Pac-12: Markeith Ambles

Pac-12 links: Oregon D shines in scrimmage

April, 14, 2011
4/14/11
2:30
PM ET
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Pac-12 links: Chip Kelly on injuries (or not)

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
2:30
PM ET
I am at this moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.

Which true freshmen are ready to play?

August, 17, 2010
8/17/10
6:33
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The ink dries on the national letters of intent and the recruiting class rankings are handed out, then the real business begins: Which true freshmen are ready to play right now?

Here's an early list for every Pac-10 team.

A caveat: This is hardly a scientific survey, evaluations are still in their early stages and I've only personally seen a handful of these guys play. These names are here because of news reports and comments from coaches and other observers (sports information directors also chipped in).

Further, some schools will start or play a lot of freshmen -- USC and UCLA for example -- while that doesn't appear likely for other schools (Oregon State may only use freshmen on special teams).

So here we go.

Arizona
CB Shaquille Richardson, S Marquis Flowers

Note: Frosh will bolster the Wildcats secondary. Richardson was kicked off UCLA's team for being one of three freshmen who allegedly tried to steal a purse. Coach Mike Stoops told the Arizona Daily Star that Richardson is "as good a corner as I've coached at this young stage."

Arizona State
RB Deantre Lewis, WR Kyle Middlebrooks

Note: Lewis turned in a good scrimmage over the weekend for an offense that needs playmakers. Middlebrooks should at least get into the rotation and may return punts.

California
WR Keenan Allen, WR Kaelin Clay, WR Tevin Carter, LB David Wilkerson

Note: Receiver is a need position for the Bears -- not all of the passing game struggles can be hung on QB Kevin Riley. All three likely will be in the rotation, with Allen a candidate to start. Wilkerson is pushing for time at OLB.

Oregon
DT Ricky Heimuli, K Alejandro Maldonado

Note: The 320-pound Heimuli offers a big body in the middle of the D-line. Maldonado is in the thick of the race to start at kicker. (The two touted frosh RBs could get into the mix, but No. 3 is deeper than we want to go).

Oregon State
WR Kevin Cummings, LB Michael Doctor

Notes: No true freshman has cracked the Beavers two-deep and both of these guys are grayshirts. Cummings could get into the rotation at flanker behind James Rodgers. Both are expected to play special teams.

Stanford
CB Barry Browning, S Devon Carrington

Note: Browning is the highest true freshman on the depth chart at present, though he's not with the first-team, according to Jim Harbaugh. He and Carrington could provide help in a questionable secondary.

UCLA
SS Dietrich Riley, F Anthony Barr, OG Chris Ward, DT Cassius Marsh, DE Owa Odighizuwa

Notes: This list, by the way, could have been much longer. The Bruins signed a strong recruiting class last February and a lot of those guys will play this fall. Riley, Barr and Ward are in the mix to start.

USC
WR Robert Woods, RB Dillon Baxter, WR Markeith Ambles, CB Nickell Robey

Notes: Woods may end up starting, and Baxter has been a spectacular playmaker since he showed up during spring drills, though he's suspended for the opener. Robey is the leading candidate to be the nickelback.

Washington
RB Jesse Callier, S Sean Parker, DE Hau'oli Jamora, TE Michael Hartvigson

Note: It doesn't appear at this point that any of these four will start, but they each are expected to play. Callier steps to the fore with Deontae Cooper out with a knee injury. Jamora and Hartvigson provide depth at need positions.

Washington State
WR Marquiss Wilson, WR Kristoff Williams, OT John Fullington, LB C.J. Mizell, DT Kalafitoni Pole

Notes: All five of these guys will play. Fullington has seen some action with the first-team. Mizell might be the Cougars fastest LB.

Opening camp: USC

August, 4, 2010
8/04/10
11:24
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USC opens preseason camp today. Here's a quick look.

Who's back: Six starters on offense, six on defense and punter Jacob Harfman.

Big names: QB Matt Barkley, C Kristofer O'Dowd, DT Jurrell Casey

What's new: Everything? Pete Carroll is out; Lane Kiffin is in. The only holdover from Carroll's staff is receivers coach John Morton. The postseason is out; NCAA sanctions are in. AD Mike Garrett is out; Pat Haden is in. Defending Pac-10 champions is out; finishing with four conference losses is in. Certain dominance is out; questions about the future are in.

Key competition: There are lots of areas of intrigue, starting with returning starter Chris Galippo trying to hold onto the job at middle linebacker against converted end Devon Kennard. Who will replace the injured Christian Tupou at defensive tackle: Either DaJohn Harris or Hebron Fangupo. What's the pecking order behind Allen Bradford at tailback? And what about receiver, where freshmen Kyle Prater, Robert Woods and Markeith Ambles figure to challenge returning veterans. The only certainty in the rebuilt secondary is CB Shareece Wright. Oh, and freshman Kevin Graf is listed ahead of returning starter Butch Lewis at left guard.

Breaking out: Wright, O'Dowd, WR Ronald Johnson and DE Armond Armstead will be all-conference if they stay healthy. What will Barkley in Year 2 look like after starting as a true freshman? Kennard looks like a rising star. Freshman RB Dillon Baxter had folks whispering "Reggie Bush II" in spring practices. Hopefully without the greedy parents and accompanying parasites.

Quote: Kiffin on the team's strengths and weaknesses: “I feel good about our defensive line. Depth in general is going to be an issue. We have to be extremely intelligent and smart. Seven of our 10 coaches have NFL experience. We’re going to have to be NFL-oriented because of our situation.

Notes: The Trojans were picked second in the preseason media poll. They received 12 first-place votes compared to 15 for Oregon. It was the first time in seven polls USC hadn't been picked first. ... 13 returning starters is the second fewest in the conference. ... Players who left the program after NCAA sanctions were announced: safety Byron Moore (junior college), linebacker Jordan Campbell (Louisville), wide receiver Travon Patterson (Colorado), fullback D.J. Shoemate (Connecticut), defensive end Malik Jackson (Tennessee). Also, the Trojans released touted offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (Miami) and linebacker signee Glen Stanley (Florida State) from their scholarship commitments.

Pac-10 recruiting wrap: USC

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
3:02
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USC's class of 19 -- and one HUGE oral commitment -- ranks seventh in the nation and features 11 players (including said commitment) on the ESPNU 150 list.

That commitment is Seantrel Henderson, the nation's No. 1 offensive lineman, who will wait to sign until after USC meets with the NCAA later this month.

Lane Kiffin's first class after the departure of Pete Carroll was stronger than just about everybody thought it would be.

The Trojans had three top needs. They hit a grand slam at receiver and tight end. They did fairly well at defensive back. They fell short at linebacker.

Top prospects: Robert Woods is the nation's No. 1 receiver. Markeith Ambles was No. 4. Kyle Prater was No. 9. Xavier Grimble leads a list of three top-10 tight ends. Help is coming for quarterback Matt Barkley. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Trojans signed the No. 2 guy, Jesse Scroggins.

Under the radar: Not really a USC category. Fullback Soma Vainuku, recruited as a linebacker by a number of schools, signed as a fullback, perhaps positioning himself as the next Stanley Havili.

Issues? It's hard to quibble with the nation's No. 7 recruiting class, particularly when the school was dealing with a coaching transition to Kiffin from Carroll, but there are two things. First, linebacker was a need area that wasn't sufficiently addressed. Second, the Trojans lost out on a number of prospects to rival UCLA, most notably safety Dietrich Riley and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt

Notes: Kiffin said he expects linebacker Glen Stanley, the lone JC transfer, to play immediately... USC signed players from five states... Kiffin took a shot at the players who picked UCLA over USC in his signing day press conference: "I think, I've been gone three years but much hasn't changed. As you meet the kids there is a sense and I was reminded of the kids that go to UCLA and the kids that come to USC, and to be back here, I watched it over the weekend just to see if it's the same, and it's really still the same. I guess we waste time continuing to recruit them, we know within the first 10 minutes whether they're the type of guys that want to play here or there."

USC gets off to fast start on signing day

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
9:16
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USC has scored with three marquee recruits.

Markeith Ambles (McDonough, Ga./Henry County) will sign with USC Wednesday, Fox 5 TV (Atlanta) reports.

And four-star cornerback/receiver Nickell Robey of Frostproof, Fla., has picked USC after decommitting from the Georgia.

To top it off, USC beat UCLA for linebacker Hayes Pullard (Los Angeles/Crenshaw).

It appears the Trojans are well on their way to a top-10 class in Lane Kiffin's first go-round with 10 ESPNU 150 prospects in tow.

Will Pac-10 close a good recruiting season with a flourish?

January, 25, 2010
1/25/10
3:52
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With just over a week until national signing day, the recruiting rankings look a lot like the late-season national rankings for the Pac-10: Lots of depth.

USC, at No. 10, is tops among six conference teams in the national top 25.

Recall that seven Pac-10 teams were ranked at some point last season and five were ranked in the final regular-season BCS standings.

Ah, but then also recall that only two were ranked after a woeful 2-5 bowl season.

So, the big question with the Pac-10 and recruiting is not unlike it was in the postseason: Can the conference close the deal?

Things are fairly fluid right now. A "commitment" doesn't mean much. For example:

Stanford, which had taken some recruiting hits of late, punched back at one of its victimizers, Notre Dame, by snagging an ESPNU 150 defensive end.

Oregon just grabbed a receiver previously committed to Washington.

Washington is trying to give Arizona that sort of treatment over a defensive tackle.

So don't take anything for granted. It's the signature on Feb. 3 that matters.

You can follow the plot twists here.

The biggest names remaining in play among Pac-10 teams on the ESPNU 150 are:

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