NCF Nation: Darren Ervin


Earlier this morning, we took a look at who might replace the guys who jumped to the NFL in the South Division. Here’s a look at the North.

Leaving: Brendan Bigelow, RB, Cal

The replacement: Khalfani Muhammad and Daniel Lasco are both coming back, so there is at least some experience at the position. Jeffrey Coprich and Darren Ervin could also see some time. Incoming freshman Devante Downs is built more like a fullback but could also see some carries in the running game.

Leaving: Richard Rodgers, WR, Cal

The replacement: Stephen Anderson is a possibility to emerge at inside receiver. Darius Powe is going to see action regardless of whether it’s inside or outside and Raymond Hudson, Jacob Wark, and Drake Whitehurst are all possibilities.

Leaving: Khairi Fortt, LB, Cal

The replacement: Nathan Broussard is coming off an injury and Raymond Davison and Jason Gibson are moving back to linebacker from safety. Juco transfers Sam Atoe and Jonathon Johnson could help. Also, Downs (see the Bigelow section) comes in as an athlete, and putting him on the defensive side of the ball is a possibility.

Leaving: Kameron Jackson, CB, Cal

The replacement: Darius Allensworth and Trey Cheek will get the most looks. Cedric Dozier saw some starting time last season. He’s not a lock but has some experience. Isaac Lapite, Adrian Lee and Joel Willis are also possibilities. Stefan McClure should also be back from his 2013 injury, and Cameron Walker, who was playing out of position at safety, might move back to corner.

Leaving: Viliami Moala, DT, Cal

The replacement: Jacobi Hunter should be the main guy, but transfers Trevor Kelly and Marcus Manley should help out across the line. Austin Clark is still waiting to hear about his sixth year of eligibility, but if he gets it, he and Mustafa Jalil could shuffle up and down the line as they look to replace the graduated Deandre Coleman as well.

Leaving: Chris McCain, DE, Cal (Previously dismissed from team)

The replacement: Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa were the top two guys to replace McCain after he left. Brennan Scarlett is also expected back and Johnson could be in the mix. The coaching staff seems to be really high on him.

[+] EnlargeDe'Anthony Thomas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesDe'Anthony Thomas' unique set of skills will be hard for Oregon to replicate.
Leaving: De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon

The replacement: Unless Oregon is hiding another multitalented back who can run like DAT, there is no "real" replacement. Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner should continue to get the work as the primary 1-2 punch, but it will be interesting to see if the Ducks use either in a more dynamic way like they did Thomas.

Leaving: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (Left the team earlier in the season).

The replacement: Pharaoh Brown, Evan Baylis and John Mundt will all continue to get work, probably in that order. They all pitched in in some capacity after Lyerla left the team, so the Ducks should be in good shape at the position.

Leaving: Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

The replacement: That Ifo Ekpre-Olomu opted to return bodes well for the Ducks. Troy Hill would have been the obvious selection, but he remains suspended indefinitely, and his future with the program is in question. Dior Mathis has experience and the coaching staff is high on redshirt freshman Chris Seisay. Juco transfer Dominique Harrison enrolled early and will participate in spring ball, so there are options.

Leaving: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The replacement: Much like USC’s dilemma with Marqise Lee, The Beavers' task of replacing a Biletnikoff winner is no easy one. Victor Bolden is the logical choice. He returned kicks, ran a few fly sweeps and was Cooks’ immediate backup. But a big wide receiver class last year that included Bolden, Hunter Jarmon and Walter Jones could make things more interesting in the spring.

Leaving: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

The replacement: Lavonte Barnett was the backup all season but didn’t have much production. Jaswha James has bounced around a bit -- mostly at linebacker -- but has finally settled at DE and had a nice bowl performance. Titus Failauga is also a possibility as Mike Riley went out of his way to specifically mention him during a recent teleconference. There are also rumblings that Obum Gwacham -- a talented athlete who hasn’t worked out at wide receiver -- could move to defensive end.

Leaving: David Yankey, OL, Stanford

[+] EnlargeDavid Yankey
AP Photo/Ben LiebenbergStanford has a lot of offensive linemen with experience, but replacing an All-American such as David Yankey is never easy.
The replacement: A member of Stanford’s lauded offensive line recruiting class of 2012, Joshua Garnett has already seen his share of playing time. That’s one of the big advantages of being an offensive lineman at Stanford. With their multiple offensive-linemen sets, there is plenty of rotation. Then again, Yankey was a two-time All-American -- it's tough to replace that.

Leaving: Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford

The replacement: Like Garnett, Kyle Murphy was part of the ’12 class and has also seen his share of action on the offensive line. The Cardinal are replacing four offensive linemen, but most of those replacements -- such as Garnett and Murphy -- already have some playing experience.

Leaving: Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford

The replacement: Good question. All of Stanford’s free safeties are gone, while returning strong safeties include Jordan Richards and Zach Hoffpauir. Someone could make a switch, or it’s possible that former quarterback Dallas Lloyd, who is now making the transition to safety, could play here.

Leaving: Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington

The replacement: Jesse Callier started the 2012 season, but a season-ending injury gave rise to Sankey. Dwayne Washington seems like he could be an every down-type back, while Callier excels in third-down situations or as a changeup back. Deontae Cooper will also see carries.

Leaving: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

The replacement: Joshua Perkins was the No. 2 all season, so there’s little reason to think he won’t graduate to No. 1. He’s more receiver than blocker, but he’s got talent and shouldn’t have a problem assuming the role of the outgoing Mackey winner.

Keenan Allen staying or going?

March, 6, 2012
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Keenan Allen is going to get a breather this spring. It will give some of the younger guys a chance to develop while allowing Cal's top receiver to come into the 2012 season with fresh legs. But what about after that? Will this year be his Cal swan song?

Coach Jeff Tedford has no idea. And judging from his comments during yesterday's conference call with the media, it's something he doesn't really want to worry about right now.

[+] EnlargeKeenan Allen
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireKeenan Allen led Cal in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season.
"I don't know," Tedford said, "we haven't talked about that. Obviously, he's played very well for us the first two years. He caught 98 balls last year and he's one of the top receivers in the country, but we haven't talked about it."

So there you have it ... or you don't.

The conference is going to be loaded at the position with five of the top six statistical receivers returning next season. Allen, who was first-team All-Pac-12, finished second in total catches for 1,343 yards, six touchdowns and an average of 103.3 receiving yards per game. With another strong season, his draft stock should be trending up. And consider, if Zach Maynard starts all of next year before Zach Kline presumably takes the job in 2013, you'd think Allen would be more inclined to come out early rather than come back for another season with a first-time starter throwing him the ball.

But Tedford said there is plenty of time to worry about that in the future.

"I think he's focused on what needs to happen now," Tedford said. "We haven't really gone into that topic. I'm sure we'll have that discussion sometime through the summer, just to make sure that I know what's on his mind and he's able to handle it properly, whatever it may be.

"I know that one of the things his family is really eager about is to have him graduate, so we'll just have to see how it plays out. But right now, he's doing great, happy and working hard. We'll see what happens."

Like many of the veteran players on Cal's roster, he'll be taking it easy when the Bears get their spring practices underway next week. Spring will be an opportunity for Tedford to hopefully develop some depth around Maynard so that his primary weapons don't have to completely shoulder the load -- specifically at tailback where Isi Sofele carried 252 times last season.

"It's going to be a big spring for Brendan Bigelow, it's going to be a big spring for Daniel Lasco, Darren Ervin," Tedford said. "You have those young guys there that really need lots of work. We're pretty sure what Isi can do. He's played a whole year; he's a 1,300-yard ruhser. Not that he can't improve, he can ... the young guys need to step up and get some turns. Bigelow, Lasco and Ervin are all guys there that need to do that."

Finding some depth at wide receiver is also a priority, Tedford said.

"We scholarshipped five guys this year that are freshman coming in and obviously they are not here yet," Tedford said. "But Maurice Harris is a big one [that needs to get reps this spring]. Some of our guys like [Ross] Bostock and [Jackson] Bouza, Stephen Anderson is a guy who I'm really anxious to see what he can do as well. Keenan will get very limited reps."

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