Around The SEC: Biggest News as SEC Reopens Facilities
Here it is again, our weekly tour around the SEC with the publishers of our Sports Illustrated teams sites where this week we take a glimpse into how things are going in relation to the return to campuses and the start of voluntary workouts for student-athletes.
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Alabama: There were two major developments not including the Crimson Tide holding its first workouts on Monday. First, at least five players tested positive for the coronavirus when reporting and were immediately quarantined. https://www.si.com/college/alabama/bamacentral/report-multiple-alabama-football-players-test-positive-for-covid-19
The school has yet to comment on it. Second, a former Alabama gymnast posted on Instagram about how an assistant coach made a racist comment toward her and two other black gymnasts, and she had filed a Title IX complaint. Tia Kiaku had a lot more to say during a 71-minute interview with BamaCentral.
Alabama had two reserve players leave the program, with wide receiver Tyrell Shavers heading to Mississippi State as a graduate transfer, and running back/wide receiver Chadarius Townsend entering his name into the transfer portal. Nick Saban doesn’t release scholarship information, but by our calculations, this puts Alabama right at 85 players. — Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral
Arkansas: Per HoosiersNow, former Indiana basketball player Justin Smith is heading to Arkansas as a graduate transfer.
https://www.si.com/college/indiana/basketball/former-indiana-justin-smith-transfer-arkansas. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward never missed a game during his three years at Indiana, and he started every game the past two. He averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a year ago and led the Hoosiers in minutes played.
Florida: The Gators lost 2020 signee Johnnie Brown, a top-rated defensive tackle, to junior college. While the loss of his services stings, Florida signed four other defensive linemen in Gervon Dexter, Jalen Lee, Lamar Goods, and Princely Umanmielen in the 2020 class. As facilities begin to reopen, Florida has yet to report any positive coronavirus cases across the team. — Zach Goodall, AllGators
LSU: Coach Ed Orgeron said in an interview Tuesday that his players returned in peak shape as LSU opened its doors to players this week. LSU will have six separate groups of 20 players sprinkled in throughout the day for workouts. On the docket in the weight room Tuesday is squats, power cleans and bench press, Orgeron revealed. "I woke up and smelled that special air in Baton Rouge, it feels like football season. I’m so excited to have our players working out, they stayed in great shape.” —Glen West, LSU Country
Ole Miss: To the surprise of many, Ole Miss sent out a memo to season ticket holders, and later published on social media, the intent to play games in front of a full-capacity stadium this fall. (https://www.si.com/college/olemiss/football/ole-miss-football-intends-to-have-full-capacity-crowds-at-games). As the memo read, "our hope is to have a full Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the entire 2020 season." Now, obviously, this is not a declaration that fans will 100% be allowed to attend games with no restrictions. It's more of a statement of intent. That said, it's the first statement of its kind in college football. … Additionally, Ole Miss has now brought back over 250 student-athletes and staffers to campus and only two have tested positive for COVID-19. One Rebel student-athlete and one athletics staffer tested positive upon the initial return to campus on June 1 – zero additional cases were reported from the second wave of athlete return on June 5 (https://www.si.com/college/olemiss/football/ole-miss-reports-zero-additional-covid-19-cases-in-second-wave-of-athlete-return). In total, two out of 250 is not a bad result whatsoever and honestly it's a result that was expected, according to those talked to within the program in charge of dictating return-to-campus plans (https://www.si.com/college/olemiss/football/ole-miss-athletics-staffer-we-expected-some-positive-cases). — Nate Gabler, The Grove Report
Mississippi State: If no news is good news, Mississippi State is off to a great start in its return to campus. The Bulldogs began welcoming athletes back on June 1 with voluntary workouts beginning this week and by all accounts, it has been a smooth process. … The biggest news for the Bulldogs actually came away from the football facility. MSU picked up a graduate transfer wide receiver in the form of Tyrell Shavers from Alabama.
The former four-star recruit will be immediately eligible, has two years of eligibility remaining and should be an immediate contributor for a Bulldog receiving group that hasn’t featured a 500-plus yard receiver since 2016. State also picked up a verbal commitment in the Class of 2021 from the nation’s top junior college inside linebacker, Navonteque Strong, on Monday. Then, less than two hours after Strong gave his pledge, three-star linebacker/defensive lineman Thomas Davis – who had committed to State back in April – announced he has reopened his recruitment.
A final note, former MSU quarterback Dak Prescott pledged $1 million towards improving police training and addressing racism
— Joel Coleman, Cowbell Corner:
South Carolina: After a week of testing and a weekend of protesting, the Gamecocks were able to use their practice facility for the first time in months. Head coach Will Muschamp said that the month of June is just for strength and conditioning, which they are doing in groups of four to five and on a staggered schedule. There are four lift shifts from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with sanitation in between. Players are not to shower within the facility and have multiple changes of clothes. Muschamp said he would not disclose whether there were any positive tests and added "if we did have any positives, we have protocols in place." As of right now he and his position coaches are only allowed to meet with players via Zoom and there is no set July calendar to determine when they'll be able to meet with players. When asked if the five reported cases at his SEC opponent Alabama concerned him he said "I can only worry about the University of South Carolina." — Chaunte'l Powell, Gamecock Digest. @chauntelpowell
Tennessee: Late enrollees made it to campus over the weekend as the SEC re-opened facilities. Jeremy Pruitt announced early Tuesday morning on the Golic & Wingo show, “no players” tested positive for COVID-19. Tennessee will have several more players report over the coming week, but at this time, it appears all of the Vols signees are going to make it in with no academic issues. Voluntary athletics have resumed in smaller groups, and Tennessee players are thoroughly enjoying the process. — Matthew Ray, Volunteer Country
Vanderbilt: The city of Nashville began phase one of mayor John Cooper's plan for reopening the city on May 11 and entered phase two of the four-step process Memorial Day weekend. However, due to a slight increase in cases in Davidson County, Cooper announced on June 4, that the county will remain in phase two with no specific date set for the next step. A decision on the next step will come this week according to Nashville Coronavirus Task Force Chair, Dr. Alex Jahangir. … As for Vanderbilt, the university made clear in its plan released previously that while it was looking towards reopening, it would be at its own pace reopening might not "mirror" the city. As of yet, there has been no announcement of where things stand on the university's own four-phases of reopening. —Greg Arias, Commodore Country