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Three & Out returns every Monday in 2011 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In the inaugural edition of the 2011 season, we take a look at the beginning of fall camp.
MATCHING THE HYPE
Jadeveon Clowney was the latest in a line of hot shot South Carolina recruits to sign on the dotted line and stay at home to play for the Gamecocks. The 6-5, 235-pound defensive end was the No. 1 defensive end in the 2011 recruiting class according to Scout.com; and in his first week in fall camp, the Rock Hill native certainly appears to be turning heads.
“He plays fast out here,” head coach Steve Spurrier said following the first Gamecock practice of the season. “We have to teach him practice speed. We try to let the quarterbacks throw the ball in these drills with no pads on. We can’t slow Jadeveon down. We’ll have to take him out of the game to slow him down.”
While that may be viewed as criticism on some level (it’s Spurrier, so there’s usually some), you have to be impressed with the effort that the freshman entered fall camp with. He knows that he’s there to make an immediate impact, and the first week of practice indicates that he will.
The good news for Clowney is that he’s got a lot of help. His presence, along with superstars Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram on the defensive line, should make South Carolina’s pass rush a monster again in 2011.
Now...if the Gamecocks can just get that strong pass rush to translate to strong (or even average) play in the secondary, South Carolina may make a run at some serious hardware.
NOT “THE MAN” YET
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has received a copious amount of hype this offseason as the heir apparent to former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. Wilson wowed the college football world with a dazzling 334-yard, four touchdown performance in relief of an injured Mallett on the road against the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers last season. Granted, Auburn’s secondary had more holes than swiss cheese last season, but that shouldn’t take away from how impressive it was for Wilson to come off the bench cold, in a hostile environment and give a highly ranked team a run for its money.
But despite the strong performance last year and the previous spring, Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino has not officially named Wilson the starter for 2011. Sophomore Brandon Mitchell, a 6-4, 230-pound Louisiana native, is still in the mix to win the starting job in Fayetteville.
Should that worry the Hog Nation? Absolutely not.
Wilson was recently named as a captain for the 2011 Razorbacks; and even though Petrino maintains that Wilson being a captain won’t impact the quarterback race, it’s clear that Wilson is going to be the guy unless something drastic happens.
“They know it's a competition,” said Petrino. “They know it's a competition at the quarterback spot. They know it's a competition at every other spot out there. I think Tyler being named captain shows that the players respect his work ethic and how much he's put into the offseason and spring and summer and the leadership he's shown to the other players."
Whether Petrino wants to admit it yet or not, it also means he’s going to be the starting quarterback. Hop aboard the “Wilson Wagon,” because with a supporting cast like he’s got, it’s going to be an explosive fall in Fayetteville.
IN TOO DEEP
Alabama got a much needed boost just in the nick of time. Brent Calloway, a highly-recruited running back/linebacker from Russellville, Ala., was finally cleared by the NCAA to join the rest of his new teammates in fall camp. Calloway had been awaiting approval from the NCAA on a class that he was finishing up this summer in order to meet the requirements to enroll.
His presence in camp will provide the Crimson Tide with much-need depth at running back. First-team All-SEC running back Trent Richardson will be one of the best in the country, but he’s never been a feature running back and has been prone to injuries, which means that his backups need to be ready.
Two running backs - Demetrius Goode and Corey Grant - transferred away from the Alabama program during the offseason, true freshman Dee Hart tore his ACL in 7-on-7 work in July and Eddie Lacy has been nursing a pectoral injury at the start of camp. Needless to say, any depth Alabama can get at running back would be appreciated by head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain.
Calloway’s arrival in Tuscaloosa takes a lot of pressure off of Richardson and Lacy, and also allows a player like Blake Sims - who is expected to fill various roles for the Crimson Tide, including running back - to focus on other duties.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
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