UCLA: UCLA Bruins
UCLA will make its first visit to Texas A&M's Kyle Field on Sept. 3, 2016, and the Aggies will return the favor with a visit to the Rose Bowl on Sept. 2, 2017, giving the nation a marquee Pac-12-SEC showdown many fans want to see.
The Bruins also announced a home-and-home series with San Diego State and a shifting of a scheduled series with new Big Ten member Rutgers.
UCLA will now play Rutgers in 2020 and 2021, the first game in the Rose Bowl, the second in Piscataway, N.J. The Bruins will host Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 31, 2019 and will travel to San Diego to face the Aztecs on Sept. 19, 2020.
Meanwhile, Rutgers has contracted a home-and-home series with Washington. The Scarlet Knights will travel to Seattle to face the Huskies on Sept. 3, 2016 to begin the season. The Huskies will travel to High Point Solutions Stadium on Sept. 2 to open the 2017 season. The two schools have never met in football.
Within the last six months, UCLA has also announced a home-and-home series with Texas A&M, Oklahoma in 2018 and 2019 and with Michigan in 2022 and 2023.
"Facing tough nonconference competition is a necessity with the new playoff system beginning this year,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “We are excited to add home-and-home series with both Texas A&M and San Diego State to a future schedule that already includes a traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 series with Rutgers.”
UCLA and Texas A&M have met four previous times, with each team winning twice. The Bruins won the most recent matchup in the 1998 Cotton Bowl, 29-23, coming back from a 16-0 deficit to defeat the Aggies behind the play of quarterback Cade McNown. The other three matchups between the two teams have all taken place in California. UCLA won the most recent one, 21-0, at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1955, and Texas A&M won the first two in the series, 7-0 in 1940 and 21-14 in 1951.
UCLA holds a 21-0-1 overall record against San Diego State, with 19 consecutive victories. The teams last played in 2009, with UCLA winning at the Rose Bowl, 33-14.
The Pac-12 has followed the script for the most part.
Entering this season, anyone could recognize Arizona’s perch atop the conference with McDonald’s All American Aaron Gordon joining one of the nation’s best frontcourts.
Steve Alford, meanwhile, had come to Los Angeles to save UCLA.
Oregon, Colorado, Stanford, Arizona State and Cal all looked like potential NCAA tourney teams.
But even though we knew that about this league, no conference is teetering on a bigger platform of uncertainty right now. Maybe this is a three-bid league. Maybe it’s a six- or seven-bid league.
The Pac-12 picked the perfect city, Las Vegas, for this toss-up conference tournament.
On Feb. 1, Brandon Ashley suffered a season-ending foot injury that changed Arizona’s season and program. Ashley, a sophomore, stretched the floor in ways that few big men can.
But Sean Miller’s recruiting spoils in recent years have been a godsend to the program. Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gives the starting five a true small forward and creates a mismatch nightmare for every frontcourt that faces Hollis-Jefferson, Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski.
Everything is pointing to Nick Johnson, the Pac-12 player of the year, and the Wildcats earning a top seed and a place in Anaheim. But what could mess that up? A loss to Washington or Utah -- a pair of sub-50 teams in the RPI -- in Thursday’s quarterfinals wouldn’t help.
A quarterfinal loss to Oregon State (if the Beavers were to get past Oregon in the first round) could demote UCLA, too. And it’s not like the Bruins are hot right now (2-3 in their past five games).
But neither has much to worry about right now, it seems. They’re dancing.
As for the rest of the league? Well, that’s not necessarily the case.
Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, Colorado and Cal are all fighting to lock up berths in the NCAA tournament. Oregon, which defeated Arizona over the weekend, is probably the safest member of the group. The Ducks likely feel secure after defeating the Wildcats, but that buzz will die fast if they lose to Oregon State on Wednesday.
Stanford is searching for its first NCAA tournament berth under Johnny Dawkins. An NIT bid for Arizona State, which enters the conference tourney after suffering back-to-back road losses to Oregon State and Oregon, would be disappointing. The Sun Devils and Cardinal could be matched up on Thursday in a quarterfinal game with high stakes.
Colorado continues to deal with the question, "Who are the Buffs without Spencer Dinwiddie?" Including its Jan. 12 loss to Washington when Dinwiddie suffered his season-ending knee injury, Tad Boyle’s program is 7-8 without the previously projected first-round pick in next summer’s NBA draft. Colorado has a chance to prove it would still be a respectable addition to the field and a solid seed with a run this week. Its overtime road loss to Cal over the weekend didn’t help.
Team with the most to gain
On Feb. 1, Justin Cobbs drove off a pick and connected on a 17-footer that beat the buzzer and then-No. 1 Arizona. Cal fans stormed the court and all seemed well for Mike Montgomery’s program.
That thrill, however, didn’t last. Cal has gone 4-5 since then but enters the conference tournament following a weekend overtime victory over Colorado.
Cal is still alive. The Bears are currently in Joe Lunardi’s "First Four Out" grouping. So a couple wins, beginning with a potential matchup against Colorado in Thursday’s quarterfinals, could be the difference for Cal.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Pac-12 tourney affects the league’s pool of at-large berths once they’re announced on Selection Sunday.
It could be bigger than that, though. Few leagues have faced as much speculation about coaches who might be on the hot seat. This might be a pivotal tourney for Dawkins, Arizona State's Herb Sendek, Washington State's Ken Bone and Oregon State's Craig Robinson.
Highly-coveted wide receiver Cordell Broadus' desire to play against stiffer competition should be quenched following his transfer to powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, but it could carry underlying recruiting implications as well.
USC and UCLA used to be about a one-hour drive from Broadus when he was at Diamond Bar (Calif.), where he burst onto the spotlight two years ago after transferring from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Now both coaching staffs, like others across the country, will likely have to hop on a plane to see him this fall.
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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Thirty athletes from the West region in the ESPN Junior 300 met at Redondo Union (Calif.) High School on Sunday morning for the first Nike Football Training Camp of the spring. With hundreds of recruits in attendance, it wasn't surprising that many of the top prospects coming into the event stood out.
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Arizona: Coach Rich Rodriguez is confident in both Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato and anxious to get junior-college transfers Jeff Worthy, who also spent a year at Boise State, and Jerod Cody acclimated to the system. Calvin Allen, Jack Banda and Luca Bruno are coming off redshirt seasons and represent a group Rodriguez said the team needs production from.
Arizona State: With the departure of Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman, there is a question about the team's depth at end. Without Will Sutton clogging things up next year, the Sun Devils' lack of experience is even more of a concern. Sean O'Grady backed up Conway and Coleman last year, but ASU has several well-regarded junior-college transfers in Edmond Boateng, Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry.
California: The Bears list seven defensive ends, but former junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa gained the most experience last season listed at the rush position. Antione Davis was outgoing starter Dan Camporeale's primary backup, but Brennan Scarlett's return is more important. He started nine games in 2012 and has been cleared to play following a hand issue that cost him the 2013 season. Todd Barr, Sione Sina and recent-transfer Jonathan Johnson are also in the mix.
Colorado: Colorado must replace Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but Juda Parker is back for his senior season, and several others have game experience. Samson Kafovalu is the likely candidate to start opposite him after making 18 tackles in seven games last year. Jimmie Gilbert was Uzo-Diribe's backup, Kirk Poston and De'Jon Wilson also played.
Oregon: The Ducks took a hit with the departure of Taylor Hart, who was named second-team All-Pac-12, but have a talented player in Arik Armstead lined up to take his spot. Armstead started five times in 2013 and left the basketball team midseason to shift his focus back to football. T.J. Daniel, Jason Sloan are projected to be in the mix for playing time.
Oregon State: Scott Crichton is gone, but Dylan Wynn remains and will likely be the Beavers' best defensive player a year after finishing fourth on the team in tackles. Lavonte Barnett, Crichton's primary backup in 2013, and Jaswha James figure to compete for the starting job, but there are two others to keep an eye on. Obum Gwacham recently switched from receiver and Mike Riley has been complimentary of Titus Failauga, who is coming off his redshirt.
Stanford: Henry Anderson has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the conference and Blake Lueders, who switched from OLB, began the spring atop the depth chart. The intriguing prospect is Luke Kaumatule, who was recruited to play defense but began 2013 as the team's starting tight end. Spring will be important for his development, but his raw ability is impressive.
UCLA: Both Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes were all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and highlight a talented UCLA defensive line. Their return will help account for the loss of Cassius Marsh, who started 12 games last year. Both McCarthy and Vanderdoes can play inside or outside, but the Bruins listed them both at end. Highly recruited DE Kylie Fitts saw playing time as a true freshman last season, and Keenan Graham and Brandon Willis will provide depth.
USC: Leonard Williams, the only sophomore named first-team all-Pac-12 on defense last season, is the best in the conference. Delvon Simmons, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has a lot of game experience. He started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012 and had regular playing time as a freshman there in 2011. Both Simmons and J.R. Tavai, who was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, can play inside or outside.
Utah: There's no replacing Trevor Reilly, who made 100 tackles despite lingering effects from a torn ACL, but Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick both saw extensive playing time last season. The Utes have five other defensive ends on the roster, but of that group only LT Filiaga made a tackle last season.
Washington: The Huskies are in great shape with the return of Hau'oli Kikaha, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson. Josh Shirley has 10 career starts, while Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provide depth.
Washington State: With Toni Pole expected to move back inside, the depth chart will look similar to how it did going into last season, minus Matt Bock. After making 50 tackles last year, Xavier Cooper will start on one side, with Destiny Vaeao and Lyman Faoliu strong candidates for more playing time. Emmitt Su'a-Kalio is coming off a redshirt, and the Cougars also signed a pair of defensive ends from Hawaii in Kingston Fernandez and Hercules Mata'afa.
Arizona: The Wildcats welcome back four starters, losing only RG Chris Putton. This mostly starless unit led the second-best rushing attack in the Pac-12 and yielded the second fewest sacks (17) in 2013. Junior Lene Maiava, the line's top backup at OT and OG last year, is a good bet to step in for Putton. By the way, all the 2013 backups are back as well.
California: Cal welcomes back all five guys who started the Big Game against Stanford, a crew that included three freshmen and one sophomore. Only one of those guys, sophomore Jordan Rigsbee, started the first game, and he had moved from LG to center. The truth is, these guys played OK late in the season, and you'd think they'd improve significantly after a year of seasoning. Rigsbee and LG Chris Borrayo are good players, and Chris Adcock and Matt Cochran will be back in the mix after injuries derailed their seasons. There's also juco transfer Dominic Granado and four redshirt freshmen. As with most positions after the Bears’ miserable 2013, this unit should be much-improved.
Colorado: Three starters are back from a line that often struggled in 2013 -- LG Kaiwi Crabb, RG Daniel Munyer and RT Stephane Nembot -- with LT Jack Harris and C Gus Handler departing. Crabb was the backup center last year, so he might get a look there. In the mix are junior Marc Mustoe, junior college transfer Sully Wiefels, sophomore Alex Kelley and four redshirt freshmen.
Oregon: The Ducks lose undersized OG Mana Greig, who often struggled last year, but welcome back four starters, though LT Tyler Johnstone will miss spring practices after knee surgery. Center Hroniss Grasu earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors for a second time last year and is a likely preseason All-American -- he was second team for the FWAA in 2013. OG Cameron Hunt, who started five games as a true freshman, is almost certain to step into a starting guard positions opposite Hamani Stevens. Junior Andre Yruretagoyena is a guy to watch, also. It's likely position coach Steve Greatwood will do a lot of shuffling this spring, working a variety of combinations that allow him to develop depth.
Oregon State: Two starters are back -- C Isaac Seumalo and RT Sean Harlow -- and three starters are gone: LT Michael Philipp, LG Josh Andrews and RG Grant Enger. Seumalo earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors and could get All-American consideration this fall, while Harlow should be much-improved after taking his lumps as a true freshman. Sophomore Grant Bays, junior Josh Mitchell, junior Gavin Andrews and juco transfer Luke Hollingsworth are in the mix.
Stanford: While the Cardinal are replacing four starters from the Pac-12's best offensive line last season -- only LT Andrus Peat returns -- a number of the 2013 backups saw significant action. So the hope is Josh Garnett replaces David Yankey at LG, Graham Shuler steps in for Khalil Wilkes at center, Johnny Caspers replaces Kevin Danser at RG and Kyle Murphy takes over for Cameron Fleming at RT. And the best guys who don't beat them out will act as the sixth and seventh O-linemen in Stanford's now-infamous "jumbo" packages.
UCLA: While UCLA loses first-team All-Pac-12 guardXavier Su'a-Filo to the NFL, the Bruins should be strong on the offensive line after injuries force them to start three true freshmen last fall. And those freshmen, Alex Redmond, Caleb Benenoch and Scott Quessenberry, played pretty darn well, considering. Jake Brendel is back at center -- he and Redmond earned honorable mention all-conference honors -- and tackles Torian White and Simon Goines, starters sidelined by injuries last year, are back. Then there's Miami transfer Malcolm Bunche and Conor McDermott and Ben Wysocki, among others. Figures to be a lot of competition this spring.
USC: The Trojans lost center Marcus Martin, first-team All-Pac-12 in 2013, and RT Kevin Graf, but welcome back sophomore LT Chad Wheeler, senior LG Max Tuerk and senior RG Aundrey Walker, though Walker will be out spring after breaking his ankle against UCLA. Further, with a new coaching staff on hand, there's sure to be competition and some position changes. Junior Cyrus Hobbi and redshirt freshman Khaliel Rodgers figure to battle at center, and with sophomore Zach Banner sitting out with an injury, senior Nathan Guertler and redshirt freshman Nico Falah likely will man the RT spot. True freshman early enrollee Toa Lobendahn also could get into the mix, as could true freshman Damien Mama when he arrives in the fall, though he plans to take a Mormon mission in 2015.
Utah: Utah loses two starters, LG Jeremiah Tofaeono and center Vyncent Jones, but welcomes back junior LT Jeremiah Poutasi, RG Junior Salt and RT Siaosi Aiono, though Isaac Asiata started the final three games at RT. Sophomore Hiva Lutui was the backup center last year, but he'll battle Nick Nowakowski for the starting job, while junior J.J. Dielman has the inside track at LG.
Washington: Not only does Washington welcome back all five starters from 2013, it welcomes back a crew that started every game together. (Well, actually, James Atoe started the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at RG for Colin Tanigawa). And not only that, this is the Pac-12's most veteran crew, perhaps the most experience group in the nation, with four senior starters and one junior. Oh, and not a single backup from the Apple Cup depth chart graduated either, though Erik Kohler took injury retirement. LT Micah Hatchie and LG Dexter Charles both earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors last year. This has a chance to be a very good line.
Washington State: Offensive line is a questionable area for the Cougars this spring. They lost three starters, topped by center Elliott Bosch, the line's leader in 2013, and three top backups. Junior LT Gunnar Eklund and junior LG Joe Dahl are back. Sophomore Riley Sorenson is almost certain to win a starting job, likely at right guard, while Sam Flor and Carlos Freeman will battle at center, while Cody O'Connell, Cole Madison, Devonte McClain and Jacob Seydel are in the mix at the vacant tackle spot.
Spotlight: WR Devin Fuller Jr., 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
2013 summary: Fuller caught 43 passes for 471 yards and four touchdowns, all of which ranked second on the team.
Is 2014 the season for a new color scheme at the top? Will the South (Division) rise again? (We're eyeballing you, UCLA.) While we're at it, will the conference, which last won a national title in 2004, break through this fall, finishing atop the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff?
These are the big-picture questions that start to get answered as Pac-12 teams begin spring practice. Stanford got rolling Monday. Arizona, Washington and Colorado hit the field next week. Oregon and UCLA won't get cracking until April 1, and the Ducks and Oregon State won't finish until May 3, officially sending us into the long, hot days of the summer offseason.
As is the case most years, there's a little old and a little new in the Pac-12 this spring.
Start with the head coaches. USC and Washington will hit the field for the first time with new guys in charge, making Oregon State and Utah the only two conference teams headed by the same guy since the 2010 season. Neither coach is much of a stranger. USC hired Steve Sarkisian away from the Huskies, and Washington turned around and lured Chris Petersen away from Boise State.
The bigger area of turnover was coordinators. Just three teams didn't make any changes on the top of their offensive and defensive units: Arizona, Colorado and Washington State.
There will be more stability at quarterback. Ten teams welcome back their 2013 starters, if we can be optimistic enough to include Utah's Travis Wilson, who will practice this spring with no contact but still has not been fully cleared to continue his career due to a pre-existing medical condition.
Arizona and Washington will stage full-on competitions to replace B.J. Denker and Keith Price, respectively. Wilson's uncertain status makes the Utes' QB situation complicated, while at USC, touted redshirt freshman Max Browne is expected to provide a strong challenge to incumbent starter Cody Kessler.
Meanwhile, the returning QB talent is strong. Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley will be near the top of every preseason Heisman Trophy watch list. Arizona State's Taylor Kelly and Oregon State's Sean Mannion aren't too far behind.
The situation at running back and receiver is not as strong. The top four rushers from 2013 are gone: Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, Washington's Bishop Sankey, Stanford's Tyler Gaffney and Arizona State's Marion Grice. The top three receivers -- as well as USC's Marqise Lee -- also are off to the NFL: Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, Colorado's Paul Richardson and Oregon's Josh Huff.
While Stanford and Oregon -- it used to be Oregon and Stanford -- will remain the favorites among many, both have big questions on defense. The Ducks will be projected ahead of the Cardinal, however, because of Mariota's return and Stanford having to replace Gaffney and four starting O-linemen.
Yet this go-around, Stanford has the winning streak in the series and consecutive crowns and Oregon has the chip on its shoulder.
"It's not that we should [have a chip on our shoulder]. It's that we need to," Oregon running back Byron Marshall said. "Like you said, Stanford has kind of had our number the past couple of years. … As one of the leaders on this team, it's my job to remind everyone that [Stanford] beat us the last two years. It hasn't really been a close game. It might be close by score, but they've dominated us in both performances. We need to have a chip on our shoulder in order to get where we want to this year."
That last line pretty much applies to every Pac-12 team this spring.
The conference was as deep as it's ever been in 2013 and a record six teams ended up ranked in the final Associated Press poll, but the conference produced just one BCS bowl team and no team finished in the final top eight.
Will a Pac-12 team advance from good to elite in 2014? Spring practice provides an important step toward that possibility.
With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes in each conference. For the full series, click here.
Not only did the Arizona Wildcats sign a top-25 class in 2014, but did so while addressing several needs. Arizona signed a pair of quarterbacks in the class in four-star Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and three-star junior college prospect Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Northeast Mississippi Community College), with both being dual threats who fit Rich Rodriguez’s scheme. Randall, a former LSU recruit, is already on campus and is expected to challenge for the starting spot in the spring with a skill set that features a very strong arm and well-above-average athleticism for the position.
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Arizona: With Ka'Deem Carey off to the NFL, figuring out Arizona's running back situation requires a bit of guesswork. Backups Daniel Jenkins and Kylan Butler are out of eligibility and rising junior Jared Baker tore his ACL in the regular-season finale. That leaves no running backs who had a carry last season. Those competing for carries will be redshirt freshmen Pierre Cormier and Zach Green, and true freshmen Jonathan Haden, an early enrollee, and Nick Wilson.
California: Much was made about Brendan Bigelow's talent during his career in Berkeley, but it never materialized the way many expected it would. He was beaten out by true freshman Khalfani Muhammad a year ago, then opted out of his final year of eligibility for a shot at the NFL -- and subsequently was not invited to the combine. Getting a feel for how coach Sonny Dykes would like to use his running backs is tough considering the lopsided nature of most of the games last year, but Muhammad showed all the signs that he would develop into a good Pac-12 running back.
Colorado: Christian Powell and Michael Adkins II will both be back after combining for 1,097 yards rushing in 2013. With receiver Paul Richardson off to the NFL, there's the need for added production on offense, and while coach Mike MacIntyre showed at San Jose State he'd prefer that to come through the air, it could add up to more opportunities for Powell and Adkins.
Oregon: Does it even matter who the Ducks hand the ball to? Sometimes it doesn't seem like it, but, regardless, Oregon remains loaded with speed and talent at running back. Byron Marshall (1,038 yards rushing) and Thomas Tyner (711 yards) will both see plenty of carries when quarterback Marcus Mariota (715 yards) isn't running on his own. The team does lose De'Anthony Thomas, who opted to leave early for the NFL, but Thomas turned into a relative afterthought last season anyway.
Oregon State: It shouldn't be hard to improve the Beavers' running game after they ranked 115th in the country in rushing yards per game last season. Their top two backs -- Terron Ward and Storm Woods -- return and figure to see more use under new offensive coordinator John Garrett. There was a glimpse of what could be against Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl as the Beavers unleashed a more balanced approach. Woods ran for 107 yards on 16 carries and Ward added 54 yards on nine carries in a comfortable 38-23 victory.
Stanford:The Cardinal's running back situation is outlined here in more detail, but it should be noted that the competition between Remound Wright, Barry J. Sanders and Ricky Seale -- competing to replace Tyler Gaffney -- will also include Kelsey Young. Young was recruited to Stanford to play running back, but was switched to receiver and is now back at running back. Sanders has the name recognition, but all signs point to Wright getting the first crack at being the primary back. However it plays out, it would be a complete shock if one back was used as much as Gaffney was in 2013 and Stepfan Taylor the two seasons before that.
UCLA: If things play out the way UCLA coach Jim Mora hopes they will, linebacker Myles Jack will be just that … a linebacker. After winning Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year, the Bruins would ideally keep him on defense. For that to happen, someone needs to step up. That conversation still includes Jordon James and Paul Perkins, while Craig Lee, a four-star recruit who redshirted last year, also factors into the equation.
Utah: Another season, another new offensive coordinator for the Utes. This time it's Dave Christensen's job to invoke life in the Utah offense, which will return leading rusher Bubba Poole (607 yards) and Lucky Radley (284 yards). The Utes averaged just 4.1 yards a carry as a team last year, which is partially to blame for the change from Dennis Erickson to Christensen after just one year.
Washington: The NFL combine taught us that Bishop Sankey might have been the most physically gifted running back in the country last year. It's not as simple as plugging in another guy to replace him, but the Huskies are still in good shape. Senior Jesse Callier (48 carries, 213 yards in 2013), who was slated to be the starter before an ACL tear in the season opener in 2012, is intriguing and will compete with fellow senior Deontae Cooper (43 carries, 270 yards) and sophomore Dwayne Washington (27 carries, 332 yards).
Washington State: Considering quarterback Connor Halliday had three single-game passing totals that were more than leading rusher Marcus Mason ran for in entire season (429), any discussion about the Cougars' running game is tough to take seriously. Yes, there will still be running backs on the roster. No, they probably won't combine to run for 1,000 yards as a team.
To start off, ESPN's John Clayton compared Barr with Mack, a hot and rising OLB prospect out of Buffalo:
The outside linebacker race is compelling: Some people believe Khalil Mack of Buffalo could be in consideration for the top pick in the draft. Though he did everything Monday to enhance those thoughts, Mack has a challenger -- Anthony Barr from UCLA. Watching them compete is like watching Team USA play Russia in Olympic hockey. They might have to go to a shootout to determine the winner. Their 40-yard dashes were nearly identical. In handheld times, each clocked at 4.66 in his first run. On the second run with handheld times, Barr did a 4.63 and Mack was at 4.62. Once the electric times were sorted out, Mack had a slight edge with a 4.65 to Barr's 4.66. Barr is 6-4 7/8 and 255 pounds. Mack is 6-2 5/8, 251. Watching these two compete for the top outside linebacker spot should be a blast.
UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack didn't give each other a whole lot of breathing room Monday as they continued their competition to be the first outside linebacker selected in the draft, but Mack finished on top in all but one drill. Mack barely edged Barr in the 40 (4.65 to 4.66) and 20-yard shuttle (4.18 to 4.19). Mack prevailed again in the vertical jump (40 to 34.5) and broad jump (10 feet, 8 inches to 9 feet, 11 inches). Barr narrowly topped Mack in the cone drill (6.82 to 7.08). It's a close battle, but one Mack is winning.
Todd McShay isn't as impressed with Barr:
Barr once again proved that he’s really fast and a really good athlete, running a 4.66 40 and faring really well in the short shuttle and three-cone drills. Both of his jumps, which measure lower-half explosiveness, were middle of the pack, which is consistent with what we see on tape of him. We haven’t seen a lot of explosiveness or finishing ability from him.
In fact, at this point, folks seem to be favoring Mack over Barr, including Mike Maycock:
UCLA's Anthony Barr is Mayock's No. 3 linebacker, but Mayock doesn't think Barr is a top-10 pick. While Barr is a good pass rusher, Mayock said that "when he doesn't win with speed," he has issues. Mayock also said Barr also is best against the run as a chaser: "He's not real strong at the point of attack."
Mayock called Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton "a poor man's Chris Long." Crichton is Mayock's No. 4 end.
Arizona State DT Will Sutton apparently didn't have a great combine, as he was listed as one of Monday's "losers" here.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: To his credit, Sutton acknowledged that he has been battling a weight problem since the beginning of the regular season, something that negatively affected his performance. After dominating the Pac-12 as a junior with his explosive first-step quickness and burst, Sutton looked sluggish and lethargic as an interior defender this past season. Additionally, he failed to deliver the kinds of disruptive plays that earned him respect as an elite defender in 2012. Sutton has dropped some of the extra weight, but he still clocked one of the slowest 40 times of the combine (5.36). While defensive tackles aren't expected to blaze the track, the fact that he finished near the bottom of the pack will spark questions about his speed and quickness. Now, Sutton did show quick feet and adequate body control running through bag drills, but the sloppy body build and marginal workout measurements (28.5-inch vertical jump, 8-3 broad jump and 7.93-second three-cone drill) make it hard to build a case for him as an early-round selection.You can check out what players did at the combine here.
And here are the results from the Pac-12 DLs and LBs in the 40 and bench press:
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA: 4.66/15
Carl Bradford, OLB, Arizona State: 4.76/23
Khairi Fortt, LB, California: 4.70/30
Devon Kennard, OLB, USC: 4.70/23
Boseko Lokombo, OLB, Oregon: 4.66/NA
Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford: 4.86/19
Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah: NA/26
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford: NA
Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA: 4.76/NA
Deandre Coleman, DT, California: NA/24
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State: 4.84/24
Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon: NA/21
Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA: 4.89/14
Josh Mauro, DT, Stanford: 5.21/21
Tenny Palepoi, DT, Utah: 5.1/31
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: 5.36/24
George Uko, DT, USC: 4.99/18
Put your hand down, liar.
Granted, it was still only by a hundredth of a second -- Gaffney ran 4.49 and Thomas 4.50 -- but, still, Thomas built his reputation on speed, while Gaffney's was more on toughness and vision. It ranked as one of the surprise performances among Pac-12 players over the weekend at the NFL combine.
From Clayton's story:
There may not be a running back who could entice a team to use a first-round pick, but the backs who ran Sunday looked great. Bishop Sankey of Washington may have entered the combine as the No. 3 halfback, but his stock probably rose with a 4.49 40 time along with a good show of lifting strength. Tre Mason of Auburn displayed second-round numbers with his 4.5. Both backs might have jumped ahead of Ka'Deem Carey of Arizona, who had a 4.70.
Sankey ranked No. 2 among running backs with 26 reps on the bench press and his 40-time was tied for No. 9.
Another one of the weekend's big winners was Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, who turned in the fastest 40 among receivers. His time of 4.33 was second to only to Kent State running back Dri Archer, who ran a 4.26.
Cooks, who set Pac-12 single-season records with 128 catches and 1,730 receiving yards this year, also turned in the fastest time registered in the 60-yard shuttle (10.72) at the combine since at least 2006. During that same time period, he's tied for the fastest time in the 20-yard shuttle (3.81) with Tennessee cornerback Jason Allen from 2006.
Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the John Mackey Award winner, has a stress fracture in his foot that is expected to need six to eight weeks to recover, according to a report from the Tacoma News Tribune. Due to the injury, Seferian-Jenkins was able to participate only in the bench press. He put up 20 reps, which ranked tied for No. 10 among the 15 tight ends who participated.
See the complete list of Pac-12 invitees.
Here are the Saturday and Sunday results from the Pac-12 players in the 40 and bench press:
Gaffney, Stanford: 4.49/did not lift
Sankey, Washington: 4.49/26 reps
Thomas, Oregon: 4.50/8 reps
Carey, Arizona: 4.70/19 reps
Silas Redd, USC: 4.70/18 reps
Ryan Hewitt, Stanford (fullback): 4.87/did not lift
Marion Grice, Arizona State: Did not participate
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor (transferred from Oregon): 4.51/15 reps
Cooks, Oregon State: 4.33/16 reps
Paul Richardson, Colorado: 4.40/did not lift
Shaquelle Evans, UCLA: 4.51/13 reps
Josh Huff, Oregon: 4.51/14 reps
Marqise Lee, USC: 4.52/did not lift
Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA: 5.04/25 reps
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: 5.28/26 reps
David Yankey, OG, Stanford: 5.48/22 reps
Marcus Martin, C, USC: did not run/23 reps
Colt Lyerla, formerly of Oregon: 4.61/16 reps
Anthony Denham, Utah: 4.77/did not lift
Jake Murphy, Utah: 4.79/24 reps
Richard Rodgers, TE, California: 4.87/16 reps
Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: did not run/20 reps
Xavier Grimble, USC: did not run or lift
No Pac-12 quarterbacks are at the combine, which is a rarity. The conference has sent at least one every year since at least 1999, which was as far back as we could go to find combine rosters.
Wednesday's offerings: After several swings and misses on signing day, UCLA has all the ingredients to turn things around with the 2015 class, and it all starts with the nation’s No. 1 quarterback. Also, Wisconsin is using Gary Andersen’s ties to the West to land quality prospects.
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.
Nationally (and SEC)
The Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2014 class fill just about every need on the board, and that includes linebacker. With designs on addressing pass rushing and the ability to play in space on the edge at outside 'backer in Nick Saban’s 3-4 scheme, Alabama signed the Nos. 1 and No. 2 outside linebackers in the country in No. 48 overall Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) and No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), who is pound for pound of the best pure athletes in the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide added two more talented linebackers in ESPN 300’s No. 102 Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and No. 281 Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest). Hamilton is an MLB.
The Crimson Tide had the nation’s best linebacker class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:
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Then again, his first way-too-early Top 25 was more than a month ago. Does that make this one sorta-too-early?
However you define it, a new one is out and five Pac-12 teams made the list -- including three in the top 11.
The Ducks promoted longtime assistant Don Pellum to replace retiring defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti and also hired Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander as their outside linebackers coach. The Ducks' best recruiting jobs might have been persuading quarterback Marcus Mariota (a draft-eligible sophomore), All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and center Hroniss Grasu to come back for another season.
UCLA is the only other top-10 team at No. 9:
... with quarterback Brett Hundley returning for his junior season, along with seven other starters on both offense and defense, UCLA looks like the team to beat in the Pac-12 South this coming season.
Stanford is in at No. 11:
Stanford coach David Shaw continues to follow the same blueprint that helped him guide the Cardinal to back-to-back BCS bowl games, loading up on blue-chip linemen in another top-15 recruiting class.
USC is No. 18:
It didn't take long for Steve Sarkisian to make his mark on the recruiting trail, as the Trojans did much better than expected on national signing day under their new coach. The Trojans signed two of the country's most explosive athletes -- No. 3 cornerback Adoree' Jackson and No. 3 athlete Juju Smith -- who are fast enough to play on both sides of the ball.
Finally, Washington rounds out the Pac-12 teams on the list at No. 25.
Given his late start in recruiting, new Huskies coach Chris Petersen managed to put together a decent recruiting class. The Huskies had only eight commitments when Petersen was hired from Boise State to replace Sarkisian, but they finished with a class of 24 signees that was ranked in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12
Exactly how many Pac-12 teams will land in the preseason Top 25? A case can certainly be made for Arizona State. Sure, the Sun Devils have lost a lot on defense. But the defensive coaching staff is solid, and the Sun Devils should be a juggernaut offensively. It isn't out of the question to possibly see six Pac-12 teams in the preseason Top 25.
Arizona is another team to keep an eye on. If not in the preseason polls, then certainly throughout the season. Though quarterback is going to be a major storyline to watch in the offseason, and the Wildcats probably need to win a few games to bolster their recognition on a national level, those who know what they have in terms of skill positions might give them some preseason votes.
Washington's hire of Petersen gives it instant credibility -- and the Huskies are deservedly on the radar to be a preseason Top 25 team. The Trojans have plenty of momentum after landing the league's top recruiting class.
Then again, we all know the most important rankings are the ones that come out after the season, not before.