The SEC in 2017, a national look and predictions

It's the year of the quarterback and the offense this season. There will be good defenses of course. Alabama and Auburn will be very good on defense, so will LSU, Florida, and Georgia has 10 defensive starters returning. South Carolina will be better. Vanderbilt will be pretty solid on defense. A&M should be better, but you never know with them. Their front 7 is always a question mark. Ole Miss will need to improve, same with State. Tennessee, who knows with them. I guess they'll be better. They've recruited well, but haven't seemed to develop a good defense. They have question marks overall on their team. Kentucky should be pretty decent on defense. Stoops is doing a good job in Lexington. Arkansas, like A&M, needs to improve on defense to be a competitor in the west. But overall, fairly solid defensive play this season. Defense is key a lot of times, but these quarterbacks will be electric this season.

Quarterbacks in the SEC

1. Alabama-Jalen Hurts, primed for a big year. Tua Tagovailoa will play a role and has unlimited talent.

2.Auburn-Looking for a big year out of Jarrett Stidham, and they like their depth with Sean White, who will be competing for the starting job in fall camp, and freshman Malik Willis has a ton of ability.

3.Georgia-Jacob Eason should have an excellent year.

4.Ole Miss-Shea Patterson has off the charts talent.

5. Arkansas- Austin Allen is outstanding and very tough.

6. Mississippi State-Nick Fitzgerald is a phenomenal runner and passer. Needs to develop his downfield passing a little more.

7.South Carolina-Jake Bentley. The sophomore from Opelika, AL. is an outstanding passer and can move.

8. Kentucky-Stephen Johnson is another Fitzgerald-like player who passes it and runs it well.

9. Vanderbilt-Kyle Shurmur-Another excellent passer. Not too mobile, but with protection he can really pick apart a secondary.

10. Missouri-Drew Lock-Has a chance for a really big 2017. Outstanding arm, moves pretty well when necessary, but more of a pocket passer. Like him a lot. Should have a big junior year.

Teams that need to find a good quarterback.

All 4 of these teams have options, but need to develop a leader of their offense.

11. Florida- Has 4 players competing. Malik Zaire transferred from Notre Dame, and he has got a lot of running talent and some passing talent, but he'll be battling it out with 3 others including Luke Del Rio, who I personally like a lot.

12. A&M- Jake Hubenak is back, and he may be good enough, but there is a competition going into fall camp.

13. LSU- Danny Etling is back. Not sure he's the answer to making LSU a contender for the conference title. And there will be a competition come fall camp.

14. Tennessee- Two guys competing for the job right now. Undecided who the guy will be. One guy is Dormady. Jones likes both, so one of them will need to take the bull by the horns this August if Tennessee expects to challenge for the East crown.

Winners in the West and the East

West-Alabama, but Auburn will really challenge the Crimson Tide.

East-Georgia, but Florida will put up a big time fight with the Dawgs.

SEC championship game

Alabama 38, Georgia 34-Bama captures another SEC title under Nick Saban and heads to its fourth straight playoff.

Playoff teams

Alabama vs. Southern Cal

Penn State vs Florida State

Semifinals

Alabama 42, Southern Cal 28

Penn State 45 Florida State 42

National Championship game

Alabama 41, Penn State 27

Will have breakdowns of all SEC teams along with other national contenders in Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and Florida State coming up in the next 3 weeks. Thanks.  

 
 

Commit # 14 is in, David, Pedro shine yesterday, Tony Kemp stellar

Ja'Veon Marlow, an 85 and 5.5 3 star running back out of Winter Haven, Florida, is our 14th commitment to this 2018 class. Ja'Veon dropped his anchor yesterday.

Ja'Veon is a 5'10", 200 pound Florida product who ran for 900 yards and 11 TDs last year. His tape is excellent. Saw 6 or 7 house calls. Tough, physical, breakaway speed, great cutter, and catches the ball very well out of the backfield. I saw him grab a 30 yard TD pass. Ja'Veon is the real deal. 

He chose us over offers from Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Arizona, UNC, Pittsburgh and several other schools. He was highly regarded by many staffs throughout the country. While his ratings are solid on 247 sports and Rivals, I see him going up in the rankings this fall with more carries and more success. I like Ja'Veon very close to a 4 star by the middle, latter half of the fall. He's outstanding. 

We are 26th in the team rankings on Rivals, and 28th by 247. We are fifth in the SEC by both services. Tennessee is at 3, LSU is 5, A&M is 12th, Kentucky is 16th and we're at 28th on 247. 26th by Rivals, with LSU at 3, Tennessee at 4, though Butch still has to coach'em and that's where we have the advantage, A&M is 15, and Kentucky is 16. So both services like our class.

We now have in this 2018 class a running back, a quarterback, a wide receiver, an athlete who can play a slot running back/wide out role, 2 tight ends, 2 offensive linemen, a linebacker, 4 defensive backs and a kicker. It's a good mix of talent at a variety of positions. I'd like to see us get two defensive linemen even 3, a tackle or 2, and maybe 2 d ends, depending on who's out there. Another linebacker wouldn't hurt either. I know D Mase wants to add another db and there are good candidates out there. So it's really exciting right now with recruiting and Media Days is here. Will have D Mase's comments along with inside linebacker Oren Burks, running back Ralph Webb, and quarterback Kyle Shurmur thoughts as well, coming up either tomorrow or Wednesday. Really getting excited for the 2017 season. We've got a good team. We're going to do well. 

David Price, Pedro Alvarez, Tony Kemp
 

David Price pitched very well yesterday though his bullpen couldn't hold a 3-2 lead and the Boston Red Sox lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 yesterday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. 

David went 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 runs with 2 walks and 5 ring ups. He threw 106 pitches with 72 for strikes against 34 balls, over a 2:1 strike to ball ratio, which is solid. He gets to where he throws a lot of pitches in an inning and gets his pitch count up. Would like to see him extend his innings to 7 or more per game, but I still think he's getting comfortable from his injury. His elbow has heeled, but he's just getting into his rhythm on the mound. I see David having a strong 2nd half and he's on a good team that leads the American League East at 50-39, though tenuously, with a 3.5 game lead over the Yankees and the Rays. So while they have a lead, David and company are going to have to pitch well in the second half for the Sox to excel. Excited to see that transpire though. Should be an excellent second half of major league baseball. David was hitting 94-96 with his heat, he threw some very good cutters, 88-90 MPH, and had a good change up working at 85-87 MPH. His curve ball is coming along. It'll keep developing where he'll be confident to use it in the second half. David is 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, walks plus hits per inning. His ERA has really improved over the past 3 weeks. It was over 5 maybe a month ago, so he's been pitching well recently. A 1.26 WHIP is decent. I know he'd like to get it down to 1.10 even 1.00, where he's usually at. I see that coming in the second half. Clayton Kershaw has a 0.88 WHIP which is spectacular. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace is having not only a Cy Young season, but an MVP season as well. He's 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA. In 132 innings, he's walked 22 and struck out 159. That's spectacular. He pitched a complete game victory yesterday and walked none while striking out 13. He's the best in the business. But David is pretty darn good too. 

Pedro Alvarez had 2 hits yesterday, 2 singles, and drove in what turned out to be the winning run in the 7th inning for the Norfolk Tides as they defeated the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers 3-2. Pedro came up with 2 outs in the top of the 7th at Columbus, with runners on first and 2nd. He stroked a single hard through the left side. Pedro has a flair for the dramatic. He's got 17 homers and 56 RBIs, good for 5th in homers and tied for 3rd in Ribeyes in the International League. The Baltimore Orioles have got to be noticing Pedro's hitting They need him up there. They're struggling and need a spark. Pedro can carry a team with his bat when he's hot and right now he is. I wish they'd get him up there.

Also, Tony Kemp is hitting .332 for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Houston Astros triple A team in the Pacific Coast League. Tony just keeps putting up the numbers. I wish the 'Stros would give him a shot. I know they have a super team with the second best record in baseball behind the Dodgers (61-29) at 60-29. Jose Altuve is one of the best players in the big leagues at 2nd, but Tony can play left field, center or right. He's a tremendous athlete, so the Astros, as loaded as they are, can still use him. If not, I wish he could get a trade to a contender that'll play him. He really has earned the right to be a major league starter in my opinion, as has Pedro. They're too good to keep in the minors.

Will be back with D Mase, Ralph, Oren and Kyle unplugged tomorrow or Wednesday AM. Great stuff going on in recruiting and 2017 looks riveting for our football team. 

Anchor Drop No. 13 is in

Maxwell Worship, a 6'2" 185 pound, 5.6 (Rivals) and 85 (247) 3 star safety, has committed to Coach Mason and our football program! 

Maxwell is from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. a powerhouse in high school football in the Sunshine state. Maxwell joins incoming freshmen corner Randall Haynie and wide receiver James Bostic as Cardinal Gibbons products. Really like this south Florida pipeline. Awesome players come out of that area. Some of the best in the country.

Watched Maxwell's tape. Super stuff. Maxwell lays serious wood, and creates and gets turnovers. I saw Max take a 25 yard int back to the house, and he had another really nice pick over the middle. I saw him force 2 fumbles on perfect form, physical tackles to the midsection of a running back. He is some kind of sure tackler and turnover creator. We're getting a fantastic player.

Maxwell moves our class up to 26 in the 247 rankings, and 4th in the SEC by that recruiting service, one spot ahead of Kentucky, which we were behind in the rankings before the Worship commit. We are now 27th on the Rivals rankings. Kentucky is just ahead of us at 25, so we could move ahead of them with another anchor drop.

Really liking this class. And I really like our 2017 team. Will get more into this year's squad as the summer progresses.

Football players in shooting

I guess most of you know by now about the shooting in Nashville that injured defensive backs Frank Coppet and Tae Daley, and involved wide receiver Donoven Tennyson. It stemmed from Donaven having his cell phone stolen, and as the 3 guys were trying to retrieve it, Frank and Tae were shot. Very fortunately, the injuries weren't critical. Chris Lee of Vandy Rivals posted this morning that there is more information that sheds a more positive light on our players. Donaven put his cell phone up for sale online, met the guys whom he was selling it to, and the other guys stole it. Donaven called the guys to meet them and took Frank and Tae with him in trying to get the phone back. The boys had a pellet gun with them. The other guys had a shotgun and a pistol and shot at our players.

That's what I know right now. More information will come out. It was a bad decision by Donaven to sell the phone online in the first place, and it was  terrible decision by the 3 to meet those dangerous guys with a pellet gun and try to get the phone back. Hopefully they and the entire team will learn from this. There will most likely be disciplinary actions by Coach Mason and the school, which is necessary. Just want these guys to get healthy and get their act together. They can't be out there risking their lives for a phone. Donaven needs a phone. Not sure why he was selling it in the first place. Maybe he wanted to buy another.  They are all 3 good kids and talented players. They just made a terribly unwise decision. It could have cost them their lives. I hope the whole team learns from this and stays clear of ANY potentially dangerous situations. 

The commit of Maxwell is outstanding, so that's the great news. The players who were involved in the incident will need to take their medicine once Frank and Tae are healthy. 

 

Prediction for Quicken Loans National

TPC Potomac at Avenal Farm, Potomac Maryland, just north of D.C.

7,139 yards, par 70

Defending champion: Billy Hurley III, -13, defeated Vijay Singh by 3 shots. 

TV: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 2:30-5:30 PM CT; Saturday, 12-1:30 PM Ct, Golf, 2-5 PM CT, CBS; Sunday, 12-1:30 PM CT, Golf, 2-5:30 PM CT CBS.

Weather: Fine, hot, but it's late June, early July so expected in D.C. area.

Winner

Going with the 38 year old from Winfield, Illinois by way of Duke University. This player won the Tampa Bay Championship, now the Valspar, in 2013, and also won the Travelers Championship in 2014. He shot 64 last Sunday in the Travelers to finish T-8, and finished T-12 here last year. Like the way he's trending. Going with the Blue Devil.

Kevin Streelman

Like Streelman at Quicken Loans (Photo courtesy of Alchetron).  

Like Streelman at Quicken Loans (Photo courtesy of Alchetron).

 

Sleeper

Harold Varner III

Finished T-7 here last year and getting closer and closer. 

CWS Championship Series, Florida vs. LSU

No.3 seed Florida (50-19) vs. No.4 seed LSU (52-18)

Best 2 out of 3 series

TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Nebraska, 24,000

Game times: Tonight, 6 CT, Tuesday, 7 PM CT, Wednesday, (if necessary) 7 PM CT

Network: ESPN

Pitchers for tonight's game: Florida, RHP Brady Singer, 8-5, 3.18 ERA, LSU, RHP Russell Reynolds 1-1, 8.59. LSU has to start Reynolds because regular starter Eric Walker, 8-2, 3.49, was lost for the season with an arm injury last week. 

Tuesday's starters: Florida, RHP Tyler Dyson 3-0, 3.55 or RHP Michael Byrne, 4-5, 1.74, LSU LHP Jared Poche, 12-3, 3.39.

Wednesday, Florida, TBD vs. LSU RHP Alex Lange, 10-5, 2.97. 

Note: Florida may not be able to use No.1 starter, right hander Alex Faedo, 9-2, 2.26, a first round pick of the Detroit Tigers, on Wednesday because Faedo just beat TCU 3-0 on Saturday and he may not have sufficient rest between starts. That would be tough for coach Kevin O'Sullivan and the Gators to try and figure that out. LSU coach Paul Mainiera is in better shape with his pitching though tonight is questionable. 

LSU has won 6 national titles, 5 under Skip Bertman from 1991 to 2000; '91, '93, '96, '97, 2000, and 1 under Mainieri, 2009. Florida has won a national championship, but made it to the championship series in 2005, where they lost to Texas, and in 2011 where they lost to South Carolina. Both times under O'Sullivan.

Final decision

I like LSU's team better than Florida's. They hit it better, field better, and their pitching is set up much better than the Gators. I like the Gators to win tonight, but for the Bengal Tigers to take games 2 and 3 with, Poche, a 9th round pick by the Oakland A's, and their ace, Lange, a first round pick by the Cubs.

LSU in 3

Commit No. 12, Sonny, David, Pedro, Yaz

5.6 and 85 3 star cornerback Rayshad Williams has committed to Derek Mason and the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Rayshad is a 6'4", 185 pound defensive back out of Whitehaven High School in Memphis. Good players come out of Whitehaven and Rayshad is another one of them. 

Rayshad's film is exceptional. Whoever he hits, goes down. No more questions after he hits you. Really good tackler. Great ball skills, saw at least 3 ints on film. Fast, very athletic. Really like this pickup. Rayshad joins high 3 star db's Deshaun Jerkins and Tre Douglas in this class for us in the secondary. Tre committed Thursday and Deshaun dropped anchor on Friday. We have room for one more db and Chandler Jones, a 4 star, is close to committing. Will keep you posted on Chandler. Hope we can get some D linemen in this class. Nick Fulwider, a 6'6", 250 pound d end out of Tyrone, GA., is very interested. High 3 star. Very good player. Would like at least one defensive tackle also. 

Sonny Gray had an outstanding game today to move to 3-3 on the season with a 4.45 ERA, which improved greatly with this outing, as the A's swept the ChiSox with today's 5-3 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field on the Southside of Chicago. 

Sonny went 7, gave up 4 hits, 2 runs, with only 1earned, 1 walk and 7 K's. The A's were down 2-0 in the 6th, but scored a run in the top of the 6th and 2 in the 7th, and hit two long ones in the 9th. Sonny threw 101 pitches, 64 for strikes against 37 balls. Stellar outing for the man. Sonny isn't worried about any of that trade gossip. He wants to win and he wants his team to win. Sonny's next outing is Saturday at home against Dansby and the Braves, which are playing pretty good baseball right now  though they lost to the Brewers today, 7-0, to drop to 36-39 on the season. But they are still greatly improving and Dans is hitting better and better and playing super shortstop.

The A's moved to 34-42 on the season. They made some real progress this weekend. Starting pitching was awesome, defense was superb, and bats were clutch. That's what it takes. Really liked what I saw out of Sonny. Hitting 94 consistently with his fastball, breaking ball was superb, and his cut fastball, which David taught him, was outstanding as well.

David Price pitched well last night though he took the loss. The BoSox lost to the LA Angels, 6-3. David fell to 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA. David went 6, gave up 4 hits,2 runs, with  just 1 earned, 0 walks and 5 K's. He gave up a homer, as did Sonny today, but he pitched outstandingly well. His fastball was hitting 95-96, he even hit 97 at least once, maybe twice. He pretty much relied on his heat. Boston manager John Ferrell wants Dave to throw more off-speed stuff, which he did more in his latter innings. David doesn't seem to have confidence with his changeup or his breaking ball right now. That'll come. David pitches again Thursday at home vs. the Minnesota Twins, which are in first place in the AL Central after just sweeping last year's World Series participant Cleveland Indians. The Twins swept the Indians at Cleveland. Of course, the Indians lost to the Cubs in 6 games last year in the Series. That's impressive by the Twins, so David will have his work cut out for him. I see him still getting comfortable on the mound after being sidelined for the first 2 months of the season with a sore elbow. Looking forward to David's challenge Thursday at Fenway.

Pedro Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski had huge days at the plate for the Norfolk Tides today in their 9-8 victory over the Gwinnett Braves, the Atlanta team's triple A club. The Tides are the triple A club for the Baltimore Orioles. 

Pedro was 3 for 6 with a homer and 2 doubles and 3 Ribeyes. That was Pedro's 16th homer of the season, and his 3 RBIs gave him 50 for the season. Yaz was 2 for 5 with the game winning single in the top of the 11th. Great stuff from both of our guys. Both should be in Baltimore soon. The Orioles need'em!




VU football adds 4 for 2018, David, Sonny, Dansby, Brandt

Vanderbilt football added 4 new Vanderbilt football commits last week. Huge news.  I'm a little under the weather right now, so want to get back to full go and watch film and give you more detail on these really good football players we added last week, but here's what I've got so far....

Four star wide receiver Camron Johnson out of Brentwood Academy in Nashville is on board. Camron was a high level SEC recruit and we beat out the heavyweights Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, etc.. for Camron. That's super stuff. Camron's Brentwood Academy teammate, high 3 star Gavin Schoenwald, a 6'5", 225 tight end who we beat out in a recruiting war with South Carolina for, also committed. This was really tremendous news as Gavin is outstanding and was high on our board, and we didn't know if we could beat out Muschamp and SC for him, but we prevailed.

High 3 star tight end Ben Bresnahan, out of West Forsyth High in Cummings, GA., also committed last week.  Ben, like Gavin, is 6'5", 225.

We also landed a kicker out of Miami's Belen Jesuit Prep, Javan Rice. Javan is 6'3", 190, and while he's unranked, his field goal accuracy numbers are outstanding and he averages over 40 yards a punt.

That gives us 8 commits so far for 2018. To go along with these 4 guys, we have high 3 star quarterback Allan Walters, out of the Peddie School in New Jersey, 4 star center Dan Dawkins, also out of the Peddie School, 4 star linebacker Alston Orji out of Rockwell High School in Rockwell, Texas, and solid 3 star athlete Miles Jones out of American Heritage High in Plantation, Florida. Really liked Miles' film. He's an elite playmaker, a Darrius Sims-like player who can make things happen in the running game and the passing game with his elite speed and elusiveness as a slot receiver. Definitely a take it to the house guy. Was very impressed with Walters', Dawkins' and Orji's film as well.

Will watch film on our 4 new guys and give you my impressions later in the week. I know we'll really like these guys. We are getting guys who the other SEC schools want, teams like Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn, even Alabama in Johnson's case. So we're doing extremely well.
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Rivals has us with the 38th best recruiting class in the country, and 247 has us at 40. And we've got our Friday Night Lights camp coming up with a lot of top level guys coming in soon. Not sure of exact date of FNL, but it's coming soon, either this weekend or next weekend. Believe it's this weekend. Note: it's this Friday, June 23rd, with some very compelling visitors. 

David Price got the victory for the BoSox last night. Sonny pitched pretty well for the A's Thursday as they beat the Yankees, 8-7. The A's actually swept the 4 game series with the Bombers at Oakland, so the Bosox are virtually tied with the Yankees now in the AL East. A's still at 32-38, but they've played good baseball this season. More on David and Sonny when I report later in the week. Both had pretty solid nights. Dansby doing well for the Braves. Playing excellent short and his bat is getting better and better. Will be in touch and keep you posted on more recruiting news, as I see us getting some more Anchor Drops in the next two weeks. D Mase and the coaches doin some serious work.

What's also interesting is that 5 star point guard Darius Garland of the 2018 basketball class, is quite interested in our basketball program. His two classmates at Brentwood Academy, Johnson and Schoenwald, who just committed to us in football, want Darrius to come aboard as a VU point guard commit. Will also keep you posted on that.

Hope all the dads had a super Father's Day with the family, possibly getting a round of golf in, and watching the U.S. Open.

Brooks Koepka played outstanding to win the Open, but I was proud of Brandt Sneds. Brandt finished T-9 at -8. Great showing by B, and I expect him to be a contender at the Open Championship next month at Royal Birkdale in England, July 20-23rd, and at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, August 10-13th. Like what I saw out of Brandt. Thanks.

 

The 149th Belmont Stakes

The 149th Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, Elmont, New York, crowd, 110,000+

1 1/2 miles, dirt track

Track record: Secretariat, who else? 2:24. 

Post time: Saturday, 5:37 PM CT, 

TV: NBC

Weather: Mostly sunny, 76, Wind 10 MPH SSW.

Prediction:

Going with the 2 time Kentucky Derby and 2 time Belmont winning trainer Todd Pletcher again. Pletcher won this year's Derby with Always Dreaming and has a 6:1 horse in the Belmont. Like the horse's credentials and 23 year old jockey Jose Ortiz from Puerto Rico is hungry. This horse skipped the Preakness, so it's rested. That was the Preakness winner team's strategy as Cloud Computing skipped the 143rd  Derby then won the 142nd Preakness. Like Pletcher holding his horse out of the Preakness and capturing the 149th Belmont, the longest and oldest race of the Triple Crown at a mile and a half. This 3 year old wins the Test of Champions. 

Tapwrit

Like 6:1 Tapwrit to capture the 149th Belmont Stakes on Saturday

Like 6:1 Tapwrit to capture the 149th Belmont Stakes on Saturday