Pac-12: Paul Fanaika

As O-line goes, so goes Arizona State

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
1:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

While quarterback uncertainty is the focal point for most Arizona State fans -- is senior Danny Sullivan up to the job? -- it won't matter who plays quarterback if the Sun Devils stink up front again.

Coach Dennis Erickson believes things might turn around because his linemen are healthier, more experienced and have "a chip on their shoulder."

Why a chip? "They can read," he said.

Here's something to read: There's reason for hope. The depth chart looks nothing like last year.

Shawn Lauvao, the Sun Devils' best lineman, has moved from guard to left tackle. Garth Gerhart has passed Thomas Altieri at center. Jon Hargis has moved from left tackle to left guard. Adam Tello, who was overwhelmed as a redshirt freshman while starting the first four games at right tackle, is a reserve guard.

The only departed starter is right guard Paul Fanaika. Zach Schlink is the front-runner there ahead of Mike Marcisz, though both were out with injuries Thursday.

A guy to watch is Matt Hustad, a talented sophomore who missed all of last year with a knee injury. He could challenge Tom Njunge, who started four games in 2008, at right tackle or move inside to guard.

"I feel like if I stay healthy anything is possible," Hustad said. "I'm real confident in my skills."

"Healthy" is the operative word. Hustad, Schlink, Tello, Marcisz and Altieri each missed all or some of spring practices.

"I got to be pretty good friends with all the guys who were injured but other than that, it's no fun to sit out while you see all your friends are there getting better," Hustad said. "Since I've been injured, I've kind of been missing the whole 'team' mentality."

So far so good with Hustad.

The lack of depth last year had Tello starting on the edge at less than 290 pounds. This year, there's an extra year of maturity for all and the new depth means competition.

But only if folks stay healthy.

Arizona State spring wrap-up

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
9:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State Sun Devils

2008 overall record: 5-7

2008 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

OT Shawn Lauvao, K Thomas Weber, DE Dexter Davis, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Mike Nixon, CB Omar Bolden

Key losses

QB Rudy Carpenter, OL Paul Fanaika, WR Michael Jones, FS Troy Nolan

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Dimitri Nance* (410)
Passing: Rudy Carpenter (2,493)
Receiving: Michael Jones (744)
Tackles: Mike Nixon* (90)
Sacks: Dexter Davis* (11)
Interceptions: Mike Nixon* (5)

2009 Schedule

Sep. 5 Idaho State
Sep. 19 Louisiana-Monroe
Sep. 26 at Georgia
Oct. 3 Oregon State
Oct. 10 at Washington State
Oct. 17 Washington
Oct. 24 at Stanford
Oct. 31 California
Nov. 7 USC
Nov. 14 at Oregon
Nov. 21 at UCLA
Nov. 28 Arizona

Spring answers

1. Some line answers: Arizona State's 2009 may swing on the improvement of its offensive line, and two moves appear to be paying off. First, Shawn Lauvao moved from guard to left tackle. He's the Sun Devils' best blocker, and coaches believe he's an all-conference candidate. Also, sophomore Garth Gerhart, brother of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, eclipsed senior Thomas Altieri at center.

2. Safety in McFoy: The Sun Devils' biggest void on defense was the safety spot vacated by Troy Nolan, but senior Ryan McFoy, who's bounced back and forth from the secondary and linebacker, looks like he's found a home. He's athletic, a big hitter and he could be the final piece on a defense that figures to be fairly stout.

3. Sullivan steps up: While senior Danny Sullivan hasn't won the quarterback job just yet, he's the heavy favorite to do so in the fall, replacing four-year starter Rudy Carpenter. Sullivan had plenty of doubters heading into spring, but he showed improved athleticism, a good and accurate arm, and his knowledge of the offense put him ahead of his competitors. Most importantly: His solid performance probably boosted confidence all around -- his as well as his coaches' and teammates' confidence in him.

Fall questions

1. Line needs to get healthy: Three potential offensive line starters -- Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink and Adam Tello -- need to get healthy. Each sat out the spring, and Hustad, perhaps the best of the lot, in particular, is a concern. If all three are healthy, the Sun Devils' line may improve dramatically. If one or two don't, then things will be pretty thin -- again -- up front.

2. A tangled Weber is weaved: Thomas Weber is one of the nation's best kickers, but he's only an OK punter. He doesn't mind doing both jobs, but the coaches think he'll be better at kicking if he concentrates on that. So there's been an ongoing search to find someone to beat him out at punter. That search continues because no one was able to consistently boot the ball better than Weber.

3. Will the frosh deliver? At least a couple of incoming freshmen are expected to help immediately, particularly touted linebacker Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Corey Adams. If they arrive in shape, ready to play and as talented as advertised, they should at least provide some much-needed depth. And then the Sun Devils' defense could really make some noise this fall.

Fanaika joins special list of Arizona State walk-ons

April, 28, 2009
4/28/09
5:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State not only continued a tradition of getting at least one player selected in the NFL draft each of the past 45 years over the weekend, it also continued its recent tradition of former walk-ons getting drafted.

Offensive lineman Paul Fanaika, a former walk-on, was picked in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles, so he now joins this impressive list -- it includes two first-round picks -- supplied by the ASU sports information department:

Adam Archuleta, safety, St. Louis Rams (1st round pick)
Vince Amoia, fullback, New York Jets
Brian Jennings, long snapper, San Francisco 49ers
Levi Jones, offensive line, Cincinnati Bengals, (1st round pick)
John Knight, linebacker, San Diego Chargers
Jason Kyle, long snapper/linebacker, Seattle Seahawks
Brad Williams, punter, Minnesota Vikings

Levi Jones has established the Levi Jones Scholarship at ASU, which can go to a deserving walk-on each year.

Who might be next?

Well, two former walk-ons are expected to see significant action next fall: running back James Morrison and cornerback Pierre Singfield.

Big East nips Pac-10 for draft lead

April, 27, 2009
4/27/09
10:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

[Note this is a corrected post... apologies for not factoring in the underrated Big East].

The Big East nipped the Pac-10 for the lead among conferences in the 2009 NFL draft.

The eight-team Big East supplied 27 total players in the draft, or 3.4 players per team. The Pac-10 supplied 32 selections (3.2 players per team). The 12-team SEC was third with 37 selections overall, or 3.1 per team. The 12-team ACC was third with 33 (2.8 per team).

Last year, the Pac-10's led with 3.4 per team vs. 2.92 per team for the SEC and ACC (2.75).

USC led the way with 11 players selected, including three in the first round, though many are shaking their heads of linebacker Rey Maualuga's tumble into the second round. Every draft-eligible Trojan who started last season was picked.

Oregon State was second with seven players selected and Oregon was third with six. Arizona State, with a pair of seventh-round selections, maintained a 45-year streak with at least one player drafted.

Not all the news was good: Stanford, UCLA and Washington each had no players selected.

Here's the complete list

Arizona

Eben Britton, OT, Jacksonville, second
Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville, fourth

Arizona State

Troy Nolan, S, Houston, seventh
Paul Fanaika, OG, Philadelphia, seventh

California

Alex Mack, C, Cleveland, first
Zach Follett, LB, Detroit, seventh
Cameron Morrah, TE, seventh

Oregon

Patrick Chung, S, New England, second
Jairus Byrd, CB, Buffalo, second
Max Unger, C, Seattle, second
Fenuki Tupou, OT, Philadelphia, fifth
Ra'Shon Harris, DT, Pittsburgh, sixth
Nick Reed, DE, Seattle, seventh

Oregon State

Andy Levitre, OG, Buffalo, second
Keenan Lewis, CB, Pittsburgh, third
Victor Butler, OLB, Dallas, fourth
Slade Norris, OLB, Oakland, fourth
Brandon Hughes, CB, San Diego, fifth
Al Afalava, S, Chicago, sixth
Sammie Stroughter, WR, Tampa Bay, seventh

Stanford

NONE

UCLA

NONE

USC

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets, first (No. 5)
Brian Cushing, OLB, Houston, first (No. 15)
Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay, first (No. 26)
Rey Maualuga, LB, Cincinnati, second
Fili Moala, DT, Indianapolis, second
Patrick Turner, WR, Miami, third
Kaluka Maiava, LB, Cleveland, fourth
Kyle Moore, DE, Tampa Bay, fourth
David Buehler, PK, Dallas, fifth
Cary Harris, CB, Buffalo, sixth
Kevin Ellison, S, San Diego, sixth

Washington

NONE

Washington State

Brandon Gibson, WR, Philadelphia, sixth

Pac-10 lunch links: Is Stoops in trouble?

November, 26, 2008
11/26/08
10:44
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

I love links. Linky, link, link. Here it goes down, down into my belly.

  • Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood doesn't seem to be pointing a finger at coach Mike Stoops, but he admits it's troubling how often the Wildcats lose close games.
  • Arizona State's Paul Fanaika is a walk-on who made good.
  • California coach Jeff Tedford is reminding his team that, as bad as Washington is, the Huskies rushed for 360 yards in a 2007 victory over the Bears.
  • A challenge for Oregon to step up against the rising Beavers. This Civil War, however, the Ducks' offense is set, though running back LeGarrette Blount is ill.
  • What will Oregon State do without running back Jacquizz Rodgers?
  • Tom Craft, former San Diego State coach and father of UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft, defends his son. But it's possible backup Chris Forcier could see action at Arizona State.
  • USC safety Kevin Ellison has been cleared to play against Notre Dame. The Trojans have a different plan for the tailback-by-committee approach.
  • Critical blown coverage in Apple Cup still hurting Washington safety.
  • It's a Hawaii homecoming for this Cougar.
  • Jon Wilner's BCS bowl projections.

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