Notebook: Stephen Garcia makes SEC Media Days debut

Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah replaces Nick Marshall

jkendall@thestate.comJuly 14, 2014 

Stephen Garcia speaks Monday at SEC Media Days with Heath Cline and Michael Haney of 107.5 The Game.

— Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is at SEC Media Days for the first time.

Garcia never represented the Gamecocks while a player but is here this week as part of his new job for Saturday Down South, a website devoted to SEC football. Garcia conducted several interviews along Radio Row.

Quick change

Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah learned Sunday that he would be one of three players representing Auburn on the first day of SEC Media Days on Monday. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn called Uzomah to ask if he would join the Auburn contingent.

“He said, ‘Do you have a suit?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, let me call my mom like right now,’ ” Uzomah said.

His mother, Stephanie Uzomah, drove a suit more than two hours from his Georgia home.

“This is my first time wearing this suit so I’m glad it fits,” Uzomah said.

Uzomah’s late notice was thanks to Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who was scratched from the Media Days lineup by Auburn after being cited for possession of marijuana last week.

“It is a privilege and a reward to represent Auburn here at the SEC Media Days. Last Friday, Nick lost that privilege,” Malzahn said. “We have high expectations for our players, but specifically our quarterback, being the face of our program. Up until last Friday, Nick has been a model student, teammate, and citizen. Nick made a mistake and he'll have to deal with the consequences. I'm not ready to say what those consequences are at this time, but he will deal with it.”

Big plans

First-year Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, the former defensive coordinator at Stanford, is happy to be working on the foundation built by James Franklin, but he’s not satisfied with it. The Commodores have won nine games in each of the last two seasons, which might seem like the pinnacle for Vanderbilt to those outside the programs.

“We have to move past the idea of winning nine games. Why win nine when you can win 10? Why settle for 10 when you can win 11? That’s my mentality,” Mason said. “Our opportunity to compete for an SEC East title is now.”

Palmetto State ties

Former Byrnes High School and Presbyterian College head coach Bobby Bentley has been on Auburn’s staff five months now, and Malzahn is predicting big things for Bentley.

“We've been friends for a long time,” Malzahn said. “We're excited to have Bobby. Bobby is an outstanding coach. He'll be very successful. He'll be a big time college coach.”

Bentley will be an offensive analyst for the Tigers this year.

“I think it's important, being a former high school coach, to give high school coaches an opportunity in college football,” Malzhan said. “There's a lot of high school coaches out there that could be doing the exact same thing I am doing, even better, if they were just given the opportunity.”

Lofty ideals

SEC commissioner Mike Slive quoted Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali in his opening remarks here Monday.

“Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote, ‘Sport has the power to change the world, it has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does,’’” Slive said. “We see the truth of Mr. Mandela's statement in numerous ways in college athletics.”

Extra points

... Auburn will honor former tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who was killed recently in a car accident, this season but hasn’t determined how, Malzahn said.

... Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson could return at the end of this season after tearing his ACL in spring practice.

... Florida signee Nolan Kelleher of Mt. Pleasant, will redshirt this season due to a back injury discovered when he arrived in Gainesville.

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