Pac-12: Brandon Johnson
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB Connor Wood, Colorado, So., 3.55, Finance
RB Jared Baker, Arizona, RS, Fr., 3.56, Undeclared
RB Patrick Skov, Stanford, So., 3.41, Undeclared
WR Andrei Lintz, Washington State, RS Sr., 3.72, Sport Management
WR Luke Matthews, Utah (2), Sr., 3.69, Mass Communication
TE Koa Ka'ai, Oregon, RS Fr., 3.94, History
OL Chris Adcock, California, So., 3.57, Business Administration
OL Jake Brendel, UCLA, RS Fr., 3.60, Math/Applied Science
OL Khaled Holmes, USC , Sr., 3.31, Communication
OL Tevita Stevens, Utah (2) , Sr., 3.54, Spanish
OL Matt Summers-Gavin, California, Sr., 3.27, Political Science
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Henry Anderson, Stanford, Jr., 3.43, Political Science
DL Nate Bonsu, Colorado, Jr., 3.42, International Affairs
DL Will Pericak, Colorado (2), RS Sr., 3.45, Accounting
DL Danny Shelton, Washington, So., 3.47, Anthropology
LB Dave Fagergren, Utah, Sr., 3.51, Business
LB Jake Fischer, Arizona (2) , Jr., 3.32, Marketing
LB Brandon Johnson, Arizona State, RS Jr., 3.44, Sociology
DB Brian Blechen, Utah, Jr., 3.18, Sociology
DB Jordan Richards, Stanford, So., 3.34, Undeclared
DB Eric Rowe, Utah, So., 3.54, Undeclared
DB Jared Tevis, Arizona, So., 3.25, Finance
PK John Bonano, Arizona (3), Sr., 3.93,Physiology
P Jeff Locke, UCLA (3), RS Sr., 3.70, Economics
ST Justin Gorman, Colorado RS So., 3.61, Finance
(2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection; (3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB Matt Barkley, USC, Sr., 3.21, Communication
RB Kenny Bassett, Oregon, So., 3.31, Business Administration
RB Steven Manfro, UCLA, RS Fr., 3.20, Undeclared
WR Dustin Ebner, Colorado, RS Sr., 3.47, Integrative Physiology
WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado , RS Fr., 3.73, Business
TE Michael Cooper, Arizona, So., 3.92, Pre-Business
OL Trace Biskin, Arizona, Sr., 3.29, Political Science
OL Zach Brevick, Washington State, RS Jr., 3.23, Entrepreneurship
OL Brad Cotner, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.34, Arts and Sciences
OL Kevin Danser, Stanford, Sr., 3.13, Biomechanical Engineering
OL Stephane Nembot, Colorado , RS Fr., 3.20, International Affairs
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL Nate Fakahafua, Utah, So., 3.19, Undeclared
DL Ben Gardner, Stanford, Sr., 3.01, Science, Technology and Society
DL Taylor Hart, Oregon, Jr., 3.17, Sociology
DL Andrew Seumalo, Oregon State, Sr., 3.17, Finance
LB Michael Clay, Oregon, Sr., 3.10, Family and Human Services
LB V.J. Fehoko, Utah, So., 3.31, Economics
LB Travis Long, Washington State, Sr., 3.02, Management and Operations
DB Isaac Archuleta, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.09, Business
DB Tyré Ellison, California, Sr., 3.01, Social Welfare
DB Ronnie Harris, Stanford, So., 3.13, Undeclared
DB Charles Henderson, Utah, RS Fr., 3.47, Undeclared
PK William Oliver, Colorado , So., 3.66, Management
P Sean Sellwood, Utah, Sr., 3.70, Exercise and Sport Science
ST Richard Yates, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.60, Mechanical Engineering
For the list of all players who were named honorable mention, you can see the complete release from the Pac-12 conference here.
He topped a list of 48 Sun Devils who were honored.
A news release from the school said the "Hard Hat Program was created to reward those individuals who do what's right in the weight room even when no one is looking ... a Hard Hat Player is someone who is self-motivated, a competitor, committed to personal and team excellence, dependable, accountable, disciplined and most importantly, puts the team first."
To become a Hard Hat Player, a player has to achieve a certain point total during winter workouts. He earns points based on his effort for strength training, speed development and conditioning sessions. They are also awarded points for competitive events and performing extra workouts in the "Blitz Package Program." Each athlete is evaluated after every workout by the sports performance staff with input from an athlete's position coach when applicable.
The list of the honored includes: Corey Adams, Derrall Anderson, George Bell, Omar Bolden, Jarrid Bryant, Mike Callaghan, Jonathan Clark, Chris Coyle, Dean DeLeone, Eddie Elder, Steven Figueroa, Evan Finkenberg, Clint Floyd, Garth Gerhart, Lawrence Guy, Jon Hargis, J.J. Holliday, Matt Hustad, Osahon Irabor, Patrick Jamison, Keelan Johnson, Brandon Johnson, Anthony Jones, Kyle Johnson, Cameron Kastl, Ronald Kennedy, Dan Knapp, Trevor Kohl, LeQuan Lewis, Shelly Lyons, Cameron Marshall, Shane McCullen, Jamal Miles, Bo Moos, James Morrison, Gerald Munns, Brock Osweiler, Aaron Pflugrad, Cole Rarrick, Jamarr Robinson, Andrew Sampson, Zach Schlink, Max Smith, Adam Tello, Steven Threet, Matthew Tucker and Thomas Weber.
Starters or key contributors who didn't make the list (for whatever reason, including injury or excused absence) include: linebacker Vontaze Burfict, receiver Gerell Robinson, receiver Kerry Taylor, defensive end James Brooks, defensive tackle Williams Sutton, defensive tackle Saia Falahola, defensive end Greg Smith and linebacker Brandon Magee.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The ninth of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.
Washington in a sentence
- While the Huskies hit an all-time low as a program by going winless in 2008, there's an abundance of hope for a dramatic improvement under new coach Steve Sarkisian with 18 starters returning as well as quarterback Jake Locker, who was lost to injury four games into last season, and linebacker E.J. Savannah, who was suspended by former coach Tyrone Willingham.
The big issue
- When a team finishes 0-12, everything is an issue, but a good start would be shoring up a defense that ranked 110th in the nation last year, yielding 452 yards per game. Ten starters are back on that side of the ball -- not including Savannah --- but will that prove to be a good thing?
Quick hit news
- Tailbacks Brandon Johnson and David Freeman and linebacker Bradly Roussel left the program.
- All 13 of the Huskies' freshmen are already on campus. The Seattle Times reported that, of the six JC transfers in the incoming class, only one, tight end Dorson Boyce is presently with the team. Another, defensive lineman Johnny Tivao of Cerritos College, is not expected to make it. The other four are trying to complete their work to become academically eligible.
- Sarkisian has gotten off to a fast start with his second recruiting class. The Huskies already have 13 commitments and most services rank the present haul among the nation's top 25.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The Times also reported that running back Brandon Yakaboski "suffered a setback recently in his recovery from knee surgery and is likely out for the season."
It's never good to lose players, particularly three at one position, but none of these three emerged from spring practices particularly high on the crowded depth chart.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Pac-10 teams should be able to run the ball in 2009.
Or at least they should if we base analysis on returning talent at running back.
|Kyle Terada/US Presswire|
|California's Jahvid Best rushed for 1,580 yards in 2008.|
Assuming, of course, Blount takes care of the issues that got him suspended.
As it stands, five 1,000-yard rushers return, topped by California's Jahvid Best, who is a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, who was only the conference's Offensive Player of the Year as a true freshman.
In fact, it's fair to say that no team is in lousy shape with its running backs.
Offensive lines? Well, that's not our topic today.
- California: Best may be the most explosive player in the nation. He's a home-run threat every time he touches the ball, and, oh by the way, backup Shane Vereen ranked 10th in the conference in rushing and averaged 5 yards per carry.
- USC: Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable -- and all the other guys. The Trojans averaged 195 yards rushing per game last year, and with all five offensive linemen back and a new starting quarterback, that total figures to perk up quite a bit.
- Oregon State: Rodgers will be limited during spring practices due to a shoulder injury and the depth behind him is a bit uncertain, but you cannot ignore a freshman rushing for 1,253 yards.
- Stanford: The Cardinal will be looking to bolster depth behind Gerhart during spring. Gerhart, who scored 15 touchdowns and rushed for 1,136 yards in 2008, won't be around because he's playing baseball. And therein lies a problem for Stanford fans. Gerhart might get picked high enough in the major league baseball draft -- and get offered a big enough signing bonus -- that he bolts school. That would be a huge hit.
- Arizona: Who had a better running game last year: Arizona or Oregon State? Well, the production for both was nearly identical in terms of yards, but the Wildcats had 33 rushing touchdowns -- second in the conference only to Oregon's stunning 47 -- while the Beavers had 21. And the Wildcats have a nice one-two punch in Nic Grigsby, who rushed for 1,153 yards last year, and Keola Antolin. Grigsby does have a bit of a fumbling problem, though.
- Oregon: The overwhelming assumption is Blount will be back, which would put the Ducks in the "Great Shape" category. Still, that uncertainty is an issue heading into spring practices.
- Washington State: The Cougars fall just short of good shape because they were awful running the ball last year -- 2.7 yards per carry -- and California transfer James Montgomery is unproven. But everyone on the 2008 depth chart is back and Montgomery was a touted recruit, so this is one position coach Paul Wulff probably isn't losing sleep over.
- Washington: The good news is everyone is back -- Terrance Dailey, Brandon Johnson, David Freeman, etc. The bad news is the running game was terrible last year. It's tempting to promote the Huskies just because a healthy Jake Locker should dramatically improve the rushing totals, but until someone tells us otherwise, Locker is a quarterback.
- UCLA: The good news is it would be hard for the running game to get any worse than 116th in the nation (82.75 yards per game). Still, while Kahlil Bell is gone, there's tons of young talent at running back, led by Derrick Coleman and Aundre Dean. Of course, there's that offensive line ...
- Arizona State: Said the Sun Devils: Thank God for UCLA. Otherwise, their 89 yards rushing per game -- 113th in the nation -- would rank last in the Pac-10. Keegan Herring is gone, but the rest of the depth chart is back and some folks in Tempe are intrigued with redshirt freshman James Morrison, a walk-on sensation who might have seen a lot of carries last year if he didn't get hurt. Still, the tailbacks suffer here because of the woeful offensive line.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Ten things to consider, underline or anticipate heading into the weekend.
1. Dear Arizona -- Get the ball to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Thomas: What does a dominating running game do for a team? Well, it wasn't just that Stanford had 286 yards rushing last weekend in its win over Arizona, it was that it ran 72 total plays vs. 57 for the Wildcats. What could a team do with 15 more plays? A lot. But if you only have 57, more than six of them should involve tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Mike Thomas.
2. Nate Longshore needs to grab hold of Cal's quarterback spot: California would love to run right at Arizona like Stanford did, but the Bears are down two starting offensive linemen and struggled just two weeks ago to get the running game going at home against Arizona State (79 yards on the ground). While it will help to get speedy Jahvid Best back, he's not going to give Cal 25 carries coming back from a dislocated elbow. That means Nate Longshore, making his second consecutive start, will need to make plays in the passing game. It doesn't help that receiver Michael Calvin was lost for the year this week to a knee injury. But Longshore should be plenty motivated to erase the three-interception performance he had in Tucson in 2006, an upset defeat that cost the Bears their first Rose Bowl berth since 1958.
3. How much does Washington still care?: The Huskies' players don't live in caves. They know that their fan base is hollering for coach Tyrone Willingham's coaching noggin'. They also can look at the guy under center and know he's no longer their leader, Jake Locker, who's done for the year with a thumb injury. While last season's bitter defeat at Oregon State should serve as motivation to play hard in front of the home fans, it will be interesting to see if the Huskies fight all four quarters if things start to get out of hand. And what if the Beavers jump on them early? Will a white flag come out?
4. Beavers stop the pass, own the field: Washington senior guard Casey Bulyca, who rivals center Juan Garcia as the Huskies most physical player, underwent knee surgery Tuesday and is done for the year. The line has been mostly mediocre this year, in any event. The Huskies don't really have a starting tailback, with Willie Griffin, Brandon Johnson and Terrance Dailey shuffling in and out. Locker, the best run threat, is, again, out. The Huskies average 2.9 yards per rush, and Oregon State's run defense has improved dramatically since yielding 239 yards at Penn State. This means it's up to UW quarterback Ronnie Fouch and his young receivers to make plays. But the Beavers likely will welcome the pass because safety Al Afalava and cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis are back to full speed after nursing injuries previous weeks.
5. USC will not be at full speed at Washington State: USC is banged up and it might make sense for coach Pete Carroll to lean toward caution with players who are borderline-ready to play at Washington State. Running back Joe McKnight (toe) won't make the trip. Neither will defensive end Everson Griffen and offensive lineman Butch Lewis (both are sick). Offensive guards Jeff Byers (knee) and Zack Heberer (toe), linebackers Brian Cushing (shoulder) and Kaluka Maiava (foot) and tight end Blake Ayles (groin) also missed significant practice time this week.
6. Don't hold the ball, Kevin Lopina: A team (hopefully) never expects to lose, but Washington State's prime directive is to get quarterback Kevin Lopina safely through USC's visit. Lopina is making his first start since going down with a back injury on Sept. 20 against Portland State, and the Cougars have a bye next week for him to further get his health, rhythm and timing back. The Trojans put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, often with just a four-man rush. Lopina needs to get the ball away in a hurry. That means three-step drops, roll outs, a two count and throw -- heave the ball into the stands if necessary. Just don't give up the sack, the INT or get hurt. The Cougars Nos. 2 and 3 quarterbacks are done for the season, and the guys next in line are a walk-on and a true freshman, so they really need Lopina to keep taking snaps.
7. Can Stanford run up the middle on UCLA?: Stanford has become the Pac-10's most physical running team. Running back Toby Gerhart is a 230-pound guy who's not afraid of contact, and the Cardinal line, led by center Alex Fletcher, has been the conference's best unit to this point of the season. But UCLA has perhaps the conference's best defensive tackle tandem in Brian Price and Brigham Harwell. Can Fletcher and his guards move these guys out of the way? The going should be far tougher up the middle, though the Bruins haven't been dominant against the run this year by any means, ranking eighth in the Pac-10 with 171 yards given up per game.
8. UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft needs to put four quarters together: Stanford is going to gang up on the run and try to force Craft to win the game. For much of the season, the Cardinal secondary looked vulnerable, but last weekend it did a masterful job containing Arizona's top targets, Rob Gronkowski and Mike Thomas, and didn't allow quarterback Willie Tuitama to throw a touchdown pass. Stanford also brings a lot of blitzes (see 19 sacks on the season). Craft has had fits and starts of success, and he seems to go in and out of rhythm throughout a game. He was sacked six times by Oregon and he threw a lot of ill-advised passes that were dropped by Ducks defenders. If the Bruins are going to defend their home turf, Craft needs to make plays consistently.
9. The solution for Arizona -- Stop the run: Arizona has lost twice this season. In both games, a power back ran all over the Wildcats undersized defense. But Cal doesn't have a Rodney Ferguson (New Mexico, 158 yards) or a Toby Gerhart (116 yards), who both tip the scales at 230 pounds. If the Wildcats force the Bears to throw into a secondary that is the defense's strength that will help in multiple ways. Not only will it ease the pressure on the defensive front, it also will stop the clock more often and allow the potent Arizona offen
se to get more plays.
10. Can any Pac-10 teams win on the road?: Pac-10 teams are 6-20 on the road this year -- 2-8 in nonconference play and 4-12 in conference. While Washington and Washington State have proved hospitable for obvious reasons -- stinking -- the rest of the Pac-10 has treated guests with disdain. Stanford and California are both looking to move up in the conference pecking order, but in order to do that they will have to prove they can win on the road someplace other than Washington or Washington State.
A day after labeling the Pac-10 quarterbacks as a motley, usually undecorated crew, it's necessary to do the same with the conference running backs.
How's this to start: All four backs from the All-Pac-10 first- and second-teams are gone. While five teams welcome back their leading rusher, none eclipsed the 1,000-yard benchmark.
How should educated speculation figure in about touted freshmen and transfers figure in the tabulation?
And should the QB's running ability figure in the equation? Washington ranks last here, but if Jake Locker -- perhaps the nation's best running QB -- were figured in, the Huskies would jump into the top half of the conference?
Should the offensive line be a factor? UCLA's got solid running backs, but they may not see many holes this year.
So, as Crash Davis once said, "We're dealing with a lot of" stuff.
Does it sound like we're whining about making a list? Sorry.
Because every team regularly will use more than one running back, this ranking considers the tow presently atop the depth chart with some fudging introduced based on knowledge of further depth (like say at USC and Oregon).
- USC (Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight): There's, like, 10 guys here who'd start for many BCS programs, and the depth chart conspicuously uses an "OR" between names to obscure anyone clamoring for a pecking order. But these are our two favorites.
- Oregon (Jeremiah Johnson, LeGarrette Blount): Johnson blew out his knee in 2007, but he's quick and versatile. Blount was the star of spring drills with his power running, so we promoted him ahead of Andrew Crenshaw, who had 415 yards rushing a year ago.
- Arizona State (Keegan Herring, Dimitri Nance): Herring is tops among returning tailbacks with 815 yards rushing a year ago. Nance rushed for 527 yards with seven TDs. Neither of these guys will blow your socks off, but both are productive.
- UCLA (Kahlil Bell, Raymond Carter): Bell, a 220 pounder, rushed for 795 yards in eight games a year ago before going down. Carter, a redshirt freshman, would have played last year as a true freshman if he didn't blow out his knee during the preseason.
- California (Jahvid Best, Tracy Slocum): Best was spectacular when healthy a year ago, a threat as a runner and receiver. Slocum doesn't have a carry to his credit but was a touted prep recruit.
- Washington State (Dwight Tardy, Chris Ivory): The pair combined for nearly 1,000 yards a year ago, averaging 4.7 and 5.2 yards per carry, respectively. Pretty good OL should help.
- Stanford (Anthony Kimble, Toby Gerhart): The Cardinal welcomes back their top four rushers from a year ago, with Kimble leading the way with 509 yards and Gerhart earning mention because of his 11.7 yards per carry average before he got hurt.
- Arizona (Nic Grigsby, Xavier Smith): Grigsby showed flashes while rushing for 704 yards last year for a pass-happy team. Expect more of the same in 2008.
- Oregon State (Ryan McCants, Jeremy Francis): McCants looked great in spring and the 240 pounder certainly passes the sight test, but this pair doesn't have a carry to its name. It's notable that scatback WR James Rodgers rushed for 586 yards in 2007, but he doesn't count here.
- Washington (Brandon Johnson, Willie Griffin): Johnson only averaged 3.8 yards per carry in limited action last year and Griffin is a redshirt freshman. Doesn't help that All-Pac-10 center Juan Garcia may miss the first half of the season with a foot injury.