Monthly Archives: January 2012

SEC Football Recruiting Dominance Continues

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SEC football recruiting for 2012 ends Wednesday when players can start signing. The SEC is having another outstanding recruiting year with as many as 8 SEC teams in the top 25 and 5 in the top 15.

South Carolina has reached it’s limit of 25 players already and I don’t think they will get anyone else. You never know though. Most other conferences can recruit more than 25 players each year but the SEC will only let you sign 25 per year.

Vanderbilt is even in the top 25 at number 24 and new member Texas A&M is currently ranked 12th. Georgia and Florida look to get back into the thick of the SEC East race as they are ranked 4th and 5th in the national rankings.

Alabama is currently number 1 in the national recruiting rankings. While Auburn is still in the running for quite a few good players and has a lot of slots left.

The Arkansas class is currently not ranked but they could move into the top 25 in the next few days if they can get a couple of the big name prospects they are after.

Overall it looks like another great recruiting year for the SEC despite being able to sign only 25 players for each school. The top SEC schools are again getting the big, fast defensive lineman that have been dominating college football for the last 5 or 6 years.

So Thursday what happens you ask?  The teams will begin recruiting for 2013 of course.

SEC Dominates The Preseason College Baseball Polls

IMG 1251 300x225 SEC Dominates The Preseason College Baseball Polls

College Baseball

The college baseball polls are out and the SEC pretty much dominates the college baseball  polls just like they dominate the college football polls. College teams can start practice tomorrow and some teams like 2 time defending College World Series champion South Carolina will start practice in front of a pretty good size crowd if the weather holds out.

Below are the Baseball America polls. Some polls have South Carolina number 2 and some polls have them number 3. Most polls have Florida #1. The Gators are loaded with talent but we know from last year the most talented team does not always win the College World Series. The Gamecocks finished last season #1 after beating the Gators in Omaha.

Arkansas is ranked #4, LSU #8 and Vanderbilt #10. That puts 5 SEC baseball teams in the top 10. Oh yeah Georgia comes in at #11. Of course it’s just the preseason but that’s 6 pretty good SEC  baseball teams in the top 11.

Rank Team 2011
Final 2011
1. Florida 53-19 2
2. Stanford 35-22 13
3. South Carolina 55-14 1
4. Arkansas 40-22 24
5. Arizona 39-21 NR
6. Rice 42-21 15
7. Texas A&M 47-22 7
8. Louisiana State 36-20 NR
9. North Carolina 51-16 5
10. Vanderbilt 54-12 4
11. Georgia 33-32 NR
12. Georgia Tech 42-21 20
13. Texas 49-19 6
14. UCLA 35-24 22
15. Texas Christian 43-19 19
16. Clemson 43-20 21
17. Arizona State 43-18 9
18. Miami 38-23 23
19. Oklahoma 41-19 NR
20. Florida State 46-19 8
21. Central Florida 39-23 NR
22. Mississippi 30-25 NR
23. Oregon State 41-19 10
24. Louisville 32-29 NR
25. Cal State Fullerton 41-17 14

2012 Atlanta Braves Preview

IMG 1042 300x225 2012 Atlanta Braves Preview

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Spring training is only a month or so away and it’s time for a 2012 Atlanta Braves preview. I have been going to spring training and staying for a week the last few years and can’t wait to get back down there this year. Most of us in the south live and die with our Braves.

I remember as young boy some 40 years ago listening to the Braves at night on the radio while lying bed. Hank Aaron, Rico Carty, Phil Niekro, Joe Torre and Sonny Jackson are just a few of the names I remember.

So I am starting the 2012 Atlanta Braves baseball season with a preview by Justin Gambrell of the Knoxville Baseball Examiner.

The Atlanta Braves finished the 2011 slate on a low note, missing the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. Several injuries to key players attributed to the epic collapse, but manager Fredi Gonzalez will lead his squad into the 2012 season with hopes that they’ll be able to compete in a suddenly loaded National League East. The club is hopeful that the offseason gave the injuries a chance to heal and that the team will be at full strength this year.

Best of the best: The Braves’ bullpen. Eric O’Flaherty, set up man Jonny Venters, and closer Craig Kimbrel kept the Braves in every close game last year, contributing to be the best bullpen in the major leagues. If the trio can keep playing like they did in 2011, the Braves will have a chance to win any game that comes down to the wire. Fredi Gonzalez goes to his relievers early and often, so barring an injury, they’ll have the chance to get the same amount of innings as they did last year.

The new face: Tyler Pastornicky. Pastornicky will likely be the opening day shortstop for the Braves, bringing speed and great defense to a lineup that is sorely lacking on both. His bat projects for a solid average but he won’t be hitting many home runs. Even though Pastornicky is only a rookie, Braves fans should be pleasantly surprised by the upgrade he provides at such a crucial position. That, or the fact that he’s not Alex Gonzalez.

The fatal flaw: No offense. The Braves were absolutely putrid offensively last year and the team did nothing to bring in another impact bat. Unless Jason Heyward can bounce back to form, it looks like Atlanta will be in more agonizingly close games next season. Chipper Jones is getting older and can’t seem to stay on the field, while the rest of the lineup has a tendency to go into painful slumps when they need production the most. Freddie Freeman led the Braves with a .282 batting average last season, only after he turned it on after an abysmal start. If Atlanta wants to win this season, they’ll need their bats to heat up sooner.

Down on the farm: Pitchers Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, and Randall Delgado. The Braves are always loaded with top level pitching prospects, and this year is no different. Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado both made appearances for the Braves last season, with Delgado carrying the heaviest load of the three and that trend should continue this year. The Braves have at least one spot open in their rotation due to the release of Derek Lowe, the injury concerns of Tommy Hanson, and the possible trade of Jair Jurrjens. It’s fair to say that we could see Teheran, Vizcaino, and Delgado in the majors sooner rather than later.

Final Verdict: The Braves should have plenty of pitching to stay in games, but you’ll lose more often than not when you can’t get a run across the plate, especially in crucial situations. Thanks to the dominance of the Phillies and the upgrades made by the Marlins and Nationals, the Braves chances of winning the division seem bleak. In order to make a run they’ll have to take major leaps in all offensive categories or acquire a player who can give them a boost.

Personally I think if Jason Heyward breaks out of his slump from last year and Chipper continues hitting the way he did last year the Braves will score runs. Brian McCann, Chipper and Jason must stay healthy for the Braves to be in contention in the ultra tough eastern division this year.

Get ready for the upcoming season. Get your team gear here.


Knoxville Baseball ExaminerJustin Gambrell is a graduate of Tennessee Tech University and a lifelong baseball fan. You can contact him @Justin_Gambrell on twitter.

Nick Saban News Conference Before 2012 BCS Title Game

Nick Saban holds press conference before team leaves for 2012 BCS title game.

0 Nick Saban News Conference Before 2012 BCS Title Game

South Carolina Players and Steve Spurrier – Post-Capital One Bowl

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, quarterback Connor Shaw, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery speak to the media after the 30-13 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on January 2, 2012.

0 South Carolina Players and Steve Spurrier   Post Capital One Bowl

UGA Coach Mark Richt Interview

Georgia football coach Mark Richt talks with reporters before the start of practice on Dec. 30, 2011

Steve Spurrier Following Citrus Bowl Practice

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is not real happy with the way practices have been going in Orlando. Not focused enough according to Spurrier. The Gamecocks have lost 3 bowls in a row and really want to turn the losing streak around against Nebraska.