The second day of SEC Media Days is in the books. While the first day focused more on broader issues surrounding the SEC and college football as a whole -- namely, NIL rights and COVID vaccines -- the second was a bit more newsy on a team-to-team basis. Four coaches spoke on Tuesday: Georgia's Kirby Smart, Tennessee's Josh Heupel, Kentucky's Mark Stoops and Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin. There were updates on key transfers, quarterback competitions and even a little bit of Alabama talk, though the Crimson Tide won't be in attendance until Wednesday.
Let's rewind on all things SEC from Tuesday's interviews with a recap on the biggest storylines.
Georgia TE Arik Gilbert on track to be eligible
It didn't come as a huge surprise, but Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart confirmed that Gilbert is on track to be eligible to play this fall after transferring from LSU last season. The NCAA's one-time transfer waiver coupled with the SEC's intraconference eligibility would normally have paved the way for Gilbert, a tight end with the Tigers in 2020, to play right away without hesitation. But questions remained about his academic standing, however. Consider those questions answered, and now, barring a setback, Georgia enters the season with a talented crop of pass-catchers, even without star wideout George Pickens. Gilbert, a former five-star recruit, appeared in eight games for LSU in 2020, catching 35 passes for 368 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Will Matt Corral be the SEC's best quarterback?
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin certainly seems to think so. He's biased, of course, but there's at least an argument to be made that Corral is the SEC's best returning player at the position for 2021. Last year, Corral thrived in Kiffin's offense, throwing for 3,337 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 picks -- but the turnovers were a problem. One week after playing well against Alabama, Corral had a season-high six interceptions in a loss to Arkansas.
Getting more consistency out of Corral is going to be key for Ole Miss if they're going be a player in the SEC West.
"He's never had a second year of a system, I think that has been good for him," Kiffin said of Corral. "I think that we were still trying to figure out ourselves, too, without having a spring -- not just him, but our offense. We didn't even know if he was going to be the starting quarterback when we went into camp.
"So he's done a great job from a leadership standpoint. He's a very confident kid. So we've got to get him to play more consistent because, like we said, he played great at times, and then he played really poorly at times."
Tennessee brings Joe Milton into the QB battle
First-year coaches love open competition -- or at least telling a room full of reporters that every job is up for grabs. But for Tennessee and coach Josh Heupel, there is a compelling quarterback battle that should go all the way into the season. Sophomore Harrison Bailey seemed to have a leg up after spring ball, but transfers Hendon Hooker (Virginia Tech) and Joe Milton (Michigan) will have an opportunity to take the job. Milton, however, didn't join the team until after spring, so he's only now getting acclimated to his new team. Still, Heupel likes what he's seen from the one-time Wolverines starter.
"Joe's got a unique skill set, a strong arm, accurate passer," Heupel said. "I think he's a very bright young man that's picked up on what we've done so far really well. He's talented. He can spread the football field from sideline to sideline and vertically, and has a unique skill set with his size and mobility to use his feet as a weapon as well."
Mark Stoops not in favor of expanding SEC schedule
There's been a years-long debate as to whether the SEC should increase its number of conference games from eight to nine. In 2020, SEC teams played a 10-game, conference-only schedule out of necessity due to COVID-19. That experiment gave a taste of what life might be like for everyone if the conference eventually decided to increase its number of conference games. Well, count Kentucky coach Mark Stoops among those who's not in favor of it.
"I wonder if people watched last year. There were quite a few people that struggled. That's how I feel," Stoops said bluntly.
The Wildcats finished 4-6 in the regular season, and to Stoops' point, nine of the SEC's 14 teams finished with a record of .500 or worse (including five of seven in the East division). That's probably enough by itself to deter a coach from wanting more SEC games, but Stoops' contract extensions are also explicitly tied to winning seven games. Substituting a nonconference game -- and probably a winnable one at that -- for another SEC game is a hard trade for a lot of teams not named Alabama or Georgia at the moment.
Lane Kiffin blown away by Bryce Young's newfound wealth
One thing you can say about Kiffin is that he always seems to be in control. It's truly hard to knock him for a loop when he's in front of the media. But when Kiffin heard that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was pulling in nearly seven figures in NIL deals, the Ole Miss coach was almost speechless.
"That number just blew me away. You didn't prepare me for that. That's amazing," Kiffin said. "He made a million dollars and hasn't started a game yet? Wow, I don't even know what to respond to that, but great for him."
A few questions later, Kiffin was asked about an offseason player injury, to which he replied, "I'm still blown away on this Bryce Young. The guy's made a million dollars already? That's good, man. He don't need to play next year against us, then. I mean, that's mind blowing."
Kiffin usually has something up his sleeve when it comes to talking about Alabama and Nick Saban. It's one of his favorite topics. But this one truly left him unprepared.