PHILADELPHIA – The NovaCare Complex has not placed a bid to host the SEC Championship Game but the average Eagles’ practice will have strong ties to the two marquee teams in college football’s toughest conference.
And it’s Alabama on offense — DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, and rookie third-round pick Tyler Steen, who started at a third SEC school in Vanderbilt before finishing as the starting left tackle for the Crimson Tide — against Georgia on defense — Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, 2023 first-round picks Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith, and fourth-rounder Kelee Ringo.
To help even the sides, newly acquired running back D’Andre Swift, a Philadelphia native and former St. Joe’s Prep star, also matriculated at Georgia. Conversely, Alabama helps on defense with cornerbacks Josh Jobe and undrafted rookie Eli Ricks.
The two universities have won the last three college national championships with Georgia winning the past two.
“I know I went against Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith and those guys in college when I was at Vanderbilt,” said Steen. “I know we played them pretty consistently on a yearly basis. They’ve got a really good program over there, really good players over there, so I can’t wait to be a part of that and join the team with them.”
Whether the shift to a heavy SEC-tilted drafting style has helped the Eagles reach the upper echelon of the NFL can be debated but it’s always about the individual.
“Alabama has had a tremendous defensive tradition and obviously Georgia scores a ton of points,” Eagles GM Roseman smiled. “… We’re just trying to set up a good game in the preseason over these scrimmages.”
Turning more serious Roseman discussed the heavy Alabama-Georgia population on the roster which has spiked dramatically since 2021.
“I don’t think we can put – those programs are just good programs, they’re good teams,” he said. “Just like we’re trying to build a balanced team, we want to have a really good offense, and we want to have a really good defense. And I think both those schools have shown that.”
Steen is just looking for iron to shapen iron whether it’s ex-Georgia guys or Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.
“I think it’ll definitely make me better,” the rookie noted. “It’s iron sharpens iron at the end of the day. I think at Alabama obviously we had great players on the defensive line and the defense in general, and getting a chance to practice against them every day made me that much better of a player.
“So, I can’t wait to get there and practice every day against those guys and get the opportunity to just become that much better.”