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Three & Out returns to give you a periodic look at what's going on this spring in the SEC. In today's edition, we take a look at the first day of camp for a couple of teams and a field trip for the defending national champions.
GAMECOCKS RECEIVER MIA
South Carolina opened up camp Thursday, and the buzz in Columbia was the noticeable absence of freshman All-American wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery missed the first practice of the spring due to academic reasons, but is expected back after the Gamecocks take a week off of practice for spring break.
"Alshon had a little academic issue." said head coach Steve Spurrier after practice. "He missed a class so he had to miss a practice. He should be here the rest of them."
Jeffery is expected to be a key contributor for the Gamecocks in 2010, following a stellar freshman year that saw him haul in 46 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns.
South Carolina isn't going to receive the buzz that Ole Miss got last year, but expectations are higher than they've been in the past – and Alshon Jeffery is a big reason why. A prolonged absence this spring could stunt the growth of the Gamecock offense, which made some strides in 2009.
With virtually the entire roster returning, and question marks all over the SEC East, the phrase, "if not now, when?" has been spoken in relation to the Gamecocks quite a bit this off-season. If the Gamecocks are going to do anything, they need Jeffery in the lineup.
BULLDOGS BREAK IN NEW DEFENSE
South Carolina wasn't the only SEC East team kicking off spring practice on Thursday. The Georgia Bulldogs opened up Thursday as well, and all eyes were on new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Grantham brings his version of the 3-4 defense to Athens, after spending the last two years as the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
The biggest thing that Grantham has going for him is his name – it's not Willie Martinez. That fact alone should give Georgia fans some confidence. He doesn't have any experience as a college defensive coordinator, which should be a bit concerning for Georgia fans since it is harder to find college players with the tools to run the 3-4. Plus he has to replace six defensive starters including linebacker Rennie Curran and safety Reshad Jones, so it's going to be a slow progression back for the Bulldogs. But again, he's not Willie Martinez, so they've got that going for them.
One of the guys expected to step in on defense is Richard Samuel, who is making the move to linebacker. Samuel started 2009 as the Bulldogs starting running back, but took a back seat after the emergence of freshman Washaun Ealey. It shouldn't be a difficult move for Samuel. The junior was a highly recruited running back and linebacker at Cass High School in Cartersville, Ga.
"One thing that helped Richard out there is that all these guys are behind and pretty lost with the new defensive system," said head coach Mark Richt, "so he's really not different than any other player at that position."
Georgia will also take a week off for spring break. They will return to the practice fields on March 16.
MR. SABAN GOES TO WASHINGTON
The Alabama Crimson Tide will continue the celebration of the school's eighth national championship on Monday, with the customary visit to the White House to visit President Obama. The visit has been in the works since the Crimson Tide toppled Texas in the Citi BCS National Championship Game in early January.
In addition to the stop at the White House, the team will make stops at the United States Capitol, the National Mall and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The trip will also include a meeting with D.C.-area kids to discuss the benefits of staying in school.
It won't be the first time that President Obama has congratulated head coach Nick Saban. Obama called Saban the morning after Alabama's 37-21 victory over Texas in the Citi BCS National Championship Game. During that call, Saban invited the president to play in the Tide staff's lunch-time basketball games.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BarrettSallee
2010 Spring Three & Out Archive
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 5, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 2, 2010
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