Alfred Blue

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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Report: LSU’s Jeremy Hill will play in home opener

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Sidelined for LSU’s season opener because of an offseason arrest, Jeremy Hill and his status for the second game of the season was, at least publicly, up in the air earlier in the week.

Reportedly, that status has been clarified.

Citing a source familiar with the situation, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported Friday afternoon that the running back “will be allowed to play Saturday in the Tigers’ home opener against UAB.”  The report comes three days after head coach Les Miles was quoted as saying that “[w]e’ll put him on the field, I guess I should say, when we’re ready.”

Hill will not start — that job will remain Alfred Blue‘s for the time being — but is expected to be a part of the game plan.

In late April, Hill was arrested and charged with battery following an incident outside of a local bar and indefinitely suspended.  It was thought that arrest violated the terms of his probation for a previous crime – he was arrested two years ago on a felony charge of oral sexual battery involving a 14-year-old girl and later pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile, a misdemeanor — although a judge later decided that was not the case.

He pleaded guilty to simple battery in July and was sentenced to two more years of probation as well as 40 hours of community service.  He was reinstated to the team in early August, although the “additional punishment” Miles spoke of at the time included missing the opener against TCU.

As a freshman in 2012, Hill led all Tigers with 755 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

Report: Les Miles still vague on status of RB Jeremy Hill

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LSU head coach Les Miles still won’t reveal whether Tigers running back Jeremy Hill will play against Alabama-Birmingham this week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on Tuesday.

“We’ll put him on the field, I guess I should say, when we’re ready,” Miles told the Times-Picayune. “I think he’s coming. I think his time is in front of us.”

Hill was suspended from the team over the summer for his role in a bar fight, but was reinstated during fall camp after his teammates voted to bring him back. Miles said at the time that Hill would face ‘internal discipline’ and sat him for LSU’s opener against TCU, even though Hill suited up and took part in pregame warmups.

The Tiger running game was fine without Hill against the Horned Frogs, as the duo of Alfred Blue and Terrance Magee combined for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Hill, a sophomore, led the team with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns last year and he is considered the program’s most talented back. But LSU could probably get through another couple games without him, since Kent State follows UAB on the schedule.

What we do know is that Miles will march to the beat of his own drummer, which means Hill could start this Saturday….or spend another couple weeks on the bench.

 

LSU holds off TCU, wins 42nd non-conference game in a row

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No. 12 LSU used a balanced offense and a stingy defense to hold off No. 20 TCU, 37-27, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Saturday. With the win, the Tigers extended their non-conference win streak to a record 42 games in a row.

It wasn’t easy, though, as TCU kept things close for most of the game.

LSU’s edge in physicality made the difference…as it usually does. The Tigers pounded the proud Horned Frogs defense to the tune of 197 yards on the ground as Terrance Magee led the way with a game-high 95 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit on just 16 of 32 passes, but he produced 251 yards through the air and completed several clutch throws. The Tigers ran 80 plays, held the ball for 35 minutes, converted 13 of 19 third down attempts and piled up 448 yards. All in all, it was a pretty good debut for new LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game. Casey Pachall, TCU’s 2011 starter who sat out most of last season, started the game and completed just nine of 16 passes for 75 yards and an interception in the first half. Trevone Boykin took over in the second half and wasn’t much better, completing six of 12 for 70 yards.

Despite holding the TCU offense in check, though, LSU couldn’t pull away as the Frogs took advantage of a second-quarter B.J. Catalon 100-yard kickoff return to stay within striking distance. The Tigers led, 16-10, at the half despite outgaining the Horned Frogs 254 to 104.  LSU then dominated in the third quarter as  Magee’s two touchdown runs sandwiched another score by Catalon and the Tigers appeared to be in control heading into the fourth quarter, leading 30-17.

That quickly changed.

A TCU punt backed the Tigers up on their own one-yard-line and two plays later a bad exchange between Mettenberger and running back Alfred Blue resulted in the Horned Frogs taking over at the LSU six. Waymon James punched it in and, suddenly, the Horned Frogs were back in business. A 39-yard field goal by Jared Oberkrom made it 30-27 with over seven minutes to play.

But Odell Beckham return the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the TCU 25-yard line and Mettenberger then found Jarvis Landry on a 20-yard touchdown pass and the margin went back to 10. TCU failed to rally and Les Miles escaped with his 31st-straight non-conference win in his time at LSU.

You have to feel good about this win if you’re an LSU fan. For the first time in a while it looks like the Tigers offense could be showing signs of life. It wasn’t always pretty, but Metternberger made the plays he needed to make in order to beat a quality opponent.

So while many figure Texas A&M to be the main challenger to Alabama in the SEC West, maybe they shouldn’t sleep on LSU just yet.

Coaches name Aaron Murray All-SEC over Johnny Manziel

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The SEC coaches have spoken, and apparently they don’t expect Johnny Football to top his Heisman-winning 2012 season.

The conference released its preseason All-SEC teams Thursday afternoon, and there was what some would consider a surprise at the quarterback position.  The 14 coaches, who can’t vote for their own players, tabbed Georgia’s Aaron Murray as the first-team SEC quarterback over Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (second-team) and Alabama’s AJ McCarron (third-team).

The media voted Manziel first-team All-SEC last month.

After the 2012 regular season, the conference quarterback pecking order was Manziel on the first-team and McCarron on the second-team.

Per the conference, Alabama placed a league-high 16 players on the three teams.  The Tide’s five first-team selections were also tops in the conference.  Georgia and LSU had eight selections apiece, followed by Florida and Tennessee with seven each.

Florida, Georgia, LSU and Vanderbilt all placed three players on the first-team, while Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee had two apiece.  All told, 11 of the 14 SEC teams placed players on the first-team squad.

OFFENSE
First-Team
QB – Aaron Murray, Georgia
RB – Todd Gurley, Georgia
RB – T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
WR – Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR – Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
TE – Arthur Lynch, Georgia
OL – Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OL – Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
OL – Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
OL – Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
C – Travis Swanson, Arkansas

Second-Team
QB – Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
RB – LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
RB – Tre Mason, Auburn
WR – Mike Evans, Texas A&M
WR – Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
TE – Rory Anderson, South Carolina
OL – Anthony Steen, Alabama
OL – Ja’Wuan James, Tennessee
OL – Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
OL – *A.J. Cann, South Carolina
OL – *Chris Burnette, Georgia
OL – *Zach Fulton, Tennessee
OL – *Jon Halapio, Florida
C – Reese Dismukes, Auburn

Third-Team
QB – AJ McCarron, Alabama
RB – Alfred Blue, LSU
RB – Keith Marshall, Georgia
WR – *Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
WR – *Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
WR – *Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
TE – *Brian Vogler, Alabama
TE – *C.J. Uzomah, Auburn
OL – La’el Collins, LSU
OL – David Hurd, Arkansas
OL – Justin Britt, Missouri
OL – Aaron Morris, Ole Miss
C – James Stone, Tennessee

DEFENSE
First-Team

DL – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
DL – Dominique Easley, Florida
DL – Anthony Johnson, LSU
DL – Chris Smith, Arkansas
LB – C.J. Mosley, Alabama
LB – A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
LB – Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
DB – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
DB – Craig Loston, LSU
DB – Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
DB – Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida

Second-Team
DL – Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
DL – Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
DL – *Ed Stinson, Alabama
DL – *Xzavier Dickson, Alabama
DL – *Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama
LB – Lamin Barrow, LSU
LB – Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB – Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
DB – Damian Swann, Georgia
DB – Marcus Roberson, Florida
DB – E.J. Gaines, Missouri
DB – Deion Belue, Alabama

Third-Team
DL – *Dee Ford, Auburn
DL – *C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss
DL – *Ronald Powell, Florida
DL – *Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
DL – *Denico Autry, Mississippi State
LB – Avery Williamson, Kentucky
LB – Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
LB – *Ronald Powell, Florida
LB – *Trey DePriest, Alabama
DB – Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
DB – Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi State
DB – Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama
DB – Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss

SPECIALISTS
First-Team
PK – Carey Spear, Vanderbilt
P – Kyle Christy, Florida
RS – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
AP – Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

Second-Team
PK – Cody Parkey, Auburn
P – *Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss
P – *Cody Mandell, Alabama
P – *Steven Clark, Auburn
RS – Marcus Murphy, Missouri
AP – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Third-Team
PK – *Andrew Baggett, Missouri
PK – *Zach Hocker, Arkansas
P – Michael Palardy, Tennessee
RS – Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
AP – LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State