SEC Football Q&A: East Division Early Departures, Impact Freshmen and Beer Sales

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 28, 2014

South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE Jadeveon ClowneyStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

Every Friday, we feature questions from Twitter. Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

@BarrettSallee Which SEC team gains the most from the early departures to the NFL draft? How will the early departures affect the SEC East?

— AUTigerBloggin (@AUTigerBloggin) February 27, 2014

I don't think any teams gain from early departures to the NFL draft, because while some could be expected, they're still NFL-caliber players who will leave big holes on their teams.

South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina DE Jadeveon ClowneyScott Halleran/Getty Images

South Carolina was hit hardest by early departures, particularly on defense where defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and defensive back Vic Hampton left early. Despite that, I still think the Gamecocks are the favorites in the division heading into the season.

The linebackers got better as the season went on last year, and Hampton was a bit inconsistent in his final season in Columbia. If there are speed bumps on defense, the offense will still be able to pick up the slack. Quarterback Dylan Thompson has the big arm and one of the SEC's best running backs to rely on in junior Mike Davis.

If there's another team that will suffer from early entrants, it's reigning division champ Missouri. The Tigers lost star running back Henry Josey early, as well as defensive end Kony Ealy—who came on strong with 10.5 tackles for loss over the last six games of the season.

Overall, though, I don't think early departures will impact the division too much.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve SpurrierDanny Johnston/Associated Press

@BarrettSallee what true and redshirt freshmen will have the most impact next year?

— The Grass of DWS (@GrassOfDWS) February 27, 2014

For my true freshman, I'll take the easy way out and say LSU running back Leonard Fournette.

He's drawn comparisons to former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, which may seem a bit lofty. But the 6'1", 226-pounder from New Orleans has the speed to be dangerous in space, can be a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and the size to take the punishment between the tackles. 

LSU RB signee Leonard Fournette
LSU RB signee Leonard FournetteKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

More importantly, he has a clear pathway for immediate success. Jeremy Hill left Baton Rouge, and Fournette will fight with Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard for first team carries right off the bat. He's going to contribute as a freshman, and as soon as he picks up the blocking schemes, he probably will ascend to the top of the depth chart.

For my redshirt freshman, I'll go with another running back—Auburn's Peyton Barber. 

I mentioned him in my story from earlier this week on unknown players who will break out this spring, and it'll be for some of the same reasons I mentioned above for Fournette. Tre Mason is no longer on the Plains, and Barber—a 5'11", 217-pounder from Milton, Ga.,—could be the next in line. 

He's going to play, and he could be the top running back on the depth chart with a solid spring for second-year head coach Gus Malzahn.

@BarrettSallee Thoughts on beer sales in college stadiums? Obviously revenue increase, but any safety concerns?

— John (@jnorris10000) February 27, 2014

There would be obvious liability issues involved, especially for on-campus stadiums. But safety concerns? I'm not sure they'd be much different than the ones that currently exist.

Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium
Alabama's Bryant-Denny StadiumButch Dill/Associated Press

It's no secret that people bring their own adult beverages into college football stadiums, and usually those drinks are a tad bit stronger than traditional beers that would likely be available if allowed at SEC stadiums.

Would that curtail people from bringing their own drinks in? Probably, and it would certainly cut down on the rowdiness of that select group of fans.

But the liability would undoubtedly require more security measures to be put in place, so even if it is a greater safety issue, that would likely be cancelled out by increased security presence.

I see both sides to this issue. I understand why beer isn't sold at stadiums, but don't think it'd be as big of a deal as some make it out to be if it is sold at SEC on-campus stadiums.

Beer is sold at bowl games, such as the Sugar Bowl
Beer is sold at bowl games, such as the Sugar BowlKevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee on Twitter at @BarrettSallee.

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