Pac-12: Luis Vasquez
Therefore, it seems like a reasonable moment to look back and review some recruiting hits and misses. (And, yes, we did this last summer with the 2006 class, which you can review here -- Ducks fans should get a kick out of it).
As for the 2007 rankings, USC ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.
Scout.com ranked USC No. 2 in the nation, Oregon ninth, and California 12th. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Washington (29th in nation), UCLA (36th), Arizona State (38), Oregon State (40), Stanford (43), Arizona (49) and Washington State (54).
Here's an overview.
ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (DE Apaiata Tuihalamaka, TE Rob Gronkowski)
How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (RB Nic Grigsby, CB Trevin Wade, WR William Wright, K Alex Zendejas)
Misses: Tuihalamaka, QB Bryson Beirne,
Verdict: Obviously, the biggest catch of this class, Gronkowski, is gone. Otherwise, a lot of these guys qualify for the "where are they now?" file.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0.
How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (C Garth Gerhart, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, OG Matt Hustad)
Misses: OL Po'u Palelei, LB Oliver Aaron
Verdict: This is a decent class, particularly when you factor in the contribution of the since-departed JC signees, such as LB Morris Wooten and DE Luis Vasquez. And there are several non-starters who will contribute this year.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0
How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (OT Matt Summers-Gavin, P Bryan Anger, LB D.J. Holt, WR Alex Lagemann, OT Mitchell Schwartz, S Sean Cattouse, S Chris Conte, OG Justin Cheadle, DE Cameron Jordan, RB Shane Vereen).
Misses: QB Brock Mansion, CB D.J. Campbell
Verdict: Obviously, ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., missed with its evaluation of this solid recruiting class, particularly when you consider RB Jahvid Best, WR Nyan Boateng and LB Devin Bishop were significant contributors before their tenures were done. Jordan and Vereen obviously were well underrated. And there were 21 running backs better than Best?
ESPNU top 150 players: 1 (DE Kenny Rowe)
How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (Rowe, WR D.J. Davis, LB Casey Matthews, CB Talmadge Jackson, OG Carson York, TE David Paulson, OG Mark Asper, WR Jeff Maehl, S Eddie Pleasant, DE Terrell Turner).
Misses: DT Myles Wade, S Malachi Lewis
Verdict: When you toss in DE Will Tukuafu, WR Aaron Pflugrad (a starter who transferred to Arizona State) and WR Terence Scott, this is a good, if not great, class. Three or four of these guys should be All-Conference players.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0
How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (HB Joe Halahuni, S Cameron Collins, WR Darrell Catchings, CB Brandon Hardin, FB Will Darkins, DE Taylor Henry, LB Keith Pankey, WR James Rodgers)
Misses: CB David Ross, RB Reggie Dunn
Verdict: We don't have the time to go back and retrace the maneuvers that are part of managing a 35-man recruiting class (each class can only include a maximum of 25 members, but there are lots of ways to fudge numbers). Obviously, there are the Beavers typical crew of so-called diamonds in the rough -- hello, James Rodgers -- but here's a guess that coach Mike Riley winces over some of these names. Certainly not a lot of production from the six JC guys.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0.
How many are expected to start in 2010: Six (P David Green, CB Corey Gatewood, LB/FB Owen Marecic, TE Coby Fleenor, DE Thomas Keiser, DE Matt Masifilo)
Misses: QB L. D. Crow, S Sean Wiser
Verdict: An interesting class considering that six of the eight lowest rated players are on the Cardinal's preseason two-deep depth chart, including three starters. In terms of skill positions -- see the two QBs -- this class doesn't measure up.
ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (QB Chris Forcier, RB Raymond Carter)
How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (LB Akeem Ayers, LB Glenn Love, LB Steve Sloan, DT Nate Chandler, OT Mike Harris)
Misses: Forcier, Carter
Verdict: This is a very small but highly productive class collected by former coach Karl Dorrell -- note that it includes DT Brian Price, who bolted early for the NFL. The only busts were the two highest rated players, Forcier and Carter, and JC LB Mike Schmitt. The other eight members are either on the two-deep or, in Price's case, already in the NFL.
ESPNU top 150 players: 10 (RB Joe McKnight, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, S Marshall Jones, DE Everson Griffen, QB Aaron Corp, WR Ronald Johnson, OT Martin Coleman, DT DaJohn Harris, C Kris O'Dowd)
How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (LB Chris Galippo, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, LB Malcolm Smith)
Misses: S Marshall Jones, OT Martin Coleman
Verdict: Obviously, this class, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was overrated, even when you factor in that McKnight, Griffen and Damian Williams already are in the NFL, and NT Christian Tupou would be a second-year starter if he didn't blow out his knee this spring. Lots of guys who never contributed or left the program.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0
How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (WR Devin Aguilar, LB Alvin Logan, LB Cort Dennison, SS Nate Williams, LB Mason Foster, CB Quinton Richardson, DE Kalani Aldrich, K Erik Folk)
Misses: DE Emeka Iweka, DT Nick Wood
Verdict: You read the names of the seven highest-rated players in this class and you have one reaction: Terrible. But then you see six defensive starters among the lower rated guys. Still, the Huskies defense is a huge question mark. How it performs this year will tell you how this class should be rated.
ESPNU top 150 players: 0
How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (CB Aire Justin, WR Daniel Blackledge, C Andrew Roxas, OG B.J. Guerra, SS Chima Nwachukwu)
Misses: WR Deon Ford
Verdict: Not much should be expected from Bill Doba's final recruiting class, and this one doesn't deliver much sizzle. A couple of solid hits, though, including a couple of departed JC transfers.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The Pac-10 spring position reviews conclude with the defensive ends, the guys who get after the quarterback. Or are supposed to.
Even with four of the top five conference leaders in sacks gone, this is a fairly solid position across the board. The only team that raises a rebuilding red flag is Oregon State, which lost twin sackmasters Victor Butler and Slade Norris.
Of course, Washington and Washington State both produced only 16 sacks in 2008, tied for worst in the conference and among the fewest in the nation.
- California: Cal welcomes back underrated end Tyson Alualu, second-team All-Pac-10 in 2008, and rising star Cameron Jordan, a junior. They combined for 22 tackles for loss last year in the Bears' 3-4 defense. There's also solid, young depth behind them in sophomore Trevor Guyton and junior Keith Browner.
- Arizona: Juniors Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore combined for 15 sacks last year and both backups, D'Aundre Reed -- who started four games and had 2.5 sacks in 2008 -- and Apaiata Tuihalamaka are back.
- Arizona State: Dexter Davis had 11 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season. James Brooks, Jamaar Jarrett, Jamarr Robinson and 25-year-old newcomer Dean DeLeone will battle it out to replace Luis Vasquez and provide depth.
- Stanford: Tom Keiser had six sacks last year and earned freshman All-American honors while Erik Lorig has started 20 career games. Tom McAndrew provides experienced depth.
- UCLA: Senior Korey Bosworth had 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2008, while junior Reginald Stokes started five of the final seven games last year. He will be challenged by sophomore Datone Jones.
- Oregon: Sackmaster Nick Reed is gone, but that at least means Will Tukuafu might finally get some credit. He had 7.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last year. Competition will be hot to replace Reed, with juniors Brandon Bair, Zac Clark and Kenny Rowe in the running.
- USC: Sure, both Kyle Moore and Clay Matthews are gone, but how many teams in the nation do you think would trade defensive ends with the Trojans? Everson Griffen, who had 4.5 sacks last year, is a true talent as a pass rusher, but he needs to be more consistent. Sophomore Malik Jackson and freshmen Wes Horton and Nick Perry each have huge upside.
- Washington: The Huskies sneak in here mostly because of second-team All-Pac-10 end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, a high-motor senior who had eight of the team's 16 sacks in 2008. Senior Darrion Jones returns at the other end and youngsters like Kalani Aldrich and Everrette Thompson showed flashes of promise.
- Oregon State: The Beavers also had to replace both starting defensive ends last season, but this year the backups don't arrive with 19.5 sacks split between them like Victor Butler and Slade Norris did. Sophomore Kevin Frahm and senior Ben Terry split two sacks between themselves in 2008.
- Washington State: Matt Mullennix is gone, but Kevin Kooyman is back as is Andy Mattingly, but he might end up as an outside linebacker. But, really, the Cougars only had 16 sacks last year (in 13 games). Youngsters and newcomers will need to step up.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
There's this Guy who doesn't think much of Arizona State's Freshman All-American defensive tackle.
That would be the man-child himself, Lawrence Guy, who recorded 44 tackles and 10 tackles for loss with two sacks in his debut season for the Sun Devils.
|Liam Foley/Icon SMI|
|Lawrence Guy has already bulked up 15 pounds this offseason.|
"I was hoping to get more than I did," Guy said. "I thought I did bad this year. I could have done way better."
The Las Vegas product might just do that in 2009. The 276 pounds he carried on his 6-foot-5 frame in 2008 made him look almost skinny at times, but he's added 15 pounds this offseason and expects to play at around 295 in the fall.
"I'm just trying to go from a D-end's weight to a D-tackles weight," he said. "I feel like I'm going to be harder to move with the extra weight on. And I'll have even more strength. I was at a disadvantage at the lower weight."
While last year was supremely disappointing for the Sun Devils -- they went from a preseason ranking to a losing season -- Guy will be one of the cornerstones of a talented defense that returns seven starters from a unit that ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in scoring (22.7 points per game).
Toss in two of the nation's top incoming freshmen defenders -- linebacker Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Corey Adams, ranked Nos. 16 and 53 on the ESPNU 150 -- and third-year coach Dennis Erickson appears on his way to building a defense that annually joins USC among the nation's elite.
Guy met Adams during his visit, and he knows that another big body up front means less attention for him and pass-rush specialist Dexter Davis, who's rolled up 27.5 sacks over the past three seasons.
"He's going to be a big help in there," Guy said.
While Guy and Davis are settled up front, there should be plenty of competition for vacancies at tackle and end created with the departures of David Smith and Luis Vasquez.
Saia Falahola and Jonathan English will bring experience inside, while James Brooks, Jamaar Jarrett and Jamarr Robinson will battle it out with 25-year-old newcomer -- and workout warrior -- Dean DeLeone at end.
"We're going to have a good defensive line next year," Guy said. "I think we'll be one of the best defenses in the Pac-10 and, hopefully, in the nation. We play with passion."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Mailbox is backlogged... sorry for taking to long to get to it.
Phil from Eugene writes: WOW it's great to know that only two teams play in the pac-10!! Seriously this is the pac-10 blog not the LA blog. How about you expand your coverage because i'm tired of hearing about an overrated USC team who only has 4 returning starters on Offense and a Bruins team that had an uneventful year!
Ted Miller: Phil, sorry about the LA focus but there's a simple explanation: I was in LA to focus on the LA schools. Got more LA stuff coming up over the next couple of days. Went to Eugene, Corvallis, Seattle, Pullman and Tucson in the spring, hit Tempe, the Bay Area and LA in recent weeks. I will do my best to cover all 10 programs as thoroughly as possible, but when you see a date-lined story, know that I'm in that city for a reason. Like, say, I'm going to be in Eugene for the Washington-Oregon game (a trip that likely will include a martini and Oysters Rockefeller at Adam's Place).
Tom from Scottsdale writes: Let's play a numbers game. I'll give you a number that represents the amount of sacks ASU will give up during the regular season. And you will give me a number that represents ASU's win total reflecting upon my number. 1) 55 2) 40 3) 25 4) 10.
Ted Miller: A well-thought out question my fellow Scottsdalian! I'll bite: 55 sacks = 6 wins; 40 sacks = 8 wins; 25 sacks = 10 wins; 10 sacks = 11 wins. My guess: somewhere between 25 and 40.
Mike from Hemet, Calif. writes: If coaching and recruiting make all the difference, how can you justify UCLA as 8th in the conference? Even with a down offensive line, there is more talent on this team than any other save USC. Now with arguably the best trio of coaches in the pac-10, and maybe the nation, I think eighth is absurd! I see your best case/ worst case, and you have everyone beating us, in both cases. Will we even win a game? Please! It doesn't matter, it makes the "I told you so's" so much better.
Ted Miller: Mike, your question confuses me -- coaching and recruiting? Rick Neuheisel is responsible for one recruiting class. And I don't know where you got the idea that "there is more talent on this team than any other save USC," but whoever told you that has never seen UCLA practice. Neuheisel, DC Dewayne Walker and OC Norm Chow will coach these guys up, but it will require all their coaching ingenuity to fill in the significant talent gaps on this team. Yes, the Bruins have plenty of good players, particularly on defense. But every team struggles when it has, as you call it, "a down offensive line" because that's where scoring starts. The uncertainty at QB is also a bit more than a minor issue. And if UCLA's QB and OL exceed expectations and the Bruins win eight or nine games, then I will tip my cap to Neuheisel and gladly accept the "I told you sos."
Brandon from Corvallis, Ore., writes: Ted, Please don't tell me you think Lyle Moevao can lead the Beavers to a great season. Combining his lack of size, inexperienced o-line, and questionable arm, I cant see a great season coming. I hope I am wrong. What is your take on Ryan Katz? I enjoy watching him and look forward to the future
Ted Miller: Moevao is one of the questions with the Beavers heading into 2008, but he's only a minor one for me. I saw a more confident, accurate QB during spring practices and word is he's continued to improve. It doesn't hurt that he's got a strong supporting cast at receiver. He's also a charismatic guy who the offense will rally around. So I wouldn't worry about Moevao. I'd worry about: 1) A rebuilt front seven on defense; 2) A thin group on the offensive line. As for Katz, got to admit I haven't seen enough of him to form an opinion, but what I read has been almost entirely favorable.
Joe from Springdale, Calif., writes: If Mitch Mustain gets the start against Virginia and does a great job, can we expect him to start against Ohio St. even if Mark Sanchez is healthy?
Ted Miller: Joe I saved your question and tossed it at Pete Carroll on Monday. His answer? He's not even going to entertain a "what if" scenario. Which is the right answer. I then told him that it was a question from a USC fan and he told me that's probably why I finally asked him a good question. But so as to not leave you high-and-dry: My guess is Sanchez is the guy even if Mustain -- or Aaron Corp -- plays well against UVA. That's because Virginia likely will be the weakest team the Trojans play all season.
Nathan from Boston writes: I'm wondering if people are reading into Chip Kelly too much. Perhaps the Ducks' success last year has more to do with Dixon's seniority last year. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe their best seasons were during Harrington, Clemens and Dixons' senior years. Based on this trend they'll be so-so the next two years and fantastic for Costa's Senior year.
Ted Miller: Not an unfair point, and I'd guess Kelly would say as much. We tend to swing for extremes with coordinators, and Kelly is the latest flavor of the month because the Ducks offense, at its peak last year, was as good as any I've seen, other than perhaps the 2005 Trojans. On the other hand, I didn't see Dixon's brilliance coming, and I don't recall a single soul predicting big things for him. So Kelly deserves some credit. Still, experience is typically something a QB needs to really thrive and it generally comes through a few hard knocks here and there. So, yes, Costa might struggle this year at times. My guess, by picking Oregon second in the conference, is he won't struggle so much that the Ducks lose a bunch of games.
Chris from Portland writes: Last season's defeat of USC by the Oregon Ducks was received as a dethroning by many of the Duck faithful. The Ducks subsequently lost 4 games after losing numerous players to injury. If they can beat USC (again), could this be the start of a new era in the West?
Ted Miller: No.
Sorry. USC ain't going anywhere, even if the Ducks win a second in a row.
Nick from St. Paul writes: Ted, the last time ASU really came to life and did what the program is capable of, they had a surprise season from Derrick Rodgers, who went ballistic for a year before heading pro. Are any of the additions of the past 2 years in the defensive front 7 capable of having that sort of effect for the Sun Devils this year? Vazquez or James Brooks, perhaps?
Ted Miller: I really like Arizona State's foursome at DE -- Dexter Davis, Luis Vasquez and James Brooks and Jamarr Robinson. Davis and Vasquez are known commodities -- perhaps the best DE tandem in the Pac-10. Robinson had three sacks in the spring game, and Brooks -- a 283-pound redshirt freshman -- certainly passes the sight test. Still, I don't suspect any of these guys are going to go ballistic and record, say, 15 sacks. My guess is they'll combine for perhaps 30 sacks, though, and be a major headache for Pac-10 QBs.
Barrett from New York writes: With all the preseason talk of hot seats and what Mike Stoops needs to do to keep his job, what does Coach Stoops need to do to earn back fans?
Ted Miller: Win six or seven games this season -- seven is a lot better -- and get the Wildcats to a bowl game. It probably would be in Stoop's best interest to win the bowl game if his squad ends the regular season 6-6, because 6-7 doesn't really represent much improvement over the past couple of years. My guess is that he gets it done. This schedule is wired for a breakthrough.
Stacy from Louisville writes: Does the way Pete C
arroll runs his practice contribute to the injury bug that always seems to hit the Trojans? Were it not for injuries this is a program that could have won a couple of more national titles.
Ted Miller: Stacy is referring to the physical, high-energy nature of USC practices, which involve more full-contact banging than most schools (and make Trojans practices incredibly entertaining). To this question I'd say: Maybe. Probably. But I'd also counter that the way USC practices has contributed to two national titles and six consecutive top-five rankings. And it's not just about helping the Trojans prepare for games. Recruits who stop by on "Competition Tuesdays" -- when the full-contact work peaks -- tend to get caught up in the intensity and the festival-like atmosphere because USC practices are open to the public and often are packed along the sidelines.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Second in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-10 teams, starting from the top of our preseason Power Rankings and working down.
Up next: Arizona State.
Arizona State didn't look terribly good rumbling to a 3-0 start -- including a 28-24 win over pesky Stanford -- but it turns out Dennis Erickson was keeping his cards close to his chest.
Then the Devils came down on Georgia, thumping the nation's No. 1 team, 38-24.
Using four and five receivers almost the entire game, the Sun Devils spread the Bulldogs out, and Rudy Carpenter went to work, completing 25 of 35 for 320 yards and three touchdowns. Most surprising: He was only sacked once, as the maligned offensive line kept the Bulldogs in check.
Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford wasn't so lucky. ASU end Dexter Davis had two sacks, and safety Troy Nolan returned one of his two interceptions for a 35-yard touchdown.
Of course, the work was hardly over. After a bye, the Sun Devils faced a brutal gauntlet -- at California, at USC, Oregon and at Oregon State. They emerged 3-1 from that stretch, losing only to USC by a late field goal.
The season concludes with a showdown with arch-rival and 15th-ranked Arizona, one of five Pac-10 teams in the top 25. In front of a packed house in Tucson, the No. 4 Sun Devils escape with a 27-24 victory as Thomas Weber connects from 55 yards with four seconds left.
That leaves the Sun Devils in a three-way tie atop the Pac-10 with USC and Oregon, which beat USC for the second-consecutive year, but ASU wins the tie-breaker and goes to the Rose Bowl -- with some fans ranting about the BCS system leaving them out of the national title game.
In Pasadena, Rudy Carpenter, back from New York after finishing third in Heisman Trophy balloting, leads the Sun Devils to a 45-17 stomping of overmatched Wisconsin.
And, in February, the recruiting rankings come out: 1) Arizona State; 2) USC.
The giant awakes.
Some tried to write off the three sacks Northern Arizona recorded in the opener, but it became abundantly clear that Arizona State's offensive line was even more dubious than even the most pessimistic preseason outlooks predicted.
Stanford's six sacks pretty much made that manifest in the Cardinal's shocking 24-27 victory in Sun Devils Stadium.
A two-touchdown win over UNLV briefly raised hopes that perhaps Dennis Erickson would work some game-plan magic to hold No. 1 Georgia back, but the Bulldogs came West to prove their legitimacy.
A 41-10 victory did just that.
The question became could the uncannily durable Carpenter make it through the season.
Carpenter's heroics keyed a tough win at California, but any hope that the Sun Devils were headed back to the top-third of the conference were quickly dispelled by consecutive, decisive defeats to USC and Oregon.
Both the Trojans and Ducks were able to exploit the soft middle of the Sun Devils' defense, which slowed down ends Davis and Luis Vasquez. When injuries hit the secondary, the defense started to lose its mojo.
Consistency became a problem. A nice win at Oregon State was followed by an upset loss in the pouring rain at Washington, with Huskies quarterback Jake Locker accounting for 400 yards of total offense.
After splitting with Washington State and UCLA, the Sun Devils headed south to face hated rival Arizona, needing a victory to earn a sixth win necessary for a bowl berth.
But the 15th-ranked Wildcats, surrounded by newly enthused fans with "In Stoops We Trust" T-Shirts, shock the Sun Devils by running right at them. Two hundred-fifty yards rushing and a physical, 30-20 victory later, and Arizona notches its 10th victory and boots ASU from bowl eligibility.
Stoops, shortly thereafter, is named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, which goes down even easier when his Wildcats bury Texas in the Holiday Bowl -- and their fans can't help but recall ASU's embarrassing performance in the 2007 game against the Longhorns.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
|Oregon's Nick Reed is the best defensive end in the Pac-10.|
There's a lot more depth in the Pac-10 at defensive end than at tackle, which makes sense in a pass-centric conference.
Six of the top 10 sackmen are back and a couple of these guys are legitimate All-American candidates. In fact, you could argue each of the top-five has the potential for national honors.
The depth here means some good players got left out. Don't be surprised if California's Rulon Davis ends up with All-Conference honors. But he's got to stay healthy to prove he's the player reports from spring practice suggest he is. And Oregon junior Will Tukuafu is no slouch opposite Nick Reed.
Some might protest ranking unproven USC sophomore Everson Griffen so highly. Get back to us in December.
- Nick Reed, Sr., Oregon: Not the most physically talented guy but please, how do you argue with 12 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss? You don't.
- Dexter Davis, Jr., Arizona State: Numbers should be elite if he improves on 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles recorded as a sophomore.
- Victor Butler, Sr., Oregon State: Had to be the nation's best backup DE last year -- see 10.5 sacks.
- Everson Griffen, So., USC: He's a dynamic talent who looked unblockable at times late last season and this spring.
- Pannel Egboh, Sr., Stanford: Just ask the scouts -- he's projected as a first-day NFL draft pick. Recorded 13.5 tackles for a loss in 2007.
- Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Jr., Washington: A high-motor guy, he had 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss in 2007.
- Andy Mattingly, Jr., Washington State: He only moved to DE from LB in the spring, but his 8 sacks and four forced fumbles land him on the list.
- Luis Vasquez, Jr., Arizona State: Forms a strong duo with Davis. Recorded 43 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss last year.
- Slade Norris, Sr., Oregon State: An undersized pass-rush specialists who had nine sacks as a back-up in 2007.
- Kyle Moore, Sr., USC: His numbers in 2007 didn't blow anyone away but starting at DE for the Trojans counts for something -- like on NFL draft boards.
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