SEC East spring football preview

March 1, 2010 

.Florida.

Practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 10

Key losses: QB Tim Tebow, TE Aaron Hernandez, CB Joe Haden, LB Brandon Spikes, DE Carlos Dunlap

Keep an eye on: Coach Urban Meyer expects to end his leave of absence just in time to begin tutoring quarterback-in-waiting John Brantley this month. Tebow's understudy will not have NFL scouts dissecting his throwing motion: He throws a great spiral, though he lacks Tebow's thick frame and punishing running style. Meyer keeps landing the nation's top recruits. He'll have to lean on several of them after the Gators lost five juniors to the draft, including Dunlap, Haden and the gifted Hernandez.

.Georgia.

Practice starts: Thursday

Spring game: April 10

Key losses: QB Joe Cox, DT Geno Atkins, LB Rennie Curran, S Reshad Jones

Keep an eye on: Georgia had a significant departure on both sides of the ball - Cox and defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. And in each case, 'Dog fans were not sad to see them go. Former Cowboys assistant Todd Grantham will be looking for playmakers at outside linebacker in his 3-4 scheme. But most of the attention in Athens will be focused on the quarterback race featuring versatile junior Logan Gray and a pair of redshirt freshmen - Aaron Murray and the strong-armed Zach Mettenberger.

.Kentucky.

Practice starts: March 31

Spring game: April 24

Key losses: CB Trevard Lindley, DT Corey Peters, LB Micah Johnson

Keep an eye on: Rich Brooks, who made Kentucky relevant without resorting to Hal Mumme tactics, handed off the program to Joker Phillips. The former USC assistant's first order of business will be deciding on a quarterback. Mike Hartline, last year's starter before injuring his knee against the Gamecocks, figures to reclaim the job if healthy. With one offensive lineman returning, keeping Hartline healthy could be the bigger concern. Phillips always could turn to Wildcat specialist Randall Cobb in a pinch.

.South Carolina.

Practice starts: March 4

Spring game: April 10

Key losses: LB Eric Norwood, SS Darian Stewart, DE Clifton Geathers, WR Moe Brown

Keep an eye on: Parade All-American tailback Marcus Lattimore will not be on campus until June. Before he arrives, new offensive line coach Shawn Elliott will try to re-shape a line that must get tougher if the Gamecocks are to improve the SEC's worst rushing attack the past three years. Defensively, Ellis Johnson plans to rest a number of starters recovering from injuries and look at unproven players, including linebackers Reggie Bowens and Toquavius Gilchrist, a junior-college transfer.

.Tennessee.

Practice starts: March 18

Spring game: April 17

Key losses: S Eric Berry, DT Dan Williams, RB Montario Hardesty, QB Jonathan Crompton

Keep an eye on: Derek Dooley will spend his first spring in Knoxville looking for a quarterback. Nick Stephens has been in the program for four seasons but will be working with his third coach in as many years. Stephens, who attempted 13 passes last season after starting six games in 2008, will have to hold off a pair of newcomers who enrolled in January. Freshman Tyler Bray is a highly touted recruit from California, while junior-college transfer Matt Simms is the son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms.

.Vanderbilt.

Practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 10

Key losses: CB Myron Lewis, T Thomas Welch, C Bradley Vierling

Keep an eye on: Entering his ninth year at Vandy, Columbia native Bobby Johnson shook things up this offseason in the hopes of improving a dismal passing attack. Quarterbacks coach Jimmy Kiser replaced Ted Cain as offensive coordinator. Johnson brought in junior-college quarterback Jordan Rodgers, brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, to challenge incumbent Larry Smith, who completed just 46.7 percent of his passes in '09 before missing the final three games with a hamstring injury.

- Compiled by Joseph Person

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