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August 17, 2006

SEC Report: Bama blue-chip is delivering

A quick look at the latest news out of the SEC from around the Rivals.com Network:

SEC East Practice Reports
Florida: Freshman Maurice Hurt had been pushing for the starting left guard spot, especially with Jim Tartt out of practice with a sore shoulder. But Hurt had arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday and will miss the next few weeks. Freshman tailback Mon Williams broke a 50-yard touchdown run during a scrimmage.
Georgia: Cornerback Thomas Flowers is suspended for the first two games of the season for violating team rules. It was thought that freshmen Asher Allen and Prince Miller would battle it out for his position, but so far through camp it has been sophomore Ramarcus Brown who has emerged as the front-runner. As a high school senior last season, 6-5 receiver Kris Durham weighed just 186 pounds. Coaches figured Durham would redshirt, but he has come to camp at 205 pounds and is looking like he may contribute for the Bulldogs this season.
Kentucky: Three players have made a transition from defense to offense this week in practice. Speedy sophomore David Jones spent all of last season as a cornerback, but was moved to receiver due to the team's lack of depth. Ben Bates had been buried on the linebacker depth chart, so he has been taking reps at fullback. Highly-touted freshman Justin Jeffries had been taking reps at DT, but he was moved back to offensive tackle.
South Carolina: It is looking more and more likely that Chris Smelley will start the season as the backup to Blake Mitchell at quarterback. After an outstanding performance in Saturday's scrimmage, Smelley shined again in Wednesday's scrimmage while Cade Thompson struggled. Smelley completed 10-of-16 for 181 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell completed 9-of-15 for 126 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Tennessee: Thursday marked the last two-a-day session of the fall for the Vols. Backup tailback Montario Hardesty returned to practice after an MRI revealed no structural damage on his surgically repaired knee. Projected starting corner Roshaun Fellows did not practice Thursday as he contemplates season-ending surgery on his injured shoulder.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores are pretty thin at running back right now. Starter Cassen Jackson-Garrison and Jeff Jennings both missed Tuesday's scrimmage, but that opened the door for Jared Hawkins. Hawkins was running all over the field and was making the most of his opportunity.
SEC West Practice Reports
Alabama: Sophomore running back Glen Coffee was carried off the field during Monday's practice. Tuesday an MRI revealed strained ligaments and a bone bruise in his right knee. The injury is much better than what was feared, and Coffee should be back on the field in three to four weeks. The big news out of camp this week was the presence of both Chris Capps and freshman phenom Andre Smith on the first team offensive line. The two had been battling for the left tackle spot, but this week Capps has been getting the majority of first-team snaps at right tackle.
Arkansas: Junior quarterback Robert Johnson was officially named the Razorbacks opening day starter this week. Johnson began last season as the team's starter, but was benched for the team's final four games in favor of then-freshman Casey Dick. With Dick sidelined by a back injury in camp, another was thought to be in the mix this year. Blue-chip prospect Mitch Mustain has looked good in camp, but is still adjusting to the college game.
Auburn: The Tigers have been hammered by injuries so far in practice, but Tuesday a few of those players were back on the field. Offensive linemen Andrew McCain and Antwoin Daniels - as well as linebacker Hendrick Leverette - all took the field. Also returning to practice were half-brothers Courtney Harden and Jermarcus Ricks, who had missed the last few practices while attending a funeral.
LSU: The team held its first scrimmage of the fall on Tuesday morning. Coaches said the defense was definitely ahead of the offense and that they were frustrated with a couple of fumbles by the running backs. One running back who did not participate in the scrimmage was Alley Broussard. Broussard had 10 touchdowns in '04 but missed all of last season with a knee injury. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was too much for the LSU offensive line to handle in the scrimmage. He found his way into the backfield a number of times.
Mississippi State: During the team's final two-a-day session on Tuesday, the offensive line looked good pass protecting but struggled in run blocking. Quarterbacks Mike Henig and Tray Rutland have both looked good in practice this week. Coach Sylvester Croom has made it clear he is losing his patience with kickers Adam Carlson and Keith Andrews. His punters, however, put on a show Tuesday with some long kicks out of their own end zone.
Ole Miss: Quarterback Brent Schaeffer has done a good job of learning the new offense. Coaches say he is much further along then they expected. The battle for the backup tailback spot heated up during Tuesday's practice. Mico McSwain, Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall all ran the ball well.

(Compiled by Brandon Castel, Rivals.com)

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