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SEC Media Day lessons: LSU draft exodus, Nick Saban on spot

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports
La'el Collins expects to see another mass exodus from LSU of potential NFL prospects following the 2014 season.

HOOVER, Ala. -- In case you missed it, here are 19 highlights from SEC Media Days, with a heavy slant on the various NFL prospects and NFL-related issues that were among the topics throughout the week.

1. Expect another LSU draft exodus

If LSU fans were hoping for some relief from the exodus of 17 underclassmen entering the last two NFL drafts, star offensive tackle La'el Collins has a harsh message: Brace for more.


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"First of all, we recruit great guys. But it's our coaches. They just get us ready for the NFL. They do a great job with us, so it's always going to be hard for our program to keep guys for four years," Collins said.

Seven LSU players declared early for the 2014 draft, and Collins was the only one with a real chance to be drafted who stayed. LSU coach Les Miles quipped that the Tigers lead all of college football in "three and outs," and he wasn't talking about short offensive series.

"I keep approaching the NFL on an opportunity for us to draft back some of our players that they take," he said. But the task of replacing that much talent is no joke.

"There's a responsibility that the coaching staff has to see a void that will potentially occur and we have to recruit to that void," Miles added. "We have to make sure that our style of recruiting is the style of recruiting that we get an athlete that has a want to be something special, then that guy steps in and plays as a true freshman.  Although not optimal, it's certainly something we've done."

2. Major changes to draft advisory system

Nothing made bigger news from SEC Media Days, at least where the NFL is concerned, than Alabama coach Nick Saban noting some major changes to the system by which the NFL provides college underclassmen with feedback on their draft grades. Schools only will be guaranteed feedback on five underclassmen going forward, as opposed to the unlimited number the NFL's Draft Advisory Board has dealt with previously. Also, the draft grades themselves will change as well. Players will now only receive one of three grades: A first-round pick, a second-round pick, or a recommendation to stay in school.

3. Florida coach: NFL 'trying to help'

Florida coach Will Muschamp said the NFL is "trying to help" the problem of growing numbers of college underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft (two of Muschamp's went undrafted last year). But South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who also lost two underclassmen who were passed over in the draft, indicated it's not a problem at all. The former Washington Redskins coach said, in fact, that he is finished trying to persuade juniors to stick around.

Corey Robinson prepares for a play during a regular season game. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)
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4. How A&M kept Ogbuehi in school

Speaking of persuasion, Texas A&M offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi got a unique incentive to return to the Aggies for his senior season and skip the 2014 NFL Draft, for which he was projected as a first-round pick. That incentive? More than $50,000 for an insurance policy, courtesy of none other than Texas A&M.

5. Big praise for Gamecocks' LT

One pro prospect commenting on another, here's what South Carolina guard A.J. Cann said about the Gamecocks' left tackle, Corey Robinson, whom he plays beside: "I think he's going to be a great player. He has all the size, all the athleticism, and all the tools to be a great left tackle."

6. Benched Razorbacks CB attempts to rebuild confidence

At this time a year ago, Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel was considered among the top cover men in the SEC, and was thought to be primed for a big season. It didn't happen, and at the low point, Mitchel was benched for a freshman. Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers, the Razorbacks' top pro prospect on that side of the ball, said Mitchel has returned in 2014 with a fire to rebound. "He changed his number, he got his confidence back, you can see it in how he's worked," Flowers said. "He suffering from a minor injury right now, but he's got a new look in his eye. ... I sensed he was down. A football player doesn't want to get the game taken away from him. But you can see the changes now. He has a new mindset, a new motivation."

7. Georgia's Richt thinks Gurley can adjust to NFL

Georgia coach Mark Richt, who has identified Bulldogs junior running back Todd Gurley as a potential early draft entry candidate, said the complexities of NFL offenses will be nothing new to Gurley whenever his time to turn pro comes.

8. Gurley not focused on Heisman campaign

Gurley, meanwhile, refused to stump for his own Heisman Trophy candidacy when asked about the Gurley "personal story" that would begin to resonate nationally if he becomes a viable possibility.

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"It's like a popularity contest with the Heisman. If you have your little story, you're gonna get people around the world just to like you. I guess that comes with it, and that definitely helps you a lot," Gurley said, according to The Telegraph. And his story? "Typical story. A young kid, single mother, my siblings, come from the bottom. Now I'm at the University of Georgia. So there's nothing else to be said."

9. Gurley's curious pick for favorite NFL RB

Gurley also had a curious choice for his favorite NFL running back. At 230 pounds, one would expect the powerful Gurley to favor a bruising, between-the-tackles rusher. Instead, he likes one of the smaller, but quicker ones, in the 200-pound C.J. Spiller.

"My favorite running back is actually C.J. Spiller," Gurley said of the Buffalo Bills veteran. "I just grew up a fan. He's so explosive, he makes such good plays, he's always been that guy I looked at."

10. LSU freshman receives lofty comparison

Even though he's the No. 1 incoming freshman in the nation among running backs this season, LSU's Leonard Fournette has an awful long way to go before he's in the same neighborhood with Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson. Nevertheless, Peterson is the player who comes to LSU's Terrence Magee's mind when he's watched Fournette do his thing in summer workouts.

Cheerleaders perform during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Missouri and Alabama Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
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11. Missouri QB backs former WR

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk sees former Tigers wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who transferred to Oklahoma after being dismissed from Missouri for disciplinary reasons, as a potential first overall pick in the NFL draft. Green-Beckham is expected to sit out the 2014 season under NCAA transfer rules.

12. MSU LB readying for early jump to NFL

Mississippi State linebacker star Benardrick McKinney is primed for a junior season that he suggested should be his last with the Bulldogs. He was named a second-team pick on the media's preseason All-SEC team, but by the time NFL scouts get through with their SEC evaluations, he should pass the sniff test better than any of those named to the first team.

13. SEC athletes emulating favorite NFL players

A number of SEC players identified NFL players whom they most try to emulate this week. Among them were LSU's Collins, who likens his game to the Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Peters, and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who patterns his game after Seattle's Richard Sherman.

14. Golden eager to step in for Ealy, Sam

One of the best quotes of the week came from Missouri defensive end Markus Golden, a pass-rushing prospect who will be expected to fill in for the NFL-departed Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. Golden said he and Shane Ray provided depth for Ealy and Sam last year, and that two more defensive ends will be tasked with making the same plays he and Ray made last year. So will he, in turn, be expected to make the plays of Ealy and Sam this fall? "We did make those plays. Last year," he quipped. Golden made 6.5 sacks last year as one of the top reserve ends in the SEC.

15. Alabama's Jones' has strong take on Saban rumors

Alabama's Christion Jones had some strong commentary of his own. Asked about the reported $100 million offer coach Nick Saban had in the offseason to leave UA for Texas, Jones bottom-lined the Saban-disputed notion like nobody else:

16. Kentucky DE already looking toward combine

Kentucky defensive end Bud Dupree believes he'll "blow up" next year's NFL Scouting Combine to the tune of a 40-yard dash, a vertical leap and a broad jump that could best No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney in all three categories (he was in each event). No, really, he said that.

17. Ogbuehi's 'swagger' foot challenge

The aforementioned Ogbuehi is making the difficult switch from right tackle to left tackle this fall, and admitted it was initially a difficult adjustment.

"The biggest challenge is going from a right-footed stagger to a left-footed stagger," he said. "Blocking is blocking, but it took time.  Jake (Matthews) helped me out a lot with it too, but the biggest thing is getting reps. Now, I feel comfortable."

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18. Ole Miss safety likes 'to hit people'

Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt led the SEC in interceptions last year with six, yet, the senior is more known for his ability to deliver a hard hit.

"I like to hit people. My style is aggressive. If I can take someone's head off, and get people on defense back to focused and into the game, then that's what I want to do," said Prewitt, who admitted preferring a big hit to an interception. Prewitt was named among the hardest hitters in the country earlier this summer by College Football 24/7.

19. Alabama safety compares self to Clinton-Dix

Alabama junior safety Landon Collins, one of the nation's top defensive back prospects, shrugged off the early draft entry question, as did most of the players with high pro potential at SECMD this week.

"I see myself where Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) is, but I'll deal with that when the time comes," Collins said.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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