Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray calls a play in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl NCAA college football game against Central Florida in Memphis. (AP)
Georgia sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray, South Carolina sophomore tailback Marcus Lattimore, Alabama junior tailback Trent Richardson and South Carolina junior receiver Alshon Jeffery headline the Southeastern Conference preseason teams that were voted on recently by league coaches.
The SEC office released the first, second and third teams Thursday in advance of next week’s media days event in Hoover, Ala. The media will pick the league champion, the two division winners and an all-conference team, and those results will be announced next Friday.
Alabama had seven first-team selections and Georgia had six, but Arkansas led with 14 overall selections, topping the Crimson Tide’s 13 representatives. This is the first time in the eight years of the coaches’ vote that the Razorbacks have topped the tally, with their 14 picks trailing only the 16 Florida had coming off its 2008 national championship.
“I think you’re starting to see more underclassmen on these lists of people earning preseason recognition,” said SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom, who coordinated the vote. “That’s probably the biggest trend that I’ve noticed.”
Tennessee had the fewest overall selections with two, as senior defensive lineman Malik Jackson made the first team and junior defensive back Prentiss Waggner made the third team. Left out for the Vols were senior tailback Tauren Poole, who rushed for 1,034 yards last season, offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James, an All-SEC Freshman pick a year ago, and defensive back Janzen Jackson, who left the team in February and re-enrolled on July 6.
Bloom said ballots had to be turned in by July 7.
Representing Alabama on the first team were Richardson, senior center William Vlachos, junior offensive lineman Barrett Jones, senior defensive lineman Josh Chapman, junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower, senior defensive back Mark Barron and junior defensive back Robert Lester. Richardson, who rushed for 700 yards last season, was picked ahead of Arkansas junior Knile Davis, who rushed for 1,322 yards.
Murray, the SEC’s top returning quarterback in efficiency and touchdown passes, was joined by Bulldogs junior tight end Orson Charles, senior offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, senior kicker Blair Walsh, senior punter Drew Butler and senior return specialist Brandon Boykin. The Bulldogs were shut out of first-team defensive picks for a second consecutive year.
Only three of the 14 Razorbacks selected made the first team: senior receiver Greg Childs, senior defensive end Jake Bequette and senior all-purpose specialist Joe Adams.
Georgia junior inside linebacker Richard Samuel is heading back to tailback following the departures of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King. The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder from Cartersville signed with the Bulldogs as a tailback in 2008 and had a 104-yard rushing performance at Arkansas in 2009, but he slid down the depth chart later in the ’09 season before moving to defense.
“I’m excited that Richard wants to make the move,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He’s one of our fastest and most powerful players, is very mature, has a strong character and is a man we can count on. I’m proud of him for always putting the team first, and I look forward to seeing what he can do.”
Said Samuel: “I’m excited about the opportunity at tailback. I’m ready to do anything that will help the team win.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...