Pac-12: Jordan Congdon
The Pac-10 will feature two of the best kickers in the nation -- two Lou Groza Award winners, no less -- in 2010, but for a handful of schools, the position is questionable.
So, who stands where?
- UCLA: Kai Forbath is the best kicker in the country. The first-team All-American and 2009 Groza Award winner is practically automatic, even outside 50 yards.
- Arizona State: Thomas Weber suffered through a lost 2009 season because of injuries, but when healthy the 2007 Groza Award winner is a potential All-American.
- Oregon State: Justin Kahut earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 after converting 22 of 27 field goals with a long of 50 yards.
- Washington: Erik Folk bounced back from two injury-plagued years to connect on 18 of 21 field goals in 2009.
- Stanford: Nate Whitaker made 16 of 22 field goals last year, which is solid, but his 54-yarder against Wake Forest was the longest in the conference last season.
- Arizona: As a sophomore, Alex Zendejas was true on 17 of 22 field goals with a long of 47 yards.
- California: Cal used two kickers last season -- Giorgio Tavecchio and Vincenzo D'Amato -- but neither was consistent.
- Washington State: Nico Grasu was solid in 2008 -- booting the game-winner in the "Crapple" Cup against Washington -- but he faded in 2009, missing the final four games with a thigh injury.
- Oregon: The Ducks are replacing the reliable Morgan Flint. Rob Beard and incoming freshman Alejandro Maldonado are the top candidates for the spot.
- USC: Unproven seniors Joe Houston and Jacob Harfman are competing to replace Jordan Congdon, the seventh-best kicker in the conference in 2009.
The big names: Start with two Lou Groza Award winning kickers: UCLA's Kai Forbath (2009) and Arizona State's Thomas Weber (2007). Then there's Oregon State's Justin Kahut, who made 22 of 27 field goals with a long of 50, and Washington's Erik Folk, who was 18 for 21 with a long of 48. As for the punters, Arizona State's Trevor Hankins ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation in punting (44.2 yards per punt), while UCLA's Jeff Locke (43.6) was 16th in the nation and Washington State's Reid Forrest (43.2) was 21st. Oh, and California's Bryan Anger might have the biggest foot of everyone; he dropped a conference-high 24 punts inside the 20 last year.
Why is it thin? Four of the six linebackers who made up the first and second All-Pac-10 teams are gone as are five of the 11 LBs who earned honorable mention. Only two teams -- USC and Oregon -- welcome back all of their starting LBs from 2009, and a big story this spring was the Trojans lack of depth at the position, while the Ducks moved Eddie Pleasant to safety (in large part because of depth at the position). Arizona is replacing all three starting linebackers, while Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA only have one returning starter at the position (though the Beavers outside linebacker platoon of Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey probably should count as more than one starter).
Fill the void? This is not a "strength" position, but the cupboard is hardly empty: UCLA's Akeem Ayers, California's Mike Mohamed and Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict are All-American candidates, while Oregon's Casey Matthews earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and Washington's Mason Foster is a likely breakout player. The Ducks, in particular, are fast and deep at linebacker, while the Sun Devils aren't far behind in terms of young talent.
The academic honor is for college football players from all divisions who maintained a 3.2 GPA or better. A total of 620 players from 246 schools qualified for membership in the society's fourth year, an 80 percent increase from the inaugural class in 2007.
You can read the complete list of players here.
The Pac-10 players who earned academic honors are:
Mike Nixon, Arizona State
Taylor Kavanaugh, Oregon State
Gregg Peat, Oregon State
Chris Gronkowski, Arizona
Mark Boskovich, California
Logan Paulsen, UCLA
Trevor Theriot, UCLA
Jeff Byers, USC
Jordan Congdon, USC
Kenny Alfred, Washington State
Joe Eppele, Washington State
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, USC nose tackle Jurrell Casey of USC and California punter Bryan Anger are the Pac-10 Players of the Week.
Foles completed 40 of 51 passes (.784) for a career-high 415 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Wildcats 43-38 shootout win over Stanford. The 40 completions is the second-highest single-game total in Arizona history. Behind Foles, the Wildcats amassed 553 yards total offense.
Casey posted a game-high 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss, and forced a fumble in USC’s 34-27 win at No. 25 Notre Dame.
Anger averaged 50.0 yards on seven punts, with four of the seven punts traveling 50-plus yards, with a long boot of 72 in California’s 45-26 road win at UCLA. California averaged 43.7 net yards on Anger’s punts.
All three are sophomores.
Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterbacks Danny Sullivan of Arizona State, Matt Barkley of USC and Andrew Luck of Stanford and tailback Shane Vereen of California. Also nominated on defense were defensive backs Ryan McFoy of Arizona State and Darian Hagan of California. Also nominated for special teams play was kicker Jordan Congdon of USC.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
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