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Friday, July 25, 2008
Ranking the Pac-10 linebackers

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

It's not easy being a linebacker in the Pac-10 if you don't play at USC. From Lofa Tatupu, to Keith Rivers to, now, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, the Trojans lead the charge at the position and receive the national plaudits.

But there are some pretty good linebackers in the conference this season who don't wander the passages of Heritage Hall. In fact, California's threesome of Zach Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder is a close second to the Trojans and may even deserve a 1B classification.

And, get this, plenty of teams across the country would trade for Stanford's troika of Clinton Snyder, Pat Maynor and young talent Chike Amajoyi.

The final cuts on this list -- let's call them honorable mentions -- were Washington State's Gary Trent, Arizona State's Travis Goethel and Oregon's Jerome Boyd. And, yes, Oregon State fans, one of your new starting linebackers surely will make a post-season list.

  1. Rey Maualuga, Sr., USC: Huge hitter who would have been a first-round NFL draft pick last spring. He could play his way into the top 10 in 2008, and it's a dead-heat between him and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis to be the first ILB selected.
  2. Brian Cushing, Sr., USC: Also a likely first-round pick, though he needs to avoid injuries. The Playboy Preseason All-American was MVP of the 2006 Rose Bowl.
  3. Zach Follett, Sr., California: Leader of an outstanding trio, he ranked among the conference leaders in 2007 with 12.5 tackles for a loss
  4. Clinton Snyder, Sr., Stanford: Word is he's had a very productive off-season after ranking fifth in the conference with 14.5 tackles for a loss.
  5. Worrell Williams, Sr., California: The 250-pounder could play himself into the first-day of the NFL draft with a big season. Had 105 tackles and forced three fumbles in 2007.
  6. Reggie Carter, Jr., UCLA: He's not big at 225 pounds, but he's quick, tough and instinctive and folks in Westwood believe he's going to break out in 2008 after recording 12 tackles for a loss last year.
  7. E.J. Savannah, Jr., Washington: He broke his arm in June and likely will miss at least a couple of games early in the season, but he led the Huskies with 111 tackles, including 14 for a loss in 2007.
  8. Anthony Felder, Sr., California: He has the talent and measurables to play himself into the first day of the NFL draft. Had 101 tackles, two sacks and an INT last year.
  9. Ronnie Palmer, Sr., Arizona: Three-year starter with good size should fill the shoes of tackle-machine Spencer Larsen nicely. Good in run and pass defense.
  10. Pat Maynor, Sr., Stanford: He's not very big at 220 pounds but he's started 20 games and recorded six sacks and averaged eight tackles per game in 2007.