HOOVER, Ala. — In his opening address Tuesday at Southeastern Conference media days, Tennessee coach Butch Jones pointed out one major area of concern for the Volunteers: They have two trenches to rebuild.
Fortunately for Davis, he’ll be getting one reinforcement when fall camp kicks off Aug. 1, as fourth-year junior Curt Maggitt makes his much-awaited return to the field.
Maggitt, all last season after suffering an ACL injury in 2012, will look to tighten a defensive line that has no returning starters.
“I’m feeling great physically and mentally,” Maggitt said. “It was tough, but I never doubted. Everything happens for a reason, and a lot of people come back from ACL (injuries). My thing was I’m going to come back better, faster and stronger.”
During his sophomore season, Maggitt collected 30 tackles (five for loss) and two sacks as a middle linebacker. Maggitt said he’ll transition to the defensive line to help provide a veteran presence.
“He is the leader of our football team, and he was the leader last year (off the field),” Jones said. “Being able to get him back on the grass for our football team, he’s going to be a presence.”
Stephen Garcia is making his SEC media days debut this week — as a media member.
The former South Carolina quarterback never represented the Gamecocks during his sometimes rocky run with the squad, but he’s in Hoover as part of his new job for Saturday Down South, a website devoted to SEC football.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier noticed and was asked about it Tuesday.
“I saw him on TV last night,” Spurrier said. “He was interviewed by our local TV celebrity in Columbia there. He’s got his long hair back. I said it looked like he had joined ‘Duck Dynasty’ instead of the media.”
Later, as Garcia walked into one of the Hyatt Regency’s ballrooms Tuesday, Spurrier pointed at his former player and yelled, “Stephen’s here!”
They should play
Unprompted, Spurrier launched into a rant criticizing Texas and Texas A&M for ending their yearly rivalry game.
When the Aggies moved the SEC two years ago, the two rivals — separated by just 100 miles — stopped playing.
“I think it’s a shame that Texas and Texas A&M don’t play each other,” Two schools that have been playing for over 100 years, just because one of them joins another conference, (they) get mad at each other. ... Florida plays Florida State. We play Clemson. Georgia plays Georgia Tech, We’re in different conference, but they are in-state rivals.”
Dan Mullen’s wife questions him at times: What are you doing?
The answer: watching soccer.
Mullen, the sixth-year coach at Mississippi State, grew up watching the sport. His mother is a British citizen. He still enjoys watching soccer in his spare time, specifically England’s Premier League.
“I don’t mind waking up early Sunday morning and watching the priemership if you have a little break,” he said. “Get a workout in, watch that 6 a.m. kick.”
Advocate sportswriter Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.