Pac-12: A.J. Simmons
- A.J. Simmons is a man of many positions for Arizona.
- If something happened at Arizona State's practice that isn't in this notebook, I'd be shocked. The Sun Devils are moved by the movie about the coverup of Pat Tillman's death.
- Pleny of California freshmen will play this year. This Bears linebacker with a football famous last name is hoping to break through as a senior.
- Freshman running back Lache Seastrunk looks like the real deal for Oregon. Checking in with the Ducks new AD.
- Oregon State's touted freshman QB is handling himself well. The Beavers secondary looks good.
- Not a lot of roster intrigue for Stanford.
- A good Q&A with UCLA QB Kevin Prince.
- Freshman CB Nickell Robey has been impressive for USC. An injury update.
- Washington has good depth at running back. More on the commitment of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, perhaps the best tight end in the nation.
- Previewing Washington State's linebackers.
Middleton, by the way, was named preseason first-team All-Pac-10 by Phil Steele, even though he only caught 26 passes last year and was being challenged for the starting job by Chris Izbicki.
Only four teams welcome back their starting tight end, and only one -- California's Anthony Miller -- even earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
Why is the position down? Attrition after an "up" season. Consider the departed: Arizona's Rob Gronkowski, Oregon's Ed Dickson, Stanford's Jim Dray, UCLA's Logan Paulsen and Ryan Moya and USC's Anthony McCoy. Those guys are now stocking NFL rosters.
So where do things stand? Well, you might say we graded the position on a curve, though there is plenty of potential here.
- California: Miller was the Bears' third-leading receiver last year. Six-foot-7 sophomore backup Spencer Ladner saw action in seven games.
- UCLA: While the Bruins lost their top two TEs, they look solid here with Cory Harkey, Notre Dame transfer Joseph Fauria and hybrid TE-WR Morrell Presley.
- Stanford: Even though the Cardinal lost Dray, Coby Fleener was their top pass-catcher at the position, and the depth is good with Konrad Reuland, Zach Ertz and 6-foot-8 Levine Toilolo.
- Oregon State: The Beavers get credit here for H-back Joe Halahuni, who caught 35 passes for 486 yards and three TDs in 2009. Senior Brady Camp is a good blocker with 18 career starts.
- Oregon: The Ducks lose Dickson, but David Paulson saw extensive action in 2009 and JC transfer Brandon Williams was impressive this spring.
- Arizona: Gronkowski's back injury made A.J. Simmons the season-long starter, so the Wildcats are at least experienced. Redshirt freshman Jack Baucus is the backup.
- Washington State: The Cougars' depth chart lists five TEs, with Skylar Stormo and Zach Tatman offering experience at the top.
- USC: Attrition and injuries make this a questionable position for the Trojans. If Blake Ayles and Rhett Ellison stay healthy, things should be OK. The incoming freshman class is strong, starting with Xavier Grimble, who ranked No. 1 at the position, according to ESPN Recruiting.
- Washington: With Middleton, the Huskies would have been in great shape. Izbicki had a good spring, but he only caught three passes for 7 yards in 2009 and the depth is questionable.
- Arizona State: Jovon Williams is gone and Dan Knapp is a tackle, but the Sun Devils could move up here just because the position figures to be more involved in the offense in 2010. Trevor Kohl and Christopher Coyle top the depth chart.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Gronkowski, the centerpiece of the Arizona offense, could be out a week or longer, coach Mike Stoops told reporters.
He has left the team, which is practicing at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, and returned to Tucson.
Gronkowski caught 47 passes for 672 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2008. Backup tight end A.J. Simmons, a junior, has caught just three passes for 14 yards and a touchdown in his career.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti says the Ducks offense won't change much with Justin Roper running the show instead of the injured Nate Costa. He added that the Ducks, otherwise, are mostly healthy.
- Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said Tavita Pritchard won the starting QB job because "he practiced better." Said he expects him to be much better in year two of the system and "will win us games." As for Oregon State's completely rebuild front seven: "Look at their track record of plugging fine athletes into their system."
- Arizona coach Mike Stoops said it's still inconclusive as to whether TE Rob Gronkowski has mononucleosis and his status is "week-to-week." As for his replacement, A.J. Simmons, "He's a prototypical tight end," Stoops said. That means he doesn't have Gronkowski's athletic ability, which means more balls for the Wildcats WRs. "We are deep at receiver," Stoops said. Devin Ross and Marquis Hundley are the starting CBs, ahead of touted freshman Robert Golden, who will see action against Idaho as the nickelback. As for the offense: "This is the best offense we've had since we've been here," Stoops said. He also added: "This is the best team we've had."
- Oregon State coach Mike Riley admitted it's difficult to replace an entire defensive front seven but, "We feel good about guys who have played here in the past and guys who have been developing." Offensive guard Jeremy Perry won't travel to Stanford and his status remains up in the air: "I think we'll have to play that out for a while ... I can't even put a finger on it," Riley said.
- USC coach Pete Carroll said he expects QB Mark Sanchez will get his final OK tonight from team doctors to start at Virginia. As for the backup QB competition between Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, Carroll said there is "nothing to declare yet." He said the competition will continue until the end of the week. Same vagueness at TB: "Whatever we list will have an 'or' next to it." Carroll said Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and C.J. Gable will get carries with Allen Bradford also in the mix.
You're all starters to me.
- Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski could be out for up to a month. Which might give one depth chart concerns. Not that backup TE A.J. Simmons isn't confident. But too much confidence is a bad thing.
- Arizona State shouldn't take Northern Arizona for granted because the Lumberjacks can play.
- QB Kevin Riley answers the bell as California's starter. Analyzing and predicting Cal's season. Game week is here and so are depth chart answers. More on that here.
- Oregon deals with the loss of QB Nate Costa, and here are details of his knee injury. Getting ready for Washington QB Jake Locker.
- Monday with Oregon State coach Mike Riley. Playing Stanford means the stakes are high because it's a conference game. Beavers are set at center but it's not clear who will start for suspended safety Al Afalava. Notes from the press briefing.
- It's official: Stanford's starting QB is Tavita Pritchard. The Cardinal are down an O-lineman. Analyzing and predicting Stanford's season. And if you're not satisfied, you can always ask for your money back.
- UCLA's offensive line is set, though tackle Micah Kia's health is still an issue. And RB Kahlil Bell goes to bat for that maligned crew. Alterraun Verner will lead the secondary. Rick Neuheisel's biggest concern? Adversity. Obviously, there are concerns.
- If there was any remaining doubt at USC: It's Mark Sanchez. It's still not clear who the backup is but it appears that Aaron Corp is slightly leading Mitch Mustain. Is USC's OL its weakest link? Observations from Monday's practice.
- Washington doesn't want to lose its fifth game in a row to Oregon for the first time in school history. Looking over the Washington depth chart. Monday notes. Checking in with new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The pressure is starting to show on Tyrone Willingham. Amusing UW gadfly Jim Moore gives his take.
- Depth chart surprises at Washington State. The Cougars talk about playing Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy will call plays for Oklahoma State.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, expected to be one of the key weapons in the Wildcats offense this season, will miss the season opener against Idaho with strep throat and he could miss up to a month if it's found the sophomore also has mononucleosis, according to reports out of Tucson.
Sophomore A.J. Simmons will step in for Gronkowski. Simmons caught one pass last year, a 3-yard touchdown versus Stanford.
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