NCF Nation: Haloti Ngata

Pac-12 all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
10:00
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We're looking back at the BCS era, which lasted from 1998 to 2013, so it made sense to make an all-Pac-12 BCS-era team.

Here's our shot at it. You surely will be outraged over the player from your team who got left out.

With our evaluation, NFL careers came into play with only the offensive linemen because they are so difficult to compare.

Offense

[+] EnlargeMatt Leinart
Jeff Lewis/USA TODAY SportsFormer USC QB Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, threw 99 career TD passes.
QB Matt Leinart, USC: Nearly won three national titles. Won 2004 Heisman Trophy and placed third in 2005. Threw 99 career TD passes.

RB Reggie Bush, USC: The 2005 Heisman Trophy winner was one of the most dynamic players in college football history. (Bush returned the Heisman in 2012.)

RB LaMichael James, Oregon: Two-time first-team All-Pac-12, 2010 Doak Walker Award winner and unanimous All-American finished his career ranked second in Pac-12 history in rushing yards (5,082) and TDs (53). Nips other stellar RBs such as Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, Stanford's Toby Gerhart and USC's LenDale White.

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State: Two-time first-team All-Pac-12 and 2005 Biletnikoff Award winner was the first Pac-12 player to record three consecutive seasons over 1,000 yards receiving. His 3,924 receiving yards ranks third all time in the conference. This, of course, could have been fellow Beaver Brandin Cooks or USC's Marqise Lee, who both also won the Biletnikoff Award.

WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC: A two-time consensus All-American, he set the Pac-12 standard with 41 touchdown receptions.

TE Marcedes Lewis, UCLA: A 2005 consensus All-American and John Mackey Award winner as the nation's best tight end. Caught 21 career TD passes.

OL David Yankey, Stanford: A unanimous All-American in 2013, he was a consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner as the Pac-12's best offensive lineman in 2012.

OL Sam Baker, USC: A 2006 consensus All-American and three-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer.

OL Ryan Kalil, USC: Won the 2006 Morris Trophy. Two-time first-team All-Pac-12.

OL David DeCastro, Stanford: A unanimous All-American in 2011 and two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer.

OL Alex Mack, California: A two-time winner of the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12's best offensive lineman (2007 & 2008).

K Kai Forbath, UCLA: Consensus All-American and Lou Groza Award winner in 2009. Made 84.16 percent of his field goals, which is nearly 5 percent better than any other kicker in conference history.

Defense

LB Rey Maualuga, USC: Was a consensus All-American and won the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player in 2008. Three-time first-team All-Pac-12.

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford: 2013 consensus All-American and two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer.

LB Anthony Barr, UCLA: Consensus All-American 2013 and two-time first-team All-Pac-12.

DL Will Sutton, Arizona State: Two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and Morris Trophy winner in 2012 and 2013. Consensus All-American in 2012.

DL Haloti Ngata, Oregon: A consensus All-American and Morris Trophy winner in 2005.

DL Rien Long, Washington State: Won the Outland Trophy and was a consensus All-American in 2002.

DL Terrell Suggs, Arizona State: A unanimous All-American in 2002 after setting NCAA single-season record with 24 sacks. Won the Lombardi Trophy. Two-time first-team All-Pac-12.

CB Chris McAlister, Arizona: Unanimous All-American in 1998. Three-time first-team All-Pac-12.

CB Antoine Cason, Arizona: Won the Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back in 2007. Two-time first-team All-Pac-12.

S Troy Polamalu, USC: Two-time All-Pac-10 and consensus All-American in 2002.

S Taylor Mays, USC: A three-time All-American, he was a consensus All-American in 2008. Two-time first-team All-Pac-12.

P Bryan Anger, California: A three-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and two-time Ray Guy semifinalist.

Mailbag: Oregon just a 'system' team?

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
5:37
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Happy Friday... this is a big one, eh?

Follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter here. Nine out of 10 doctors recommend it, the 10th doctor being Dr. Evil.

To the notes!

Leif from San Francisco writes: Ted-I got home from work tonight and went through my nightly ritual of obsessively reading all available media on this Saturday's Oregon @ USC game. Being a Duck fan I am prone to be defensive (rationally or not) about uninformed attacks on the Ducks in general, but especially their style of play. So you can imagine the chagrin that met this little number from Lane Kiffin in the OC Register.
Kiffin then had an interesting take on Oregon’s offense and how certain programs across the country are successful and defined by the system they stick to.

“We run a pro-style system because we believe that helps us go anywhere in the country and give us a chance to recruit the best players in the country, regardless of positions that they’re in,” he said. “That system that they run is a great system. At times, it doesn’t allow them to go recruit nationally certain positions because guys realize the effect it’s going to have on them with their draft status.

“Like I’ve said all along, it’s a phenomenal college system and it’s very hard to defense obviously by the numbers.”

Is this just propaganda, or do you believe this to be true? Does USC really have this edge, or or do they just get players because they are USC?

Ted Miller: There's some substance and bunk to what Kiffin is saying.

Substance in general: USC is USC. It's a traditional brand located in one of the nation's best recruiting hotbeds. That means USC is typically going to get more elite prospects, nationally and locally, than Oregon. It can go after the best guys locally and then cherry pick nationally with its iconic brand. Further, many prospects who are willing to play away from home -- far from home, in fact -- can be wowed by the prospect of playing in Los Angeles.

And, yes, part of USC's sales pitch is its success producing NFL players, which is mostly rooted in it being a traditional power in a recruiting hotbed and not about its schemes.

The Ducks home state doesn't produce very many FBS prospects, which means Oregon is limited to almost exclusively recruiting guys who are willing to play away from home. And, by the way, to recruit nationally, Oregon often has to convince kids to leave warm weather for the drizzly chill of the Northwest. Even LaMichael James, a Texas product, could be provoked into grousing about the weather in Eugene at times.

Substance on "system": Oregon is not going to sign a quarterback like Matt Barkley -- or any other prototypical drop-back passers. Ducks coach Chip Kelly expects his quarterbacks to be athletes who can pose a running threat. So, Kiffin and Kelly are unlikely to go earnestly head-to-head on a quarterback.

That said, if the second-coming of Andrew Luck, an outstanding athlete who just happens to be a drop-back passer, wanted to play for Oregon, Kelly and his extremely large brain could figure out a way to make it work. Kelly isn't married to a scheme. He's married to scoring points in bunches. And winning.

Oregon's track record with the NFL is solid. If you are a skilled and a motivated high school player at any position, you will have a very good opportunity to get to the NFL after playing for Oregon. Even at quarterback.

The same can be said, by the way, for every Pac-12 program. Everybody in the NFL knows we play big boy football out here.

If you are Haloti Ngata and you choose to go to Oregon instead of USC -- or Alabama for that matter -- you still get picked in the first round of the draft and get to become a super-elite player. Why? Because you are Haloti Ngata.

Why have none of Kelly's quarterbacks done well in the NFL? Well, because they were Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas. They had inherent limits to their ability. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that Marcus Mariota is going to have an NFL career. Why? There aren't as many limits to his ability.

The "system" critique of Oregon has lost some legs over the past couple of seasons. For one, you might notice that NFL coaches, such as Bill Belichick, have adopted many elements of Kelly's system.

And, by the way, there's something to be said for this: Probably a third of the NFL would trade their present head coach for Chip Kelly... right the freak now.

Not sure if you liked that last bit, Leif, as much as the paragraphs that preceded it.

(Read full post)

Johnathan Hankins has the least creative and most appropriate nickname on Ohio State's team: Big Hank.

The term big has followed Hankins from the moment he set (big) foot on Ohio State's campus. Even though Hankins has slimmed down significantly during his Buckeyes career -- he now checks in at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds -- the junior defensive tackle has a tough time escaping talk about his size. He's a big man with big-time skills.

Entering the 2012 season, he has big expectations placed on his ... very big shoulders.

[+] EnlargeDefensive lineman Johnathan Hankins
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesOhio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, 52, has the potential to be an elite NFL prospect.
When ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., issued his first Big Board for the 2013 NFL draft, Hankins was the first Big Ten player listed, at the No. 11 overall selection. Although Hankins has started just one season for the Buckeyes and didn't earn first- or second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2011, his next-level potential is obvious, even to more decorated members of Ohio State's defensive line.

"His ceiling's through the roof," Buckeyes defensive lineman John Simon told ESPN.com. "He's a playmaker for us, a big-time player. You're going to need two guys to take him up. With his ability and his size and how quick he moves for his size, he's a dual threat."

Hankins is flattered by the lofty draft projections from Kiper and others, saying, "it's a big deal to see how far I came from high school."

The NFL is certainly on his radar, although he told reporters last week in Columbus that he wants to win a national title with Ohio State as a senior in 2013.

Time will tell if Hankins' plans change, but he's well aware of the increased burden he'll bear for the Buckeyes this coming season.

"I think I'm ready," Hankins told ESPN.com "With the seniors we have on defense and with [Simon], I feel like I’ve reached a level of being a leader. The more that I play, people follow me. That's one way I lead."

Hankins couldn't have a better model than the man he lines up next to, Simon. The undisputed leader of Ohio State's defense returns for his third season as a starter, and undoubtedly his second as a captain after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and third-team AP All-America honors in 2011.

Last fall, Simon and Hankins combined for 27 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Hankins led all Buckeyes defensive linemen and finished fourth on the team in tackles (67), and he and Simon were the only players to record double digits in TFLs. They combined for six tackles for loss in a win against Illinois, and Hankins racked up nine TFLs against Big Ten competition.

"He's a major help for me," Hankins said. "I'm just trying to take the characteristics he has and add them to myself so I can become a leader and be a model for the young guys. Become a true Buckeye."

Simon noted that going through a season of starting alongside Hankins helped them improve their communication skills. Hankins' ability to stay on the field -- he set a goal of 60 snaps per game in 2011 -- also helped.

"He's changed a lot of the habits, body-wise," Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said of Hankins. "He's always been a heck of a football player, but his ability to become stronger, his ability to get his weight in a good position where he can play 60 snaps at 100 percent has been good to see."

Asked if he has a snaps-per-game goal for 2012, Hankins replied, "Until they take me out."

Hankins spent spring practice working with a new line coach, Mike Vrabel, who previously had coached Ohio State's linebackers. Although Vrabel played linebacker in the NFL, he starred as a defensive end for Ohio State, becoming the first player in Big Ten history to twice earn the league's defensive lineman of the year award (1995 and 1996). Hankins called it an "honor" to work with Vrabel and said Vrabel has talked to him a lot about one of Vrabel's former New England Patriots teammates, 325-pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

"I watch him, I watch [Haloti] Ngata from Baltimore, I watch B.J. Raji and Ndamukong Suh," Hankins said. "I try to take some of their game and put it into my game."

All four men have met the big expectations that go along with their big frames.

This fall, Hankins hopes to do the same.

Pac-10 and the NFL Pro Bowl

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
6:55
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The SEC dominates college football, but the ACC and Pac-10 rock the NFL Pro Bowl.

Wheeeee!

As my esteemed colleague Heather Dinich pointed out in the ACC blog, the ACC led all conferences for the third consecutive year with 19 players selected to play in the Pro Bowl, which will be held on Jan. 30 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The SEC was second with 13 selections and the Pac-10 was third with 12. The Big Ten and the Big 12 had nine each.

But, of course, seeing that the Pac-10 at present has just 10 teams versus 12 for the ACC, SEC and Big 12, the numbers need to be adjusted for players per team. By that measure, the ACC is still No. 1 with 1.58 Pro Bowl players per ACC team, while the Pac-10 is second with 1.2 per team.

Here's the list of Pac-10 players in the Pro Bowl.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville (UCLA)
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis (Oregon State)
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia (California)
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta (California)
Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina (USC)
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (UCLA)*
Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore (Oregon)
Terrell Suggs, DE, Baltimore (Arizona State)
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Oakland (California)
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh (USC)
Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay (USC)
Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago (Arizona)

*Out of game due to injury

You also may have noticed that a Jets-Packers Super Bowl would mean both starting quarterbacks -- Mark Sanchez for the Jets (USC) and Aaron Rodgers for the Packers (California) -- hail from the Pac-10.

Pac-10 All-Decade team

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
6:49
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We've already ranked our top-10 Pac-10 players of the decade, but what follows is our All-Decade team.

As usual, feel free to disagree.

Offense

QB Matt Leinart, USC

RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford

RB Reggie Bush, USC

WR DeWayne Jarrett, USC

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State

TE Marcedes Lewis, UCLA

C Ryan Kalil, USC

OT Levi Jones, Arizona State

OT Sam Baker, USC

OG Adam Snyder, Oregon

OG Max Unger, Oregon

K Kai Forbath, UCLA

Defense

DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona State

DT Haloti Ngata, Oregon

DT Sedrick Ellis, USC

DE Kenechi Udeze, USC

LB Lance Briggs, Arizona

LB Rey Maualuga, USC

LB Keith Rivers, USC

CB Antoine Cason, Arizona

CB Marcus Trufant, Washington State

S Troy Polamalu, USC

S Taylor Mays, USC

P Tom Malone, USC

Top 10 Pac-10 players of the decade

January, 19, 2010
1/19/10
9:07
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The assignment: Rank the top-10 Pac-10 players of the decade.

Gulp.

The list of folks not on this list includes numerous consensus All-Americans, award winners and record-setting players. So feel free to disagree.

And, yes, NFL success sometimes functioned as a tiebreaker, which is why Reggie Williams, Mike Williams, Rien Long, Dave Ball, J.J. Arrington, Mike Hass and Derek Hagan, among others, are not on this list.

Every player on this list, other than Steven Jackson, was a consensus All-American.

10. Troy Polamalu, S, USC: Pete Carroll's first great defensive player, he was a two-time All-American. The 16th overall pick in the 2003 draft and five-time All-Pro is on track for a Hall of Fame NFL career.


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUSC quarterback Matt Leinhart led the Trojans to three national championship game appearances.
9. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona: The four-year starter grabbed 15 career interceptions and won the the Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back in 2007. He was the 27th pick (San Diego) of the 2008 draft.

8. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon: The 345-pounder was the best run stuffer the Pac-10 has seen of late. He blocked seven kicks at Oregon and piled up 17.5 tackles for a loss his final two seasons before becoming the No. 12 pick in the 2006 draft (Baltimore).

7. Dwayne Jarrett, WR, USC: What separates Jarrett from the conference's other All-American receivers is simple: His 41 career touchdown receptions are nine more than any other player in Pac-10 history.

6. Steven Jackson, RB, Oregon State: Jackson's NFL career has proven that he was ridiculously underrated in college. He finished with 3,625 career rushing yards, which ranks 11th on the Pac-10 career list, and 46 career touchdowns.

5. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford: The 2009 Heisman Trophy runnerup finished with 3,522 career yards and 44 touchdowns.

4. Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State: In 2002, he set an NCAA record with 24 sacks and Pac-10 record with 31.5 tackles for a loss. He won the Lombardi Trophy as the nation's best defensive lineman and the Nagurski Award as the nation's best defensive player.

3. Reggie Bush, RB, USC: He won the 2005 Heisman Trophy after finishing fifth the year before. He led the nation with 222.3 all-purpose yards per game and set the Pac-10 record for total yards from scrimmage with 513 (294 rushing, 68 receiving, 151 return) against Fresno State. And every time he touched the ball, everyone held their breath.

2. Carson Palmer, QB, USC: He won the 2002 Heisman Trophy and his 11,818 career yards passing is No. 1 all-time in the Pac-10.

1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC: He won consecutive national championships and the 2004 Heisman Trophy. In 2005, he finished third in the Heisman voting and lost the national championship game to Texas. He owns the Pac-10 single-season (38) and career (99) records for touchdown passes.

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