Bryan Edwards

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South Carolina TE Kiel Pollard announces retirement following neck injury

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During a recent practice as the South Carolina Gamecocks prepare for the upcoming 2019 season, tight end Kiel Pollard injured his neck in a collision. That injury resulted in a broken neck that was originally supposed to keep Pollard out of action for four to six weeks, but a follow-up examination suggested it is no longer safe for him to continue playing football. As such, Pollard announced on his Instagram account on Friday that he is stepping away from playing football.

“To my surprise, after the MRI was completed and what felt like the longest 2 hours of my life, I was informed that I would be out for 4-6 weeks with a broken neck,” Pollard explained on his Instagram post. “I was perfectly fine with that. I felt no pain and my body was tired so I felt that rest was in order. This week that changed when I found out that last Tuesday would be my last time playing football. Not that I’m not able, but that it’s not safe for me to do so. I have loved football and always will! It was my desire to rock Willy B Stadium this year and then play in the NFL but I am aware that God has greater plans for my life!”

“Please don’t feel sorry for me because football has been good to me,” Pollard said. “Football has provided me with a great education in which I will be graduating in December this year! I am smart enough to know God doesn’t give anyone a gift that he doesn’t plan on using!”

Pollard was South Carolina’s fourth-leading receiver last season with 15 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He was slotted to be a projected starter for the Gamecocks this season in an offense that returns Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith at wide receiver and starting quarterback Jake Bentley. Kyle Markway could be the top tight end option moving forward after appearing in 13 games last season, although as a deep bench option and with three catches for 53 yards in 2018. Freshman Travon Kenion could also get put on an accelerated path to find a role where he can contribute, although that could also still be a mild work in progress.

Pollard ends his football career with 203 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)

More than half of schools in SEC are sending QB to Media Days

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For those who complain about quarterback attendance, or lack thereof, during the summer football talkin’ season, you won’t be able to include the SEC in your argument.

Next week, the 2019 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days (presented by Regions Bank!!!) will kick off in Hoover, Ala., at the Birmingham-Winfrey Hotel. Wednesday morning, the conference released the full list of football players who will be in attendance at the three-day event.

Of the 14 teams in the conference, nine of them will send a quarterback among its three representatives.  Those schools are Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa), Florida (Feleipe Franks), Georgia (Jake Fromm), LSU (Joe Burrow), Ole Miss (Matt Corral), Missouri (Kelly Bryant), South Carolina (Jake Bentley), Tennessee (Jarrett Guarantano) and Texas A&M (Kellen Mond).

Below is the complete list of players who will be attending the league’s Media Days:

Alabama
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Jr.
Dylan Moses, LB, Jr.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Jr.

Arkansas
McTelvin Agim, DL, Sr.
De’Jon Harris, LB, Sr.
Devwah Whaley, RB, Sr.

Auburn
Derrick Brown, DT, Sr.
Marlon Davidson, DE, Sr.
Prince Tega Wanogho, OL, Sr.

Florida
Feleipe Franks, QB, Jr.
Lamical Perine, RB, Sr.
Jabari Zuniga, DL, Sr.

Georgia
Jake Fromm, QB, Jr.
J.R. Reed, DB, Sr.
Andrew Thomas, OL, Jr.

Kentucky
Lynn Bowden Jr., ATH, Jr.
Kash Daniel, LB, Sr.
Logan Stenberg, OL, Sr.

LSU
Joe Burrow, QB, Sr
Grant Delpit, DB, Jr.
Lloyd Cushenberry, C, Jr.

Ole Miss
Matt Corral, QB, Fr.
Alex Givens, OL, Sr.
MoMo Sanogo, LB, Jr.

Mississippi State
Farrod Green, TE, Sr.
Erroll Thompson, LB, Jr.
Darryl Williams, C, Sr.

Missouri
Kelly Bryant, QB, Sr.
Cale Garrett, LB, Sr.
DeMarkus Acy, CB, Sr.

South Carolina
Jake Bentley, QB, Sr.
T.J. Brunson, LB, Sr.
Bryan Edwards, WR, Sr.

Tennessee
Daniel Bituli, LB, Sr.
Jarrett Guarantano, QB, Jr.
Darrell Taylor, LB, Sr.

Texas A&M
Kellen Mond, QB, Jr.
Justin Madubuike, DL, Jr.
Braden Mann, P, Sr.

Vanderbilt
Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Sr.
Jared Pinkney, TE, Sr.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Sr.

No. 3 Georgia reveals No. 24 South Carolina as SEC East pretender, not contender

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No. 24 South Carolina hosted No. 3 Georgia with an eye on announcing themselves as the top dogs (pun intended) in the SEC East. The Gamecocks thought they had the quarterback (junior Jake Bentley), the personnel (led by do-it-all star Deebo Samuel) and the game plan to overwhelm the Bulldogs by wearing Georgia’s defense down through a hurry-up offense that would throw the ball all over the field, thereby wilting the larger Bulldogs in the Columbia heat.

The problem: Georgia was well-prepared and well-equipped to handle such an attack. They may have lost a lot of talent from 2017’s SEC champion squad, but the players who stuck around are pretty good, too.

South Carolina accepted the ball to open the game and threw right at Georgia. This proved to backfire, as Georgia teed off on South Carolina’s skill players. On South Carolina’s fifth snap of the game, all passes to that point, Bentley hit running back Rico Dowdle, who bobbled the ball, which was intercepted by Georgia’s Deandre Baker. Baker returned the ball for a would-be touchdown, but dropped the pigskin just shy of the goal line; Juwan Taylor hopped on the loose ball for a Bulldogs touchdown.

Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) forced a three-and-out on South Carolina’s next touch, then swiftly moved down the field to take a 14-0 lead, needing only four snaps to traverse 76 yards, the last 17 on a D’Andre Swift run.

South Carolina climbed back in the game over the next quarter-plus, but whiffed on two chances to even the score. First, after a 13-yard Samuel pass to Bryan Edwards pulled the Gamecocks within 14-7, South Carolina took over at the Georgia 34 when a Rashad Fenton intercepted an errant Jake Fromm pass. But the Gamecocks moved only yard before turning the ball over on downs, and Georgia capitalized with a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal to push their lead to 17-7.

South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC) pulled back within seven through a field goal of its own and threatened to tie the game just before half, moving to midfield inside the first half’s final minute. But the drive stalled and Joseph Charlton‘s punt sailed just 18 yards. Armed with good field position and two timeouts, Fromm maneuvered Georgia to the USC 27, allowing Blankenship to again stake Georgia to a two-possession lead as time expired in the first half.

Leading 20-10 at the break, Georgia took the ball to open the second half and emphatically shut the door with a third quarter that highlighted the actual distance between the two programs. It was five consecutive possessions that saw Georgia march 75 yards for a touchdown, force a South Carolina three-and-out, move 75 yards for another touchdown, force another South Carolina three-and-out, and then again march the field (this time 86 yards) for a third touchdown in a 12-minute blitzkrieg.

The first score came on a 34-yard pass from Fromm to Mecole Hardman, the second a 5-yard Elijah Holyfield run and the third a 15-yard Brian Herrian dash.

In all, Georgia racked up 21 third quarter points while moving 236 yards in 21 plays and limiting South Carolina to 16 yards in six snaps. That third quarter staked Georgia to a 41-10 win, and the Bulldogs cruised to a 41-17 victory. The win was Georgia’s eighth straight against SEC East competition and fourth straight over its neighbors to the north.

Bentley threw the ball 47 times on the day, completing 30 for 269 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. While throwing the ball nearly 50 times for less than six yards an attempt may have been part of the plan, the running production was not. South Carolina rushed the ball 20 times for just 54 yards.

Fromm completed an efficient 15-of-18 passes for 194 yards with a touchdown and a pick, while nine Bulldogs combined to rush 52 times for 271 yards and three touchdowns.

Georgia starts fast, but South Carolina hanging around in Columbia

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The defending SEC champions threatened to run upset-minded South Carolina off their own field early in Columbia, but South Carolina has fought back to make a game of it. At the break, Georgia holds a 20-10 lead.

South Carolina’s game plan to pull off this would-be program-defining upset has been clear: the Gamecocks want to wear down Georgia’s defense, but they don’t have the horses to line up and run the ball down the Bulldogs’ throats. (Does anyone?) So South Carolina has put the ball in Jake Bentley‘s hands, play after play after play, with a series of short throws.

The problem: Georgia came out acutely aware of that, so as South Carolina opened the game by throwing, Georgia teed off on South Carolina receivers. The Gamecocks’ first series ended when a Bentley pass to running back Rico Dowdle was deflected and returned for a Georgia touchdown.

Immediately after South Carolina’s next possession, a three-and-out, Georgia glided up the field on a 4-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to grab a 14-0 edge on a 17-yard D’Andre Swift run at the 11:50 mark of the first quarter.

Facing a credible threat of a blowout, South Carolina put together a do-or-die drive, moving 75 yards in 11 snaps, the last of which was a 13-yard pass from Deebo Samuel to Bryan Edwards.

South Carolina had a great chance to tie the game immediately after that score when Rashad Fenton intercepted Jake Fromm and returned the ball to the Georgia 34, but South Carolina turned the ball over on downs and Georgia regained control with a 45-yard Rodrigo Blankenship field goal.

South Carolina answered that field goal with one of their own, a 26-yard Parker White boot with 5:57 to go before halftime. Bentley threw the ball 31 times in the first half, completing 18 for 146 yards. Ty’Son Williams led South Carolina’s ground efforts with six carries for 26 yards.

South Carolina attempted to cut into Georgia’s lead just before the break, but the Gamecocks’ drive ended near midfield and Joseph Charlton punted the ball just 18 yards, setting Georgia up at the 33 with 42 seconds and two timeouts at its disposal. Fromm maneuvered the Bulldogs to the South Carolina 27, allowing Blankenship to kick Georgia’s lead back to 10 with a 44-yard field goal as time expired.

Swift leads all runners with 39 yards on half-a-dozen carries, while Fromm completed 9-of-12 passes for 79 yards with an interception.

Georgia will receive to open the second half.