An Atypical Draft for the SEC

The final numbers from the NFL draft are in, and the SEC once again had the most players drafted. The thing that distinguishes this year from a typically strong showing for the conference is where the majority of the players came from.

Florida's two drafted players were their lowest total in 15 years, and the Gators weren't alone among the traditionally strong squads in having a quiet draft. As always, the SEC lost some quality players but the East division's big three in particular appear to be almost unscathed by this year's draft losses.

Tennessee had just three players selected, and while Georgia had four, none went earlier than round five. Kentucky and Vanderbilt picked up some of the East's slack with four and three players drafted respectively. South Carolina mustered only a single seventh rounder.

In the West, Alabama didn't have a single player chosen, a distinction they shared with the two Mississippi schools. The other three division programs produced 18 draftees between them. Overall, it appears the SEC has a ton of experienced high end talent back this season.


Remember Josh Portis? Once upon a time, it looked like the highly touted quarterback from California might be a key figure in Florida's future. After not getting to start his first season in Gainesville, Portis opted to transfer to Maryland. The departure was far from a quiet one, with Portis's mother commenting extensively about it in the press. Portis was supposed to debut as a Maryland quarterback last season, but had to sit out that year as punishment for being caught cheating in a class.

With two seasons of eligibility remaining and not having played football since 2005, Portis needed to perform at a high level in the Terrapins spring game. His three of six, 9-yard showing didn't impress anyone too much. Since Maryland has two other quarterbacks with more experience, it doesn't likely appear you'll see Portis under center at a meaningful moment anytime soon.


While Portis had to sit out the 2006 season as a result of his transfer, USF seems to have figured out the formula for getting the NCAA to waive its one year requirement. Former Gator TE/DL Trent Pupello has received an NCAA hardship waiver and will not be subject to the rule. The Tampa native can suit up for the Bulls this fall. He follows in the footsteps of Julian Riley, another former Florida player who transferred in January 2006 and was allowed to play right away as well. Pupello is the seventh player in the last three years to be allowed to transfer to USF without sitting out a season. He's expected to begin as a backup tight end there.


Basketball sophomore Jonathan Mitchell hasn't decided where he'll transfer yet, but Rutgers looks like it might be the best bet. According to the New York Daily News, he's scheduled to visit there May 5-7, with Seton Hall and possibly Marshall as his other destination options. Should Mitchell transfer to Rutgers he would get to go against his old team at least once - Florida has previously agreed to play Rutgers on the road in the 2009-10 season.

Despite what most of us think of Nick Saban as a person, you have to give him credit for recruiting creativity. With the NCAA having passed what many call "the Saban Rule" to keep head coaches from going on the road during the spring evaluation period, he's found a way to get his face in front of kids anyway. Saban's assistants are giving prospects web addresses to link into video conferences with the coach. As long as the player follows through and initiates contact, it's not only legal but doesn't even count as the one phone call coaches are allowed to make to a player during the spring period. A lot of coaches will be copying this idea quickly until the NCAA figures it out and closes the latest loophole.

It appears September 5, 2009 will be the least inspiring regular season day ever for college football fans in the state of Florida. The Gators had already announced that they would open their season that day against Charleston Southern. USF will be taking on Wofford in Tampa. A few days ago it became official that FSU will square off against Maine in Tallahassee the same day. That's three BCS conference teams with three 1-AA blowouts booked to start the year. If those kind of mismatches is what the 12th game rule is going to give us, the NCAA should go ahead and repeal it for years that don't have room for two bye weeks like 2008.

The Heath Cline Show airs daily from 11-1 on Gainesville's Star 99.5 FM

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