Pac-12: Seantrel Henderson
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.
- Former Duck Donte Rosario backs the way coach Chip Kelly has handled the discipline issues this offseason.
- A look back at the biggest moments in Oregon sports over the past year.
- Washington and UCLA are battling on the recruiting trail for a 2011 QB commit.
- Seantrel Henderson landed in Miami after being released from his letter of intent by USC.
- UCLA could be underrated in the preseason.
A day after backup defensive end Malik Jackson decided to transfer to Tennessee, Seantrel Henderson, widely regarded as the best prep offensive lineman in the nation last year, was released from his letter of intent by Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, according to the LA Times.
That means Henderson can now go anywhere he wants and play this fall. Miami and Ohio State have been reported as his top choices, but he still could opt to go to USC, though that seems like a long shot at this point.
Kiffin told the times that Henderson is being released with "zero penalties and no restrictions."
Kiffin and other USC coaches have been trying to re-recruit Henderson, who was wary of NCAA penalties before he finally signed with USC in March, weeks after national signing day.
- Arizona AD Greg Byrne weighs in on how Delashaun Dean's arrest could have been avoided.
- Arizona State is ranked 60th in this countdown.
- Ranking California's best games of the decade, non-Big Game Division.
- See the new Pac-10 logo on the turf at Oregon's Autzen Stadium. Whatever happened to former Ducks running back Reuben Droughns?
- Oregon State coach Mike Riley talks about playing for Bear Bryant at Alabama. Jacquizz Rodgers was on "College Football Live."
- This former Stanford RB is playing in the CFL.
- Talking Points: USC vs. UCLA recruiting (fellas, the double-hit links have to go).
- USC hasn't given up on re-recruiting Seantrel Henderson. Now former USC coach Todd McNair releases a statement.
- What might be some other possibilities for a Seattle game if Washington State-Oregon falls through?
- More on how the Big 12 fought off the expansionist Pac-10.
Th’ infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She opened, but to shut
Excelled her power; the gates wide open stood.
- A redshirt freshman cornerback is transferring from Arizona. The transfer of starting receiver Delashaun Dean means an opportunity for someone else, such as Gino Crump.
- Checking in with Arizona State offensive lineman Matt Hustad, who says he's feeling good after multiple injury problems.
- What do the preview magazines say about California?
- You can never have too many quarterbacks, but Oregon recruiting sure is getting a lot of QB interest. Former Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli has not yet visited Mississippi State.
- A look at UCLA's recruiting radar.
- So far, USC's upperclassmen, given the option to transfer, aren't leaving. Everything is speculation with Seantrel Henderson at this point. Part II of a Q&A with John Baxter.
- A columnist from Utah rates Utah in the middle of the Pac-10.
- Washington coach Steve Sarkisian sees a wide-open Pac-10. Stewart Mandel on Jake Locker's Heisman hopes.
- The Washington State football blog takes a look at Oregon State.
- The Pac-10 will negotiate from a position of strength -- despite what you've read elsewhere -- when it courts new media partners.
It seems that Henderson, widely viewed as the nation's No. 1 offensive lineman, if not the nation's top prospect in 2010, is having second thoughts about going to USC. Again.
This from the St. Paul Pioneer Press (it's a note at the bottom):
Latest word is that Cretin-Derham Hall grad Seantrel Henderson, who was assured by new Southern California football coach Lane Kiffin during recruitment that USC would not receive serious NCAA penalties, is balking at his commitment and now leaning toward Miami, even though he would have to sit out a transfer season.
Henderson will have to sit out a year because, after some wavering, he finally signed a letter of intent on March 23, which binds him to USC.
Since NCAA sanctions were announced against USC, the Trojans have mostly held together with no major transfers or recruiting defections.
Henderson would be the first. Now will he be the last?
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
- Arizona State re-signs with its broadcast partners. Will the Sun Devils defense rank among Dennis Erickson's best?
- Check out a behind-the-scenes look at California running back Shane Vereen's on-line chat.
- More on Oregon's new Texan.
- Checking in with former Oregon State QB Derek Anderson.
- Once again, Stanford is crowned the nation's No. 1 athletic department. The Cardinal's game with Sacramento State will be televised.
- UCLA gets its third recruiting commitment.
- A Q&A with USC's QB's coach Clay Helton. Seantrel Henderson isn't talking (it's the last note).
- ESPN's Bruce Feldman went looking for workout freaks and he found a few, including one from the Pac-10.
- Nice piece here from Kirk Bohls on Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott.
- More on the circumstances that led to Arizona receiver Delashaun Dean's suspension.
- Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love wants to rally local support.
- California's 10 best games of the 2000s, non-Big Game edition.
- Colorado's exit from the Big 12 could get contentious -- and litigious.
- Oregon State picks up its second recruiting commitment.
- Stanford gets a commitment from a tall receiver.
- Collect your UCLA recruiting cards here.
- Does Seantrel Henderson -- a no-show for freshman orientation -- not want to be a USC Trojan? Tennessee fans continue to obsess about Lane Kiffin.
- Utah's joining the Pac-10 means more revenue but also more expenses.
- Washington's Jake Locker is a big man on campus. This Huskies' recruit from Oregon wasn't offered a scholarship by the in-state schools.
- Washington State is hitting Florida hard in recruiting. Yes, Florida.
- Pac-10 blogs reach out to its newest members.
- Stewart Mandel looks at potential Pac-10 and Big Ten divisions.
- A final decision on Pac-10 divisions might not come until October.
- Arizona's special-teams ace is making a comeback.
- California has a new coach and new emphasis on special-teams play.
- Lots of questions for Oregon, but at least those questions now are more about stuff on the field.
- Oregon State has Jacquizz Rodgers at running back, but what about the depth?
- Stanford notes: Another Cardinal running back is having success in baseball.
- More on USC signing Seantrel Henderson. Speaking of Henderson, how does the Trojans' offensive line look?
- Washington QB Jake Locker will play some baseball for the Angels this summer.
- Which Pac-10 teams are wealthy at tight end?
- Maybe the Pac-10 could play a conference title game without expanding?
It seems that the 6-foot-8, 335-pounder, rated the top offensive lineman on the ESPNU 150, is still not ready to surrender the spotlight, as the Pioneer-Press reported that Henderson wouldn't -- as he announced just this week he would -- sign a letter of intent Thursday to go to USC.
What's the problem? From the story: "Because of scheduling logistics, the St. Paul-based private school won't hold the signing on Thursday, and instead, is targeting perhaps a day next week."
"Scheduling logistics?" He's signing a piece of paper.
That's not entirely fair, of course. Michael Lev, USC beat writer for Orange County Register, points out that a fax machine also must be found.
Is Henderson having a change of heart? No indication that he is, but it appears we'll have another report on "As the Henderson Turns" next week.
ESPN , USA Today, and The New York Times are reporting that the No. 1-rated offensive tackle in the ESPNU 150 is ready to sign with USC after deciding to hold off on national signing day when he only gave an oral commitment to the Trojans.
At the time, Henderson said he wanted to wait for USC to meet with the NCAA's infractions committee. That happened on Feb. 18-20, but a decision on USC's fate likely won't be rendered until mid-April.
Henderson is academically eligible after receiving his ACT scores on Friday.
Ohio State, Notre Dame, Miami, Florida, Minnesota and Oklahoma were among Henderson's other suitors.
- You have to be an ESPN Insider to read this, but Arizona State fans can get an inside look at new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone from this Bruce Feldman story.
- Checking in with former California running back Jahvid Best. More from Best's interview.
- Former Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond is getting ready for the NFL draft but he's still recovering from the knee injury that ruined his 2009 season.
- Eight Oregon State players are with the Beavers track team.
- Some Cal and Stanford concerns heading into spring practices. A look at the Cardinal tight ends heading into spring practices.
- UCLA, like USC last year, has lost significant talent on defense.
- Does quarterback Mitch Mustain have a shot at USC? Unsigned USC commitment Seantrel Henderson, the nation's top prep offensive lineman, still doesn't know what he's going to do. Lane Kiffin talks to the Knoxville News Sentinel about his abrupt departure from Tennessee.
- Old-school Cougs are fired up about Washington State hiring Bill Moos as athletic director. Bud Withers thinks Moos is a great hire.
- Which Pac-10 teams are good JC recruiters? And which are not.
- Did Arizona sacrifice the state's top 2011 recruit when it took an early commitment from another QB? Some Wildcats notes.
- Arizona State thought it might get a game with Cincinnati before it ended up with two FCS foes.
- Transcript of California coach Jeff Tedford's live chat -- he starts off by saying that the QB job is open for competition. It's actually pretty informative.
- What's your favorite Oregon uniform combination?
- Recruiting rankings and Oregon State. One word: Ha!
- Is USC's marquee O-line recruit, Seantrel Henderson, committed to the Trojans, or is he looking around?
- The WSU Football Blog pointed something out after the Super Bowl: Drew Brees wanted to be a Coug.
- Always some studs and duds among highly rated recruits.
To the notes.
Amalgam from the College Football Cosmos writes: I don't get recruiting rankings. Why do so many five-star guys fail and low-star guys succeed? And why is there so much variety about final team rankings?
Ted Miller: Obviously, Amalgam's question is a blend of the many recruiting questions that inundated the mailbag this week.
As far as critiquing team rankings, I'm not going to do that. I know the fellows from Scouts Inc. that do recruiting rankings for ESPN.com bust their butts poring over film and trying to legitimately rate individuals and classes.
The differences between recruiting services? How could you expect anything else in a business that involves the always inexact science of evaluating and projecting of human potential?
One thing, however, I do think gets under-represented to the public are the fairly straight-forward reasons that star-ratings often don't hold true in college.
First, there's basic math: The huge pool of low-rated players vs. the small pool of highly rated players skews things a bit when a former two-star guy becomes a No. 1 NFL draft choice and everyone starts going, "SEE! Recruiting rankings are meaningless."
But there's another issue: Physical maturity.
When you meet a five-star recruit in person, you immediately see the same thing the recruiting services saw on film: A full-grown man.
You typically -- not always but typically -- see a guy with a full-beard who's filled out his frame and is buffed up. You see an 18-year-old who could pass for 25.
You see a man who has been dominating a bunch of boys. It's impossible not to rate this guy highly because he looks better on film than anyone else.
But when he gets to college a couple of things sometimes happen.
First, he stops being dominant. A lot of the five-star guys have been dominant their entire lives. They've never been knocked on the rears. How they react to that is often telling.
Second, he may turn out to be a finished product who's already physically peaked. Often guys like this become solid but never dominant college players and they fall short of the NFL. You see this with a lot of with linemen who arrive as 6-foot-6, 310-pound freshmen already bench pressing over 400 pounds. By their senior years, they are... 6-foot-6, 315-pound seniors bench pressing over 450 pounds. And their feet never really got any quicker.
Meanwhile, there are those baby-faced guys who are 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds as high school seniors for whom college operates as a phone booth did for Superman.
One of the things you see when you hang around super-elite programs -- USC, Florida, Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Oklahoma, etc. -- is they look different. At the Rose Bowl, it was impossible to ignore that the Buckeyes just looked bigger than the Ducks -- not really the starters but the 85-man team as a whole.
You go to a USC practice and you can't help but go, "Golly, who's that dude? He's a monster!"
Then you learn he's a senior and former five-star recruit who doesn't play much.
Coaches like Mike Riley often get praised -- and rightly so -- for finding diamonds in the rough, but know that there's also a certain amount of freedom involved in operating outside the high expectations of recruiting rankings and being able to evaluate an athlete and analyze what sort of football player might be inside.
It's balderdash when top-25 coaches say they're not influenced by star-ratings and recruiting rankings. I've been told by a couple of coaches that they've signed highly-rated players they didn't particularly like because of recruiting rankings.
The ideal situation -- and Pete Carroll always insisted that this is how the Trojans operated -- is to be an elite school staffed with outstanding talent evaluators who don't get fooled by the "finished products" who won't pan out.
Ryan from New York writes: UCLA signed no TEs and lost two to graduation. And only one WR, with both starters being juniors. Not sure how you missed that. It's amazing to me how you guys fall for Slick Rick's spin. He has a Svengali effect on you media types that cracks me up. You'll do or say anything for a quote.
Ted Miller: UCLA signed John Young, who is a tight end. The Bruins actually seem pretty solid at the position with Cory Harkey and Nate Chandler, both juniors, while sophomore Morrell Presley is a hybrid tight end/receiver.
Neuheisel said he wished he'd signed another receiver, but the only real issue with the Bruins class is the lack of a quarterback, which happened when Brett Nottingham decommitted and went with Stanford.
One of the problems with recruiting is folks put too much value on assigned positions. When I was doing write-ups on each class this week, one of the things I noticed was how often a coach called a player one thing while recruiting lists had him at another position.
But, really, it doesn't matter in the least. There are only four positions: quarterback, specialists (kicker, punter), linemen and athletes. Good coaches aren't slaves to high school positions.
UCLA's class is loaded with athletes. These are guys who could end up as running backs, receivers, defensive backs, tight ends or even linebackers and rush ends.
Here's a guess that Neuheisel is salivating over the possibilities with guys like Anthony Barr.
And I was fairly disappointed with the quotes I got from Neuheisel on signing day. He was far more happy than colorful.
Kenny from Corvallis writes: Regarding your article about recruiting and kids changing their mind.. These coaches have nothing to complain about. A verbal commitment means nothing. Sure, for the kids that absolutely know where they want to play and want to end their recruitment, great. But all an early signing period does is allows coaches to force the hands of players who may honestly not know where they want to go, rather just committed after an awesome weekend away at college where they most certainly were treated like stars.
Ted Miller: You make a fair point. An early signing period would give leverage to coaches.
But it also would allow a young man to opt out of the process -- which can be a pain for the entire family -- as well as allow a player to grab an opportunity quickly. Decommitments make headlines, but pulled scholarship offers are more frequent. Moreover, an early signing period is a nice insurance policy should an athlete get injured his senior season.
An early signing period would allow a player to know if a program really wants him. Also, coaches would be less casual about making offers they don't fully intend to honor.
Elite players can do anything they want. Do you think Lane Kiffin got mouthy with offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson when Henderson decided to wait until USC meets with the NCAA before signing? Absolutely not.
Finally, an early signing period works in favor of school's that aren't perennial powers, which I think is a good thing. For one, it might reduce the number of last-minute raids of recruiting classes.
Scott from Yakima, Wash., writes: I saw something in the news reports about Josh Shirley having a secret commitment to UCLA for a few weeks. Why keep it secret? My question is ... do you think Neuheisel used that secret to try to hurt USC? Imagine that a few weeks ago, they look at each other and wink and say, lets keep this quiet but give out the appearance of being a lock to go to USC. That will trick USC into not pursuing other LBs as much, and then late in the process when Josh goes elsewhere, they will not have enough time to scramble to get another LB in there.
Ted Miller: Scott, I am shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that the UCLA coach would do anything sneaky during recruiting that might hurt USC.
Neuheisel was open about Shirley's "secret" commitment to the Bruins on signing day, saying it was Shirley's idea.
Moreover, a Bruins booster might counter that it would be impossible for a UCLA recruit to keep a secret from USC coach Lane Kiffin. After all, Kiffin said on signing day that he knows which recruits want to go to USC and which will end up at UCLA almost immediately. Said Kiffin: "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."
Mike from Lacey, Wash., writes: The [University of Washington] Daily has an article "It's time to legitimize the UW-Oregon rivalry" which calls for awarding a "Columbia Cup" to the winner of the Ducks-Huskies matchup each year. It says it could become something like Michigan-Ohio State or Texas-Oklahoma. Interesting idea. With all the recruiting frenzy that is going on right now, this is what recruits play for. I like it, it has GAMEDAY potential.
Ted Miller: Sounds cool to me. Oregon-Washington is an underrated rivalry, and it should return to the national picture as the Huskies return to respectability under Steve Sarkisian.
Drake from Los Angeles writes: Have you ever considered putting out team by team analyses in reverse alphabetical order? I'm a UCLA student and fan, and along with the Washington and Washington State (and, ahem USC) fans, I'm sure we are all tired of having to wait all day for our recruiting rankings or whatever just because we land at the end of the alphabet.
Ted Miller: And risk the wrath of the "A" and "C" schools! No way!
The "W" and "U" folks are tough, but those "A" and "C" people... they're just crazy.
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State