Pac-12: Hunter Dimick

Tough omissions from the All-Pac-12 team

December, 12, 2014
12/12/14
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There is no such thing as a perfect All-Anything team, but the Pac-12 blog likes to believe its All-Pac-12 team came close.

Or at least inched closer than the official All-Pac-12 team, selected by the coaches, that listed UCLA's Butkus Award-winning linebacker Eric Kendricks on the second team. We agreed with most of their selections, but made a change in format and selected 12 offensive and defensive players (to account for varying schemes).

It still didn't feel like enough spots for the amount of deserving players.

So with that in mind, here are some more players that deserved consideration. It's not a second-team and doesn't mean these players were more deserving than others not listed, just a sampling of players to show how competitive these things are.

QB Brett Hundley, UCLA: Without taking expectations into account, Hundley had a great season: 3,019 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, five interceptions. It might not have been what he or UCLA fans were hoping for, but still a season worth remembering.

QB Cody Kessler, USC: All Kessler did was throw for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdown passes to just four interceptions as the Trojans scored 35.1 points per game. Put him in any other conference and he’s a candidate for Offensive Player of the Year.

RBs Buck Allen (USC), Royce Freeman (Oregon), Nick Wilson (Arizona), D.J. Foster (ASU): There wasn't a clear divide between the conference's six best running backs and there are convincing arguments for why each of these guys might actually be the best back in the Pac-12.

WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado: Flip a coin between Spruce and WSU’s Vince Mayle -- they finished tied for third nationally with 106 catches. Both players were equally deserving for a spot alongside Jaelen Strong and Nelson Agholor.

Hunter Dimick (Utah), Andrew Hudson (Washington), Marcus Hardison (ASU): This trio is for the crowd that likes to measure a defensive lineman's worth by their sack numbers -- all three had at least 10.

LB Jared Norris, Utah: It was easy to leave him off because of the depth at the position, but Norris’ 108 tackles, which ranked fourth in the Pac-12, is worth noting.

LB/S Su'a Cravens, sophomore, USC: Cravens might have been the toughest player to leave off the team, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t deserving. If he remained at safety, there probably would have been a place for him, but since he played most of the season at outside linebacker listing him at safety wouldn’t have felt right.

CB Alex Carter Stanford: Outside of Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Carter might be the best NFL corner prospect in the conference. His lack of interceptions (1) and tackles (29) reflect opposing quarterbacks’ reluctancy to throw in his direction.

Spring position breakdowns: DE

March, 4, 2014
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Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues.

Arizona: Coach Rich Rodriguez is confident in both Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato and anxious to get junior-college transfers Jeff Worthy, who also spent a year at Boise State, and Jerod Cody acclimated to the system. Calvin Allen, Jack Banda and Luca Bruno are coming off redshirt seasons and represent a group Rodriguez said the team needs production from.

Arizona State: With the departure of Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman, there is a question about the team's depth at end. Without Will Sutton clogging things up next year, the Sun Devils' lack of experience is even more of a concern. Sean O'Grady backed up Conway and Coleman last year, but ASU has several well-regarded junior-college transfers in Edmond Boateng, Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry.

California: The Bears list seven defensive ends, but former junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa gained the most experience last season listed at the rush position. Antione Davis was outgoing starter Dan Camporeale's primary backup, but Brennan Scarlett's return is more important. He started nine games in 2012 and has been cleared to play following a hand issue that cost him the 2013 season. Todd Barr, Sione Sina and recent-transfer Jonathan Johnson are also in the mix.

Colorado: Colorado must replace Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but Juda Parker is back for his senior season, and several others have game experience. Samson Kafovalu is the likely candidate to start opposite him after making 18 tackles in seven games last year. Jimmie Gilbert was Uzo-Diribe's backup, Kirk Poston and De'Jon Wilson also played.

Oregon: The Ducks took a hit with the departure of Taylor Hart, who was named second-team All-Pac-12, but have a talented player in Arik Armstead lined up to take his spot. Armstead started five times in 2013 and left the basketball team midseason to shift his focus back to football. T.J. Daniel, Jason Sloan are projected to be in the mix for playing time.

Oregon State: Scott Crichton is gone, but Dylan Wynn remains and will likely be the Beavers' best defensive player a year after finishing fourth on the team in tackles. Lavonte Barnett, Crichton's primary backup in 2013, and Jaswha James figure to compete for the starting job, but there are two others to keep an eye on. Obum Gwacham recently switched from receiver and Mike Riley has been complimentary of Titus Failauga, who is coming off his redshirt.

Stanford: Henry Anderson has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the conference and Blake Lueders, who switched from OLB, began the spring atop the depth chart. The intriguing prospect is Luke Kaumatule, who was recruited to play defense but began 2013 as the team's starting tight end. Spring will be important for his development, but his raw ability is impressive.

UCLA: Both Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes were all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and highlight a talented UCLA defensive line. Their return will help account for the loss of Cassius Marsh, who started 12 games last year. Both McCarthy and Vanderdoes can play inside or outside, but the Bruins listed them both at end. Highly recruited DE Kylie Fitts saw playing time as a true freshman last season.

USC: Leonard Williams, the only sophomore named first-team all-Pac-12 on defense last season, is the best in the conference. Delvon Simmons, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has a lot of game experience. He started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012 and had regular playing time as a freshman there in 2011. Both Simmons and J.R. Tavai, who was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, can play inside or outside.

Utah: There's no replacing Trevor Reilly, who made 100 tackles despite lingering effects from a torn ACL, but Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick both saw extensive playing time last season. The Utes have five other defensive ends on the roster, but of that group only LT Filiaga made a tackle last season.

Washington: The Huskies are in great shape with the return of Hau'oli Kikaha, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson. Josh Shirley has 10 career starts, while Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provide depth.

Washington State: With Toni Pole expected to move back inside, the depth chart will look similar to how it did going into last season, minus Matt Bock. After making 50 tackles last year, Xavier Cooper will start on one side, with Destiny Vaeao and Lyman Faoliu strong candidates for more playing time. Emmitt Su'a-Kalio is coming off a redshirt, and the Cougars also signed a pair of defensive ends from Hawaii in Kingston Fernandez and Hercules Mata'afa.

Previous positions

Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle
Every team has a strength -- that one position group that can make a play on offense or make a big stop on defense when needed.

Based on what happened this spring, we're going to look at the strongest position group for each school. It could be on either side of the ball -- and it could be subject to change after fall camp goes into full swing.

We're going in reverse alphabetical order.

Utah

Strongest position group: Defensive line

Headliner: Star Lotulelei (44 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks)

Supporting cast: Joe Kruger (35/5/3); Dave Kruger (22/1.5/1); Nate Fakahafua (4/0/0); Thretton Palamo (6/0/0); LT Tuipulotu (6/0/0)

The skinny: With an average weight across the projected starting four of 284 pounds, there isn't a lot of skinny to be found. And it starts in the middle with Lotulelei, the sitting Morris Trophy holder and All-America candidate. The 325-pounder feasts on double-teams. His job isn't to put up mind-blowing stats, it's to take multiple offensive linemen out of the play and allow his linebackers to mop up, and there is no defensive lineman in the conference that does it better. It's why he's being projected as a top five pick in next year's NFL draft.

He's got some pretty good experience alongside him as well with Dave Kruger, a three-year starter at defensive tackle who has 27 starts since his freshman year and has played in 38-of-39 games.

LT Tuipulotu missed spring ball with a knee injury, but should be good to go in the fall and he'll spell Lotulelei and Kruger along with redshirt freshman Seni Fauonuku.

On one defensive end spot, Joe Kruger returns and added some weight. He's up to about 275. Fakahafua will be the only first-time starter, but he saw some time as a true freshman so nothing should really be all that daunting. JC transfer Niasi Leota, true freshman Hunter Dimick and Palamo, a converted running back, add good depth to an already nasty group.

Utah spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
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2011 overall record: 8-5
2011 conference record: 4-5 (T 3rd, South)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; punter/kicker: 2

Top returners
QB Jordan Wynn, DT Star Lotulelei, RB John White, WR DeVonte Christopher, S Brian Blechen, OL Sam Brenner.

Key losses
OL Tony Bergstrom, DE Derrick Shelby; LB Chaz Walker, OL John Cullen.

2011 statistical leaders (*returning)
Rushing: John White* (1,519 yards)
Passing: Jon Hays* (1,459 yards)
Receiving: DeVonte Christopher* (663 yards)
Tackles: Chaz Walker (118)
Sacks: Derrick Shelby, Trevor Reilly* (5)
Interceptions: Conroy Black (4)

Spring answers
1. High hopes: Quarterback Jordan Wynn is healthy -- hopefully for more than just a few weeks at a time. After a fantastic true freshman year, Wynn's career has been hijacked by multiple injuries that have limited his time. He's put on more weight (up to about 210) and if he stays healthy, should have great success with Brian Johnson running the offense.

2. LB answers: The Utes had some holes to fill at the linebacker spot with the departures of Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez, leaving Trevor Reilly as the only returning starter. But V.J. Fehoko appears to have won the job at the middle linebacker spot and either Jacoby Hale or LT Filiaga will fill the rover spot.

3. RB depth: John White had more carries than any other running back in the conference last season. That's a lot of wear and tear, so developing some guys behind him was crucial. Harvey Langi and Kelvin York established themselves as the guys behind White. Both are bigger -- Langi is 228 and York is 225 -- so they'll be a nice change of pace from the speedier White.

Fall questions
1. Who has Wynn's back? Developing a guy behind Wynn -- giving his history of injury -- is pretty crucial. It looks like Jon Hays would probably be the guy if Wynn goes down again -- which makes sense -- because the Utes probably don't want to burn a redshirt year on Travis Wilson or Chase Hansen. But on his latest depth chart, head coach Kyle Whittingham left an "OR" between Hays and Wilson, leaving the door open that maybe he has a little more faith in Wilson.

2. Who has Wynn's backside? The Utes have to fill two substantial holes left by departed tackles John Cullen and Tony Bergstrom. As of now, Percy Taumoelau is penciled in at left tackle and Daniel Nielson is slotted for the right tackle. But Whittingham has said those aren't set in stone. Cullen and Bergstrom were two of the best in the conference. No easy job stepping in for those guys.

3. DL depth: Up front, Utah is probably as good as anyone in the conference with Lotulelei, Joe and Dave Kruger and Nate Fakahafua. But behind them, there are questions. Converted running back Thretton Palamo, Hunter Dimick and junior-college transfer Niasi Leota figure to be in the mix. But like the offensive-line spots, nothing is written in ink. Junior Salt and Tenny Palepoi could also see time in the rotation.

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