Pac-12: Charles Brown

USC spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
7:00
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USC

2009 overall record: 9-4

2009 conference record: 5-4 (tied for fifth)

Returning starters

Offense: 6, Defense: 6, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners: QB Matt Barkley, FB Stanley Havili, OT Tyron Smith, DT Jurrell Casey, DE Nick Perry

Key losses: OT Charles Brown, WR Damian Williams, RB Joe McKnight, OG Jeff Byers, DE Everson Griffen, FS Taylor Mays

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Joe McKnight (1,014)
Passing: Matt Barkley* (2,735)
Receiving: Damian Williams (1,010)
Tackles: Taylor Mays (96)
Sacks: Everson Griffen, Nick Perry* (8)
Interceptions: Will Harris (4)

Spring Answers

1. The defensive line is legit: New coach Lane Kiffin seemed to be unhappy with just about everything during spring -- that may be his way of challenging the complacent Trojans -- but he did praise his defensive line, which is deep and talented. Jurrell Casey is expected to break out and become one of the nation's premier defensive tackles, while ends Nick Perry and Armond Armstead appear dominant at times. It was a significant blow, however, when returning starter Christian Tupou blew out his knee in the spring game, which will force the Trojans to tap into their depth.

2. Barkley is better at QB: A lighter, more experienced Matt Barkley played well throughout spring. His decision-making was particularly improved -- he threw 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions in four scrimmages.

3. After all the hullabaloo, the Kiffin transition has been smooth: There's always upheaval when a new coach arrives, particularly when the predecessor was as successful as Pete Carroll. But the fact is Kiffin knows USC: He was an assistant there from 2001-2006. And the offensive and defensive schemes are similar to what the players know: Kiffin was the offensive coordinator his final two seasons at USC, and his father and defensive coordinator, Monte, was Pete Carroll's defensive mentor.

Fall questions

1. Secondary issues: The Trojans must replace all four starters in the secondary. That's not completely true, though, because Shareece Wright would have started last year if not for being ruled academically ineligible. Wright might be the best cornerback in the conference, but after him things are uncertain, particularly at the cornerback spot opposite him.

2. Little O-line depth: Much of the spring, the Trojans only had six healthy offensive linemen. Kiffin spent plenty of time grousing about the production up front, too. The starting unit has the potential to be very good, but a couple of injuries could be a problem.

3. Who's in the middle? Devon Kennard was moved to middle linebacker to challenge 2009 starter Chris Galippo and he did, often looking like a budding star at the position. Yet Galippo responded with a strong spring himself. The post-spring depth chart listed an "OR" between the two, which means the competition will continue in the fall. Kiffin said that the loser, won't be relegated to the bench. In fact, he might displace Michael Morgan at strongside linebacker.

Taylor Mays hurting after draft tumble

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
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The NFL draft teaches hard lessons. Two USC players are learning that now: Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen.

Mays would have been a first-round pick last year. I know folks believe his perceived weaknesses would have revealed themselves on film Insider then just as they did this season. But the 2008 USC pass defense was simply extraordinary in large part because of Mays playing an intimidating and impenetrable center field.

So Mays blew it by coming back for his senior season. And he now knows this.

As for you, San Francisco 49ers fans: Didn't you guys do fairly well a few years back with another hard-hitting former USC safety? I got a $5 bill right here that says Mays is going to become an outstanding NFL safety.

Griffen is another story: First-round talent with questions about his attitude and work ethic. (Keep this in mind about Mays: his work ethic couldn't be any better).

Who would have thought that Washington's Daniel Te'o-Nesheim would go before Griffen? Te'o-Nesheim is superior to Griffen in only one way but its a critical one: motor. Griffen's is questionable, Te'o-Nesheim's is not.

The lesson here is that being good isn't enough. The NFL cares about the entire package. And NFL teams don't want players who aren't self-starters, who don't motivate themselves.

Take note incoming five-star recruits.

Here are the Pac-10 picks to this point (11:15 a.m. ET ).

First round
DE Tyson Alualu, California, Jacksonville (10)
RB Jahvid Best, California, Detroit (30)

Second round
DT Brian Price, UCLA, Tampa (35)
S T.J. Ward, Oregon, Cleveland (38)
TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona, New England (42)
S Taylor Mays, USC, San Francisco (49)
RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford, Minnesota (51)
OT Charles Brown, USC, New Orleans (64)

Third round
TE Ed Dickson, Oregon, Baltimore (70)
WR Damian Williams, USC, Tennessee (77)
LB Donald Butler, Washington, San Diego (79)
DT Earl Mitchell, Arizona, Houston (81)
DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Washington, Philadelphia (86)
OG Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State, Cleveland (92)
CB Kevin Thomas, USC, Indianapolis (94)

Fourth round
DE Everson Griffin, USC, Minnesota (100)
CB Alterraun Verner, UCLA, Tennessee (104)
CB Walter Thurmond, Oregon, Seattle (111)
RB Joe McKnight, USC, New York Jets (112)

Opening the mailbag: How does the Pac-10 survive (thrive)?

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
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To the notes.

Robert from Seattle writes: Who does the Pac-10 ultimately answer to? The fans or to the presidents? A follow-up not-so-quick question. If the Pac-10 wants to survive as a conference, what do they do?

Ted Miller: Who does the Pac-10 answer to? Easy: $.

Commissioner Larry Scott's charge going forward is to maximize sports revenue, which means football and men's basketball (but mostly football). Of course, he doesn't want to completely compromise the culture and values of the conference -- academic or otherwise -- but my guess is his first interest is revenue.

He has two basic issues ahead of him that he'd like to have a handle on before he goes off to negotiate new media/TV deals after the first of the year (the Pac-10's contracts with Fox and ESPN-ABC expire after the 2011-2012 academic year).

The first is expansion: Would adding teams increase revenue per team? The 10 existing members want their pie slices to grow, not get smaller, with expansion. So he's looking for teams that: 1. are interested in joining the Pac-10; 2. would increase revenue. Much of that, of course, is tied to the idea of creating more value -- real and perceived -- when negotiating new TV contracts.

The second issue -- if he cannot bring the presidents an expansion plan that works -- is defending the Pac-10's interest if expansion becomes the rage back east.

If, suddenly, a 16-team Big Ten and 16-team SEC are nose-to-nose for domination, Scott has to figure out what that means for the Pac-10. At the BCS meetings, Scott said he doesn't necessarily believe that would force the Pac-10 to follow the leaders. Maybe. But maybe not.

It's possible that the new, powerful super-conferences would make demands, such as second automatic berth in BCS bowl games (and perhaps an option for a third) as well as other special accommodations. That could create a significant revenue imbalance.

Moreover, Scott has to be aware of what might happen if there is a long-term and significant revenue imbalance between the Pac-10 and the super conferences.

For example, what happens if the SEC-16 starts to pay assistant coaches an average salary of $750,000, while Pac-10 assistants average just $250,000? Or think about this: What if Florida offered Mike Stoops $2.5 million to leave Arizona to become the Gators defensive coordinator? Or what if the existing imbalances in facilities become so pronounced that a significant percentage of recruits from southern California start heading east?

The Pac-10 could suddenly learn what it feels like to be a non-AQ conference. Heck, it could become a non-AQ conference.

Still, as I wrote on Thursday, we are wallowing in speculation and hypotheticals.

Ultimately, Scott's job is simple: He's going to try to improve the Pac-10's position in the marketplace, but, failing that, he needs to at least maintain it.

Matt from Athens, Ga., writes: When is the last time a USC player was not drafted in the 1st round? Does that point to any talent drop-off at USC or is it more particular players not fitting teams' needs in a given year?

Ted Miller: Last time? All the way back to ... 2007.

This is a good note from the Orange County Register though: "In the 75-year history of the National Football League draft, USC (63), Miami (56) and Ohio State (53) have produced the most first-round selections. On Thursday night in the 2010 first round, they combined for zero."

As for USC's talent, I don't think this is a moment to say the sky is falling. USC figures to have perhaps six players go in the next two rounds: Everson Griffen, Taylor Mays, Charles Brown, Damian Williams, Joe McKnight and Anthony McCoy. That ain't too shabby.

Michael from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Your Pac-10 predictions discount an Arizona team the returns almost the entire talent-ridden offense that, despite new coordinators, will run the same offense. As for the defense, it's still a Stoops team that always ranks high defensively, star talent or not. What's keeping the Cat's out of Pac-10 favorites?

Ted Miller: First, those aren't "predictions" -- they are "power rankings." They are based at the present moment. Things can change (and probably will).

A few points.

First, Arizona not only lost two coordinators, it lost two very good coordinators in new Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes and new Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. That can't be written off. The new foursome of co-coordinators are all smart, respected coaches, but it's prudent to take a wait-and-see attitude to how this unusual arrangement will work out going forward.

Second, Mike Stoops knows defense, without a doubt. But just like everyone else he needs players. As for "always" ranking highly: The 2007 unit ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring defense and fifth in total defense.

Third, the 2010 defense must replace seven starters, including both defensive tackles, all three linebackers and half its secondary. That seven includes three second-team All-Pac-10 players from each level (tackle Earl Mitchell, linebacker Xavier Kelly and free safety Cam Nelson). Moreover, they are counting on a pair of JC transfers to start at linebacker. I'm skeptical of JC transfers until proven otherwise.

Now, despite all this, the Wildcats still look like a bowl team -- in large part because, as you note, the offense should be able to score on anybody. Therefore, they are a member of what I see as the Pac-10's extremely competitive and deep middle. I rank USC, Oregon and Oregon State as a clear top three. But from Nos. 4 to No. 8, you could arrange and re-arrange teams and not get much of an argument from me.

Luke from Philadelphia writes: I am a fan/follower of PSU and the Big Ten. But I am really excited about what looks like a lot of changes out there in Pac-10 country. Naturally I hate USC, so seeing them humbled last year was awesome. It's great to see the rest of your conference rise up and bring more drama to the season and the Rose Bowl. What's the feeling out there in the west? Did Pac-10 fans traditionally feel proud of USC for being the football flagship and thus feel sad about their becoming mortal in 2009? Or are they as happy as I am to see some drama in the conference, even if it means the Pac-10 could actually lose a Rose Bowl or two?

Ted Miller: Not getting a sense of any sadness from the other nine teams of USC slipping back -- potentially slipping back, I should type -- particularly when I was in Westwood last week.

A wide-open Pac-10 is more fun. For a while there, it felt like everyone was playing for second place behind the Trojans, though it's important to note that three times during the Pete Carroll Era, USC only shared the title with another conference team (2002, 2006, 2007).

As for pride in USC, it was more a case of a desire for more sympathy and less "Pac-1" ridiculousness. The Trojans would have dominated any other conference just as they did the Pac-10 from 2002-2008.

Would they have won seven consecutive SEC titles? Probably not. But I also think that if USC had played in the SEC, it would have won more national titles during that span.

Gerald from Norcross, Ga., writes: How's the Eric Berry versus Taylor Mays comparison looking?

Ted Miller: Fair to say that Berry is the decisive winner after going No. 5 overall. Heck, Pete Carroll even rated Mays below Texas' Earl Thomas by taking Thomas over Mays with the No. 14 pick.

And how about this: Who would have thought that Mays wouldn't even be the first Pac-10 safety selected (Cleveland just picked Oregon's T.J. Ward with the sixth pick of the second round)?

Tough day for Mays no doubt. But he'll eventually get drafted and have plenty of opportunities to prove his doubters wrong.

Craig from Corvallis, Ore., writes: Do you think that a super conference for the Pac-10 would be considered if it partially revived the old Southwest Conference? The conference could have two divisions, the pacific and southwest. The Pacific would be composed of the original Pac-8 members. The Southwest would include the Arizona schools and six Texas schools. Unfortunately, some of the old Southwest members would have to be left out (I know Arkansas would not mind, they are probably very happy in the SEC). I think the best fit would include: Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, SMU, TCU and Texas Tech (or Rice). It would be a bold move by Larry Scott but very interesting for the world of college football. I think it would be interesting to see SMU brought back to the forefront of college football after their long dark-age.

Ted Miller: The Country-Western Conference!

It would be even better if you dropped Baylor and added Oklahoma, though that breaks from your old Southwest Conference theme.

This is an interesting idea, and not a bad one. I think the chances of something like this happen are decidedly remote, but I've read ideas that were far worse.

Former Pac-10 players on top-100 list

April, 16, 2010
4/16/10
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Twelve former Pac-10 players -- topped by USC defensive end Everson Griffen at No. 20 overall -- made the Scouts Inc. top-100 list of NFL draft prospects, which was published in the latest ESPN Magazine.

Those players are (number is top-100 rank):

20. Everson Griffen, DE, USC
21. Taylor Mays, S, USC
24. Brian Price, DT, UCLA
37. Tyson Alualu, DT, California
41. Jahvid Best, RB, California
43. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona
46. Charles Brown, OT, USC
52. Damian Williams, WR, USC
62. Anthony McCoy, TE, USC
74. Joe McKnight, RB, USC
88. T.J. Ward, S, Oregon
94. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon

O'Dowd, USC have something to prove

April, 5, 2010
4/05/10
12:02
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USC's Kristofer O'Dowd was an adequate center while starting seven games last year, but that's not good enough for a player widely regarded as the best in the nation at his position when the season began.

It was not unlike going 9-4 for USC. A majority of programs would celebrate a nine-win season. For the Trojans, it represents failure and inspires talk that one of college football's great dynasties is crumbling.

[+] EnlargeKristofer O'Dowd
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKristofer O'Dowd was hampered by injuries during the 2009 season.
O'Dowd dislocated his right knee cap during fall camp and never seemed to fully recover. The Trojans just seemed dislocated from the swaggering, dominant program that had won seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and two national championships.

"In those games I played, I wasn't playing to my capability," O'Dowd said. "What hurt the most was knowing I could play at a certain level and knowing what I could do but I wasn't getting there. That was the most frustrating thing ... [Because of his knee injury] I couldn't get the drive I was used to. I would just have the stalemate, which is acceptable at some places but it isn't acceptable for myself and the program here."

You could sort of substitute "USC" for "I" in that quote and get an accurate feel for the Trojans in 2009.

"What was our record? 9-4? That's a great year for other programs but is not acceptable for us," O'Dowd said.

O'Dowd, now the line's senior leader, is back this spring (though he missed some action after spraining his left knee) and so might be that swagger. It's no secret new coach Lane Kiffin and his staff have plenty of that. Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron were two of the more boisterous presences during USC's best times working as assistants under former coach Pete Carroll.

"With this new coaching staff, they are teaching us the ways of what used to be -- the '03, '04, '05 seasons when USC was the team," O'Dowd said. "We're getting back there and it starts right now in spring."

O'Dowd picks his words carefully, but he admits something wasn't right last year, something about more than losing a bunch of starters to the NFL.

"It was full of a bunch of ups and downs," he said. "We didn't find that cohesiveness with one another on the team. I think that did affect us negatively last season."

The line around O'Dowd must replace three starters: tackle Charles Brown and guards Jeff Byers and Alex Parsons. As could be expected with USC, there's plenty of talent ready to step up -- no Pac-10 team's linemen pass the eye-test like the Trojans'. But they're unproven, and after last year, there is less justification to assume USC will automatically reload.

O'Dowd, however, seems to suspect the line, which underachieved last year, will be more than OK. It will again be a dominant crew.

He said the key is sophomore left tackle Matt Kalil, who made his first career start against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, stepping in for academically ineligible right tackle Tyron Smith. Kalil is the younger brother of former USC All-American center Ryan Kalil, now an Pro Bowler for the Carolina Panthers.

"I think that left tackle position is going to be key," O'Dowd said. "Matt has shown great progress. He did at the end of the year starting against Boston College. He knows what he needs to do."

Something else could derail USC's return to the nation's elite: NCAA sanctions. A ruling from the infractions committee on alleged extra benefits provided by would-be sports agents to former USC running back Reggie Bush and other allegations is expected this month.

O'Dowd said possible sanctions are not a hot topic among the players.

"It doesn't get talked about," he said. "I've been hearing about it since I was a freshman. It's sort of like [the fifth wheel] who doesn't get invited. No one is really worried about it and I don't think it will have an effect for us at all."

What does have some effect is talk that USC is no longer the pre-eminent program in the conference as well as the nation. Yes, the Trojans do hear the negative chatter, O'Dowd said.

Still, O'Dowd knows he and his teammates, for the first time in years, now have something to prove.

"Of course it lights a fire beneath us, but in the same sense we did that to ourselves," he said. "It takes a man to go back and correct his faults."

Some Pac-10 combine notes and numbers

March, 2, 2010
3/02/10
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Lots of goings on at the NFL combine with Pac-10 guys. Here are some updates.

From Scouts Inc. reports on ESPN.com:

  • Everyone expected USC S Taylor Mays to shine in this setting and Mays did not disappoint. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Mays posted an official time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash. While we are still concerned about his inconsistencies on film, Mays clearly has early-first-round natural ability, and teams are sure to fall in love with his upside if they haven't already.
  • Arizona State's Dexter Davis, TCU's Jerry Hughes, Michigan's Brandon Graham and Utah's Koa Misi all played defensive end in college but are expected to move to 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Base 3-4 teams looking for help at outside linebacker were interested to see how they ran in the 40-yard dash, and none of them disappointed. Davis (4.56 seconds), Hughes (4.59), Graham (4.69) and Misi (4.69) all are fast enough to play linebacker in the NFL. Those times are unofficial, of course, but it's worth pointing out that the average 40 time for outside linebackers at the 2009 combine was 4.78.
  • It should come as no surprise that Campbell, USC's Charles Brown and West Virginia's Selvish Capers stood out during one-on-one mirror drills. All three looked fluid and quick, but Iowa's Bryan Bulaga showed the best poise of the group. Bulaga didn't overreact to head fakes or quick changes in direction and stayed with his man throughout.
  • USC G/C Jeff Byers had a hard time sinking his hips and keeping his shoulders back before starting his one-on-one mirror drill, and Byers' technique deteriorated once Idaho OT/G Mike Iupati forced him to change directions. Byers had a particularly difficult time staying low and that's a real concern because hip and back injuries forced Byers to miss two seasons early in his collegiate career and he looks stiff.

From other sources:

Thoughts on the 2009 top 30

February, 25, 2010
2/25/10
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It feels like this is our final goodbye to the 2009 season: Our reworked top 30, which was topped Wednesday by Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.

No surprise there, right?

Some notes on the list, and then we firmly turn our attention to 2010:

  • Oregon State led all teams with five players, including four in the top 10. Imagine if you'd read that 11 years ago?
  • Washington State had none -- only center Kenny Alfred was considered. Arizona State had just one, though the Sun Devils had a few who just missed the cut -- linebacker Mike Nixon, for one -- and a couple who figure to be on our 2010 preseason list (linebacker Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy).
  • 2009 was a highly competitive season in the conference, and that showed in the rankings. Arizona, California, Oregon and USC each had four players ranked. UCLA and Washington had three. Stanford two.
  • Only one offensive lineman -- USC's Charles Brown -- was on the list. USC's Jeff Byers and Stanford's Chris Marinelli just missed the cut. O-line is a questionable position for the conference next year, even with a lot of starters back. Only three of ten All-Pac-10 linemen are back -- and none from the first-team.
  • Five quarterbacks and five defensive ends made the list, making those the top two positions. Four quarterbacks will be back but just two of the DEs, which the quarterbacks might be happy to hear.
  • Thirteen of the top 30 are back next year, including seven of the top 10 (though none of the top three).
  • Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona each will have three players from the list back in 2010. USC will have none.

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 1

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
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Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

[+] EnlargeToby Gerhart
Ivan Pierre Aguirre/US PresswireToby Gerhart won the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back.
Click here for Nos. 2-30. Preseason rankings are here.

1. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford (25): Gerhart was the best player in the nation, so it makes sense that he sits atop the Pac-10 list. A consensus All-American, Gerhart finished second to Alabama running back Mark Ingram in the closest Heisman Trophy vote in history -- Ingram's playing for a national title contender clearly provided him the slim margin of victory -- but he beat out Ingram for the Doak Walker Award, which is given annually to the nation's best running back. Gerhart led the nation in rushing (1,871 yards) and touchdowns (28) -- only one other runner had more than 21 TDs. His 143.9 yards rushing per game was 25 yards more than any other conference running back. He also caught 11 passes for 157 yards and even threw a TD pass. Defenses crowded the line of scrimmage and tried to gang up on Gerhart. It just didn't matter.

2. Brian Price, DT, UCLA (6)
3. Sean Canfield, QB, Oregon State (NR)
4. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon (9)
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (4)
6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11)
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon (16)
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 2

February, 23, 2010
2/23/10
12:45
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Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 3-30. Preseason rankings are here.

Price
Price
2. Brian Price, DT, UCLA (6): Everyone knew Price was coming; they just couldn't stop him, even with a double-team. The Pac-10 defensive player of the year -- a likely NFL first-round pick this spring -- led the conference with 23.5 tackles for loss, which is eight more than No. 2 (Washington's Donald Butler). That total ranked fourth in the nation. Seven of those TFLs were sacks, a total that ranked first among conference interior linemen. He also had 48 total tackles and forced a pair of fumbles.

3. Sean Canfield, QB, Oregon State (NR)
4. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon (9)
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (4)
6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11)
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon (16)
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 3

February, 22, 2010
2/22/10
12:15
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Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 5-30. Preseason rankings are here.

Canfield
Canfield
3. Sean Canfield, QB, Oregon State (NR): Sean Canfield's wild ride as the Beavers' quarterback -- the starter as a sophomore, he probably wouldn't have played much in 2009 had Lyle Moevao been healthy -- ended with first-team All-Pac-10 honors and a season that made him an NFL prospect. He led the conference with 3,271 yards passing -- no other quarterback threw for more than 2,850 yards -- and tied Washington's Jake Locker for first in the conference with 21 touchdown passes. He completed 68 percent of his passes and ranked second in the conference in passing efficiency. He did all that for an offense that rebuilt its receiving corps as well as its offensive line.

4. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon (9)
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (4)
6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11)
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon (16)
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 4

February, 19, 2010
2/19/10
1:30
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Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 5-30. Preseason rankings are here.

Masoli
Masoli
4. Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Oregon (9): Masoli's value? How about 28 touchdowns, 13 running and 15 passing in 2009? He ranked ninth in the conference with 55.8 yards rushing per game and also passed for 2,147 yards with just six interceptions, which earned him second-team All-Pac-10 honors. But Masoli isn't only about numbers. It's his skill running the Ducks' spread-option, which manifests itself when fans and TV cameras (and opposing defenses) find out that -- for a couple of critical clicks -- they don't know where the ball is. It's his toughness, just ask Oregon State safety Lance Mitchell, whom Masoli ran over on a critical fourth-down play in the Civil War. And it's his unflappability. Masoli can make mistakes and he can seem out of rhythm. But he always seems to come up with clutch plays at crunch time (see his brilliant, six TD effort in the comeback, double-overtime win at Arizona).

5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (4)
6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11)
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon (16)
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 5

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
10:00
AM ET
Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 6-30. Preseason rankings are here.

5. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (4): Rodgers, a sophomore who earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors for the second consecutive year, not only ranked third in the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,440 yards, but he also ranked second in receptions with 78 for 522 yards. He ranked 23rd in the nation with 150.92 all-purpose yards per game. He also scored 22 touchdowns, which ranked second in the conference behind Toby Gerhart, well ahead of any other running back. If, say, your favorite running back scored 14 touchdowns, that would mean he scored 48 fewer points than Rodgers, which works out to 3.7 points fewer per game over a 13-game season (just saying, Oregon fans).

6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11)
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 6

February, 17, 2010
2/17/10
10:30
AM ET
Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 7-30. Preseason rankings are here.

6. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (11): At least one NFL draft expert believed Locker was a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in this spring's draft, but Locker opted to return for his senior season and that is great news for the Huskies. Locker led the Pac-10 in total offense in 2009, his 265.7 yards per game being 21 yards more than any other player. Before this past season, Locker was viewed as an athlete -- not a pure passer -- playing quarterback. But in his first year with new coach Steve Sarkisian, he completed 58 percent of his throws for 2,800 yards, his 233 yards passing per game ranking second in the conference. His 21 touchdown passes tied Oregon State's Sean Canfield for tops in the conference. Locker also was still an outstanding runner, rushing for 577 yards and seven touchdowns.

7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24)
8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 7

February, 16, 2010
2/16/10
9:43
AM ET
Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 9-30. Preseason rankings are here.

Paea
Paea
7. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (24): Paea, a two-year starter who earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors this year, won't win you over with numbers. He ranked eighth on the Beavers with 43 tackles, 8.5 of which came for a loss, which was a team-high. He also recorded three sacks and forced four fumbles (note the tackle-to-fumble-forcing ratio). But you know who thinks highly of Paea? The guys who try to block him. Opposing offensive linemen selected Paea as the 2009 Morris Trophy winner, which is given annually to the most outstanding offensive or defensive lineman in the Pac-10. He opted to return for his senior season -- he didn't take up football until he was a high school senior -- and he could end up a first-day NFL draft pick in 2011.

8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR)
9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, WR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon (16)
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

Pac-10 top 30 in 2009: No. 8

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
12:50
PM ET
Our final top 30 player rankings from 2009 will start from the bottom and work up to No. 1.

Click here for Nos. 9-30. Preseason rankings are here.

8. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (NR): James finished second in the Pac-10 with 1,546 yards rushing, which was a new conference freshman record. His 6.7 yards per carry average led all conference runners with at least 100 carries on the season, and he averaged 133.5 yards in 11 games as a starter. He scored 14 touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 168 yards. He led the nation with 21 carries in excess of 20 yards, and nine of those went for 30 or more yards and four for 50 or more. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder from Texarkana, Texas, was second-team All-Pac-10 and the conference's Offensive Freshman of the Year as well as his school's first freshman to earn the Ducks' Most Outstanding Player honors.

9. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State (22)
10. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA (NR)
11. Damian Williams, QR, USC (7)
12. Taylor Mays, S, USC (1)
13. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon
14. Tyson Alualu, DE, California (26)
15. Alterraun Verner, CB, UCLA (15)
16. Jahvid Best, RB, California (2)
17. Charles Brown, OT, USC (17)
18. Syd'Quan Thompson, CB, California (8)
19. Keaton Kristick, LB, Oregon State (28)
20. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona (NR)
21. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, DE, Washington (23)
22. Mike Mohamed, LB, California (NR)
23. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (NR)
24. Donald Butler, LB, Washington (NR)
25. Everson Griffen, DE, USC (30)
26. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona (NR)
27. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona (NR)
28. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon (NR)
29. Earl Mitchell, DT, Arizona (NR)
30. Travis Goethel, LB Arizona State (NR)

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