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We Hardly Knew Ye: Southern Stars Fly the Coop

SEC defensive coordinators break out a little Sunday bubbly: behemoth LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, in a stunning decision following his oh-so-convincing post-Sugar Bowl sentiments Wednesday, will officially ride the coattails of his best career game and Notre Dame's generous secondary into April's NFL Draft, where he'll be joined by silky smooth South Carolina wideout Sidney Rice.

For their part, bench-bound but hyped Matt Flynn and The Legendary Ryan Perrilloux break out a year early the "PT at last" Veuve Clicquot they'd been icing in anticipation of next Spring, which in Louisiana is regarded as basically expensive Kool-Aid for the totally legal collegiates. Steve Spurrier's reaction to Rice's departure was slightly more subdued.

The Ball Coach is deeply troubled by the future of his offense without its preternaturally talented receiver. Now watch this drive.

The final ledger on Russell, a 2003 blue chip whose previous production - supersized, mechanics-flouting arm and nearly un-sackable proportions not withstanding - hardly had him on the "early exit" radar in August:

Att. Comp. Comp. % Yds. Per Attempt TD INT
2004 144 73 50.7 1,053 7.3 9 4
2005 310 187 60.3 2,434 7.8 15 9
2006 342 232 67.8 3,129 9.2 28 8
Career 796 492 61.8 6,616 8.3 52 21

Drool, scouts, then take cover: Russell's thunderin' on up.

Rice was a gem for South Carolina, a top-tier playmaker of the caliber USC rarely sees and probably never had much chance to keep around longer than three years. And since one of those was an injury-induced redshirt, this is all the ‘Cocks got:

Rec. Yds. Per Catch TD
2005 70 1,143 16.3 13
2006 72 1,090 15.2 10
Career 142 2,233 15.7 23

Also declaring for the draft today was Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson, whose undersung junior year included 13.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, a slew of quarterback hurries and dominating games against Alabama, Auburn, Wisconsin and especially Tennessee. Anderson had a sack or tackle for loss in every league game except the SEC Championship - in which he merely forced a fumble. Drafters, beware the Jonathan Sullivan Syndrome - a specimen arising from relative obscurity for a single year of college destruction, only to flounder as a pro - but Anderson is wisely riding the wave while he knows he can.