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For McKinley, no bunnies or Heffner

South Carolina wide receiver Kenny McKinley speaks to the media at the SEC football media days in Hoover, Ala.
South Carolina wide receiver Kenny McKinley speaks to the media at the SEC football media days in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. — There were no scantily-clad Playboy bunnies waiting for USC receiver Kenny McKinley when he stepped off the plane, and he never saw Hugh Heffner.

While Florida quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow removed himself from consideration for Playboy’s All-American team, McKinley said he was honored to be selected and had no qualms about going to Phoenix in May for the photo shoot and other PG-rated activities.

“I had a great time. It was nothing sexual or nothing like that,” McKinley said Friday on the final day of the SEC media days. “Playboy’s (All-American team) has been going on for over 50 years. John Elway, Dan Marino, all those guys, they’ve been doing it. I never thought twice about it.”

McKinley, named to the first team of the media’s all-SEC preseason squad announced Friday, said he enjoyed meeting and going to dinner with players like Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno.

“Maybe because the name Playboy, some people want to go against it. But it’s an All-American team and it was great to be a part of it,” he said. “It was just guys getting together and having a good time.”

Waiting for Garcia. USC coach Steve Spurrier does not know whether suspended quarterback Stephen Garcia will be allowed to return next month. Garcia was required to submit to several stipulations, including drug testing and personal counseling, before he could re-enroll Aug. 15.

“Stephen could be back. The university is handling his situation,” Spurrier said. “He had a bunch of requirements to do this summer. From what I understand, he’s done just about all they’ve asked.”

McKinley said players have rallied around Tommy Beecher, the redshirt junior who will begin preseason camp as the starting quarterback.

“He’s got the whole team behind him,” McKinley said. “I can’t wait for the season to start so he can show the world what he can do, because I know he can be a great quarterback.”

Dressed for success. USC linebacker Jasper Brinkley is one of only a few SEC players to attend media days in consecutive years. The fifth-year senior, who sustained a season-ending knee injury last season, left the yellow linen suit he wore to Birmingham in 2007 in his closet in favor of a garnet suit with matching garnet tie.

“This is a fun process, making the rounds and seeing all types of people,” said Brinkley, the Gamecocks’ other first-team selection on the media’s preseason team.

Several reporters remarked on how Brinkley filled out the suit, wondering whether — at 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds — he had outgrown the linebacker position.

Brinkley said running the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds is proof he is quick enough to return to his all-SEC form in 2006.

“I want to get down as much as I can, but it’s kind of hard to (lose weight) when you don’t have that much body fat.”

Funny man. Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. did not make the all-conference team, but the senior from New Orleans won the popular vote as the best quote at media days.

Lyons had reporters laughing on a number of topics, including:

Rich Brooks, the Wildcats’ 67-year-old coach: “When we go swimming, he can do all kinds of dives. He does the swan dive. I guess that’s the old-school dive, but he does it gracefully.”

The 2007 Music City Bowl ring he wore on his middle finger: “I was going to wear the other one (Kentucky also went to the ‘06 Music City Bowl), too, but my fiancee said it’s cheesy to wear two rings.”

When it hit him that the Wildcats lost several key players to the NFL: “Probably when I called them up and they wouldn’t pick up anymore.”

He said it. “He had about as much fun in the NFL as I did. When he first went I said I’ll give him two years. He almost made it one,” Spurrier on Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who left the Atlanta Falcons with three games remaining in his only NFL season.

Extra points. Spurrier confirmed right tackle Justin Sorensen recently sustained a broken nose during a scuffle. He said Sorensen and defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye, who broke his right hand while working as a bouncer in a separate incident, should be “all right.” ... Spurrier had no updates on the six signees awaiting word on their eligibility, but said a few might end up in prep school.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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