ATLANTA, Ga. – It’s a big day at SEC Media Days; what could be considered a fan favorite. We begin the morning with the Bulldogs of Mississippi State with their new coach Joe Moorhead. Tennessee Vols Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt is also new in his position.
In comparison, Alabama Head Football Coach is a veteran at SEC Media Days. The Crimson Tide takes the stage early this afternoon.
Stay with us throughout the day for the latest from players and coaches in Atlanta.
Miss State QB Nick Fitzgerald on the coaching change from Dan Mullen to Joe Moorhead: “It was tough…he was phenomenal coach…but our AD did a great job of finding a new coach.”
“We want to start fast and finish strong.” Fitzgerald said about his expectations of the season.
Fitzgerald on the difference between Mullen and Moorhead: “One is a lot more intense the other. Moorhead is not a yeller, but he’s extremely talented, and a great football mind.”
Fitzgerald on replacing Dak Prescott and how he wants to be remembered: “I was a kid who people didn’t really give a shot to…a lot of people in the fan base did think I should be on the team… I changed the mindset of a lot of people… I want go down as a really tough guy.”
“As of right now I am 100%.” – Fitzgerald on his recovery from his gruesome leg injury.
Fitzgerald on why he didn’t leave the Egg Bowl after his injury: “I knew as a leader, I couldn’t leave my team behind…I wasn’t going to leave my teammates hanging like that.”
“All of the other athletes are each others biggest fans.” Fitzgerald talks about the close knit relationships between the athletes at Miss State.
Fitzgerald on what he misses most about Mullen: “The conversations we had, he’s a really cool guy.”
Fitzgerald talks about the play when he suffered his injury: “I probably should’ve handed the ball off in the first place…It was pretty excruciating.”
“Very very excited about our defense.” Coach Moorhead on his expectations. Goes on to praise the offensive line for allowing success in past seasons.
Moorhead on QB Nick Fitzgerald: “I think you are going to see his best season yet.”
“Until someone knocks off Alabama, they are the standard there.” – Moorhead on joining a strong conference.
“I want to elevate this program from good to great…We are operating at a championship standard.” – Moorhead
“The language is the first thing I noticed.” – Moorhead on coming to the South.
“Preparation, precision, execution.” Moorhead talks about the three biggest things they focus on.
Moorhead praises their training staff on the recovery process of Nick Fitzgerald. “Our medical staff is very impressive.”
“You have to come in and adapt to their system.” Miss State Safety Mark McLaurin on changing coaches.
McLaurin gives credit to Moorhead’s intelligence. Notices the kind of football mentality he has.
Miss State Linebacker Gerri Green on practice: “We compete with each other day in and day out…it’s a healthy competition.”
Green wishes he could’ve had the opportunity to utilize the new red shirt rule.
Tennessee Tight End Eli Wolf on new Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt: “We have to buy in to what he says, and I believe him. I believe that we will win.”
“Playing with my brother was fun, but he has things going on and I have things going on…it hasn’t really crossed my mind.” Wolf on playing with his brother Ethan.
“I want to create my own footsteps, my own legacy.” Wolf on following his brother’s career.
Wolf on former Tennessee Coach Phil Fulmer being the new Athletic Director: “It’s awesome having Fulmer as our AD…He’s great to have”
“I couldn’t have picked a better Athletic Director.” New Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt praises Phil Fulmer.
“15 years ago I was teaching elementary p.e., now I’m the Head Coach at Tennessee…I didn’t get here trying to be somebody else.” – Pruitt
Pruitt on recruiting and visiting high schools: “I love going into the schools…it can motivate you…I could name 100 high school coaches that are more deserving, I was just in the right place at the right time.”
“You can feel the passion, you can feel the energy, it excites me.” Pruitt on representing the fan base.
Pruitt looks forward to West Virginia. Has that game “circled on his calendar”.
“Worry about the things we can control.” – Pruitt on how they can be successful.
“It’s very important in the SEC, or any conference to manage your roster.” – Pruitt
Pruitt on Tennessee’s past seasons: “We are not looking in the rear view mirror…our guys are hungry.”
“We do not want to be finesse, we want to be hard nosed.” – Phillips on the way they want to approach the season.
Callaway talks about being a senior and adjusting to a new coach. Says it’s a transition, but he’s excited.
Phillips talks about being a senior and adjusting to a new coach. Says it’s a transition, but he’s excited.
Alabama Running Back Damien Harris on his goal this year: “My biggest focus is being the best leader I can be.”
“Honestly, I kind of just lost touch with that whole thing. I’m just focusing on our team and season ahead.” ~ Damien Harris on the UCF National Title Claim
“We got two great guys that can step up and be leaders on offense.. and we are very thankful for that.” – Harris on the QB competition.
“One thing that impresses me about both of them – their relationship with each other is really respectful. One might not even realize there’s a competition between the two of them.” Harris on Jalen and Tua
“We know our success isn’t going to be inherited, not the fact that we won a championship last season…we have to prepare ourselves mentally and physically.” – Harris on the mindset going into this season.
“It’s an incredible honor to say that i played for him for four years.” – Damien Harris on playing for Nick Saban
“The way that he pushes us is one of the greatest things we can have as players – being the best people we can be, the best players we can be.”
Harris on what makes head coach Nick Saban great
“It’s always a pleasure to come back and visit Atlanta.” – Harris
“Losing is not fun and it’s something we don’t expect to do…still strikes a nerve to this day” – Harris
“When Coach Saban is your coach it comes pretty easy – he keeps us focused on the next game, we don’t overlook any of them.” ~ on how the team stays focused for games, no matter the skills of the other team.
“It was horrible. It was Nick Saban’s brand new boat…it was honestly fun to see him get worked up over something other than football.”
“I just love Tuscaloosa..it’s something that brings me a lot of happiness…I love the mindset of being a champion at Tuscaloosa…the decision to come back for my senior season was easy.” – Harris on what Tuscaloosa means to him.
Question: Has the game against LSU lost it’s luster? “Absolutely not…I think that’s one of our toughest games every year.”
Harris on Tennessee’s new Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt: “Coach Pruitt is a great guy..we wish him all the best of luck at Tennessee.”
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban on his motivation this year. “I hate losing more than I like winning…no one’s looking backward, everyone’s looking forward.”
“I don’t think the system is broken. You can make the claim you want to make…I think they got the best teams in the playoff.” Saban on UCF’s National Title claim.
“After 13 games, you wonder if they are really freshmen.. those guys make tremendous contributions to the team…they have the maturity physically and emotionally…the team is suppose to play the best player.” – Saban on playing 6 true freshmen in the National Championship game.
“We don’t have the depth in the linebackers as we’ve had in previous seasons.” Saban talks defense and Terrell Lewis’ injury.
Saban gives Running Back Damien Harris praise: “Damien has always set a great example, a guy that other players can emulate…this season running back is position that we have good depth.”
Saban reveals that a broken fuel pump was the problem for getting stranded on the boat, not running out of gas.
Saban on Mack Wilson: “Very athletic, very good player..how he affects other people is going to be critical.”
“He did a fantastic job for us…hard working, did a great job with our players.” Saban defends Jeremy Pruitt on claims that he treated Mark Richt without respect.
Alabama Offensive Lineman Ross Pierschbacher on the versatility in the o-line “Just having guys being able to play multiple roles…you got to be able to play different roles.”
“I’m trying to be a student of the center position…we have a lot of former centers on our coaching staff.” – Pierschbacher
Pierschbacher on Coach Nick Saban: “Coach Saban’s resume speaks for itself, watching him work is unbelievable…I don’t see any signs of slowing down…He’s going to try to coach as long as possible.”
Pierschbacher explains that its not a big deal blocking for two different QB’s because their job is the same.
Pierschbacher on what he learned form previous centers: “Being able to take on the vocal leadership role…the center has to be confident in his calls.”
“Prove it on the field.” Pierschbacher explains how a QB can win the team over.
Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings gives update on his knee, says that’s it’s doing great.
“It’s very frustrating…I know Terrell will come back though.” – Jennings on losing players on defense.
Jennings explains how the next game is always the biggest, therefore LSU is a huge game regardless and he looks forward to the match-up.
“We are just looking forward to this season.” Jennings says they are unworried about UCF’s claim of the National Title.
“My focus is on accepting my role as a leader this year, and helping the younger guys.” – Jennings
Jennings on Running Back Damien Harris: “He runs the ball with so much passion…I’ve seen how he works…I look forward to watching him play this year.”
“I was actually on the tube when we were riding…a memory you won’t ever forget.” Jennings talks about being stranded on a boat with Nick Saban.
“when you’re winning, people always find a reason to hate…honestly you cant look int…I don’t pay attention to it.” Missouri Linebacker Terez Hall talks about the criticism even during a 6 game win streak to end the season.
“I try to emulate basically anyone in the NFL…I was watching Rashaan Evans or Roquan (Smith).” – Hall
“When you’re winning, people always find a reason to hate…honestly you cant look int…I don’t pay attention to it.” Missouri Linebacker Terez Hall talks about the criticism even during a 6 game win streak to end the season.
When asked what game he looks forward to most, Hall replied “TN Martin”, the season opener.
“I’m going to go hard 24/7, show that I’m a leader.” Hall on showing NFL teams what he has to offer.
“Tremendous competitor in every thing that he does…in the classroom, on the field…he’s providing leadership in the unit…he’s a heck of a competitor…he’s going to help us a lot.” Missouri Head Coach Barry Odom on Lindsey Scott Jr.
“I wouldn’t trade experience for anything…if you don’t do anything with that experience, then you fail the kids as a coach.” – Odom
Odom reflects on the 2007 season when Missouri was number 1 in the nation with a plethora of players from Missouri.
“Let your play speak for itself…at the end of the day if you’re good enough there will be plenty said about you.” – Odom
“We learned lessons from last year, always critique yourself…whether good or bad you learn from it.” Odom on the mindset of going into this season.
Missouri QB Drew Lock on new Head Coach Barry Odom: “Having a new coach coming in can really freshen up your mind.”
“We are building something more, we’re keeping some aspects, but we are definitley building something more.” Lock when asked if they were going to try to emulate last year’s team.
Lock explains the difficulties he faced being a freshman and adjusting to stronger and faster players.
Lock talks about the reason he wanted to go to Missouri. Explains that it’s a legacy since his dad and his grandfather both played at Missouri as well.
Lock talks about being apart of the Manning camp and Jacob Fromm being his roommate.
When asked when was the moment you realized you could play at this level, Lock replied: “Arkansas my sophomore year to end the season, going into my Junior year.”
Missouri’s Defensive linemen Terry Beckner Jr. is now on the podium taking questions.
He says the NFL is something he has always dreamed of.
Coming from Eastern St. Louis to a big time player is something Beckner says it has been an amazing experience.
Beckner talks about his development on and off the field and the knowledge of the game. He says it is very important
That wraps up Day 3 of SEC Media Days. Be sure to check out our coverage on air tonight at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m.