SEC: No. 1 quarterback commits to Tennessee

SEC Links for Monday:

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BBL: Night practice gets Cats back on track

Sunday’s Big Blue Links actually starts with Big Blue Tweets as after a poor Saturday morning scrimmage, Mark Stoops took his UK football team back to the practice field for some Saturday night work. By all reports, that one went better. Continue reading

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Is slump a bump or should Kentucky be worried?

Mark Stoops wasn’t happy with his football team’s practice on Friday. The Kentucky coach wasn’t pleased after Saturday scrimmage. One unhappy day is one thing. Two leans toward a trend.

Question: Is this a bump in the road or something to worry about?

Up until Friday, Stoops was upbeat about his team’s progress through the first two weeks of camp. He praised attitude, singled out competitive plays and lauded the roster’s depth in certain situations. “I like the pulse of the team,” he said Wednesday.

That’s all changed. Asked Saturday if his team did anything well, Stoops reluctantly mentioned the kickers. “Coach Spurrier will be talking about that again this year, about how good our punter does because we ain’t going to get a lot of first downs if we play like that,” Stoops said.

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Big Blue Links: Devin Booker back in Moss Point

Big Blue Links for Saturday:

Devin Booker preaches hard work to Moss Point Kids, reports Patrick Magee of the Biloxi Sun-Herald. “Devin Booker may only be 18 years old, but he’s quickly built a reputation as an idol for children, especially those in the Moss Point community and among the Kentucky basketball faithful.”

Kentucky women’s soccer beats Washington, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “No. 16 Kentucky experienced the exciting part in the season’s opener by beating No. 20 Washington 1-0. Raetzman, a 4-foot-11 senior from Elk Grove, Ill., scored the goal on a corner kick, a skill she had never before performed in a game.”

UK is deep at wide receiver, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “We got really good problems out there,” junior quarterback Patrick Towles said of the logjam at wide receiver. “We have so many people who can play, which is a really, really good problem to have. We have a lot of depth out there, which we haven’t here in a while.”

Isaiah Briscoe brings a winning mentality, writes Metz Camfield of coachcal.com. “It was just a matter of fact of what kind of college level do you want to be put on?” Briscoe said of what went into making his college decision. “What stage do you want to be put on? I want to be put on the biggest stage and that’s why I came to Kentucky.”

Patrick Towles isn’t backing down from comments he made to Paul Finebaum that he thinks Kentucky can make it to the SEC title game.

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SEC links: Arkansas gets transfer quarterback

SEC links for Saturday:

Ricky Town is transferring to Arkansas, reports Joe Schad of ESPN. The former Southern Cal quarterback visited the Razorbacks earlier this week. He is a one-time Alabama commitment who was a five-star quarterback coming out of high school.

Florida suspends three players for opener, reports the Gainesville Sun. “Redshirt junior defensive lineman Alex McCalister, redshirt junior defensive back Marcus Maye and senior receiver Latroy Pittman Jr. will not play against New Mexico State due to University Athletic Association policy.”

Georgia AD fights back against freedom from religion group. reports Lee Shearer of the Athens Banner-Herald. The group wants several schools, including Georgia, to stop using chaplains. Greg McGarity, Georgia’s athletic director, says the group is wrong in its claims.

Brandon Harris says he’s matured, reports Ross Dellenger of The Advocate. Harris is thought to be leading the quarterback race at LSU over Anthony Jennings. “That’s been my whole message this off-season,” Harris said, “control what I can control, spending more time up here, spending more time with the guys rather than try to rush and get home or watch TV or whatever the case may be.”

Nick Chubb among Heisman favorites, says Chip Patterson of CBS Sports. ” If Chubb’s rushing averages from the last eight games are spread across a season, he’ll break 2,000.”

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SEC football 2015 previews: Ole Miss

Mississippi Alabama Football

Next up in our continuing series of SEC previews is Ole Miss:

Record last season: The Rebels jumped to a 7-0 start and climbed to as high as No. 3 in the AP poll before fading down the stretch, losing four of their last six games, including a 30-0 shutout at Arkansas. After pulling it back together to knock off arch-rival Mississippi State 31-17 in the Egg Bowl, the Rebs were rocked 42-3 by TCU in the Peach Bowl.

Head coach: A 45-year-old native of Independence, Mississippi, Hugh Freeze is 24-15 in three seasons as the Ole Miss coach. His teams have gone 7-6, 8-5 and 9-4 overall. They were 3-5, 3-5 and 5-3 in the SEC for a combined 11-13 record. After taking over for the fired Houston Nutt in 2012, Freeze has led Mississippi to three straight bowls. A former high school girls’ basketball coach, Freeze started his college coaching career as a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at Ole Miss in 2006. His first head coaching job was at Lambuth where he went 20-5 in 2008-09. He became offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2011 before being promoted to head coach in 2011. ASU went 10-2 before Freeze left for Oxford.

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Speed, schedules and Big Blue Links

Big Blue Links for Friday:

Sihiem King provides UK with a bolt of lightning, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. The freshman running back will play right away in the backfield and returning kicks. He signed with Kentucky without having ever been on campus. King was recruited by offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, who was previously at West Virginia.

Kentucky women catch a break, reports Smith. “Kentucky takes on likely preseason top-five team South Carolina — its permanent opponent — twice. The Wildcats also play two rotating opponents — Vanderbilt and Auburn — two times this season. UK meets the remaining 10 league teams once each. … Both Vandy and Auburn finished in the bottom four of the league last season. UK has won seven in a row over Auburn and nine straight against the Commodores.”

Dennis Johnson makes his coaching debut Friday night, reports Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. The former Kentucky defensive end is now head coach at Woodford County. Johnson’s father, Alvis, was a long-time and successful coach at Harrodsburg.

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Group wants SEC schools to remove team chaplains

SEC notes and links for Friday:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked Auburn football to remove its team chaplain, reports Brandon Marcello of AL.com. The organization has sent similar letters to other universities, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia. Auburn released a statement saying, “Chaplains are common in many public institutions, including the U.S. Congress. The football team chaplain isn’t an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads are voluntary.”

The AJC has a story about the group asking Georgia and Georgia Tech to remove its chaplains. Georgia’s chaplain is Kevin “Chappy” Hynes, who is head coach Mark Richt’s borther-in-law. The FFRF claims Hynes is trying to convert non-believers on the team.

Kobie Eubanks won’t be enrolling at Alabama to play basketball, reports Matt Zenitz of AL.com. The four-star guard was not cleared by the NCAA. “We are disappointed for Kobie and his family,” Tide coach Avery Johnson said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Kobie wasn’t cleared by the NCAA and we couldn’t get him admitted to the University of Alabama. He has a bright future and we wish him well.”

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Looking back at Dorian Baker’s freshman season

Jennifer Smith wrote a feature on Kentucky’s sophomore wide receiver Dorian Baker, who has earned praised for his acrobatic catches in fall camp and nicknames from his teammate for his size and strength.

I went back and looked at Baker’s freshman season after an impressive showing in a camp caused the Kentucky staff to offer the Cleveland Heights native. Baker was ranked as the 45th-best prospect at his position by Rivals and was ranked the 16th-best overall prospect in the state of Ohio for the Class of 2014.

He got off to a big start last season, catching nine passes for 107 yards in the first three games, including a touchdown grab in the 20-3 win over Ohio. He was also thrown to four times on third down, with two catches for first downs. Baker’s production slowed down after that, however. He caught just 10 passes in the final nine games. He missed the season finale at Louisville after suffering a non-contact knee injury during the bye week before the trip to U of L. He missed spring drills.

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SEC Network announces new football analysts

The SEC Network announced Thursday it has hired three new football analysts for the 2015 season. Chris Doering, Jabari Greer and Clint Stoerner will be new studio analysts on Saturdays and during the week on SEC Now.

Doering was a wide receiver at Florida where his catch in the final moments gave the Gators a 24-20 win over Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in 1993. That was the game UK intercepted seven Florida passes but still lost. Doering won three SEC titles (1993, 94 and 95) at Florida before playing seven years in the NFL.

Greer was a two-sport athlete at Tennessee, breaking records in both football and track and field. He played 10 years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2010.

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