HYAMS: Manning looking to be NFL's No. 1

If Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning becomes the first player taken in the NFL draft in April, he would be the fifth player from the SEC selected No. 1 overall in the past 20 years.

The other SEC players who were No. 1 picks since 1984: Bo Jackson of Auburn in 1986, Aundray Bruce of Auburn in 1988, Peyton Manning of Tennessee in 1998 and Tim Couch of Kentucky in 1999.

The Mannings could set some type of record by having the highest picks among three family members. Dad Archie Manning was the No. 2 pick in the 1971 draft.

Can you name another family that's had two players among the top five NFL picks?

In the past 75 years, the SEC has 15 No. 1 overall picks -- 14 if you don't count George Rogers of South Carolina in 1981.

Only four current SEC teams haven't had a No. 1 overall pick: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Florida.

Here are the No. 1 picks from the SEC schools (counting South Carolina):

Auburn: Ken Rice (1961), Tucker Frederickson (1965), Jackson, Bruce.

Alabama: Harry Gilmore (1948)

Kentucky: Couch

South Carolina: Rogers

Tennessee: George Cafego (1940), Manning

Vanderbilt: Billy Wade (1952)

Georgia: Frank Sinkwich (1943), Charlie Trippi (1945), Harry Babcock (1953).

LSU: Billy Cannon (1960)

Tulane: Tommy Mason (1961)


Georgia has stolen from its quarterback ranks to find another receiver.

A.J. Bryant, who would have entered August trailing four other quarterbacks on the depth chart, met with Coach Mark Richt and agreed to change to a position that is very thin this spring.

``I'm fine with it,'' Bryant said. ``Anything I can do to help the team win, I'll do it. I'm a team player, baby.''

In his first practice at receiver, he took a short screen and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.

``A.J. kind of put on a show,'' Richt said. ``He turned everybody's head. If he continues to do well, he's got a chance to play (this fall).''

The Bulldogs are looking for help at receiver after Damien Gary and Michael Johnson graduated. Running back Tyson Browning moved to receiver in the spring, but he broke his arm. Mario Raley will miss all of spring with a shoulder injury. Only two Georgia receivers caught more than 11 passes last year -- Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson -- and they've been plagued by injuries throughout their careers.

``I just want to play,'' Bryant said. ``If I get on the field, that will make it that much more fun.''


Tennessee has had a hard time running its offense this spring.

That says something about the defense. It says a lot about the Vols' offense.

Starting fullback William Revill quit the team at the start of spring drills, forcing UT to move defensive tackle Cory Anderson to fullback -- where he is the only scholarship fullback. Backup tight ends Brad Cottam (thumb surgery) and Jack Finlayson (mono) have missed most of the spring, leaving Victor McClure and Justin Reid only one scholarship players at that position.

The Vols might be forced to rely on several true freshmen -- including fullback David Holbert and tight end Chris Brown -- to provide immediate impact.

Then, there is the quarterback situation. After a strong start, sixth-year senior C.J. Leak has regressed and LSU transfer Rick Clausen has struggled. Leak has more athletic ability, but his decision making could get you beat. Clausen makes better decision, but can't make many plays.

Before the spring game, given about an equal number of pass plays, Leak had been sacked 18 times, called six timeouts and scrambled eight or nine times. Clausen had been sacked six times, called one timeout and had not scrambled.

The numbers on Leak reflect indecisiveness.


This spring, players aren't the only ones working on their skills.

The SEC sent 47 active and supplemental officials that were graded on film of their calls in scripted plays that the Bulldogs went through during two days of workouts.

The SEC refs will then head to LSU for another such venture.

``We picked the two division champions so we couldn't get accused of anything by other teams about which sites we chose,'' said SEC supervisor of officials Bobby Gaston.

Gaston said the SEC isn't headed in the direction of instant replay like the Big Ten, which will use replay in league games on an experimental basis.

``Our coaches we've polled have told us they're not interested in replay,'' Gaston said. ``They'd like for us to train our officials and upgrade with things like this.''

One SEC coach does favor instant replay: Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer.


South Carolina quarterback Dondrial Pinkins isn't the most accurate passer, so he began the spring doing something that didn't come natural for him -- passing with his right hand on the laces.

It hasn't worked.

Shortly before spring drills ended, Pinkins has abandoned the experiment and gone back to his unconventional, fingers-on-the-leather style of passing.

``I just don't feel like I'm ready,'' Pinkins said of the new grip. ``If I've got to make a big-time throw I don't think I would decide to throw with the laces right now.''

Last fall, receiver Syvelle Newton said Pinkins' throws were hard to catch because of the way the ball left his hand. Pinkins was last in the SEC with a 50.3 completion percentage, in part because of numerous dropped passes early in the season.

Regardless of Pinkins grip on the ball, he has a grip on his job. Coach Lou Holtz predicted Pinkins would ``shock the conference'' this season.


Auburn University says the NCAA might have broken its own bylaws by allowing a former Auburn employee to play a key role in the NCAA's investigation of the Tigers' men's basketball program.

Dave Didion is a former compliance director at Auburn and disliked former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis because Ellis complained about Didion's work, Auburn officials claim. Didion left Auburn after the complaint. Auburn cited a bylaw which prevents a former university employee from investigating his former school.

Auburn says the NCAA told the school at one point that Didion would be removed from the case but he continued to be involved to some degree in the investigation.

Meanwhile, Auburn has offered self-imposed penalties which include forfeiting one scholarship and limiting on-campus visits and off-campus evaluations.


Alabama has the highest paid assistant football coaches in the SEC.

Tide assistants are paid a combined total of $1.31 million. Auburn is second at $1.28 million.

Georgia is sixth at $126,600 per assistant.

Seven SEC assistants make at least $180,000.

EXTRA POINTS: Georgia quarterback David Greene is being promoted by his school as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Greene enters his senior season 32-8, well within reach of the NCAA record for most wins by a quarterback, 39, by former Tennessee great Peyton Manning. … Auburn forward Marco Killingsworth has made himself eligible for the NBA draft, but has not hired an agent so he can return to Auburn if his draft projection is not high enough. … Ole Miss basketball coach Rod Barnes didn't retain one coach and lost another to a high school job. … Alabama coach Mike Shula said Brodie Croyle, who missed the spring because of a shoulder injury, is not a lock to win the job, but he expected the strong-armed junior to be the starter despite a strong push this spring from Marc Guillon. … Ole Miss kicker Jonathan Nichols has been selected to the Playboy All-America team after leading the SEC with 124 points. He made 25 of 29 field-goal attempts. Eli Manning was a Playboy All-America quarterback in 2002-03. … Larry Ivy, former athletic director at Kentucky who left after a recruiting scandal landed the Wildcats on probation with sanctions, is a finalist for the A.D. job at Tennessee Tech. … Mississippi State forward Shane Power, a transfer from Iowa, set a school record by making 48 percent of his 3-point shots. … Alabama reserve safety Chris James, who left the team before spring practice, has asked to rejoin the Tide. James blocked a school record four kicks last season.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories