Score one for Mark Stoops: Blue-chip defensive tackle Matt Elam committed to Kentucky over Alabama Thursday, only adding to a pretty nice 2014 recruiting class for the Wildcats.
247 Sports pegs Elam as a five-star recruit, while Rivals gives him three stars. But the 6-foot-7, 372-pound native of Elizabethtown, Ky., was coveted by plenty of powerful programs, fielding offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee as well as Alabama.
While there’s disagreement on just how good a prospect Elam is, for Stoops and his staff to fend off Nick Saban and college football’s most powerful program is a massive victory.
Rivals rates Kentucky’s 2014 class as the 13th-best nationally, while 247 has them No. 19. That represents a huge gain for a historically downtrodden program, even if eight SEC teams currently have better recruiting classes per 247 Sports.
The SEC East may have been “down” last year, even with two very strong teams in Mizzou and South Carolina topping the division. But with Kentucky and Tennessee bringing in strong recruiting classes, Florida and Georgia having plenty of talent and Mizzou and South Carolina both coming off double digit-win seasons, top-to-bottom the SEC East could soon rival the SEC West as college football’s most difficult division.
Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.
With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future. The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.
Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.
At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas. The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.
Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels. He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.
Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.
The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August. The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.
From the site’s report:
The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.
The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”
At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations. Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.