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January 3, 2012

Mystique of SEC speed grows at Army Bowl

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SAN ANTONIO - Whether real or imagined, the mystique of SEC speed is growing.

The lobbies and hallways of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl are yet more breeding grounds for the phenomenon.

"I believe in it," Brian Kimbrow said. "It's can't-catch-me speed. And you don't see it in other conferences."

Kimbrow is the No. 99 player in the Rivals100 and a four-star running back from Memphis (Tenn.) East. He was born and bred in northern boundaries of SEC Country and is headed to up-and-coming Vanderbilt.

Blessed with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, Kimbrow said that being able to run track and be outside year round is a contributing factor.

"It is strength, agility, and speed," he said. "I work on my speed the most."

Apparently he isn't the only one buying in.

Defensive back Geno Smith of Atlanta (Ga.) St. Pius X - the No. 61 player in the Rivals100 who is listed with a 4.45 in his 40-yard dash - said he loves to run and says you can see the speed on the field.

"Just watch the bowls," he said. "You can see the difference when SEC teams are playing."

But unlike Kimbrow, the Alabama commit has an altogether different opinion of where his SEC speed comes from: genetics.

"I was born with it," he said.

The thought of being born with SEC speed was a prevailing answer among players. But that only led to another question: Can you have SEC speed if you weren't born in SEC country?

LaDarrell McNeil, the No. 125 player nationally, is a safety from Dallas (Texas) Wilmer-Hutchins and a University of Tennessee commit.

He claims to have SEC speed.

"Being from Texas," he said. "I naturally have SEC speed.

"When you are playing at this level in this state, you have SEC speed and strength. It is a priority."

McNeil, a 6-foot-1 safety, is listed as having a 4.52 time on his 40-yard dash time - and likes to compare himself to an SEC legend.

"Eric Berry is my guy," he said. "That is SEC speed. He is fast and strong. It is that combination that no other conference has."

Ty Darlington begs to differ.

Darlington was born in SEC country, but the Apopka (Fla.) will head to Oklahoma to play collegiately. He says he'll see plenty of guys who are fast and strong - starting with himself, a center.

"I'd like to think I have it," he said. "Not many people can see it because I am on the offensive line though."

Darlington is listed with a 5.1 time in the 40-yard dash. It's a time he says will only get better.

"You start out with it," he said. "I am fast now and when I go to college I should get bigger, stronger and faster. So my speed will improve, too."

But will the arguments ever end?

Smith said there's just one way to determine SEC speed - on the field.

When asked if being from Georgia and committed to Alabama made him faster than other athletes, such as four-star running back Barry Sanders from Oklahoma City, Smith was convinced of his speed superiority.

"I am sure they have some fast kids in Oklahoma," he said. "But I will take my chance against anyone they got."

Darlington offered a race of his own as well.

"I will race (Oklahoma DT commit) John Michael McGee," Darlington said. "He is from Texas and I am from Florida so we will see."



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