SEC Media Days 2015: Day 1 recap


SEC Media Days 2015 got underway in Hoover, Ala. on Monday. Here is a look at the biggest stories and most memorable quotes from Day 1.

Next: SEC Media Days 2015: Schedule, TV info and live stream

The Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores spoke to the media during Day 1 at SEC Media Days 2015, as well as the conference’s new commissioner Greg Sankey.

Sankey got things started, giving tribute to his predecessor Mike Slive while also showing the media that he is much more in tune with the times than the previous commissioner, whether it was plugging his new and improved Twitter handle, live tweeting his own speech or quoting Bob Dylan at the podium.

He also took a moment to praise former players who returned to school to finish their degrees, including LSU’s very own Shaquille O’Neal.

Here are a few quotes from Sankey’s first SEC Media Days as commissioner, via The Tennessean:

"“We’re different, but I learned a lot from Mike,” Sankey said. “Obviously, it is a different day. Times are changing, and that seemed an appropriate both song title and lyric, one that I’ve heard many times by the way.” “Clearly, coaches have responsibility for the young people on their roster,” he said. “That’s clear today. I think that’s been clear over time…We will do great work to make sure as a conference and on our campuses we’re in the right place from the standpoint of oversight and policy.”"

He also announced that each team will host a prostate cancer awareness game during the month of September in honor of Slive, who has been battling the disease off and on for over a decade.

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Auburn Tigers

Auburn was the first team to speak to the media following the commissioner. Head coach Gus Malzahn was joined by quarterback Jeremy Johnson, linebacker Kris Frost and defensive back Jonathan Jones.

The biggest storyline for the Tigers has been Johnson’s first season as the team’s starting quarterback. The junior has been waiting for the past two years to take the reigns, and is relishing the opportunity to step into the spotlight in an offense that mobile quarterbacks tend to thrive in.

Here are a few quotes from Auburn’s time at the podium, via the Montgomery Advertiser:

"“I’ve been itching to play since 2015 came,” Johnson said. “I knew my time was coming. I’ve never been so ready to play football in my life. I’m just ready to get out there and have fun again.” “I really appreciate the way he responded to not being the starter the last couple of years when he could have started for the majority of the teams,” Malzahn said regarding his quarterback. “The way he’s really responded is really something special.”"

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Florida Gators

Jim McElwain made his first SEC Media Days appearance as the head coach of the Florida Gators on Monday afternoon. He is no stranger to the conference, though, as he served as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide’s 2010 and 2012 BCS National Championship victories. He replaces Will Muschamp, who is now serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator.

McElwain was accompanied by wide receiver Brandon Powell, defensive end Jonathan Bullard and defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III. Here is what the Gators had to say, via Saturday Down South:

"“I love the way this guy comes to work every day,” McElwain said regarding Hargreaves. “That’s what I think separates some of the guys at times is the ones that really, truly go out there and compete every day to perfect their craft. He’s one of those guys. He’s a lot of fun to be around, and he’s great to watch on tape.”"

Hargreaves would use his turn at the podium to reignite the feud between the Gators and LSU Tigers regarding who is the rightful owner of the ‘DBU’ moniker.

"“We tried not to get into the whole Twitter debate about ‘who is DBU?'” Hargreaves said. “We’re just going to let the season play out for itself and then at the end of the season it won’t be close.”"

Regardless of Heargreaves aspirations and undoubted status as one of the best defensive backs in the country, LSU’s track record of Thorpe Award winners and defensive backs in the NFL puts the argument to rest.

In fairness, he also gave credit to former Tigers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. for helping him grow as a player, and called Landry the best trash talker he has played against.

Next: LSU responds to Florida, releases 'LSU is DBU' video

Vanderbilt Commodores 

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was joined on Monday by running back Ralph Webb, offensive lineman Spencer Pulley and linebacker Nigel Bowden. The second-year head coach expressed optimism at SEC Media Days, and is confident that his team will be able to rebound from a rocky season during his first year at the helm of the Vanderbilt football program.

The Commodores went 3-9 on the year and did not win a single game in conference play.

He will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, who led the Razorbacks to a 7-6 record and a bowl game victory in 2014 after posting a winless conference record during his debut season in the SEC.

Here is what Mason had to say, via The Advocate:

"“We weren’t a very competitive football team in 2014, and that’s on me. I take full responsibility for that.” “This football team has definitely done the things that we need to do in order to get ourselves back on track and be exactly what we want to be. Our program’s made great strides in the last eight months since that Tennessee finale.”"

South Carolina, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tennessee and SEC Coordinator of Football Officials Steve Shaw take the podium on Tuesday.

Next: 2015 Heisman hopefuls in the SEC

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