Spring Stars of the SEC

Here's a look at some spring stars of all 14 SEC teams, led by wide receivers Robert Foster, Myron Burton, Deebo Samuel and defensive linemen Shy Tuttle and Alex McCalister.

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With the help of the Scout network and publishers here's a list of a spring star from each one of the 14 SEC schools. These are players that had a terrific group of practices who look to contribute or star for their respective programs this fall.


The A-Day game was a coming out party for wide receiver Robert Foster. He finished with six catches for 125 yards. In nine games played in 2014, Foster totaled six receptions for 44 yards. Alabama needs to find production and big plays after losing the sensational Amari Cooper to the NFL. Foster is a former five-star recruit from Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley that red-shirted in 2013. Now he’s ready to take off for Alabama’s offense. Foster has good size and speed. He’s athletic and physical. Foster appears ready to be a main contributor on the perimeter along with ArDarius Stewart.


Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith loves to have a playmaker at the weak-side linebacker spot. Enter Brooks Ellis. He’s been a key cog in the hog defense manning the middle linebacker position. But Ellis was bumped to the WILL this spring after the departure of Martrell Spaight to the NFL. It looks like a brilliant move, as Ellis had a stellar spring and smooth transition at his new position. He may even be more active than Spaight and Spaight led the SEC in 2014 with 126 tackles. Ellis, a junior, has recorded 105 tackles the past two seasons. Ellis should transition well from sifting through the trash at inside ‘backer to playing a lot more in space on the outside.


Myron Burton, Jr. is a red-shirt freshman wide receiver for the Tigers that kept getting better and better over the spring practice session. This former three-star recruit from Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge has gotten bigger, stronger, faster and quicker. Burton is now 6-foot-2, 201 pounds. He has good hands and has shown the ability to make plays in traffic and a knack for getting open. While he’s a younger wide receiver on the Auburn depth chart his stock is certainly on the rise. How good was he this spring? Burton is competing for playing time with experienced guys like Duke Williams, Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis and Melvin Ray. He will certainly have a chance to contribute this fall.


Now that Dante Fowler is gone to the NFL its Alex McCalister’s turn to take over on the Gator defensive front. McCalister had a good season a year ago recording six sacks and was primarily Fowler’s backup. But it’s his time to shine now and take over for the Jacksonville Jaguar first round pick. McCalister impressed the coaches with his effort and play during the spring. This junior is a very long 6-foot-6, 238-pounds. He’s athletic, quick and plays with a relentless effort.


One of the stars of the Georgia Bulldogs spring football was Natrez Patrick. He’s a true freshman that enrolled early and was set to play outside linebacker at 255-pounds. But the Dawgs moved him from the outside to middle linebacker. It appeared he made a seamless transition. Patrick didn’t just have a good spring, he had a great spring. This former defensive end showed he was a virtual natural playing on the inside, dominating in the box. He plays fast and he plays aggressive. Patrick had a big spring game, finishing with eight tackles, one sack and one tackle for a loss. He should end up winning a starting job.


Senior defensive tackle Melvin Lewis is ready for a breakout season after having a very good spring for the Wildcats. He’s a massive defensive tackle at 6-foot-4, 342-pounds. Lewis is a former junior college transfer from Fullerton Community College and a graduate of Compton (Calif.). Lewis red-shirted in 2013 and started every game last year. He has made himself into a very good nose guard in their 3-4 defense and this Kentucky anchor is now a team leader. Lewis was fantastic this spring both on the field and in the huddle and locker room for Mark Stoops.


LSU is loaded just about everywhere and it looks like the Tigers may have very well found another talented wide receiver in D.J. Chark. This 6-foot-2, 184-pounder from Alexandria, La. had a stellar spring and his practices performances were often cited by LSU head coach Les Miles. Like Travin Dural, Chark has deep speed and can take the top off a defense. Now if only the Tigers could find a quarterback.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are loaded at wide receiver and have the SEC’s top quarterback in Dak Prescott. Certainly De’Runnya Wilson is the go-to-guy on the outside. How about in the slot? Fred Ross is the guy to watch. He’s a big inside wide receiver at 6-foot-2, 205-pounds but he runs so well. This junior from Tyler, Texas is coming off a big spring and should be a star this fall in Starkville. He’s a tough matchup because of his size/speed/quickness combination and he has experience in Dan Mullen’s system.

Ole Miss

Ole Miss has unreal talent and depth across the board in their secondary. That allowed the talented Derrick Jones to move to the other side of the ball to wide receiver last year. Remember, this kid played in Oxford as a true freshman corner in 2014, starting four times. He has improved leaps and bounds on offense and appears to be a very good complement to Laquan Treadwell. Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze has stated a few times this spring that Jones has been a great surprise and “could be a very, very impactful player for us.”


What’s in the water at Missouri? It seems as though the Tigers have produced front seven standouts galore over the past few years. This fall will be no different and a defensive tackle to keep an eye on is Rickey Hatley. He’s a 6-foot-4, 285-pound junior that had a standout spring for Gary Pinkel and Missouri. He did play in all 14 games in 2014 but didn’t show up that big on the stat page. But he transformed himself this off-season and had a very good run of spring practices where at times he was dominating and imposing for the Tigers defense. How good was he? Hatley was named the most improved defensive linemen and he beat out Josh Augusta.

South Carolina

The Gamecocks are looking for a wide receiver to complement their go to guy - Pharoh Cooper. They may have just found that No. 2 wide receiver in red-shirt freshman Deebo Samuel. He capped off a terrific spring with a three-catch, 94-yard performance in the South Carolina spring game. At 6-foot-0, 206-pounds, Samuel is a big play wideout. He’s far from a finished product and sometimes plays like a first year college player. Then he will dazzle you with a splash play. This kid has a ton of talent and a bright future.


Tennessee and Butch Jones have recruited exceptional well the past few years. Their 2015 was no different and several of those prospects should make an impact this fall. One of the Vols ten early enrollees was defensive tackle Shy Tuttle. This four-star from Lexington (N.C.) Davidson had a spring were he saw a lot of action and garnered a ton of reps. Tuttle didn’t flounder and fade, rather he learned, progressed, and made his presence felt. That bodes very well for Tuttle and the Tennessee defense, as he should make an instant impact in Knoxville.

Texas A&M

Trey Williams bolted early for the NFL, leaving a little void in the A&M backfield. It became a wide open race for Aggie carries this spring and it appears sophomore James White is the front runner. He did see some limited time in 2014 after red-shirting the prior year. Last season White gained 153 yard and scored a trio of touchdowns. What’s interesting about this running back from Pearland, Texas is his style – he’s a bruiser, a physical, north-south runner. At 220-pounds, he has a completely different running style than that of Williams and some of the other A&M running backs.


Dallas Rivers saw a lot of action as a true freshman last season. This is a big back that showed a lot of improvement towards the end of 2014 and that carried over this spring. ivers is a strong runner that should be an ideal fit and piece in Andy Ludwig’s offense. He came to Vandy from Wisconsin. This 225-pound running back had a big spring and was often cited by Commodore head coach Derek Mason.

Big 10 and Notre Dame Spring Stars
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Pac-12 Spring Stars

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