Pac-12: A.J. Simmons

Pac-10 lunch links: Freshmen stepping up

August, 17, 2010
On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double Scotches. They didn't do me any good. All they did was make me think of Silver-Wig and I never saw her again.

Preseason position reviews: tight end

July, 28, 2010
Welcome to the review of the weakest position in the Pac-10. And that was going to be the case even before Washington gave Kavario Middleton the boot.

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.

Great shape
  • California: Miller was the Bears' third-leading receiver last year. Six-foot-7 sophomore backup Spencer Ladner saw action in seven games.
Good shape
  • 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.
We'll see
  • 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.

Gronkowski out 'indefinitely' with strained back

August, 15, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller


Arizona's first-team All-Pac-10 tight end Rob Gronkowski will be out indefinitely with a strained back, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

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.

Teleconference quick hits: Coaches' updates

August, 26, 2008

Posted by'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.

(Read full post)

Pac-10 Morning: Getting deep on depth charts

August, 26, 2008
Posted by's Ted Miller

You're all starters to me.

Arizona's Gronkowski to miss opener vs. Idaho

August, 25, 2008

Posted by'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.

Here are two stories: Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12