8:00 AM - Good Morning everyone! Sports Director Wade Smith here. Happy to be at SEC Media Days all week bringing updates from coaches and players from your favorite teams. Today's action starts with Commissioner Greg Sankey on the mic around 11 AM. Following the Commissioner, Arkansas will be the first team of the day. The afternoon session will include LSU and Tennessee. Check back for photos and bits from your favorite teams. Should be a fun week! Happy Football!
11:30 AM - And let the interviews begin. Updates coming through 5 PM. Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema starts us off.
11:55 - Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema was very energetic on the mic to start off the Radio Room's Monday. He spoke on adding depth at running back through graduate transfers and thinks that it has really bolstered the talent level.
Bielema spoke on Paul Rhodes moving into the Defensive Coordinator role this season for his team. Bret believes that he is a special talent as a coach and has crossed paths with him many times through his coaching career. Had nothing but good things to say about Paul.
Lastly, he spoke of his senior QB Austin Allen. Seems that this could be a very solid team for Bielema and with the hints around the SEC about how hot his coaching seat is...this could be coming at a great time.
He took his final seconds to advocate for young kids continuing to play football. The good reasons out weigh the bad ones all day.
12:05 PM - Senior QB Austin Allen from the Razorbacks is next. Allen has matured quite a bit. Said that he is not afraid to take a punt on a possession if in the long run it helps the team. He looks the part physically as a senior QB but the most impressive part is the leadership that just oozes from him. He seems like the kind of QB that you would knock down walls for...just a great attitude and a good head on his shoulders. Going to be fun to see how successful Allen can be in 2017.
Talked great about his Offensive Line and Tight Ends. Screams the Bret Bielema mentality.
12:20 PM - Senior DB Kevin Richardson II is the third member of the Razorbacks to join us. He is a captain this season...already named in the Spring. Richardson is excited to play for Coach Rhodes on the defensive side of the ball. Kevin believes that this defense can do big things under the new Defensive Coordinator.
Richardson talked about tough quarterbacks he has faced in his career. The toughest he said was Dak Prescott...and went on to say it is no surprise to him how well Dak is doing in the Pros.
1:00 PM - Senior OL Frank Ragnow joins us after a few minutes. He hints that there may even be a few sets this season where he gets to play defense.
Arkansas has 15 scholarship Offensive Linemen this season. There should be less of a rotation this season as opposed to last year. Coach Anderson has helped to bring them together. Coach Bielema notes that Ragnow is one of the best OL he has ever coached.
Very humble young man. He grew up in Minnesota but loves to give people in his hometown grief about the SEC being better, faster, and stronger.
Also, he loves the Power I formation. He wants to run guys over.
2:45 PM - Up next we dive into LSU. Senior WR DJ Chark joins us at the podium.
DJ thinks this Tiger offense will be different this year with a new Offensive Coordinator and an experienced QB. Danny Etling seems to be the leader in the club house to hear DJ talk.
Chark is a Wide Receiver in the SEC that could be very, very good if LSU has consistent QB play. That has been the biggest question for LSU the last 5 years. We will see in a few minutes if new coach Ed Orgeron has anything to say about that.
DJ singled out Alabama as by far the toughest defense and most disciplined he has faced. He ended his time in our room doing his best Coach O impression. Funny young man. He will do well in and out of football in the future.
2:55 PM - Senior Defensive End Christian LaCouture is next for LSU. He had high praise for his teammates including Arden Key and Derrius Guice.
Christian said that even though Guice is smaller than Fournette, he is an explosive back and will get the job done.
It is not hard to tell this guy is ready to play. He is ready to make Coach O proud as a former Defensive Line Coach.
3:05 - LSU RB Derrius Guice is the last of the LSU Players to join us. He will have big shoes to fill as the full time starter now that Leonard Fournette has moved on to the NFL. Guice just seems to have fun all the time. I can only imagine how he is on the field and in a huddle.
Derrius expects to have a bigger part of the passing game this year. He feels like it will be a great new wrinkle to the LSU Offense this year.
One of the best fashion statements of the day so far with a salmon jacket and a hot pink bow tie. He pulls it off. Fun guy.
3:10 PM - Time for the show that is Coach Ed Orgeron.
He has huge praise for Guice. Coach O believes that he could be the best player in the country by the end of the year.
Says he loves when players have impressions of him...sees it as a sign of respect.
Coach O was asked about his thoughts on kids playing high school football. Said one of the best times of his life was taking a year off to watch his kids play ball a few years ago.
Many people thought we would miss Les Miles at Media Days, but Coach O is going to be a good fill in for the time being.
"My mentality is to treat every player like one of my sons" - Coach Orgeron
3:20 PM - Senior OL Jason Robertson is our first player from Tennessee. Robertson will play all over the OL this year. He will likely start at Guard but has the ability to move in to Center or out to Tackle if needed.
Robertson believes that the Butch Jones hot seat talk will not make this team stumble. He then cited a few records like 3 straight bowl wins, 3 straight 9 win seasons, etc.
Sounds very prepared on the Butch Jones situation.
Tennessee fans should be happy to know a guy like Robertson is there to be able to move anywhere on the OL this year.
3:30 PM - SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey joins our room next. The 14 week season is a big talking point for him. It would be a 12 game over 14 week schedule. Meaning each team gets 2 bye weeks. The major drawbacks would be practice starting a week earlier. This schedule is really just a conversation right now.
No discussion has been had about the California state law affecting travel to place like Alabama. Not even on his public radar at this point.
Recruiting seems to be a big piece of Sankey's mindset this offseason. Ready on any and all talking points on the subject. Nothing too new coming from Sankey's comments.
3:45 PM - Senior DB Emmanuel Moseley resumes our coverage of Tennessee. Believes that Coach Jones brings a positive energy to the team that they need to win. Sees himself as one of the major leaders in the secondary but says the older guys come together as a whole.
Competition is making people better on this team.
Moseley says that consistency will be a big part of this team. Learning from last year's schedule will also be a big piece.
3:50 PM - Senior DL Kendal Vickers is the last player of the day. He really echoed the same sentiments on Butch Jones as the other players did as well.
Vickers said that injuries was a big piece of the puzzle last year. Hoping more can stay healthy this year so that the "Next Man Up" mentality won't be as big of a part of the team.
4:30 PM - Our final guest of the day is Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones. His first major question is around expectations for the 2017 season. Coach Jones expects big things. This is now the third time I have heard that they won 9 games 3 years straight and won 3 straight bowl games.
Butch believes they have come a long way but there are still many things to be improved upon.
Spoke briefly on the stadium renovations. Want the ultimate fan experience when completed.
Lastly, he touched on coaching changes around him and said it was very "healthy" for the team overall.
In my opinion, the seat is hot for Butch...but there is no telling at this point what keeps his job and what sends him packing.
Wrap Up: That closes out Day 1 of SEC Media Days. Coverage begins tomorrow during the 8 AM hour. Come back and join us all day tomorrow - Thursday. Thanks! - Sports Director Wade Smith