Around The SEC (April 24): John L. Smith in at Arkansas; Crimson Tide Get Rings


Once again we lead with the Arkansas Razorbacks. They have hired John L. Smith to replace the departed Bobby Petrino. Smith signed a ten month deal for $850,000. He coached under Petrino with the Razorbacks so it is a homecoming for him but he leaves Weber State high and dry with the move. Smith just signed to become the head coach of Weber State in December and now the team is left without a head football coach. The school has not commented as of yet.

Smith is 132-86 as a head coach so he has proven he can win, and he should do well in Arkansas. He takes over one of the top teams in the nation and he knows Petrino’s system so don’t look for many changes.

If he is smart he can take the current players, keep the current system and parlay this one-year stint into another job with a top program, or maybe even an extension to stay with the Razorbacks after this season. Smith was 53-21 with Idaho, 16-18 with Utah State, 41-21 with Louisville, 22-26 at Michigan State and 0-0 at Weber State.

In other Arkansas news, 45,250 came out Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the annual Red-White Spring Game. The Red team dominated the White squad 65-0. The crowd was the largest ever to watch  the Razorbacks’ spring game. Stars of the game were senior tight end Chris Gragg who had 130 yards on 9 catches and two touchdowns, Marquel Wade had 6 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Ronnie Wingo Jr. was the leading rusher with 14 carries for 88 yards and three touchdowns. Cobi Hamilton and Tyler Wilson each passed for 156 yards on 11 completions.

Alabama players received their 2011 National Championship rings last Monday night at a steak dinner at the Mal Moore Athletics Facility.

Kentucky played its annual Blue/White Game Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium and the First Teamers topped the Second Teamers 35-28. Maxwell Smith, a sophomore quarterback, threw for 353 yards completing 29-45 passes. He also threw two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Senior QB Morgan Newton did not play due to a shoulder injury. Freshman wide receiver Demarco Robinson had 9 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats ran the no-huddle offense for most of the day and head coach Joker Phillips liked what he saw.  

“We got an idea of who some of our play makers are,” said Phillips. “I worked a training camp one time with Joe Gibbs and one of our coaching meetings said, ‘There’s something to be said about a guy, every time you have a scrimmage, he makes a play.’Demarco Robinson was that guy. Every time we came into this place (Commonwealth Stadium), he made a huge play for us. Today he made a lot of big plays for us.”

LSU will have three players attending the NFL Draft this week. Head coach Les Miles will attend the draft with Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers and Rueben Randle. Claiborne is projected as a top 5 pick and rumors are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings are hot after him. Brockers and Randle are also projected to be chosen in the first round Thursday night in New York.

Mississippi State held their annual spring game Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium and the Maroon team defeated the White team 33-22. A crowd of 22,604 came out to watch the game on a cool night. Running back LaDarius Perkins had 55 yards on 7 carries and scored a touchdown. All of his playing time was in the first half. Jameon Lewis led all receivers with 10 catches, including a touchdown, for 144 yards. Redshirt freshman Joe Morrow pulled in 6 receptions for 97 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dak Prescott had 205 yards passing and a touchdown. Josh Robinson had 63 yards on the ground on 5 rushes. Defensively Corvell Harrison-Gay and Quay Evans each had three sacks while Ferlando Bohanna collected 8 tackles.

Ole Miss played the BanCorpSouth Grove Bowl Saturday and an estimated 25,000 fans saw a great game as the Red team nipped the Blue team 24-23 in overtime. QB Bo Wallace went 16-26 for 240 yards and two touchdowns while his counterpart Barry Brunetti went 4 for 10 for 62 yards but rushed for 136 on 14 carries. Leading receivers were Vincent Sanders (5 catches 89 yards), and Ja-Mes Logan (3 catches 88 yards). C.J. Johnson had 8 tackles and a sack while Dehendret Collins picked off two passes.

South Carolina took part in the Wounded Warrior Project by donating several items to be auctioned off. Those items brought in about $60,000 for the organization. The Gamecocks donated 119 jerseys that were worn during pre game warmups for their game with Auburn on October 1st, 2011.

Texas A & M will be playing its annual Maroon & White Game Saturday at 1 pm at Kyle Field. University and High School students will be admitted free and all others will be charged $5.

Missouri, in anticipation of their first season in the SEC, has announced it will create a season ticket waiting list. Current season ticket holders must renew for the upcoming season by April 30th. The Tigers have an attractive home schedule for fans in 2012 as they host Georgia, Alabama and Arizona State as the marquee opponents this fall. Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Southeastern Louisiana also visit.

Tennessee played the annual Orange and White Game Saturday at Neyland Stadium and The Orange beat the White 17-14. Marlin Lane was the star of the afternoon with 106 yards on the ground on 9 carries and a pair of touchdowns. 35,421 Volunteer fans witnessed the action. Da’Rick Rogers caught 5 balls for 74 yards and just fell short of the end zone on one catch. Tyler Bray completed 14 of 26 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. Head coach Derek Dooley was impressed with lane’s performance in a game setting.

“It’s good to see,” Dooley said. “You would rather him do that than not do it. I try to judge the body of work over 15 practices, and this game is important because it is a true game setting.”

www.outsidetheredzone.com. Blanchette is the owner of Blanchette Sports Holdings. Follow along with them at www.blanchettesh.elementfx.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003521034703&sk=wall or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/BlanchettSports

Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Bobby Petrino, Chris Gragg, Cj Johnson, Cobi Hamilton, Commonwealth Stadium, Corvell Harrison-gay, Da'Rick Rogers, Dak Prescott, Davis Wade Stadium, Dehendret Collins, Demarco Robinson, Derek Dooley, Donald W Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Ferlando Bohanna, Georgia Bulldogs, Grove Bowl, Idaho, Ja-mes Logan, Jameon Lewis, Joe Morrow, John L. Smith, Joker Phillips, Kentucky, Kyle Field, Ladarius Perkins, Les Miles, Louisiana State Tigers, Louisville, Mal Moore Athletics Facility, Marlin Lane, Marquel Wade, Mexwell Smith, Michael Brockers, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Vikings, Mississippi State, Missouri, Morgan Newton, Morris Claiborne, New York, Neyland Stadium, NFL Draft, Ole Miss, Quay Evans, Ray Blanchette, Ronnie Wingo Jr, Rueben Randle, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Southeastern Louisiana, Syracuse, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, The Saturday Blitz, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Vincent Sanders, Weber State, Wounded Warrior Project

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