SEC Three & Out: Arkansas' Momentum
Arkansas running back Knile Davis
Arkansas running back Knile Davis
Posted Jan 15, 2012

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee examines the offseason in the SEC.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

Three & Out returns in 2012 every Monday to keep fans up-to-date on the latest news and notes from the SEC.

Aside from Alabama lifting the crystal football, Arkansas had perhaps the best week of any SEC team when 2011 AP first-team All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson and 2010 AP first-team All-SEC running back Knile Davis both announced that they'll be returning to Fayetteville for the 2012 season.

Wilson will undoubtedly be mentioned near the top of most preseason Heisman lists this summer. The rising senior threw for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions as a junior; and that was without Davis in the lineup and without much help from his offensive line, which allowed Wilson to get hit on virtually every play. With three starters and some young talent returning on the offensive line, you'd have to imagine Wilson will get more help. The loss of several key receivers will hurt, but Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg will be back, along with a talented group of young receivers that will look to continue the legacy that Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs left them with.

The often overlooked Davis will return and immediately be considered one of the SEC's top running backs. People forget that it was Davis - not Marcus Lattimore, Mark Ingram, Michael Dyer, Derrick Locke or Stevan Ridley - that led SEC running backs in rushing in 2010. You could argue that Davis' emergence in the middle of 2010 is what propelled the Razorbacks from an average SEC team, to a legitimate contender for Atlanta.

Arkansas isn't LSU or Alabama, but it does get both of those teams at home in 2012. With some serious star power returning on offense, and new defensive coordinator Paul Hayes solidifying a defense that has been a sore spot since Bobby Petrino took over in 2008, Arkansas will be knocking on the door of a national title in 2012.

For the last month or so, you heard knee-jerk reports that the Auburn ship was sinking after both coordinators left, star running back Michael Dyer was suspended and decided to transfer and there seemed to be no movement on the coordinator front.

And then head coach Gene Chizik stepped up to the plate and hit a walk off home run with his defensive coordinator hire.

Brian VanGorder comes to the Plains from the Atlanta Falcons with a reputation in SEC circles that is second-to-none. During his last three years in Athens (2002-2004), Georgia finished in the top 10 nationally in virtually every major defensive statistical category. It's not a coincidence that Georgia won the SEC East twice and the SEC title once during that time.

Auburn has recruited well, but the Tigers struggled with the fundamentals under former defensive coordinator Ted Roof. With VanGorder now leading the defense, the Tigers will be back to playing D the way they did under former head coach Tommy Tuberville sooner rather than later.

Mark your calendar, Tide Fans. You're championship party has been set.

The University of Alabama will hold its national championship celebration on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In correlation with the amount of points its defense gave up in the BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, admission will be $0.00.

The first 30,000 fans entering the gates will receive a free poster honoring the 2011 football team, and fans will have the opportunity to take pictures with the Coaches' Trophy starting at noon.

Alabama better get used to this. Considering the talent that is littered up and down Alabama's roster, the Crimson Tide is only going to get better in the near future. That's a scary prospect for the rest of the SEC.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

2012 Offseason Three & Out Archive
Three & Out - January 16, 2012

Click here for the 2011 Three & Out Archive
Click Here for the 2011 regular season column archive

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