3 players and 3 teams that changed my view of the SEC during Media Days
HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Media Days is an opportunity for coaches and players to sell themselves and their programs. However, that’s not an easy task.
The media that covers the SEC can be cynical and jaded. That doesn’t mean that some can’t rise above and alter preexisting notions about what might unfold this season.
Here are 3 players that impressed me and 3 teams that changed my mind after the unofficial kickoff to college football:
3 players who impressed me
Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant
Bryant caught plenty of flak last season, when he played 4 games, lost his starting job and decided to sit out the rest of the season to preserve a final year of eligibility. Some called him selfish. Others questioned his maturity.
Nobody questioned him in Hoover.
He’s a grad transfer, and he showed he might have the maturity to lead a team to a successful season despite the specter of the NCAA’s bowl ban in place. Bryant seemed firmly focused on this season and determined to be a leader for his new teammates. Bryant’s decision to leave Clemson could have been seen as a selfish one. Well, it was. However, there’s nothing wrong with a player looking out for himself. If Bryant is the leader he appeared to be in Hoover, that should be added to his NFL Draft profile.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano
I was impressed by Guarantano’s media savvy. Guarantano said all the right things and didn’t take the bait when asked if he would back his teammate, Darrell Taylor, on his prediction that the Vols would definitely make a bowl game. Guarantano was all positive and all coach speak. That’s not great for the media. However, it’s a sign of a player who has bought in to what Jeremy Pruitt wants and learned to be a leader.
Florida running back Lamical Perine
Everybody in Hoover is supremely confident in their ability to play. That’s part of what earned them the right to represent their program.
Perine’s confidence level was off the charts.
We’ll let Perine, Kellen Mond and Kash Daniel battle for Most Confident, but Perine set the tone.
Perine talked about turning down Alabama and referred to himself in the third person.
It was one of the better quotes of the week. In case you missed it, after Perine said he turned down Nick Saban, a reporter followed by saying, nobody says no to Nick Saban.
“Lamical Perine does,” Lamical Perine said.
That might sound cocky, but in the next sentence Perine praised Florida coach Dan Mullen’s offense. As for the offseason departures the Gators had to endure, Perine seemed very ready to move forward with who he has around him. Perine definitely brought the swag to Hoover.
3 teams that changed my mind
I think everyone on LSU’s football team believes they can beat Alabama and win the SEC West this season.
I still have my doubts, but they didn’t show any this week.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron and his players believe that they can top the Tide. There seemed to be a sincere belief around the LSU contingent that this is their year. That confidence started, obviously, with the great motivator himself, Coach O. Joe Burrow followed. Burrow was so smooth, engaging and confident it’s easy to see why his teammates love playing for him.
Grant Delpit said when he saw Burrow get knocked out against UCF, he thought he was done for the day. All Burrow did was get up and lead LSU to a key bowl win and 10th victory.
Orgeron took it a step farther.
“I do believe that Joe, if we let him, would run through a brick wall no matter what it took. He’s that tough. He has a linebacker mentality.”
Alabama has been more impenetrable than a brick wall, but don’t tell LSU that.
I don’t think LSU is better than Bama. I’m not sure they can score against Alabama. However, there’s a certain confidence among the Bayou Bengals that should be accounted for.
Joe Moorhead spent most of his time walking back brash comments he made at last year’s Media Days.
Most gave him a thumbs up for his admitting he put his team in a tough spot by talking about championship rings and Heisman Trophy awards.
I had a different view. Moorhead’s backtracking makes me think that he’s not very confident in his team. Before SEC Media Days, I thought Mississippi State could be the surprise team in the conference. Now I’m second guessing that. Moorhead is a really good offensive coach, which is exactly what a program like State needs. However, I don’t think we’ll see his best on display this season.
I have always believed that Texas A&M could challenge Alabama for supremacy in the SEC West.
I tend to think that may happen sooner than I once believed.
No, the Aggies won’t win the West this year. To a man, the Aggies talked about their brutal schedule as an opportunity, but it’s a daunting one. They likely won’t even win it in 2020.
However, they’ll be close by then and I bet the SEC West will be won by whichever team wins the Alabama-TexasA&M game that season. Fisher and the players representing the Aggies did nothing to dispel the fact that Fisher will get back to a championship level despite the fact that the Bama goliath is in the way.