Pac-12: Tom McAndrew
So, we present this year's Pac-10 All-Academic team, which is topped by three-time first-team selection Mike Nixon, the fine linebacker -- and former professional baseball player -- from Arizona State.
Last week, Nixon also was named a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. In addition to Nixon, nine other players were named to the Pac-10 academic team for the second time.
You also will notice that Stanford's Toby Gerhart, a top Heisman Trophy candidate, is a first-team member. Gerhart boasts a 3.25 GPA in management science & engineering, which sounds hard to me.
For those keeping score -- you always do -- Stanford has the most first-team members with eight. Washington State has five and Oregon State four. California has three, Oregon has two and Arizona State, UCLA and Washington have one apiece.
Neither Arizona nor USC had a first-team member.
To be eligible for selection, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant substitute.
To see the second-team and honorable mentions, click here.
Pos. Name, School Yr. GPA Major
- QB Andrew Luck, Stanford RFr. 3.55 Undeclared
- RB Josh Catron, Stanford Sr. 3.48 Economics
- RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford Sr. 3.25 Management Science & Engineering
- WR Casey Kjos, Oregon State (2) Jr. 3.63 Psychology & Sociology
- WR Alex Lagemann, California Jr. 3.68 Media Studies
- TE David Paulson, Oregon So. 3.68 Business Administration
- OL Mark Boskovich, California (2) Jr. 3.73 Political Science
- OL Micah Hannam, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.59 Civil Engineering
- OL Andrew Phillips, Stanford Jr. 3.53 Classics
- OL Chris Prummer, Washington State Jr. 3.88 Zoology
- OL Carson York, Oregon RFr. 3.70 Journalism
- DL Kevin Frahm, Oregon State So. 3.24 Political Science
- DL Kevin Kooyman, Washington State Sr. 3.16 Management & Operations
- DL Erik Lorig, Stanford Sr. 3.12 Public Policy
- DL Tom McAndrew, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.58 Science, Technology & Society
- LB Mike Mohamed, California (2) Jr. 3.43 Business Administration
- LB Mike Nixon, Arizona State (3) Sr. 4.07 Political Science
- LB Will Powers, Stanford (2) Sr. 3.48 Classics
- DB Victor Aiyewa, Washington (2) Jr. 3.36 Sociology
- DB Cameron Collins, Oregon State (2) So. 3.37 Business
- DB Jay Matthews, Washington State RFr. 3.68 Undeclared
- DB Chima Nwachukwu, Washington State (2)Jr. 3.79 Political Science
- PK Nate Whitaker, Stanford Jr. 3.38 Engineering
- P Jeff Locke, UCLA RFr. 3.69 Undeclared
- RS Taylor Kavanaugh, Oregon State Sr. 3.28 Construction Engineering
(3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection
Only Oregon State and USC are replacing both defensive ends. Both, however, have strong traditions at the position, and the Trojans Everson Griffen has started five games and has recorded 11.5 career sacks. California, Arizona and Washington have both starters back. UCLA also does, but Reginald Stokes is out with a knee injury; he may have lost his starting job in any event.
Lots of good players and NFL draft picks here. The competition for first-team All-Pac-10 honors will be intense this fall.
California: The Bears welcome back both starters from their 3-4 defense, Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan, and both have All-Pac-10 potential.
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.
USC: Yeah, yeah, the Trojans must replace both starting ends. Yeah, yeah, Armond Armstead got hurt. But the ends have been outstanding in practices, with Griffen looking poised for a breakout and Wes Horton, Malik Jackson and Nick Perry also ready for star turns.
UCLA: Senior Korey Bosworth had 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in 2008, while sophomore Datone Jones looks like a budding star.
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.
Oregon: Will Tukuafu had 7.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last year. Kenny Rowe has looked good in camp
Arizona State: Dexter Davis had 11 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season. This ranking takes into account that James Brooks has been suspended for three games. Dean DeLeone, a junior college transfer, and sophomore Jamaar Jarrett will step in for Brooks.
Oregon State: Ben Terry and Kevin Frahm have looked good in practice and past performances by unproven Beaver ends through the years are reasons for optimism, but the lack of experience forces an observer to take a wait-and-see attitude.
Washington: Daniel Te'o Nesheim was second-team All-Pac-10 in 2008 after posting eight of the defense's 16 sacks in 2008. Senior Darrion Jones returns at the other end and youngsters Kalani Aldrich and Everrette Thompson have potential.
Washington State: The Cougars only had 16 sacks in 13 games last year. Kevin Kooyman had a good off-season in the weight room, but youngsters and newcomers, such as Travis Long and Casey Hamlett, will need to step up.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Names and positions are flying out of Jim Harbaugh's mouth, and it's impossible to keep up. For Stanford's head coach, the spring roster and depth chart is just a hint at what his football team might look like in 2009. Being one of his 16 returning starters doesn't mean a whole lot.
Start at the top. If the season began today, Harbaugh said, redshirt freshman Andrew Luck would be his quarterback, not senior Tavita Pritchard, who's started 19 games over the past two seasons.
"It's undeniable that [Luck] is really good -- better than we thought," Harbaugh said of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Houston native.
Then there's Harbaugh's new thing. He estimates 10 players might go both ways for him next fall.
That means 241-pound Owen Marecic will start at fullback and see significant action at middle linebacker.
Sophomore Michael Thomas is pushing to start at cornerback. But he's seeing some action at running back. So is Alex Debniak, an outside linebacker.
And so on.
"More so than old school, it could be the wave of the future," he said.
It's clear Harbaugh is willing to experiment, whether it's players going both ways, players switching positions or splitting spring practices into two separate minicamps.
It's the sort of thing that gets a coach noticed. Stanford fans might not have been won over by the rapidly improving product on the field -- see an average 2008 paid attendance of 34,258 in a 50,000-seat, recently renovated stadium -- but Harbaugh's name hit the coaching rumor mill during the offseason, most seriously with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.
Things got complicated. The source of some of those rumors was a Web site co-founded by Jack Bechta, Harbaugh's agent. Athletic director Bob Bowlsby had announced in December the school had come to terms with Harbaugh on a contract extension through 2014 that would pay a reported $1.2 million a year, but the contract was never signed.
Harbaugh released a statement on Jan. 13 saying he was "100 percent committed" to Stanford. On national signing day, stealing some thunder from Harbaugh's highly rated recruiting class, it was announced that the new contract had been put on hold due to the economic downturn.
The athletic department had projected a $5 million loss over the next three years, and staff cuts and the potential elimination of some teams had the school on edge, even though $1.2 million is a below average among Pac-10 football coaches, even more so when cost of living is factored in.
Harbaugh continues to profess his loyalty to the school and he insists the tabled contract isn't a problem.
"It just got to the point where it didn't feel right to talk about personal compensation with the way this economy is," he said. "People are getting laid off all over the country and here at the university. We trust it will happen when it happens.
"Bottom line. Cut to the chase of the whole thing. We're just too emotionally tied to this job. Physically, emotionally, tied to this job. We can't leave. We don't want to leave. We want to build something here 15 or 20 years out that's going to be a great program. That's the vision.
"The only part of that you can't do is swear to God to that. You say it to people, you look them in they eye, and they kind of look back at you and say, 'What's he really saying?' This is what we're really saying. We're going to be here a long time. We're fighting to keep this job. I want to be here 15 to 20 years."
No one can accuse Harbaugh of slacking off amid these distractions. That's really not in his nature. Consider his mantra, printed under his picture on the inside cover of the spring media guide: "We will attack this day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind."
Last year, Harbaugh decided his team needed to get tougher and develop a "blue collar" attitude. So he distributed blue shirts that looked like something a guy who fixed transmissions might wear.
Call it hokey, but Stanford not only ended up the No. 2 rushing team in the Pac-10 with just under 200 yards per game, it also developed a reputation as a team that would play aggressively until the final echo of the whistle. A very faint final echo in some cases.
And so Stanford, the most elite academic institution in the FBS, earned a reputation for physical, sometimes even dirty, football. White collars turn blue.
"I've got relatives in Kentucky who whittle -- blue collar is in our blood," Harbaugh said. "It is a privilege to be at Stanford... So it's about respecting the people who put us in this position. Somebody -- a parent, a grandparent -- somebody did the blue collar work to put us in this position. Somebody went to a job they did not enjoy going to but they went to it because they wanted to make a better life for their family."
Last year, it was about getting physical. This year, it's about doing things faster, and not just because Harbaugh has substantially upgraded the Cardinal's athleticism. So says the sign in the football office: "Stanford football is hustle. Constant hustle. Hustling all the time."
With so many starters returning from a team that went 5-7 and lost two games by a field goal and a third by a touchdown, the expectation is a bowl game in 2009. The Cardinal opens with two games on the road, at Washington State and Wake Forest, but then seven of the next 10 are at home, including visits from Notre Dame and Bay Area rival California on the season's final two weekends.
Stanford Stadium, which underwent a $100 million remodel before the 2006 season, only sold out for the first time last year when USC visited on Nov. 15. It's hard to believe that if the Cardinal pushes into the top half of the conference, those final two won't be played before full-houses.
"I don't know how you couldn't want to watch these guys play football," Harbaugh said.
Even if it's hard to figure out who's playing where.
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.