Pac-12: Jeff Maehl

Pac-12 media day extravaganza!

December, 30, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- The 2012 Rose Bowl media day is now history. We'll have heaps of reports and videos the rest of the day.

But some quick impressions.
  • Oregon was the smaller team against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl two years ago and against Auburn in the national championship game last year, but Wisconsin dwarfs both of those teams. The Badgers, quite simply, are the biggest football team I've seen, and that includes a few years covering the NFL. That doesn't mean the Badgers are going to dominate up front. There are certain to be moments when their size creates mismatches and big plays, just as there are certain to be moments when the Ducks quickness makes the beefy Badgers look bad.
  • This is clearly a business trip for both teams. There were very few wide-eyes over the media horde throwing out random, redundant and often silly questions, one after another. Both teams seemed loose and relaxed. Both teams seem more game-oriented than the whole "enjoying the bowl experience" thing.
  • Wisconsin's outstanding center Peter Konz told's Brian Bennett the ankle injury that knocked him out of the final three games of the season feels much better. He wouldn't say for sure he was going to start on Monday, but the odds are certainly looking better than they did a week ago.
  • Badgers receiver Jared Abbrederis is this year's Jeff Maehl. You look at the former walk-on and go, "Really?" -- just as the national media did at Maehl last year. But the sophomore is definitely a player to watch, considering his numbers nearly match leading receiver Nick Toon, son of former Wisconsin and NFL receiver Al Toon. He caught 55 passes for 822 yards -- 14.9 yards per catch -- with nine TDs this season. Looks, as Maehl showed over and over in 2010, can be deceiving.
  • The Ducks said that coach Chip Kelly made no major changes to how the team prepared for the previous two bowl games. A couple said they felt like the team might be more serious this year, but that just might be because there are fewer seniors.

Oregon's Thomas is better than you think

November, 17, 2011
Quick: Name the second-rated passer in the Pac-12 behind Stanford's Andrew Luck.

[+] EnlargeDarron Thomas
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireOregon quarterback Darron Thomas has the offense humming again this season.
It's not USC's Matt Barkley. It's not Washington's Keith Price or Arizona's Nick Foles.

It's Oregon's Darron Thomas, the guy that some -- let's call it a vocal minority -- speculated just a few weeks ago should be benched in favor of backup Bryan Bennett.

Yes, Thomas. Second-team All-Pac-10 last year. Led his team to the national title game. He's presently the nation's 10th-rated passer with 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

You know, Thomas, the guy who outplayed Luck last weekend. And Price the week before.

Thomas and the Ducks passing game didn't start fast this year. That's largely because the Ducks lost their top two receivers from 2010 -- Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis -- and were young at the position. Sure, Thomas missed some throws here and there. But when a QB is not certain about the guys he's throwing to, that can happen.

And it's not easy to throw well on a sprained knee, which is what Thomas suffered against Arizona State on Oct. 15. It caused him to miss a start at Colorado and get benched in the second half against Washington State.

"It gave me some problems," Thomas said. "I'm almost 100 percent now."

At less than 100 percent last week at Stanford, he completed 11-of-17 for 155 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Luck completed 27-of-41 for 256 yards with three TDs and two interceptions. Thomas averaged 9.1 yards per completion. Luck, 6.2 yards.

The week before at Washington, Thomas completed 13-of-25 for 169 yards with a TD and no interceptions. Price completed 24-of-35 for 143 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Thomas averaged 6.8 yards per completion. Price, 4.1.

Sure, it's a bit of apples and oranges. Different offenses facing different defenses. But the general gist is this -- it's easy to forget how good Thomas is at one important thing.

Winning. In 22 career starts, the junior is 20-2.

Thomas is not as prolific as he was last year in the passing game. He averaged 221.6 yards passing last year and is averaging 189.3 yards per game this season. But coach Chip Kelly said he's still a better QB.

"Last year, he was a first-year starter for us. He did a really nice job," Kelly said. "But I think [this year] he's understanding what we are doing offensively -- being able to get through his progressions quicker, make sure we're in the right protections, change the tempos we're playing at at certain times."

Kelly's combativeness with reporters was in some way responsible for creating a mini-QB controversy. His refusal to say, "If healthy, Thomas will start," forced reporters to speculate, and one not unreasonable line of speculation was that Kelly's refusal to say, "If healthy, Thomas will start," was based on that not being the case.

Thomas seemed to get irritated with the line of questioning when he was asked about the starting job following the Washington State game, but obviously now the whole thing is soon to be relegated to the heap of barely remembered media chatter.

"I wasn't really worried about it," Thomas said. "I just knew I needed to get my knee better. I wasn't worried about who was going to be the starter."

Thomas has another shot to outplay a more celebrated QB Saturday when USC and Barkley come to Autzen Stadium. Barkley is the Pac-12's fourth-rated passer, but he's been playing at a high level of late and is tied with Luck for the conference lead with 29 TD passes.

And Barkley tweaked the Ducks earlier in the week when he said they weren't as good this year as last year, when Oregon rolled the Trojans 53-32 in the Coliseum with a dominant second half.

Thomas laughed off the comments while making it easy to infer that they made their way into the Ducks locker room.

"I think our defense is going to do a great job showing him what we can do," Thomas said. "I think he was trying to get us into some trash talking. We're not too worried about it."

If Oregon beats the Trojans, it clinches the Pac-12 North Division title, which means it would play host to some woeful South Division team on Dec. 2.

USC is the here and now, the task at hand for a team that is focused only on winning the day, per instructions from Kelly. This team doesn't look ahead. Not really, at least.

There have been, however, some cracks in Kelly's Cone of Silence that envelops the Ducks' football compound. After the win over Stanford, do-everything freshman De'Anthony Thomas used a three-letter word: "L-S-U."

He said, not unreasonably, that the Ducks would like another chance against the Tigers.

Before playing LSU in the opener, Darron Thomas called it the biggest game of his career. And then the Ducks' offense mostly flopped, though it was nowhere near as hapless as Alabama was against the Tigers.

Yes, Thomas acknowledged after a short pause, he had entertained the notion of a potential rematch.

"That's our goal, to hopefully finish off this season and maybe get those guys again," he said. "I think our team is more mature if we get an opportunity to play them again."

But first things first. The Pac-12's second-rated passer needs to outplay another more celebrated QB on Saturday so he can lead his team to its second consecutive conference title.

Oregon keeps on track on offense

November, 8, 2011
Oregon has looked ragged on offense this year. Running back LaMichael James got hurt and missed a couple of games. Quarterback Darron Thomas got hurt and missed a game, then came back and was benched at halftime.

So things haven't been perfect this fall, at least not like 2010, when the Ducks were darn near perfect on offense.

Or is that actually just bunk?

It's mostly bunk.

[+] EnlargeKenjon Barber
AP Photo/Wily LowServing as the No. 2 back in Oregon's offense, Kenjon Barber has amassed 601 yards on 89 carries with 8 touchdowns.
Oregon averaged 530.7 yards and 47 points per game last year. It's averaging 510.7 yards and 46 points this year. So the numbers are only slightly down. But the Ducks also are averaging more rushing yards (298.4 yards per game versus 286.2 in 2010) and have a better passing efficiency rating (158 versus 151.7).

The difference in total yards comes from passing: The Ducks averaged 244.5 yards passing in 2010. They are averaging 212 this year. That, obviously, can be attributed to losing the top two receivers from 2010, Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis.

When Stanford coach David Shaw looks at the Ducks, he sees an offense that is a little different from 2010's edition. But still scary.

"Every year they tweak it," he said. "Every year they add something. They didn't use to pull a lot of linemen. Now they have a few plays where they pull the center, pull the guards. They give you enough to keep you off balance."

James said he thought the offense was faster. And the Ducks have packages when they get James on the field at the same time with Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff, players who are as dangerous in space as any in the Pac-12. Miss a tackle, and they are celebrating in the endzone.

"It's a tough matchup," Shaw said. "They've got a lot of team speed. They've got the best back in the nation. When he's not in there, they've got a guy [Barner] who is just as fast and runs just as hard... If you are out of position, they will find you."

Much is made of the Ducks storming back from a 21-3 deficit last year, as it should be. That was impressive. What many forget is the Ducks' 52-31 win was a 7-point game heading into the fourth quarter. But that's when the Stanford defense cracked, yielding a 25-yard touchdown pass and 76-yard touchdown run from James.

A first key to slowing the Ducks is not yielding big plays. A second key is not letting the big plays that almost certainly are going to happen have a negative emotional/psychological effect. A defense that starts to play paranoid is one that is ripe to be exploited by misdirection.

"It can be frustrating," Shaw said. "I've talked to my guys about composure. [The Ducks] are going to make some plays."

Oregon has won eight of the past nine against Stanford. The lone Ducks defeat in that span came in 2009, a 51-42 upset win for the Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif. The key element in that game was the Cardinal building a 31-14 halftime lead and then not buckling when the Ducks made a couple of second-half runs. The Stanford defense yielded 570 yards, but it also held the Ducks to 71 plays. The Ducks had 80 last year and finished with 626 yards.

One thing that doesn't matter to Ducks coach Chip Kelly is playing on grass instead of the artificial turf at Autzen Stadium. He doesn't see a connection between the 2010 win and the 2009 loss.

"A lot is made when you lose on grass," Kelly said. "Then obviously it's the grass's fault. But if you win, no one talks about, 'Ah, you played on grass.' If they want to play in the parking lot, we'll play in the parking lot."

Stanford wouldn't want that. Asphalt is a faster surface.

Issues facing the veteran QBs

August, 9, 2011
It's great having a veteran quarterback, particularly a veteran quarterback who is proven.

But a veteran quarterback can have his own concerns. Here's what the returning starters at the position in the Pac-12 will be fretting about -- though they'd never own up to fretting -- during preseason camp.

Nick Foles, Arizona: Foles has a talented and deep crew of receivers but he also has five new starting offensive linemen in front of him, which not only will be an issue in pass protection but also for creating a running game that will slow down a pass rush.

Tyler Hansen, Colorado: The good news for Hansen is the job is his and he no longer has to worry about the coach's son, as he did under Dan Hawkins with Cody Hawkins. The bad news also is it's all on him, though Hansen seems like the sort who would see that as good news. A more tangible worry for Hansen is a lack of depth at receiver. Paul Richardson can ball and Toney Clemons is solid. After that, things are thin.

Darron Thomas, Oregon: Talk about a debut. Most folks thought Nate Costa was going to win the starting job over Thomas last preseason, but Thomas not only prevailed, he thrived, earning second-team All-Pac-10 honors and, oh by the way, playing in the national championship game. But now Thomas is playing behind a less-experienced offensive line and without his top-two receivers from 2010, Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis. Further, he's the man now, the first guy his teammates will look at in the huddle, though running back LaMichael James also figures to play a significant leadership role. Thomas seems up to increasing his responsibilities, but he can't do it alone. He will need some young receivers to step up, just as he did last year.

Ryan Katz, Oregon State: Katz might have the biggest arm in the conference and he certainly had some impressive moments, most notably a tour-de-force performance at Arizona. But he sure could use the return of a healthy James Rodgers, who was a big help against the Wildcats before he suffered a terrible knee injury. But receivers are not among Katz's chief worries. His offensive line welcomes back four starters, but it underperformed in 2010, both as run- and pass-blockers. And Katz no longer has certainty at tailback, with Jacquizz Rodgers off to the NFL.

Andrew Luck, Stanford: Luck is the best quarterback in the country, but that means many will expect him to be perfect, which he can't be. For one, his dominant 2010 offensive line is replacing three starters. We don't know if the Cardinal running game will match what it did the previous two seasons. That line also protected Luck as well as any line protected its quarterback in the nation. But more pressing for Luck is a questionable crew of receivers. If speedy Chris Owusu is healthy all season, things should work out. But without him, Luck doesn't have any options who can scare a defense. No one stepped up during the spring, which makes receiver perhaps the Cardinal's most worrisome position.

Matt Barkley, USC: Barkley looks poised for a breakthrough in his third year as a starter. While Luck is super special, watching Barkley throw the ball at practice is pretty darn special, too. He's certainly an NFL talent, and he's got plenty of young talent around him at the skill positions to help him put up big numbers this season. But his offensive line was awful during spring practices. Injuries were the chief explanation, but he needs his starting five to stay healthy because there is a decided lack of depth. Offensive line is probably, in fact, USC's biggest question mark.

Jordan Wynn, Utah: First, Wynn needs to worry about himself. He's coming back from shoulder surgery, so he needs to pace himself this preseason, both in terms of not overthrowing and in terms of not seeking out any unnecessary contact. After taking care of himself, Wynn will need to develop chemistry with a receiving corps that is replacing two of its three top guys. Beyond that, Wynn will be paying attention to running back, where the Utes' top two rushers from last season need to be replaced. Utah wants to be a downhill running team, and a hard-nosed running game certainly makes things easier for a quarterback when he steps back into the pocket.

Jeff Tuel, Washington State: Tuel and his receivers are going to be fine -- more than fine if they get some help from an offensive line that struggled horribly in 2010, failing to protect Tuel or to create running lanes for an anemic running game. Tuel did an admirable job handling 51 sacks last fall. But if he gets sacked that many times again in 2011, it's hard to imagine him starting all 12 games.
It has become a difficult day to rank Pac-12 teams at receiver due to reports of the uncertain health of Arizona's Juron Criner.

Criner is only the best returning receiver in the conference, a potential All-American and the leader of one of the nation's best units. Still, the Wildcats would rate in "great shape" on this list even without Criner, though they wouldn't top it.

As for the conference as a whole at receiver, things look pretty solid, top-to-bottom. Even the two teams in "We'll see," aren't desperate at the position.

So how do things stack up? Read on.

[Note: Stanford was left off the original version -- a cut and paste error, no less -- apologies].

Great shape

Arizona: The Wildcats may have the best collection of receivers in the nation. First-team All-Pac-10 selection Criner is the headliner, but there's also David Douglas, David Roberts, Terrence Miller and Richard Morrison -- each caught between 19 and 52 passes a season ago. Oh, and there's also Texas transfer Dan Buckner, Austin Hill, Garic Wharton and Tyler Slavin. There's size, speed, depth and experience.

[+] EnlargeJermaine Kearse
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesJermaine Kearse had his best season yet for the Huskies, catching 63 passes for 1,005 yards.
Washington: Jermaine Kearse, second-team All-Pac-10, is a 1,000-yard receiver who caught 12 touchdown passes. Devin Aguilar has 90 career receptions. James Johnson struggled to get in sync last season but caught 39 passes as a true freshman in 2009. Kevin Smith turned in a good spring, and hopes are stratospheric for incoming freshman All-American Kasen Williams.

Washington State: Marquess Wilson was a 1,000-yard receiver as a true freshman. Jared Karstetter caught 62 passes. Gino Simone has seen plenty of action, while hopes are high for redshirt freshman Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff. Quarterback Jeff Tuel has plenty of targets for what should be a potent passing attack.

USC: Perhaps no team has more upside than the Trojans. Sophomore Robert Woods is a potential All-American, while Brandon Carswell and Brice Butler are experienced players. But the upside is all about incoming freshman George Farmer and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater. If those two live up to their talents, the Trojans will be tough to stop in the passing game.

Good shape

California: Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones are a potentially strong tandem if the Bears get good quarterback play. Oft-injured Michael Calvin posted a solid spring. Kaelin Clay has a lot of speed, and he and Coleman Edmond need to step up.

Arizona State: T.J. Simpson's knee injury didn't help, but the Sun Devils are fairly deep and experienced at the position. Gerell Robinson was a standout this spring, while Mike Willie, Aaron Pflugrad and Jamal Miles each caught at least 25 passes in 2010. George Bell, A.J. Pickens, J.J. Holliday and Kevin Anderson provide good depth.

UCLA: Just because UCLA couldn't pass in 2010 doesn't mean it's bad at receiver. It certainly will be experienced in 2011 because everybody is back. Nelson Rosario has the talent to be a star, as do Randall Carroll and Josh Smith. Still, the Bruins lack consistency at the position -- too many dropped balls, too few big plays.

Oregon State: With a healthy James Rodgers and Jordan Bishop, the Beavers are in "great shape." But they have enough talent and experience at the position to at least end up in pretty good shape even if they don't. Markus Wheaton caught 55 passes as a sophomore, while Darrell Catchings and Geno Munoz are two guys who can help, if they can stay healthy. Kevin Cummings also should see action in the slot.

Utah: DeVonte Christopher, the second-leading receiver from 2010, and he's the only returning receiver who caught more than 20 passes, but the Utes feel pretty good about the guys they have coming back. With Reggie Dunn, Dres Anderson, Luke Matthews, Dexter Ransom and Kenneth Scott.

We'll see

Oregon: Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis are gone and they took 119 receptions with them. Lavasier Tuinei caught 36 passes and Josh Huff caught 19, but there's little experience beyond that. The Ducks are stacked at tight end and the incoming class is thick with speedy, touted receivers. But, as we've said before, "we'll see."

Colorado: Colorado has two guys it can count on in Paul Richardson and Tony Clemons, who combined for 77 receptions in 2010. After that, things are fairly questionable.

Stanford: Andrew Luck is the best QB in the nation and the Cardinal is loaded at tight end, but the top-two wide outs from 2010 are gone -- Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen -- and there are a lot of questions here. If Chris Owusu gets healthy and stays healthy, then the Cardinal has a speedy, dangerous deep threat, but that's a big if. And after him, there's not much experience. Drew Terrell, Darren Daniel, Griff Whalen and Jamal-Rashad Patterson need to step up.

Mailbag: Pac-12 network and horrible biases

May, 6, 2011
Happy Friday.

First of all, there are many questions about the Pac-12 network. I share your questions because there are no answers yet. At least officially.

Pac-12 Media Enterprises will operate the network. But that's about as far as things got, other than commissioner Larry Scott saying -- sorta cryptically -- that the league will have another major announcement in 60 days.

I'm with Jon Wilner: Got to be about the network, considering it's a fairly big project scheduled to be up-and-running in about 15 months (August of 2012).

Maybe the conference starts from scratch; maybe it buys an existing channel and re-brands it. Don't know yet. As for distribution, all we got from Scott this week is his confidence that there will be national distribution in some shape or form that will lead to increased revenue and widespread exposure for the conference.

The biggest reasons Scott believes it won't be hard to get wide distribution for the network is that it will broadcast plenty of A-list content -- football and men's basketball -- not just Olympic sports. That's not the case on the Big Ten Network.

Follow me on Twitter.

To the notes.

Mike from Modesto, Calif., writes: Not that the NFL draft should match Ted's Pac-10 Top 25 perfectly, but it did reflect my comment on the biases on the top 25 list, especially anti-Stanford. Owen Marecic was drafted in the fourth round, well ahead of the other Pac-10 fullbacks who the NFL "rated higher" than Owen, according to Ted (Havili went at the very end of the draft). Marecic also went a round before Jaquizz Rodgers, #9 on the Pac-10 list that Marecic was left off of. Richard Sherman was ignored by Ted all season despite playing a complete shutdown corner and forcing teams to ignore his side of the field most of the year. Sherman was not ignored by the NFL who took him ahead of the two Top 25 Oregon CBs (#20 & 22)--their names are not important, beings they were ignored by the NFL, as was Jeff Maehl (#12 on the list), but not Ryan Whalen, drafted in the 6th round. Defensive lineman Kenny Rowe was #17 on Ted's list, but went undrafted, unlike Sione Fua, who went in the third round, but was left off of Ted's list.

Ted Miller: Again, as I tweeted, leaving Marecic off was a mistake. I explained my reasoning for why I did -- and still don't think it was invalid -- but if I had to do the list over, I would include Marecic.

But let's also understand something: The NFL draft isn't what the top-25 is about. Oh, a player's potential NFL standing plays a role -- it certainly does with Andrew Luck -- but it's not the be-all end-all. Jake Locker and Rahim Moore didn't make the list either, and they were off the draft board before a lot of guys on the list.

As for Sherman, I'm happy he got drafted. Good dude. But he didn't earn first- or second-team All-Pac-10 honors. The three cornerbacks on the list all did.

Yes, Ryan Whalen was drafted and Jeff Maehl was not. Whalen had 439 yards receiving and two touchdowns in 2010. Maehl had 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns.

I've repeatedly called Sione Fua an underrated player and praised his NFL prospects, but he had 23 tackles last season. Rowe had 16.5 ... tackles for a loss.

And, by the way, No. 25 on the list, California running back Shane Vereen was picked in the second round. You don't seem concerned about his low rating for some reason.

There was no anti-Stanford bias. Make your own list. See how difficult it is.

There might be more Cardinal players on the preseason top-25 list than any other team. I can think of five or six guys off the top of my head. But that won't reflect a sudden pro-Stanford bias or a desire to appease you Cardinal fans outside my house RIGHT NOW with torches and pitchforks and long ropes.

It will just be little ole me trying to make a new list that, again, won't make everyone happy.

Ryan from Zanesville, Ohio writes: I'll pose this question to you:Hypothetical scenario: The Pac-12, Big 10, ACC, Big 12, and Big East all produce a 12-0/13-0 team as does Boise St. A 12-0 and a 11-1 SEC team play in their conference title game and the 11-1 team barely edges out the 12-0 team on a late 4th quarter controversial call. Which two teams meet in the title games? Does the BCS system implode like the nuclear test at Bikini Atoll?

Ted Miller: I know the genesis of this question, which I get some form of a lot: Does the BCS system essentially ensure that the SEC champion plays for the national title?

Short answer: no.

The two teams that play for the championship are the two teams that finish atop the BCS standings. The standings include three components: USA Today Coaches Poll, Harris Interactive College Football Poll and an average of six computer rankings. Each component counts one-third toward a team's overall BCS score.

For a one-loss team to beat out an unbeaten team, it must somehow end up with a better human and/or computer ranking. That would happen for a couple of reasons. Either a high preseason ranking, a tough schedule or both.

So, a 12-1 SEC -- after winning the SEC championship -- would have to have a pretty special resume to beat out four of five unbeaten teams from AQ conferences to play for the national title. How could it happen? Well, say the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big East and ACC champions have just one win over a ranked team, while the 12-1 SEC champ beat five. Unlikely, but that could do it.

Understand that your scenario has never happened. A once-beaten SEC team has not eclipsed an unbeaten AQ conference champion for a spot in the national title game. That's only happened to unbeaten teams -- fair or unfair -- from a non-AQ conference.

The SEC, however, has been treated as first among equals by the BCS standings when matched against other 1-loss teams from AQ conferences. That's what happened to USC in 2003, 2007 (two losses) and 2008.

Jeff from Fredericksburg, Texas writes: You Sir-Need to write a retraction or at minimum an apology for the lack of facts and honesty in your blog about the PAC with there "oh so many draft picks". What a [term deleted], 6 of those young men never played in the PAC. Was this a slam at the Big12. Truth be known they were right behind the PAC and in front of the [Big Ten]. Because 7 of the calculated [Big Ten] were actually in the Big 12....Note Nebraska. You are either a typical deceptive lying journalist with an agenda or just down right stupid. What a moron!

Ted Miller: Sigh.

1. I included Utah and Colorado because they now fall under my coverage area of the Pac-12. My including them was a service to Utah and Colorado fans.

2. All the way down in the second paragraph ... "If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17."

No, the Big 12 wasn't right behind the Pac-10. You're running into a problem with a complicated mathematical calculation. So go buy a calculator. I'll wait here.

The Big 12, with Nebraska and Colorado, produced 30 draft picks. The Pac-10 without Colorado and Utah produced 31. This, by the way, was explained in the story: "Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections."

But the one-man advantage isn't the story. Take the calculator out of its box. Divide 30 by 12. Then divide 31 by 10. What do those numbers mean?

They mean the Pac-12, without Colorado and Utah, provided 3.1 draft picks per team to the NFL. The Big 12, with Nebraska, provided 2.5.

Jim from Portland writes: My friends I are starting to forecast (err...trash talk) the 2011 seasons of our favorite teams. We are stuck on how to figure out who will be the conference champion because none of us are familiar with how ties will be broken for entry into the Pac 12 championship game. Can you help us figure out whether a 9 and 3 Cougar team will head to championship game or a 9 and 3 Beaver team will go assuming they are tied and have the best records in the north (this example is tongue in cheek as I am a diehard Duck fan, but if it happens I will take full credit for being the first to say it).

Ted Miller: Divisional tiebreaker for two teams is head-to-head matchup.

By the way, here's how the home field will be decided in the Pac-12 championship game in the event that the winners of the North and South divisions have the same conference record.

Tom from Washington D.C. writes: As a former roommate of the 07/08 Stanford tree, I can't tell you how many different ideas for a Sportscenter commercial we came up with. Just thought some Stanford football fans might appreciate how well you guys nailed it with this one.

Ted Miller: That's a good one. Poor tree.

Kyle from Bellevue, Wash., writes: One of my favorite things about the Pac-12 Blog are the quotes you include at the beginning of your posts, which have led me to some good movies and books. As a fellow English major, could you recommend a reading list? Since I graduated college a month ago, it feels funny to not be assigned reading, so I was thinking that Professor Miller may be able to assign some for me.

Ted Miller: Professor Miller! Someone knows how to tap into my vanity.

I answer this off-topic question, though, because a book just blew the top of my head off: "Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell. My advice is read it. Now.

They made a movie of it, which I plan to watch this weekend, and which is supposed to be pretty darn good, too.

If I were making a reading list, here's a start: White Noise, by Don DeLillo, Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, Light in August, by William Faulkner, The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon, The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen, The Bushwhacked Piano, by Thomas McGuane, The French Lieutenant's Woman, by John Fowles, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis, House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon, The Sot-Weed Factor, by John Barth, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, by John le Carre, A Fan's Notes, by Frederick Exley, Still Life With Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Sure I left a few out.

Pac-12 in UFL draft

May, 3, 2011
Five former Pac-12 players -- six if you include former Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli -- were selected in the UFL draft on Monday.

Here's the list.

No. 4 Martail Burnett, DE, Utah (Virginia)
No. 13 Joe Toledo, OT, Washington (Omaha)
No. 24 Spencer Paysinger, LB, Oregon (Sacramento)
No. 41 Cameron Colvin, WR, Oregon (Las Vegas)
No. 52 Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon (Virginia)

Note: Former Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli went 38th to Omaha.

Exiting the spring: Oregon

April, 28, 2011
Oregon concludes spring practices with its spring game on Saturday. Here's a brief primer.

Spring game: 4 p.m. ET at Autzen Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Here’s the link to the Oregon spring game on

Questions answered: The Ducks lost five starters from the defensive front seven, but this one may be more a reload rather than rebuild. This is due in large part to the experience of the so-called new guys, most of whom saw significant action last fall. Ends Dion Jordan and Brandon Hanna -- returning starter Terrell Turner sat out with a leg injury -- and tackles Ricky Heimuli, Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi all played well. At linebacker, Kiko Alonso takes over in the middle for Casey Matthews, while Michael Clay, Josh Kaddu and Boseko Lokomobo capably man the outside spots. More depth is provided by Dewitt Stuckey and Derrick Malone.

Questions unanswered: The defense was mostly in control this spring, and a lot of that was due to three new starters on the offensive line. Things aren't settled there other than tackles Mark Asper and Darion Weems and guard Carson York. Further, the Ducks are replacing their top two receivers, Jeff Maehl and D.J. Davis, and that may be a spot the requires help from a touted crew of incoming freshmen.

Spring stars: Jordan was an intriguing prospect when he switched to defensive end last season. Now he's starting to look like a player. Alonso missed last season due to suspension -- he also was injured -- but he's brought a physical presence to the middle of the defense. Running back Lache Seastrunk has played well enough to earn touches at a deep position. Spring always provides good walk-on stories, and the Ducks have theirs in Ramsen Golpashin, a fifth-year senior who's in the mix at offensive guard. Now some of you less sentimental sorts might not be thrilled with what a senior walk-on winning the job says, but let's see the glass as half-full.
It's good to receive, but it's really cool when your team welcomes back a 1,000-yard receiver.

After previously looking at top returning passers, rushers and tacklers, we move on to receivers.

Three teams welcome back receivers who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

1. Juron Criner, Arizona (1,233 yards): Even with an outstanding supporting cast -- including Texas transfer Dan Buckner -- Criner will be the go-to guy and almost assuredly a 1,000-yard receiver again in 2011.

[+] EnlargeJuron Criner
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireJuron Criner already topped 1,000 yards last season and will likely do so again as the top receiver in Arizona.
2. Marquess Wilson, Washington State (1,006): Wilson's situation is not unlike Criner's with a good quarterback plus good supporting crew of receivers likely meaning a big season.

3. Jermaine Kearse, Washington (1,005): Much like Criner and Wilson, Kearse has a good supporting cast. Unlike Criner and Wilson, Kearse won't have a proven quarterback throwing his way. Plus, with running back Chris Polk returning, the Huskies likely will be run-first.

Five other teams welcome back their leading receiver. A couple of these could reach the 1,000-yard benchmark under the right circumstances.

Robert Woods, USC (786 yards): If Woods stays healthy, the chances of him not eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving are close to zero.

Marvin Jones, California (765): Jones will have to share the ball with rising star Keenan Allen. And who the heck is going to throw to him? (And if Zach Maynard wins the quarterback job, he's Allen's half-brother).

Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (675): If James Rodgers returns, Wheaton is the Beavers No. 2 receiver. If Rodgers doesn't return -- at least not early in the season -- Wheaton could become a breakout player in the conference.

DeVonte Christopher, Utah (660): Jereme Brooks caught more passes but Christopher was the big-play guy, with six touchdowns and a 16.9 yards average per reception. If Jordan Wynn comes back healthy, Christopher will be his top target. Of course, new offensive coordinator Norm Chow is a run-first guy.

Taylor Embree, UCLA (409): It's unlikely the Bruins passing game will improve so much it produces a 1,000-yard receiver. And if it did, that likely would be Nelson Rosario.

And here are four candidates from the remaining conference teams.

Gerell Robinson, Arizona State (387 yards): The Sun Devils spread the ball around. Eight players caught at least 21 passes last year; six of them were between 21 and 29 receptions. Robinson or Mike Willie are the top candidates to reach 1,000 yards.

Paul Richardson, Colorado (514): Richardson is poised for a breakout season as a true sophomore. While quarterback Tyler Hansen has never put up big numbers, he's a senior running a pro-style offense as opposed to the spread of previous years.

Josh Huff, Oregon (303): The Ducks lost their top two receivers, including 1,000-yard receiver Jeff Maehl. Lavasier Tuinei was the third-leading receiver in terms of receptions in 2010, but he's more of a tall, possession-type guy (see a scant 11 yards per reception). Hard to say who will lead the Ducks receivers in 2011. Tight end David Paulson is even a possibility.

Chris Owusu, Stanford: If Owusu stays healthy, he's one of the conference's best threats downfield and therefore a candidate to reach the 1,000-yard mark. His quarterback is pretty good, too. The question is will Stanford still be as potent running the football. If so, the Cardinal will prioritize balance, which means run to set up the pass.

Who's back from the top 25?

March, 22, 2011
This will be my final post on our 2010 top 25 players rankings. It's also a line between looking back at the Pac-10 and looking forward to the Pac-12.

This post projects ahead: These players are the leading candidates for a preseason top 25.

First, here's who's back in 2011 -- 11 players -- from our top-25.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
4. Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
13. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington

And here's who's back -- nine players -- from our "left-out list."

Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
John Boyett, FS, Oregon
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
Delano Howell, SS, Stanford

So that's 20 front-runners for the next list we'll put together this summer. Also, don't forget that competition will be more intense with the inclusion of Utah and Colorado for the next list.

Or will the Utes and/or Buffaloes get shutout? Neither welcomes back a first-team all-conference player from the Mountain West or Big 12, respectively (Colorado doesn't have a second-team player coming back, either).

Should be pretty interesting.

Who just missed the top-25? And why

March, 22, 2011
Welcome to the "How the heck could you be so stupid, Pac-12 blog!" post.

Our ranking of the top-25 Pac-10 -- not Pac-12 yet -- players is over. Here is our final tally.

Sure each of you has some sort of gripe with the list, and I would hope you would. The cool kids hang out here, and cool kids don't agree on everything because then they wouldn't be cool.

The most popular harrumph was the omission of Stanford's two-way player, Owen Marecic. I completely understand that. I likely would have ranked him 26th, but even then I would have paused. I will tell you why in a moment.

The angry mobilization by typically "read but don't comment" Stanford fans was great, though. I anticipated both the irritation with Marecic's absence and the general frustration with the lack of Stanford players on the list. Both reactions were perfectly reasonable, and the zealousness was fun. There were plenty of "What about Stanford?" moments for me while I toiled over the final list.

So now I will take on the unenviable task of briefly explaining why players didn't make the list. I'm guessing I will want to take a shower afterwards because the "left-out list" includes many outstanding players, many of whom will be high draft choices this year and in years to come.

But Marecic gets special treatment; he goes first. Here's my reasoning.

Yes, Marecic is a great story. Two-way player. Good on both sides of the ball. Tough guy. Quiet. Cool hair. Cult hero. Really, really smart. Tenth in the Heisman Trophy vote. Jim Harbaugh struggled each week to top the previous week's praise of a guy he repeatedly called "his favorite player."

But here's the problem: 1. He was the second best fullback in the conference (USC's Stanley Havili was the best; he didn't make the list); 2. He was Stanford's fourth-best linebacker -- see the numbers here.

And then he had the Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas, Sione Fua, Delano Howell, Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro problem. If you were picking a team for a high-stakes game, you'd pick those guys -- all Cardinal teammates -- before Marecic. And none of those guys made the list.

Yes, you would. Trust me. If, say, you were playing for $10 million, you'd pick one of them. Why? Because a good fullback and solid-to-middling linebacker isn't as valuable as an outstanding one-way player.

Nor would you pick Marecic over Shane Vereen, No. 25 on our list. Before you scream at your computer screen, let your mind drift back to this unhappy memory, Stanford fans.

Now, Stanford fans, take heart. This summer, we will begin an top-25 preseason list, and at this point you figure to get as many as six guys on that list, including No. 1 overall.

Also, it might help to look at the list below. Not exactly chopped liver.

This list is roughly in the order of consideration.

Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: He's a cool dude. He's going to be off the NFL draft board before the end of the second round. But he didn't put up great numbers for a bad defense.
Brandon Bair, DT, Oregon: Bair's production went down over the second half of the season. He got beaten up a bit, and offensive coordinators starting paying him more attention. Further, I was already uncomfortable with seven players from one team on the list.
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford: Love his game. Got better as year went on. Just missed the cut. He, Vontaze Burfict and Mychal Kendricks are your first-team All-Pac-12 LBs in 2011.
Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: 21.5 sacks over the past two seasons, including a conference-leading 11 in 2010. But Brooks Reed was a better player, and Elmore had a couple of off games. At one point, he was fighting to retain his starting job over D'Aundre Reed.
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford: A close second to Skov as the most productive player on the Stanford defense.
Sione Fua, NT, Stanford: Fua might have been the conference's most underrated player. So why stop now?
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California: 15 tackles for a loss. Highly productive. Highly talented. But he didn't fully arrive in 2010.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington: He may still end up a first-round draft choice but his numbers just weren't good enough this fall.
John Boyett, FS, Oregon: Got caught in the shuffle of Ducks. Further, the coaches didn't pick him first- or second-team All-Pac-10, rating him behind Cal's Chris Conte, UCLA's Rahim Moore, USC's T.J. McDonald and Washington's Nate Williams, none of whom made the top-25.
Mike Mohamed, LB, California: A very good player who perhaps slipped a little in 2010.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: The top-25 was hard on O-linemen.
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: See above.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State: No true freshman made the list, not Wilson, not USC's Robert Woods. But Coug fans: You will have your first top-25 player this preseason. Maybe more than one.
Colin Baxter, C, Arizona: Baxter dropped because the Wildcats offensive line underachieved.
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State: A good QB. Folks will see that this year. Still, only ranked sixth in the conference in passing efficiency.
Chris Conte, S, California: First-team All-Pac-10. Safeties didn't fare well on the list.
Delano Howell, SS, Stanford: Second-team All-Pac-10. See above.
Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: A solid tackle who was eclipsed by better players.

Some notes & thoughts on top-25

March, 21, 2011
Our countdown of the Pac-10's top-25 players is over, and the chief result is annoying Stanford fans, particularly those of FB-LB Owen Marecic.

Their gripe is legit. Not including Marecic kept me up at night -- really -- but this wasn't a list of my favorite players.

On Tuesday, we will look at the players who just missed the cut, which includes Marecic and a significant group of Stanford teammates. It's a long list -- nearly as long as the top-25 -- with a lot of good players. It was easier when I did my first iteration of this list in 2009, which included 30 players.

A lot of Oregon fans disagree with me -- and with Chip Kelly and Nick Aliotti and the Pac-10 coaches who vote for the All-Pac-10 team -- and rank Cliff Harris ahead of Talmadge Jackson. Certainly their right. Not sure Ducks fans have much to gripe about with this list, though, considering there are seven Ducks on it and no other team has more than three.

Feel free to make your own lists. The most difficult part, you'll find, is when you come up with 25 names and then go, "Oh, crud, forgot about X! Can't leave him off!" And then you have to knock someone off your list.

And the next list -- preseason -- will be tougher because it will including Colorado and Utah.

Couple of notes.

Here are the top-25 players by team. The bolded names return in 2011.

6. Juron Criner
15. Brooks Reed
18. Nick Foles

Arizona State
11. Omar Bolden
13. Vontaze Burfict

8. Cameron Jordan
25. Shane Vereen

2. LaMichael James
4. Darron Thomas
12. Jeff Maehl
17. Kenny Rowe
19. Casey Matthews
20. Talmadge Jackson
22. Cliff Harris

Oregon State
3. Stephen Paea
9. Jacquizz Rodgers

1. Andrew Luck
10. Chase Beeler

21. Akeem Ayers

14. Matt Barkley
16. Tyron Smith
24. Jurrell Casey

4. Mason Foster
7. Chris Polk
23. Jermaine Kearse

Washington State

And here are the players who made the preseason list but didn't make this list. Some tough cuts here.

No. 2. Jake Locker, QB, Washington
No. 6. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State
No. 7. Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
No. 10. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
No. 12. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona
No. 18: Colin Baxter, C, Arizona
No. 20. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State
No. 22. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford
No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC
No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA

Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 1

March, 21, 2011
We conclude our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.

Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.

Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyAndrew Luck led Stanford to a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl win.
No. 1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

2010 numbers: Luck ranked third in the nation in passing efficiency. He threw for 3,338 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 70.7 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 453 yards and three scores.

Preseason ranking: No. 4

Making the case for Luck: Well, the NFL's case would be picking Luck first overall in the draft this spring, but Luck thumbed his nose at expectation and said he wanted to get his Stanford degree and opted to return for his redshirt junior season. But this ranking isn't about NFL projections or that Luck embodies everything you'd want a student-athlete to be. He's not No. 1 because we like him. And he's not even No. 1 because if you asked any college coach in the nation who'd he picked first heading into the 2011 season, he'd take Luck and not even think about it for a moment. Luck, the 2010 Heisman Trophy runner-up, put up huge numbers last fall and led the Cardinal to its best season in the modern era. Stanford finished with a 12-1 record and a dominant Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech, in which Luck threw four touchdown passes and earned MVP honors. Luck had two mediocre games last season: He threw two interceptions in back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Oregon. But over the final eight games he threw 19 touchdown passes and just four picks. And 71 percent completion rate is just sick, particularly when you consider he was throwing to just an average corps of receivers.

No. 2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
No. 3. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
No. 4 Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
No. 5. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
No. 7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
No. 8. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 10. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
No. 12. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
No. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California

Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 2

March, 18, 2011
We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.

Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.

Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).

[+] EnlargeLaMichael James
AP Photo/Rick BowmerLaMichael James is an early Heisman Trophy candidate for the coming season.
No. 2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

2010 numbers: James led the nation with 1,731 yards rushing -- 144.25 yards per game -- and ranked second with 21 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.89 yards per carry. He also caught 17 passes for 208 yards and three TDs.

Preseason ranking: No. 3

Making the case for James: For starters, he's Oregon’s first unanimous All-American. And he won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back. And he was a Heisman Trophy finalist. It's really, really hard to rank him No. 2, but, well, you all know who's next. In a list of the nation's top players, James would have been top-five (Auburn's Cam Newton and Nick Fairley are the only obvious choices ahead of him in addition to that other guy). He's set Ducks freshman and sophomore records for rushing and is on the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates as a junior next fall. By the way, he also was first-team All-Pac-10 -- academic, that is.

No. 3. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
No. 4 Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
No. 5. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
No. 7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
No. 8. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 10. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
No. 12. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
No. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California

Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 3

March, 17, 2011
We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.

Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.

Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).

Stephen Paea
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireStephen Paea was the Pac-10's best defensive player last season.
No. 3. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

2010 numbers: Paea had 45 total tackles, including 10 for a loss with six sacks. He also forced four fumbles and had two pass breakups.

Preseason ranking: No. 5

Making the case for Paea: It's been interesting to read some of the comments on Paea, questioning where he would be on this list. My response: really? Paea was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and won the Morris Trophy for a second consecutive year, a honor which is voted on by opposing offensive linemen. So for those of you who question Paea at No. 3, take your case to your local 300-pounder who tried to block him.

A two-time, first-team All-Pac-10 selection, he also was a first-team All-American as selected by The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. After setting a bench press record at the NFL combine, he might even end up getting picked in the first round of the NFL draft this spring. Paea, who only took up football when he was 17-years-old, made at least one tackle-for-loss in 12 of the past 18 games. His 14 career sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss -- accumulated over three seasons as a junior college transfer -- rank eighth on the school's all-time list. He's also the school record holder for forced fumbles with nine, including matching a school record with four this season.

Simply, Paea was the best defensive player in the Pac-10 last year as voted on by the coaches and the people who were charged with slowing him down.

No. 4 Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
No. 5. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
No. 7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
No. 8. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 10. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
No. 12. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
No. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California