Pac-12: Trevor Theriot
The academic honor is for college football players from all divisions who maintained a 3.2 GPA or better. A total of 620 players from 246 schools qualified for membership in the society's fourth year, an 80 percent increase from the inaugural class in 2007.
You can read the complete list of players here.
The Pac-10 players who earned academic honors are:
Mike Nixon, Arizona State
Taylor Kavanaugh, Oregon State
Gregg Peat, Oregon State
Chris Gronkowski, Arizona
Mark Boskovich, California
Logan Paulsen, UCLA
Trevor Theriot, UCLA
Jeff Byers, USC
Jordan Congdon, USC
Kenny Alfred, Washington State
Joe Eppele, Washington State
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
What's our preseason projection for the Pac-10? Probably not many shocks here. This mirrors my vote in the Pac-10 media poll.
1. USC: The Trojans are No. 1 until somebody knocks them off the mountain. With nine starters back on offense, including what might be the nation's best offensive line, there will be plenty of help for the new quarterback. And do you really think USC's defense won't be elite again in 2009? Come on.
2. California: The Bears have 17 starters back from a team that went 9-4 in 2009, including a Heisman Trophy candidate in running back Jahvid Best. The secondary will be one of the nation's best and the defensive line is as good as any in the Pac-10. Replacing three of four linebackers doesn't seem to be causing much stress in Berkeley. The only issue is how much the passing game improves. If it improves significantly, this is a potential BCS bowl team.
3. Oregon: Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LeGarrette Blount give the Ducks a strong one-two punch on offense and an athletic corps of linebackers and cornerback Walter Thurmond and end Will Tukuafu will lead the defense. Both lines are questions that, if answered, could push the Ducks to the top of the conference.
4. Oregon State: Rebuild or reload? The Beavers have transitioned to the latter category, which is why most are overlooking a defense that needs to replace eight starters, including the entire secondary, and an offensive line that must replace three first-rate starters. There are two veteran quarterbacks in Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield and the explosive Rodgers brothers -- James and Jacquizz -- leading the offense, while tackle Stephen Paea and linebacker Keaton Kristick lead the defense.
5. Arizona: Losing three offensive mainstays -- quarterback Willie Tuitama, receiver Mike Thomas and tackle Eben Britton --- hurts, but the Wildcats should be even better on defense in 2009, and the general feeling is the offense will be solid whether Matt Scott or Nick Foles wins the job. For one, tight end Rob Gronkowski is the best target in the Pac-10.
6. Stanford: The Cardinal have lots of guys back -- 17 -- from a team that fell just short of bowl eligibility in 2008. They also have seven home games after playing just five a year ago. The key is passing -- on offense and defense. Redshirt freshman Andrew Luck is supposed to be the answer for the offense, while an injection of young talent should improve the athleticism in the secondary.
7. UCLA: The Bruins have two big questions: quarterback and offensive line. The defense should be good, led by tackle Brian Price, linebacker Reggie Carter and cornerback Alterraun Verner -- all three are All-American candidates -- but it won't matter if the running game remains anemic. One big reasons for optimism: five offensive players are again available who would have started last year but were out for various reasons back: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and tackle Sean Sheller.
8. Arizona State: Not unlike UCLA, Arizona State has questions at quarterback and on the offensive line while the defense looks solid. Senior Danny Sullivan played well in the spring and looks to be the favorite at quarterback, while new faces could key dramatic improvement on the offensive line. If things fall into place, the Sun Devils could win eight or nine games, but it's hard to project that until the offensive line proves itself.
9. Washington: The good news is the Huskies could be the most-improved team in the conference. Of course, it's hard to regress from an 0-12 season. Moreover, Washington could play much better and still have little to show for it because the nonconfernce schedule features LSU and Notre Dame. Still, the return of 18 starters, as well as quarterback Jake Locker and linebacker E.J. Savannah, suggests the Huskies won't be anyone's patsy this fall.
10. Washington State: The biggest hope for the Cougars lies in a potentially improved running game that could keep a defense that is thin on talent on all three levels off the field. That didn't happen last year -- see an offense that ranked 118th in the country that surrendered 38 turnovers, tied for most in the nation. But there's experience on the offensive line and James Montgomery and Dwight Tardy give the Cougars a pair of solid backs. If either Marshall Lobbestael or Kevin Lopina provides adequate quarterback play, Washington State might surprise some folks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
The seventh of 10 quick updates on offseason Pac-10 goings on.
UCLA in a sentence
- Year Two of the Rick Neuheisel Era comes on the heels of an outstanding recruiting haul in February and features 17 returning starters and legitimate hope for a push into the top-half of Pac-10 standings and a bowl berth.
The big issue
- The Bruins, even with guru Norm Chow calling the shots, were terrible on offense in 2008, and struggles at quarterback and along the offensive front will be nagging concerns until youthful players break through.
Quick hit news
- Six players will not return for various reasons -- safety E.J. Woods, quarterback Chris Forcier, offensive lineman Sonny Tevaga, receiver Dominique Johnson and running backs Raymond Carter and Aundre Dean.
- Besides returning starters, the Bruins have five players again available who would have started last year but were out for various reasons back: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and offensive tackle Sean Sheller.
- Joseph Fauria, 6-7, 260-pound tight end, transfer from Notre Dame to UCLA. He will be eligible to play in 2010.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Results of the annual Pac-10 media poll will be announced on July 30, but here's a guess at how most ballots will look:
1. USC; 2. California; 3. Oregon; 4. Oregon State... 9. Washington; 10. Washington State
And from five to eight all heck breaks loose.
Now, some -- such as Phil Steele -- think Oregon will tumble. Some have issues with Oregon State. And some think Washington will be a surprise team.
But a plurality figures to vote these six teams as they appear above and then throw the other four into the air and leave it to the college football spirits to decide.
So where do you rank Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and UCLA?
I wouldn't be completely shocked if any of those four actually broke into the top four. I also wouldn't be astonished if any finished ninth.
I think I've written at various times that all four should end up bowl-eligible, even though eight conference teams with a .500 record or better is difficult to pencil out. (It did, however, happen in 2006 -- and Washington even finished 5-7).
I changed my own 5-8 a number of times. I won't tell you how I voted yet. My boss threatened to tear off my arm and beat me with it if I did. He's done it before so I believed him.
Why the difficulty?
For one, each of the Unfixed Four will break in a new quarterback, though Stanford and UCLA both have their starters back from 2008.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Ninth in a series of Pac-10 thoughts that might come from unusual angles.
Don't be surprised if ... UCLA's offense is much better in 2009.
OK, this one doesn't exactly come out of left field.
There is one obvious and overwhelming reason that this one is a near-certainty: UCLA's offense will be hard-pressed to be any worse than it was in 2008.
The Bruins ranked 109th or worse in the nation in five major statistical categories. The prime problems were turnovers (29) and poor offensive line play (83 yards per game rushing; 35 sacks surrendered).
The reason to project at least a modest turnaround are plentiful, though:
- No way a Norm Chow offense lays another egg like this one. In the quarter-century-plus he's been coaching offenses, he's never had one as bad as 2008.
- The offense welcomes back nine starters, though redshirt freshman Kevin Prince has unseated Kevin Craft at quarterback.
- Five players who would have started last year but were unavailable for various reasons -- injuries, suspension, transfer rules, etc. -- will be good to go in 2009: running back Christian Ramirez, tight end Logan Paulsen, center Kai Maiava, fullback Trevor Theriot and offensive tackle Sean Sheller.
- That beleaguered offensive line not only welcomes back Sheller, it also gets six guys back who started at least five games last fall. What's more, incoming freshmen Stan Hasiak and Xavier Su'a-filo, as well as JC transfer Eddie Williams, represent one of the nation's best recruiting hauls of O-linemen.
A modestly improved offense -- paired with an above-average defense -- should be good enough to get to 6-6 and bowl eligible. And if things fall into place ... well, at least one highly respected college football pundit projects a top-25 finish, which requires eight or nine wins.
The key for pushing into the top-half of the Pac-10 likely hinges on the Bruins producing a respectable running game. Chow would probably say "Deal!" on 150 yards per game.
That rushing threat not only would take the pressure off Prince, it would burn some clock and allow the Bruins' defense to rest (Chow did a commendable job of burning the clock and trying to shorten games last year, as the Bruins' average time of possession was 30:07 per game).
While it would be premature to project Chow's offense making a dramatic transformation, the entirely realistic goal of becoming merely mediocre probably will be enough to get the Bruins' win-loss ledger back into the black.