Pac-12: Luke Kaumatule

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

Lunch links: Second half previews

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
2:30
PM ET
Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Stanford Cardinal season preview

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
10:30
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We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season in reverse alphabetical order with the Stanford Cardinal.

Stanford

Coach: David Shaw (23-4)

2012 record: 12-2 (8-1 Pac-12 North)

Key losses: RB Stepfan Taylor, TE Zach Ertz, TE Levine Toilolo, OLB Chase Thomas

Key returnees: QB Kevin Hogan, OT David Yankey, LB Shayne Skov, LB Trent Murphy, DE Ben Gardner, S Ed Reynolds

Newcomer to watch: Stanford loves to rotate its linebacking corps, and outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi is impressive. He was a five- or four-star recruit, depending on which service you follow, and was one of the highest-rated OLBs in the country. He has a strong chance to play his way into the rotation.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
Brian Murphy/Icon SMIStanford coach David Shaw has smiled a lot since Kevin Hogan became the starting QB late in the 2012 season.
Biggest games in 2013: The eyes of a college football nation will be tuned in on Thursday, Nov. 7, to see Oregon’s trip to Palo Alto. But there are plenty of big games before and after that -- including Arizona State (Sept. 21), Washington (Oct. 5), UCLA (Oct. 19), USC (Nov. 16) and the finale against Notre Dame (Nov. 30). If the Cardinal repeat as conference champs, they will have earned it.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: It might have been the running back situation and the fact they have to replace Taylor. But Tyler Gaffney’s return from professional baseball adds experience and depth and bolsters a committee that should be able to mimic Taylor’s production. Receiving production, however, is still up in the air. Five of the top six receiving options from last year are gone -- including tight end Zach Ertz, Taylor and Drew Terrell. Ty Montgomery was sensational in 2011 and if he returns to form, could be a bona fide stretch-the-field threat. Behind him are a host of talented, but mostly unproven players. Look for Devon Cajuste, Michael Rector, Kodi Whitfield and freshman Francis Owusu (yes, that name should ring a bell), to work into the rotation.

Forecast: Expectations have never been higher for the Cardinal as they enter the year a preseason top-5 team. This is a veteran-heavy team that’s built to win tight games and grind opponents down in the fourth quarter.

The offensive focal point will be the progress of quarterback Kevin Hogan, who took over last season and went 5-0 as a starter -- including a 4-0 mark against Top 25 teams. He’s got one of the top offensive lines in the country -- headlined by All-American David Yankey -- protecting him, and a stellar defense has his back. Often forgotten is fullback Ryan Hewitt, who returns as one of the best in the country.

The running back group will be interesting to watch. Coach David Shaw strayed from his preferred by-committee method last season as Taylor carried 322 times -- most of anyone in the Pac-12. But he was that reliable. Gaffney, Anthony Wilkerson, Barry Sanders et al should all contribute and carve out their niche in the offense.

Aside from the aforementioned receiving position, many are eager to see what tight end Luke Kaumatule can do stepping in as a full-time player. The Cardinal were spoiled the past few years with Ertz, Levine Toilolo and Coby Fleener. Now it’s Kaumatule’s turn to carry the torch for what has been the nation’s most productive tight end-driven offense the past couple of years.

There are no real weak spots on Stanford’s defense. Five of the front seven are back from last year -- including DE Ben Gardner, ILB Shayne Skov and OLB Trent Murphy. The defensive backfield features, arguably, the nation’s top safety tandem in Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards and Usua Amanam doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves as an outstanding nickel.

As noted above, the Cardinal play a very difficult schedule -- including four straight rivalry games to close out the season. This may seem daunting, and it is. But the Cardinal could have as many as 18 juniors or seniors in the starting 22, so chances are there isn’t a situation they haven’t seen or played through before. That experience will be invaluable as the Cardinal look to defend their conference title and try to make a run to another Rose Bowl -- or beyond.

Best case-worst case: Oregon State

August, 12, 2013
8/12/13
7:00
PM ET
This is the seventh in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-12 teams.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.

We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).

Up next: Oregon State

Best case

Fade from black. A desperate man with a dark mustache and a bald head sits in a shadowy, wood paneled office.

He says, "I believe in the Pac-12 ... I rooted for my team in the Pac-12 fashion."

He tells a tale of woe, his team losing and his family being teased by other Pac-12 fans.

"I said to my wife," he concludes. "For justice, we must go to Don Mike Riley."

"Well, heck," Riley says. "Why didn't you come to me first? We've known each other many years, but this is the first time you came to me for counsel, for help. But, gosh, that's OK. Some day, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But, until that day, accept this stuffed Beaver as a gift on the first day of preseason camp. Now, I want to tell you about my team. I really like these guys!"

Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion then walk into Riley's office.

"Gosh, guys, I really like how both of you competed and did everything we asked you," Riley says. "But we have to make a decision. This is business not personal. Sean, you're going to start against Eastern Washington. Cody, I think we have the best backup quarterback in the Pac-12. I want you guys to handle this the right way. A hundred other guys will be watching what happens next."

Oregon State stomps Eastern Washington and Hawaii. Mannion throws five TD passes and sits out of the fourth quarter of each game. The Beavers are challenged during road trips to Utah and San Diego State, but they prevail with dominant fourth quarters on both sides of the ball.

They then blow out Colorado, win on a last-second field goal at Washington State and take down California 27-17. At 7-0, Oregon State is ranked 11th, but the toughest part of the schedule lies ahead as each of the final five foes are ranked, including No. 3 Stanford, which heads to Corvallis next.

Reporter: Mike, you're the don, er, dean of Pac-12 coaches, having led Oregon State for 12 years, 10 consecutively since you dabbled in the NFL. What's the secret to your longevity, considering just two other Pac-12 coaches have been at their schools for four or more seasons?

Riley: There are many things my father taught me growing up in Corvallis. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your good friends closer.

Riley gathers his team before they take the field opposite the unbeaten Cardinal.

"I was watching ESPN GameDay this morning and those guys were saying no one really knows what to make of the Beavers, no one knows who we are," Riley says. "Well, I think I know who we are. And I think you know who we are. Tonight we've got a great opportunity to show everyone else who we are. This sounds like a great opportunity to me. Let's show Stanford and everyone else who the Beavers are."

With 17 seconds left, the score is tied 20-20. Stanford has a first and 10 on the Beavers 40.

Announcer: Stanford probably needs about 10 yards to get into field goal range or we go to overtime.

Color analyst: This might be a good time for Kevin Hogan to look for his big tight end Luke Kaumatule.

Kaumatule lines up in the slot opposite linebacker Michael Doctor, who steps up in press coverage.

Kaumatule: What are you up to, Michael?

Doctor: Don't ask me about my business, K.

On the snap, Doctor cuts inside on a blitz. Kaumatule takes three steps, and Hogan turns with Doctor in his face. He throws toward his big tight end.

Announcer: Ryan Murphy! Murphy, the Beavers safety, cuts in front of Kaumatule and he's going back the other way for the touchdown! It looks like the unbeaten Beavers have announced themselves to the nation as Pac-12 and national title contenders!

But the Beavers go down to USC on a Friday night in Corvallis and, after an off week, lose in overtime at Arizona State.

The post game locker room in Tempe is silent. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker huddles with Riley.

"It's like, with good fortune and national attention, they didn't know what to do," he says.

Riley erupts, "They could act like men! What's the matter with you guys? Is this what you've become, wide-eyed when you get ranked in the top-10? What ... you think it gets easier? If you want to win a championship, you have to embrace the fact that every step forward is infinitely more difficult that the one that preceded it. You must think like that and you must prepare like that."

The Beavers clobber No. 15 Washington 40-17. That sets up a Civil War showdown with 10-1 Oregon, which lost only to Stanford. The winner goes to the Pac-12 title game because the Cardinal followed up their win over the Ducks with a defeat at USC.

The Beavers walk into their locker room before Tuesday's practice and there's a large stuffed Duck wearing an Oregon jersey laying on the floor. It's got a Copper River salmon sticking out of its mouth.

Storm Woods: Wait... I know this one.

Brandin Cooks: It's a Sicilian message. It means Oregon sleeps with the fishes.

Woods: Or will.

Center Isaac Seumalo pulls the fish out.

Seumalo: That's all great but Copper River king salmon is like $40 a pound, and this baby is pretty large. Let's grill this bad boy up!

Autzen Stadium is throbbing as the Beavers gather around Riley. After a long pause, he begins.

"Their time is done," he says. "It's over. This is our time. So go out there and take it."

Oregon takes a 28-24 lead on a 30-yard touchdown run from De'Anthony Thomas. The Beavers take over on their 20-yard line with 1:35 remaining. They drive to the Ducks 14-yard line, but face a fourth-and-3 with 14 seconds left.

After a timeout, Mannion eyeballs Cooks in the huddle.

"You'll be one-one-one with Ifo [Ekpre-Olomu] on the outside," Mannion says. "Go hard inside and sell a fake, then break to the flag. I'll be coming over your left shoulder. This is all or nothing. So sell that inside move hard!"

Says Cooks, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

Ekpre-Olomu bites on the fake; Mannion lobs to the flag; Cooks leaps. Touchdown. Autzen Stadium goes quiet, other than a pie slice of fans in orange and black, who go bonkers.

Oregon State beats USC 30-24 in the Pac-12 title game and advances to its first Rose Bowl since the 1964 season.

The Beavers whip No. 7 Michigan in Pasadena and finish 12-2 and ranked fourth.

Headline in the Portland Oregonian: "Oregon football facility found to cause hallucinations." The story then recounts that when you combine ostentation, Brazilian Ipe wood and extreme hubris, it forms a rare, airborne, psychotropic gas.

"Yes, it all must be torn down," says a smiling man with dark mustache and a bald head. "And a new building can't be constructed on the site for five years. But Ducks like to be outside in the rain, yes?"

Worst case

Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion then walk into Riley's office.

"Gosh, guys, I really like how both of you competed and did everything we asked you," Riley says. "But we have to make a decision. Sean, you're going to start against Eastern Washington. Cody, I think we have the best backup quarterback in the Pac-12."

The Beavers whip Eastern Washington and Hawaii, but a late Mannion interception keys an upset loss at Utah.

"We're going to go with Cody Vaz against San Diego State," Riley tells reporters the following Monday.

The Beavers beat the Aztecs and Colorado and then slip Washington State in overtime. However, they are flat at California, perhaps looking ahead to Stanford, and lose 20-17.

Kevin Gemmell: As we noted in the preseason, the Beavers schedule ramps up from here. Their next five foes are all ranked.

Ted Miller: Is that what you said when they asked you to do SportsCenter!

Gemmell: Yes.

Ted Miller: I'm your older blogger, Kevin, and I was stepped over!

Stanford whips the Beavers 30-10 as Vaz throws two picks and is sacked five times.

"We're going to go with Sean Mannion against USC," Riley tells reporters the following Monday.

USC rolls over Oregon State 40-10.

Opponents are exploiting the weakness of the Beavers interior defensive line -- see 175 yards rushing surrendered per game -- and both quarterbacks are inconsistent. Defenses are blanketing receiver Brandin Cooks with bracket coverages, and no No. 2 option is stepping forward. The offensive line, thought a strength in the preseason, has been underwhelming.

The Beavers go down at Arizona State with Vaz and lose at home to Washington with Mannion. They head to Autzen Stadium to take on No. 2 and unbeaten Oregon at 5-6, needing a win to earn bowl eligibility, not to mention to prevent the Ducks from playing Alabama for the national title.

Both QBs play. Oregon rolls 45-17.

Ducks first-year coach Mark Helfrich is carried off the field by his team, but he tells consigliere, er, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti to relay a message to Riley: "Tell Mike it was only business. I've always liked him."

The Ducks win the national title with a blowout win over the Crimson Tide. As a reward, Nike founder Phil Knight gives each Oregon player a brass bottle.

With a genie in it. And no limit on wishes. The NCAA deems the gift, "Really cool and fine with us."

Riley retires to his vacation him in Gruene, Texas along the Guadalupe River.

The Beavers hire Charlie Weis away from Kansas.

"Folks around here sometimes complained the Mike was too nice," athletic director Bob De Carolis says. "So we went another direction."

Previous "Best case-worst case" posts

California

Washington State

Colorado

Utah

Arizona

USC
It's not unusual that tight end is a strong position in the conference. What's unusual is that Stanford doesn't lead the way in 2013.

At least, not from a preseason perspective.

So how do things stack up?

GREAT SHAPE

[+] EnlargeAustin Seferian-Jenkins
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesAustin Seferian-Jenkins could be the first tight end taken in the NFL draft next year.
Washington: Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a consensus preseason All-American and the junior is likely to be the first tight end selected in this spring's NFL draft. He ranked eighth in the Pac-12 last year with 77 receptions for 878 yards and six touchdowns. Backup Michael Hartvigson is solid.

Oregon: Colt Lyerla is a versatile weapon for the Ducks' offense, one we expect to get more use this fall. His backup, Pharaoh Brown, was one of the stars of spring practices.

USC: Xavier Grimble caught 29 passes for 316 yards with five touchdowns, and Randall Telfer caught 12 passes for 100 yards and four scores. Both are NFL prospects. It would be wise to get them the ball more this season.

Arizona State: Chris Coyle, officially an H-back, led the Sun Devils with 57 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns last season. The depth behind him is questionable. Darwin Rogers, who plays tight end, is almost exclusively a blocker.

GOOD SHAPE

Oregon State: 6-foot-7 Connor Hamlett, an H-back, caught 32 passes last season for 403 yards. Tyler Perry is competing with Caleb Smith for the starting spot at tight end. The promising Kellen Clute is Hamlett's backup. Lots of big bodies that can catch here.

Utah: Jake Murphy caught 33 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns, and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. Westlee Tonga will also see plenty of action. Coach Kyle Whittingham has said he wants his tight ends to play a bigger role this fall.

California: Sonny Dykes offense uses a "Y" receiver, which can be a tight end or another receiver. Richard Rodgers is an impressive athlete who looks like a prototypical tight end. He caught 20 passes for 288 yards and a score last season. It will be interesting to see how he is used this fall.

WE'LL SEE

Stanford: 6-foot-7 Luke Kaumatule and Davis Dudchock might become the next great Cardinal tight end combination, but neither caught a pass last season. It's tempting to throw fullback and former tight end Ryan Hewitt in here and boost Stanford up to good shape.

UCLA: The Bruins are another team that use a "Y" receiver instead of a tight end, and the departure of Joseph Fauria probably means that position will be more like a receiver than a tight end this fall -- see 5-foot-11 Darius Bell being a first option here after spring practices. That said, Ian Taubler and touted freshman Thomas Duarte have traditional tight end builds and could be in the offensive mix.

Colorado: Nick Kasa was one of Colorado's best players last year but he's gone and anyway he caught just 25 passes. Kyle Slavin, who topped the spring depth chart, caught 14 balls last season. It will be interesting to see how Mike MacIntyre's "pistol" offense incorporates some of the young tight ends -- redshirt freshmen Sean Irwin and Austin Ray -- into its offense going forward.

Arizona: Drew Robinson was listed as the Wildcats starting tight end last season, and he didn't catch a pass. The 2013 roster only lists two tight ends, though big receiver Terrence Miller, at 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, looks like a tight end. It's not a priority position in Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

Washington State: Mike Leach is not a tight end guy.

You can see previous previews here:

Quarterback

Running back

Receiver
The preseason awards roll-out continues today with the Mackey Award preseason watch list, which honors the most outstanding college tight end.

As expected, the Pac-12 is well represented with seven of the 37 players on the watch list. You can see the complete list of players here.

Here are the Pac-12's players on the watch list:
Solid list. The Pac-12 has had some elite tight ends the past few years. Though Stanford fans are probably still bitter over last year's selection of Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert over Zach Ertz. In case anyone needs reminding, it was the first time a unanimous All-American didn't win the award.

Grimble and Telfer are a dangerous one-two punch. Coyle and Murphy are sneaky good, and considering the way Stanford has used the tight end under David Shaw, it makes sense that Kaumatule is on the watch list.

Seferian-Jenkins is widely considered the top tight end in the country, and Lyerla isn't far behind, if at all. Should be another strong year for tight ends in the Pac-12.

Stanford Cardinal spring wrap

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
8:30
AM ET
STANFORD CARDINAL

2012 record: 12-2
2012 conference record: 8-1
Returning starters Offense: 7; defense: 8; kicker

Top returners: QB Kevin Hogan, OT David Yankey, LB Shayne Skov, LB Trent Murphy, DE Ben Gardner, S Ed Reynolds

Key losses: RB Stepfan Taylor, TE Zach Ertz, TE Levine Toilolo, OLB Chase Thomas

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Stepfan Taylor (1,530 yards)
Passing: Josh Nunes (1,643 yards); Kevin Hogan* (1,096 yards)
Receiving: Zach Ertz (898 yards)
Tackles: Shayne Skov* (80)
Sacks: Trent Murphy* (10)
Interceptions: Ed Reynolds (6)

Spring answers

1. Better to receive: Stanford's passing offense has been notoriously tight end focused the past few years, but that was more pronounced last season. Expect that to change in the fall, and not just because of questions at the position. The Cardinal has improved depth and athleticism at receiver, starting with Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. Heck, you might even see some four-wide formations!

2. O-line? Oh, my: To say that Stanford coaches are giddy about their offensive line's potential might undersell it. There are NFL teams that will have less talented combos on their left side than tackle Andrus Peat and All-American guard David Yankey, who are both future first-round NFL draft picks. The right side ain't bad either.

3. No secondary issues: Richard Sherman used to get peeved at the Pac-12 blog in the past for questioning the athleticism of Stanford's secondary, with the Pac-12 blog obviously just trying to help kick-start Sherman's NFL career. This Cardinal secondary, led by All-American Ed Reynolds, is experienced and talented, the best unit during the Cardinal's recent rise in the national pecking order.

Fall questions

1. Who's the center? The one question on the O-line is who will replace Sam Schwartzstein, and spring ended in a three-way tie between Khalil Wilkes, Conor McFadden and Kevin Danser. If Danser, a returning starter at guard, prevails, that will mean coaches believe touted, 317-pound sophomore Josh Garnett is ready to take over at right guard.

2. Step back at tight end? Davis Dudchock and Luke Kaumatule have a chance to give the Cardinal a better-than-average combo at tight end, but it remains to be seen if they can become weapons in the passing game. Kaumatule, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound sophomore, has star potential but his hands have been inconsistent.

3. Ready for pressure, schedule? This team looks like a national title contender. It will be ranked in the preseason top-five and there will be plenty of hype. But Stanford has gown accustomed to high expectations and high rankings. The real issue is the schedule from Oct. 19 until Nov. 30. No team in the country faces a tougher road to a potential title game.
Unlike last year, there is no quarterback competition at Stanford. But the recently released post-spring depth chart does reveal some potentially interesting developments to eye-ball heading into fall.

Starting on offense -- there are only two running backs listed -- Anthony Wilkerson "or" Tyler Gaffney as the starter. Both are trying to replace three-time 1,000-yard rusher Stepfan Taylor, though it's widely believed the Cardinal will take more of a committee approach than they did last year, when Taylor led the Pac-12 with 322 carries. There is plenty of depth, albeit mostly inexperienced, behind Gaffney and Wilkerson.

Also of note offensively is the addition of Kevin Danser on the depth chart at center. He's slated to start at right guard, though there is also an "or" separating Khalil Wilkes, Conor McFadden and Danser at center. It will be interesting to watch in the fall if Danser continues to get work at center. And if he wins the job, it would allow the Cardinal to insert Josh Garnett into the starting rotation at guard. That would give the Cardinal a starting front of Andrus Peat (LT), David Yankey (LG), Danser (C), Garnett (RG) and Cam Fleming (RT).

With the news of Josh Nunes' retirement yesterday, Evan Crower is locked in as the backup to Kevin Hogan and, for now, Devon Cajuste looks like he'll start opposite Ty Montgomery at receiver.

Fullback Geoff Meinken also announced he'll retire after struggling to return from a knee injury that kept him out of 2012.

At tight end -- Stanford's go-to receiving position the last couple of years -- Luke Kaumatule and Davis Dudchock are separated by an "or." However both will probably get a ton of work in Stanford's two-tight-end sets.

Defensively, there are only two "ors" on the depth chart. Henry Anderson and Josh Mauro have a good competition going at defensive and Blake Lueders and James Vaughters are undecided at the outside linebacker spot to release Chase Thomas. Though the Cardinal rotate backers and defensive linemen so frequently that "starter" is more of an honorary title.

Worth noting also that Devon Carrington, who has spent his career at safety, is also listed as a backup with Usua Amanam at right cornerback behind Wayne Lyons. Amanam is Stanford's go-to nickelback and Carrington is also backing up Ed Reynolds.

Looking at the specialists, up for grabs is the punter, which could go to either Ben Rhyne or Conrad Ukropina. Montgomery looks set at kick return while it's a four-way race between him, Kodi Whitfield, Keanu Nelson and Barry Sanders to return punts.

You can see the complete depth chart here and interpret it as you see fit.

Biggest shoes to fill: Stanford

March, 18, 2013
3/18/13
9:00
AM ET
Starters in, starters out. That’s college football. Players’ eligibility expires, and they leave for the rest of their lives, whether that includes the NFL or not.

And they leave behind shoes of various sizes that need to be filled.

Our concern with this series? The biggest shoes -- in some cases Shaq-like size 23s.

Biggest shoes: TEs Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo

These guys rate a tandem because Ertz was a unanimous All-American, Toilolo was a towering No. 2 and they represented one of the great innovations during Stanford's rise into the nation's elite: The "Big" formations featuring multiple tight ends who catch the ball like receivers and block like tackles. When you toss Coby Fleener in there from 2011, and you recall how special that troika was. And now all three are gone and no tight end remains on the roster who has caught a pass. This is further notable because both Ertz and Toilolo could have returned this fall. Ertz's decision to leave wasn't a surprise. He's a potential first-round NFL draft pick. Toilolo's was, and more than a few folks think he made a mistake, surrendering an opportunity to be the lead guy, and answer questions about his inconsistent hands. It also doesn't help that the Cardinal lost their Nos. 2 and 3 receivers, running back Stepfan Taylor and receiver Drew Terrell. But the void isn't just about catching the ball. Stanford's tight ends have played a key role in the rise of a dominant power running game. While the offensive line should be strong again this fall, it's questionable if the "Big" formations will be as fearsome, at least the tight end options.

Stepping in? Sophomore Luke Kaumatule

Kaumatule, a 6-foot-7 Hawaiian, certainly looks the part, and he is the early leader after a strong first spring session, though he's still learning the ins and outs of the position. Coach David Shaw also moved senior Eddie Plantaric and junior Charlie Hopkins, former defensive linemen, to the position, and senior Davis Dudchock brings veteran leadership and knowledge. Sophomore Alex Frkovic is trying to come back from a knee injury and sophomore Chris Harrell is promising but needs to get bigger and stronger. It's important to keep in mind that Stanford isn't looking for just one guy. It would like at least three to step up because it has plenty of designed plays with three on the field at the same time. Another thing to keep in mind: Stanford is deep at fullback, led by former tight end Ryan Hewitt, who at 6-foot-4, might be the tallest fullback in the nation. There's no reason that when Shaw says, "Give me a big, nasty guy who can run and catch," he won't finger a fullback for the role.

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