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Mississippi State firing baseball coach bodes well for LSU recruiting

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Mississippi State opted to part ways with baseball coach Andy Cannizaro late on Monday evening. That should help LSU with a major recruiting battle.

Cannizaro, a former assistant on Paul Mainieri’s staff at LSU from 2014-16, played an integral role in recruiting Maurice Hampton. Hampton is a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2019 for football, but also a highly touted baseball recruit.

Hampton committed to the Tigers in July 2016, partly as a result of Cannizaro’s push. He has remained solid to that pledge, but Mississippi State has dialed up its pursuit of the 4-star cornerback of late. Recently, there was some speculation that a flip could be in the works.

With Cannizaro out, LSU likely cemented its spot as Hampton’s top school. The 2019 Under Armour All-American is expected to return to Baton Rouge for a junior day visit on March 3.

Hampton, who can play multiple positions in the secondary, is projected to be one of several defensive backs in LSU’s recruiting class in 2019.

The post Mississippi State firing baseball coach bodes well for LSU recruiting appeared first on SEC Country.

Report: Andy Cannizaro to be fired as Mississippi State baseball coach

Andy Cannizaro-Mississippi State baseball-Mississippi State Bulldogs-Mississippi State

After the opening weekend of the college baseball season, Mississippi State will fire baseball coach Andy Cannizaro on Tuesday morning, according to a report from 247Sports’ David H. Murray.

Cannizaro will reportedly be fired for cause. Murray reports “University officials have yet to state on record what said cause is.”

Cannizaro is in his second year at Mississippi State and took the Bulldogs to a Super Regional in 2017. Mississippi State did not get off to a good start to 2018 however, as the Bulldogs were swept in the opening weekend by Southern Miss, a team it beat in NCAA Tournament a season ago. In his first year at Mississippi State, Cannizaro led the team to a 40-27 record, and went 17-13 in the ultra competitive SEC. During his two seasons at Mississippi State, Cannizaro had a 40-30 record. This was his first head coaching job in college baseball.

Cannizaro replaced John Cohen, who is now the school’s athletic director. Cohen replaced Scott Stricklin who had left to take the same position at Florida. Prior to his time at Mississippi State,  Cannizaro had been an assistant at LSU from 2014-16 where he was the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator. Mississippi State’s season came to an end last season at the hands of LSU. He had also worked a scout for the New York Yankees from 2009 until he was hired by LSU.

In the season prior to Cannizaro’s arrival, Mississippi State went 44-18-1, with its season also ending with a loss in the Super Regionals.

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Related:  SEC Country baseball Power Poll

Before the season-opening sweep by Southern Miss, the Bulldogs began the season ranked No. 12 but dropped to No. 21 in the second set of rankings.  The Bulldogs were one of 8 SEC teams ranked in the D1Baseball Top 25 poll.

Mississippi State returns to action on Wednesday when they take on Jackson State in Jackson, Miss. After that the Bulldogs travel to Corpus Christi, Texas to take part in the Kleeberg Bank College Classic where they will play UC Santa Barbra, Nicholls State and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi. The team begins SEC play on March 16, when it takes on Vanderbilt.

The post Report: Andy Cannizaro to be fired as Mississippi State baseball coach appeared first on SEC Country.

LSU to move Mannie Netherly from wide receiver to cornerback to bolster secondary

mannie netherly-cornerback-wide receiver-lsu football-lsu tigers

LSU likes to call itself DBU, but after seeing no cornerbacks signing in the 2018 signing class and a short number of veterans returning for the Tigers, the secondary suddenly became a problem.

The coaching staff has helped solve some of those woes, as defensive backs coach Corey Raymond announced on Monday night that wide receiver Mannie Netherly would be moving to the corner position.

“We think we’ll move Mannie Netherly from receiver to corner,” Raymond said  on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge . “He’ll add some depth and that will help.”

At 6-foot-3, Netherly definitely has the size to contend with some of the bigger wide receivers that the Tigers will face in 2018, but adjusting to the position might take some time. He was a 4-star recruit out of Texas in 2017 and ranked by 247Sports as the No. 36 wide receiver in the class.

The post LSU to move Mannie Netherly from wide receiver to cornerback to bolster secondary appeared first on SEC Country.

Social media praises Alabama’s hiring of defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski

Alabama football-Nick Saban-Craig Kuligowski-alabama crimson tide

Alabama and Nick Saban have to make a number of different staff changes this offseason. But it appears that they may have just made one of the hires of the offseason in the reported hiring of Craig Kuligowski to coach the defensive line.

Kuligowski is arguably the top defensive line coach in the country given his time at Miami, were he spent the past two seasons, and Missouri, where he was a coach from 2001-15. Miami led the nation in sacks last season, and with Missouri he developed a number of great defensive linemen such as Shane Ray, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden and Sheldon Richardson. And now he will be set to work with some of the top defensive linemen in the country, like Raekwon Davis and 5-star freshman Eyabi Anoma.

After news of the reported hire came out on Twitter, many came to praise the hire as Kuligowski is widely recgonized as one of the best in the business.

If u need a dline coach … I’d hire him in heartbeat https://t.co/NJ5DxDtoRs — Booger (@ESPNBooger) February 20, 2018 Saban wins again. https://t.co/l7yPz3FmcW — Patrick Brown (@pbrown247) February 20, 2018 Not that Bama needs it would be it’s a MASSIVE hire. He’s an amazing coach. @LetsMeetAtTheQB is one of the best in college football. That group will improve rapidly. https://t.co/8nBKxl5Qyf — Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) February 20, 2018 Bad for Mark Richt, good for Nick Saban, bad for the rest of the SEC. https://t.co/kNSBJ11sb1 — Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) February 20, 2018 Craig Kuligowski is arguably the best DL coach in the country. Huge loss for Miami. Latest news on the Tracker: https://t.co/UshTelclpj — Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) February 20, 2018

Kuligowski would replace Karl Dunbar on the Alabama staff, as he left to take a job with the Pittsburgh Steelers after National Signing Day. He’s one of the many new assistants on the Alabama staff, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Jeremy Pruitt left to become the coach at Tennessee, while defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley left to join the Oakland Raiders staff.

Tosh Lupoi, who was the outside linebackers coach last year, will be the defensive coordinator, while Karl Scott will coach the defensive backs. Alabama also added UTSA defensive coordinator Pete Golding to the staff as well. Alabama also had to replace offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who left to become the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. He was replaced by Mike Locksley and former Penn State wide receiver’s coach Josh Gattis was added to the staff.

Alabama won the national championship last season, defeating Georgia 26-23. The defensive line played a pivotal role in that game, as it pressured Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm for the majority of the night.

The Crimson Tide open the 2018 season against Louisville on Sept. 1. That game will be played in Orlando.

The post Social media praises Alabama’s hiring of defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski appeared first on SEC Country.

Report: Longtime Missouri assistant to join Alabama as defensive line coach

missouri tigers-craig kuligowski-miami hurricanes-alabama crimson tide-defensive line

Nick Saban is looking for a new defensive line coach, and per Bruce Feldman, he might be hiring one of the best in the business in Miami’s Craig Kuligowski.

Kuligowski, who spent the last two seasons with Mark Richt and the Hurricanes as their defensive line and associate head coach, is familiar with coaching in the SEC, spending the previous 15 years prior to Miami at Missouri where he oversaw some of the best lines in the nation, including the likes of Kony Ealy, Shane Ray, Michael Sam and Sheldon Richardson among others.

Saban and Kuligowski have a relationship that goes all way the way back to when the former was the coach at Toledo, when the latter played for Saban and the Rockets.

Under his helm, the Hurricanes’ defensive line became respectable after years of getting beat up in the trenches during the previous regimes.

The post Report: Longtime Missouri assistant to join Alabama as defensive line coach appeared first on SEC Country.

Why Auburn quarterback commit Bo Nix compares himself to Justin Fields off field

Auburn-Bo Nix-quarterback-recruiting-Class of 2019

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers  football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. These notebooks will now publish in the evening Sunday through Thursday. It’s Monday, and SEC Country talks with Auburn quarterback pledge Bo Nix about his decision to commit early .

Why Bo Nix compares his commitment to Justin Fields

It’s a different feeling for Bo Nix when he steps on Auburn’s campus these days.

The 4-star quarterback commit from Pinson, Ala., has been on the Plains his entire childhood. As the son of a former Tigers quarterback, Nix has been in and around the Auburn athletic complex throughout his life. It wasn’t until the last few years that, thanks to the pressures of the recruiting world, he felt a weight on him during those trip to Auburn.

With his January commitment, Nix said he feels like a new man when he’s at Auburn.

“It’s a big difference. It’s a bunch of relief. I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or something like that. People could blow it out of proportion because you think it meant something else. It’s really good to know that I’m coming here and can start building relationships with some of the guys who are going be in the same class,” Nix said. “It was great. It was a great feeling, a dream come true, really.”

RELATED: Previewing Auburn’s recruiting plan at quarterback in 2019 class

Now, his focus has turned from recruit to recruiter.

Nix attended Auburn’s junior day at the beginning of February and already had assumed his new role. The rising senior quarterback keyed in on whomever Auburn coaches recommended. A lot of that focused on 5-star running back target Noah Cain from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). He also spent a lot of time with fellow Auburn commit George Pickens, a future receiver target for Nix.

That recruiting responsibility is the big reason why Nix, the top dual-threat quarterback in 2019, decided to end his recruitment early — citing the No. 1 dual-threat prospect in the 2018 class.

“A lot because the class is usually centered around the quarterback. Like Justin Fields at Georgia, he committed and got a whole bunch of guys after him. That’s what I want to do here and build a big class around me,” Nix said. “I just wanted to go ahead and get it over with to focus on football and school. Really, like you said, go ahead and get it over with and start looking at other guys to join the class with me.”

If Nix can scratch the surface of what Fields did for Georgia, the Tigers are in line for a top 2019 class.

Simply by landing Nix, Auburn set itself up nicely for a solid class.

Nix ranks as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 75 overall prospect nationally. He and Pickens represent a strong foundation for the 2019 class, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey deserves credit for his ability to secure the legacy quarterback after a coordinator change mid-recruitment.

“[It was a] big deal,” Nix said. “He did a great job after Coach [Rhett] Lashlee left. Coach Lashlee laid a great foundation then coach Lindsey came in and finished it off. Coach Horton did a great job from the start. He started it in eighth grade, all the way up until this year now that I’m committed.”

Auburn evaluating defensive lineman as tight end

If you pull up Jamin Graham’s recruiting profile, you’ll find he’s listed as a weakside defensive end.

The 3-star Etowah (Ala.) prospect holds offers from Mississippi State, South Carolina, South Florida and others as a defensive end. Graham visited Auburn recently, and the Tigers told him they’ll continue to evaluate him throughout the spring.

But it won’t be as a defensive end, he said.

“A little bit of tight end, which I haven’t really played too much tight end,” Graham said. “They want me to come back for a camp.”

Graham has little to no experience at the position.

Auburn has monitored the 6-foot-4, 225-pound recruit’s athleticism, and recruiters think he has what it takes to convert to the offensive side. The Tigers will try to get Graham on campus for a summer camp to track his progression as a tight end. He hasn’t been offered yet since there isn’t much tape to go off.

As a result of this recruiting plot twist, Graham has decided to take it slow.

“I’ll probably end up waiting it out,” he said.

Miss a previous Auburn recruiting notebook? Find every daily recap of Auburn Tigers recruiting  right here.

 

The post Why Auburn quarterback commit Bo Nix compares himself to Justin Fields off field appeared first on SEC Country.

LSU’s edge with the nation’s No. 2 quarterback

grant gunnell-lsu tigers-recruiting

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting , with Sam Spiegelman. In this edition, we discuss LSU’s push for Grant Gunnell, the nation’s No. 2-ranked pro-style quarterback and the prospect sitting atop of Ed Orgeron’s wish list for the Class of 2019.

Grant Gunnell talks LSU push 

NEW ORLEANS — Grant Gunnell’s recruitment reached a climax last week after the nation’s No. 2-ranked pro-style passer pressed the reset button on the whole process.

Now, everything is open again, the 4-star quarterback said.

Gunnell, a top-50 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, made a critical return visit to LSU for the team’s elite junior day in late January. An invite-only recruiting function, Gunnell and 4-star wide receiver and teammate Jalen Curry made the short trek from Houston to get a firsthand look at the Tigers’ newly installed offense and get better acquainted with the coaching staff.

lsu-tigers-recruiting-grant-gunnell
The nation’s No. 2-ranked pro-style QB, Grant Gunnell, recently visited LSU. He heads to Ohio State, who just offered, next. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

“It was huge,” Gunnell told SEC Country at the Pylon 7-on-7 event in New Orleans over the weekend. “There were big-time players and commits. It was good to talk to them, talk to the coaches, the new coaches and the new offensive coordinator [Steve Ensminger].”

Ensminger, along with coach Ed Orgeron, are leading LSU’s charge for the 2019 U.S. Army All-American signal caller. Cam Cameron originally recruited Gunnell as a sophomore before Matt Canada inherited the torch.

The Tigers’ pursuit of Gunnell is now in Ensminger’s hands, a coach whose demeanor has appealed to the 6-foot-6, 212-pound prospect.

“I like him a lot,” Gunnell said of Ensminger. “He’s more laid back and I liked talking to him. Really, it was just more about family then it was about football. Sure, we talked about the offense and how I’d fit in and what they’re changing up — more shotgun than under center — but the biggest thing was that they made me feel like family and weren’t talking as much about football most of the time.”

“They were family treating me like a son,” he added.

Gunnell made the visit to Baton Rouge alongside his mother and father, with Mom playing a big role.

As much as Orgeron and Ensminger were courting the 4-star quarterback, they also were stating their case to his mother, who keyed in on the off-the-field aspects of LSU.

“She liked things other than football,” Gunnell said. “She loved LSU. She loved the coaches and how it felt like family.”

After de-commitment, Grant Gunnell looks ahead

The divorce between Gunnell and Texas A&M became official on Feb. 13. Since then, the elite quarterback has taken a step back from the recruiting process and turned his phone off.

His next visit is scheduled to Ohio State, which offered him on the same day he reopened his recruitment.

The Buckeyes have quickly asserted themselves as legitimate contestants. They are joined by LSU.

lsu-tigers-recruiting-grant-gunnell
Grant Gunnell remains the top quarterback on LSU’s 2019 board. The Tigers did not sign a QB in 2018. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

“They’re in a good spot,” Gunnell said of the Tigers. “It’s open for everyone right now. I’m going to start looking into it [my options] next week.”

The new chapter of Gunnell’s recruitment will end right before his senior campaign gets underway at St. Pius X (Texas). In that time, the 4-star prospect will get a closer look at Ensminger’s offense, which likely includes a return visit to Baton Rouge for the team’s spring game scheduled for April 21.

In between, Gunnell remains in daily contact with Orgeron, who is heavily involved in LSU’s push. Orgeron’s consistency stands out, as does his honest approach.

“It’s the head coach recruiting you …,” Gunnell emphasized. “He texts me every day ‘Geaux Tigers.’ That’s Coach O.”

“A lot of coaches are professional liars,” he added. “You can catch them lying, so it’s good to hear them being truthful and being up front about what they want.”

So, what’s the pitch?

After signing two All-American quarterbacks in 2017 in Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse, the Tigers missed on their quarterback targets in the 2018 cycle. Justin Rogers signed early with TCU. James Foster selected Texas A&M over LSU when Gunnell was still part of the Aggies’ 2019 recruiting class.

That leaves a wide-open opportunity available to Gunnell in Death Valley, and he knows that he’ll have a legitimate chance to compete for a starting gig if that’s his next move.

“I’m going to have every shot to play,” Gunnell said. “I’ll have to compete anywhere. Every school is going to have a quarterback, but I know I’ll have the chance to compete with them.”

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here .

The post LSU’s edge with the nation’s No. 2 quarterback appeared first on SEC Country.

WATCH: Will Wade scoffs at question about LSU basketball postseason chances

lsu-lsu basketball-will wade

BATON ROUGE, La. — Don’t ask LSU basketball coach Will Wade about the Tigers’ postseason chances.

Then again, when it comes to pure entertainment value, maybe you should.

Wade’s response when asked if he had put any thought into LSU’s status as a possible NCAA tournament team wasn’t quite as incredulous as former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora when he was asked about the playoffs, but it still made for some golden video footage.

Don't talk to Will Wade about the post-season for his hoops team. #whatyoutalkingaboutpostseason #hellno #nonono @LSUBasketball @wwadelsu pic.twitter.com/aYQXl2Fb7F — Michael Cauble (@MichaelCauble) February 19, 2018

“What are you talking about, postseason?” Wade said before muttering “no” several times and punctuating it with a “Hell no.”

LSU (15-11) is a long shot for the NCAA tournament, though the Tigers would certainly play themselves into consideration by winning their final four regular-season games and another game or two in the SEC tournament. LSU is one of 17 teams in the country with 5 or more “Quadrant 1” wins this season. (Home wins against teams rated with a top-30 RPI, neutral-site wins over teams in the top 50 and road wins over teams in the top 75 all qualify as Quadrant 1 wins.)

With a win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday, LSU will assure itself of finishing .500 or better this season. When asked whether that was one of his top goals for this season, Wade reacted as if someone had asked him whether it was impressive that man once landed on the moon.

“Are you kidding me?” he stated with his voice raised an octave. “We were 10-21 last year. We lost 15 straight games. Shoot. We’ve won 6 SEC games. We won 2 [last season]! The first goal was to not have a losing season. That would be phenomenal.”

"Are you kidding me??!" #LSU Will Wade on the importance of reaching a 16th win and assuring the Tigers a winning season. @WAFB @TigerDroppings pic.twitter.com/902dCEqfLb — Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) February 19, 2018

LSU hosts Vandy on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT.

The post WATCH: Will Wade scoffs at question about LSU basketball postseason chances appeared first on SEC Country.

Dan Patrick thinks Mets will call up Tim Tebow this season, but not because of his talent

Tim Tebow-New York Mets-Baseball-Florida Gators-Tim Tebow MLB

Tim Tebow is about to begin his second season as a professional baseball player, and many fans are hoping to see him playing for more than just the New York Mets minor league affiliates this year.

As spring training gets fully underway with position players reporting and full squad workouts beginning, Tebow will be with the Mets major league camp in an effort to improve his stock within the organization.

And Dan Patrick is a believer in Tebow’s ability to get the call-up from the Mets in the later stages of this season. Speaking on his radio show on Monday, Patrick says he credits Tebow with his ability to switch sports and embrace a sport in baseball where a good .300 hitter still fails seven out of 10 times.

You can listen to Patrick’s full comments on Tebow below:

DP on Tim Tebow's chances for a Big League call-up this season pic.twitter.com/qBIHgQ5OP8 — Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) February 19, 2018

He stops short of calling Tebow’s foray into baseball as a publicity stunt, but holds firm in the fact that it will not be Tebow’s talent alone that gets him to the big club at Citi Field in New York.

“Do I think he’ll play in the majors because of his talent? No,” Patrick says. “Do I think that he’ll be brought up next September? Yeah, I do…If he continues to play and has some moments here, I think he’s going to be rewarded…I’m fine if Tebow gets his shot.”

Last season in 430 at bats, Tebow hit .226 with 8 home runs while playing outfield in the Mets minor league system.

The September call-ups appear to be Tebow’s best bet to play with the Mets, as at that point in the year rosters expand from 25 to 40 players.

The post Dan Patrick thinks Mets will call up Tim Tebow this season, but not because of his talent appeared first on SEC Country.

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