HOOVER, Ala. -- Alabama has won 23 games and an SEC title in the last two years, but linebacker Reggie Ragland has noticed a difference since the Crimson Tide last won a national championship in 2012.
And at SEC Media Days on Wednesday, he summarized it this way: "Guys aren't scared to play us anymore. Now guys come in very happy, excited to play us. Before I got here, I used to see teams break down in the first half and just give up playing. We've got to get that back."
Ragland went on to note that Alabama's defensive front seven is in a position to return to feared status. His return to school, rather than an early jump to the NFL, along with defensive lineman Jarran Reed's decision to do the same, are a couple of primary reasons for it. NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein regards Ragland as the No. 4 linebacker prospect to watch in the college game.
The bigger question for Alabama is whether the quarterback position will get the same good fortune from a first-time starter this year as it did last year with Blake Sims.
To that, UA coach Nick Saban only said: "Nobody (at quarterback) has come to the forefront."
Here are five other things we learned at SEC Media Days on Wednesday:
2. High praise for rookie. One former teammate of Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Bud Dupree didn't mention a word about the former Wildcat's play on the field when asked what the club can expect from the 2015 first-round pick.
"Bud Dupree is a disciplined guy. He stays out of trouble, a very humble guy and a hard-working guy," defensive back A.J. Stamps said. "And he's a leader."
3. New-age recruiting. If you want a football scholarship to Arkansas, better check for dirt on your Twitter feed. Coach Bret Bielema said the Razorbacks have a social media screening in the recruiting process, and that he's eliminated recruits from consideration based on their selection of Twitter handles and photos.
4. Lightning strikes. Alabama coach Nick Saban's SEC Media Days remarks are routinely parsed into multiple meanings, depending on who is doing the listening, and Wednesday was no different. The coach said he would like to see feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board withheld until after the bowl season so that underclassmen aren't affected by it as they prepare for what could be their final college game. For some, that was excuse-making for Alabama's College Football Playoff loss to Ohio State. Without naming names, Saban was clear that draft feedback had a detrimental mental effect on at least one of six Alabama players who applied for it. However, he never blamed the loss on the issue.
Of course, when you put a few hundred reporters in a room to hear the same remarks, interpretations are certain to vary.
5. Move-in ready. Kansas City Chiefs rookie Mitch Morse (second-round pick, No. 49 overall) is trying to convert to the center position at the pro level, and Missouri offensive lineman Evan Boehm said Morse was readying for the move even before the Chiefs selected him. "Right after the bowl, he went to Atlanta and started training, and one of the things he did was start snapping the football. ... He's comfortable where he's at, loves where he's at, and he's a competitor and an athlete -- Mitch Morse will make the most of things," Boehm said.
6. Bret the quotable. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on the feeling he had as his Razorbacks kneeled on the 2-yard line against Texas to close out a 31-7 bowl win last season: "It was a proud moment. Borderline erotic." Only Bielema, people. Nobody else.