A&M (31-9), #17 Tennessee (31-10) and #18 Missouri (26-10). South Florida (36-10) is at #22.
Tonight, the Gators host #8 Florida State (31-4) and then host #5 Louisiana-Lafayette in a non-conference 3-game series that begins with a Friday doubleheader at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium.
Gymnastics: The Gators will be going for their fourth consecutive NCAA championship this weekend in Fort Worth. The Gators will be in the first semifinal Friday afternoon with LSU, Auburn, Stanford, Georgia and Minnesota. The second semifinal Friday evening will include #1 Oklahoma, Alabama, Utah, Nebraska, UCLA and California. The top three teams in each semifinal will advance to the Saturday night Super Six finals.
This will be the final collegiate performances for Bridget Sloan, who goes into the NCAA championships as the national leader in all-around (39.775).
Lacrosse: Florida’s 2nd-ranked women’s lacrosse team (12-1, 3-0 Big East) plays host to Marquette (4-8, 1-1 Big East) in a Big East Conference matchup at Donald Dizney Stadium beginning at 2 p.m.
Men’s Golf: The Gators go into this weekend’s SEC Championships in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia holding down the #6 ranking nationally. Florida freshman Sam Horsfield is ranked #3 nationally and is the top-ranked individual going into the weekend.
Women’s Golf: The Gators go into this weekend’s SEC Championships in Birmingham holding down the #8 national ranking.
MCSHAY HAS THREE GATORS IN FIRST TWO ROUNDS OF NFL DRAFT
Todd McShay may be a legend in his mind only, but he does talk to a lot of NFL people so his mock drafts often reflect what he’s hearing from scouts and GMs. In his latest mock draft, which includes the first three rounds, McShay has Vernon Hargreaves III of Florida going #20 to the New York Jets with Keanu Neal going in the second round to Jacksonville and Jonathan Bullard also going second round to the Buffalo Bills.
Hargreaves is the first pure corner to go in the McShay mock. Jalen Ramsey is listed as pick #7 in the first round to San Francisco, but Ramsey is likely to line up at safety or be a hybrid who can play either corner or safety.
Neal’s stock has been rising consistently. From everything that’s out there, he’s had good workouts and scouts believe he can step in and play immediately. I’m a little surprised that Bullard has dropped down to the 49th overall pick, especially when McShay has DT Andrew Billings of Baylor going late first round to Seattle. Billings is a converted O-lineman and combine warrior who wasn’t all that productive for a defense that wasn’t all that good. Bullard has three strong years of productivity and showed he can play inside or outside.
Here is how McShay sees players from the SEC, Miami and FSU going in the first three rounds:
1. Laremy Tunsil, LT, Ole Miss: Tennessee
7. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, FSU: San Francisco
11. Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia: Chicago
14. Chris Jones, NT, Mississippi State: Oakland
15. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss: Los Angeles
19. Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: Buffalo
20. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: New York Jets
21. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: Washington
28. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: Kansas City
29. Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: Arizona
30. Germain Ifedi, RT, Texas A&M: Carolina
36. Artie Burns, CB, Miami: Baltimore
38. Keanu Neal, S, Florida: Jacksonville
46. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss: Detroit
49. Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida: Buffalo
50. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas: Atlanta
52. Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina: Houston
54. Deion Jones, OLB, LSU: Minnesota
56. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Seattle
61. Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama: New England
71. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
79. Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn: Philadelphia
82. Jerald Hawkins, LT, LSU: Indianapolis
95. Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State: Detroit
98. Connor McGovern, G, Missouri: Denver
If you want to sit courtside to watch Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game at the Staples Center tonight, it will only cost you a cool $27,500. That’s all. There will be more than 200 credentialed media attending including representatives from 15 countries including China, Australia, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Flea, who plays bass for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will play the national anthem.
Among former teammates attending will be Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and Kobe teamed up for three NBA championships.
Clemson just extended Dabo Swinney through 2021 and raised his pay to $4.55 million to start, finishing at $5.125 million at the end. Buyout starts at $20 million and drops to $5 million in 2021. That’s nice work if you can get it.
There is every good chance that Florida Gulf Coast basketball coach Joe Dooley will leave to take an assistant’s job at North Carolina State. I’m sure the money is better but I can’t imagine it’s better working for Mark Gottfried than being a head coach.
With all the talk about Jordan Spieth’s meltdown at The Masters, it’s easy to overlook that the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, finished second at The Masters four times, second at the US Open four times, second at the British Open seven times and second at the PGA four times. Arnold Palmer, who won four green jackets at Augusta, finished second at The Masters twice, second at the US Open four times, second at the British Open once and third at the PGA (which he never won) three times. Eldrick Woods finished second at the masters twice, second at the US Open twice and second at the PGA twice. So, while we can debate about why Spieth melted down, it’s not like second place at the Masters or any other major is such a bad thing.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
The Golden State Warriors are going for a record 73rd win tonight on ESPN against the Memphis Grizzlies while on ESPN2, Kobe Bryant will be playing his final NBA game. Will you bother to watch either one?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I heard Simon and Garfunkel sing “The Boxer” Tuesday and couldn’t get the song out of my head the rest of the day. So here’s their 1970 album “Bridge Over Troubled Water” which went platinum X8 and won Album of the Year among five Grammy Awards in 1971.