Pac-12: Washington

Arizona lands touted tight end

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
9:18
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Is a Rob Gronkowski sequel coming to Tucson?

Tight end Taylor McNamara (San Diego, Calif./Westview) has committed to Arizona, ESPN's Greg Biggins reports.

A member of the ESPNU150, McNamara had offers from USC, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Washington, UCLA, California, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Miami, Maryland and Kentucky.

So this is a big get for the Wildcats.

"There were a lot of reasons why I liked Arizona. I'll have a chance to play early there, I'm comfortable with the school and the direction the program is going in, it's close enough to home for my parents and coaches to come and watch me and I like the players on the team and trust the coaching staff there," he told Biggins.

McNamara, 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, is the Wildcats' third commitment.

Stanford lands A-list D-lineman

May, 2, 2011
5/02/11
9:57
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Stanford has landed a big-time commitment on its defensive line.

ESPNU 150 Watch List defensive tackle Aziz Shittu of Buhach HS (Atwater, Calif.), one of the top players on the West Coast, has become the Cardinal's third commitment for the 2012 class.

Shittu (6-foot-2, 275 pounds) picked Stanford over an array of other suitors, including Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Northwestern, Oregon State, Tennessee, UCLA, Southern California, Washington and Washington State.

ESPN's Craig Haubert said of Shittu, "Stanford picked-up a verbal from one of the top defensive line prospects in the state of California. Aziz Shittu is a big man who can be tough against the run, but also can help rush the passer. He is capable of firing out low and knocking blockers back to help collapse the pocket, but the big man can also attack blockers as well and use his weapons to work past them to apply pressure. Shittu looks to give effort and can be a disruptive defender and is a nice in-state pick-up for the Cardinal."

Quick hits: USC DT Spicer out 2-3 weeks

August, 13, 2009
8/13/09
11:06
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Handful of notes from Thursday's practices.

  • USC starting defensive tackle Averell Spicer will be out two to three weeks with a high ankle sprain, which could put in jeopardy his start on Sept. 5 vs. San Jose State. While junior Derek Simmons is listed behind him on the depth chart, 330-pound JC transfer Hebron Fangupo has been impressive in camp thus far.
  • Also at USC, tight end Blake Ayles will undergo further testing for an irregular heartbeat, though Ayles told the Orange County Register he expects to practice Friday. Meanwhile, No. 1 cornerback Shareece Wright's bruised knee swelled up and may require an MRI.
  • At Washington, coach Steve Sarkisian said cornerback Dominique Gaisie is unlikely to be academically cleared. That means three of the Huskies' six JC transfers -- Johnny Tivao and Daniel Mafoe are the other two -- won't make it into school.
  • Stanford linebacker Clinton Snyder suffered a "stinger" at practice, while guard Chris Marinelli continues to sit out with a shoulder problem.
  • At Washington State, DT Bernard Wolfgramm and LB Myron Beck, who are both coming back from back surgery, sat out.

Pac-10 lunch links: Another Neuheisel plays QB

August, 5, 2009
8/05/09
2:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Then one fine mornin' she puts on a New York station. You know her life was saved by Rock 'n' Roll.

Pac-10 preseason rankings (guess who's No. 1!)

July, 11, 2008
7/11/08
7:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

1. USC: Again as talented as anyone and a national title contender. While a seventh consecutive conference title feels like almost a sure thing, BCS title hopes hang on quarterback Mark Sanchez and a talented but inconsistent and/or inexperienced offense finding its mojo.

2. Oregon: Ducks aren't rebuilding, particularly if sophomore quarterback Nate Costa lives up to his hype and the defense finds some hole-plugging presences in the front seven. There's a lot of speed and skill in Eugene, and the Ducks secondary rivals USC for the best unit in the nation.

3. Arizona State: Schedule is a lot tougher than '07, see a visit from Georgia on Sept. 20. But if the offensive line comes through -- albeit a big if -- there really aren't many holes on this team. And a veteran quarterback, such as Rudy Carpenter, goes a long way in the Pac-10.

4. California: Will there be a hangover from 2007's second-half meltdown? Or will the Bears bounce back and challenge for the Pac-10 crown like they appeared to be doing until Oct. 13 last fall? The issue might not be emotional, though. It might be inexperience and uncertainty at quarterback.

5. Arizona: Some of us (who, me?) have been predicting an Arizona turnaround for a few years now. But now we mean it. Promise. The schedule and offensive firepower, led by veteran QB Willie Tuitama, will get 'Cats to a bowl.

6. Oregon State: It's tempting to rank the Beavers higher because they almost always exceed expectation, a fact their fans quite reasonably relish. But OSU is rebuilding its defensive front seven and seems unsettled at quarterback. That said: There's plenty of skill on offense and the secondary is outstanding, so the Beavers could again take a bite out of prognosticators.

7. Washington: The Huskies might well be much improved this season as quarterback Jake Locker, Tim Tebow West Coast, becomes a bona fide star, but the schedule and huge questions on defense make it hard to imagine a winning record. And a without a winning record, coach Tyrone Willingham might lose his job.

8. UCLA: The schedule is brutal (Tennessee, BYU and Fresno State are the nonconference games). The offensive line may be brutalized. New coach Rick Neuheisel didn't inherit much talent, and that figures to show on the field, no matter how good the coaching staff is.

9. Stanford: Those of us who suspect Jim Harbaugh might turn out to be an outstanding coach will be tempted to rate Stanford higher. And 16 starters back from team that mostly played inspired football last season even gives some heft to that hunch. But, I just couldn't pull the trigger on a higher slot.

10. Washington State: New coach Paul Wulff has made a strong first impression in Pullman, but he inherited a thin roster and will be breaking in a new quarterback. If the Cougs get lucky with injuries, they might escape the conference cellar, but young teams don't often do that.

While you were on vacation... Washington

July, 10, 2008
7/10/08
8:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


In a sentence:

  • Coach Tyrone Willingham probably needs to post a winning record to keep his job, and dual-threat quarterback Jake Locker might not be enough to get him there with the lack of talent and experience on defense and a brutal schedule.

The big question:

  • Is it a good thing or a bad thing for new coordinator Ed Donatell that only six starters are back on defense considering the Huskies a year ago recorded the worst numbers in program history? 

Quick hit news:

  • Huskies center Juan Garcia told the Seattle Times this week that he's ahead of schedule rehabilitating his foot, which he injured during spring practices. Initial reports were that he would miss the 2008 season. Said Garcia to the Times: "We were looking at [returning] at mid-season but now we're looking at two games into the season, so we'll see what happens.'" 
  • Junior linebacker E.J. Savannah, the Huskies leading tackler from a year ago, broke his arm in June while arm wrestling and will be out for two to three months.
  • Touted freshman defensive tackle Craig Noble won't report on time because he hasn't passed the California High School Exit Exam. The 285-pound Noble is among a strong group of incoming freshman expected to contribute this fall.
  • Running back J.R. Hasty, once a touted recruit, and cornerback Jordan Murchinson didn't get their scholarships renewed, which amounts to being kicked off the team. Hasty never broke through after a decorated career at Bellevue High School, while Murchinson, a JC transfer, ran into some off-field issues.

Huskies Bad Blood Debate: UW vs. ND or UW vs. UCLA?

July, 10, 2008
7/10/08
4:52
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Every person has his or her own peculiar way of hating something or harboring profoundly bitter feelings. College football fans are no different. Only they take it to a stratospheric level -- see Michigan and Ohio State and Auburn and Alabama.

I thought of this while reading SI.com's Stewart Mandel's opinion on whether UCLA vs. Washington or Notre Dame vs. Washington will evoke more bitterness this year.

Wrote Mandel:

There's no contest on that one. While I'm sure Rick Neuheisel's return to U-Dub will generate its share of interest in Seattle, any bad blood Washington fans still hold regarding their former coach can't hold a candle to the resentment Notre Dame fans still feel toward Washington's current coach. Tyrone Willingham had the audacity to not only go a mere 21-15 during his tenure in South Bend but (supposedly) caused the Irish's nightmare season three years after his departure with his (supposedly) woeful recruiting.

Certainly a valid opinion. Anytime I wrote a column during my tenure at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer saying something even remotely positive about Willingham, I'd get bombarded by emails from Notre Dame fans citing Willingham's shortcomings.

It would gall Notre Dame fans to watch Willingham, four seasons after he was controversially fired in South Bend, beat the Irish and the coach formerly known as a genius, Charlie Weis.

But while Irish fans are still peeved at what many view as the program's unfair treatment by the national media when Willingham was terminated after just three seasons, most don't hate Willingham. In a phrase, their feelings can be summed up as: Good person, bad coach, worse recruiter.

And, of course, Willingham will be playing at home, even if some UW boosters wish he'd pack his bag and move out.

Moreover, Washington fans won't fling too much bile at the Irish or their coach -- at least not any more than a visitor typically gets at Husky Stadium. For increasingly frustrated UW fans, the Oct. 25 game will just be a marker of failure or improvement during the Willingham-UW Era.

Now when Neuheisel comes to town. Golly.

It will be a Hate-a-palooza.

Notre Dame fans are defensive about Willingham. They blame him for the sorry state of their program. But their feelings fall short of hate.

A majority of Huskies fans simply hate Neuheisel. They blame him for everything bad that's happened to their once-elite program. They don't just see him as a bad coach and an overrated recruiter. They think he's a dishonest slickster con man who was always looking for his next big gig. And they quickly muster further ill will for folks who try to defend him (who me?).

Neuheisel will hear catcalls all afternoon on Nov. 15. And he'll probably want to borrow one of his player's helmets as he paces the sidelines.

Moreover, UCLA fans on hand -- and back in LA -- figure to be pretty defensive about their alum and new coach getting dumped on, particularly as Neuheisel's previous transgressions are endlessly regurgitated across the media landscape. UCLA fans tend to be mellow, but they also are desperate to believe Neuheisel will shortly transform the program into a contender that can again go nose-to-nose with their hated rival across town at Heritage Hall.

Bruins fans will come with the claws out.

And don't believe the players for both teams won't talk about the off-field issues. The game should be fairly even -- both will finish in the bottom half of the Pac-10 -- but if one or the other plays with more fire, that will be duly noted as a statement about their coach.

And if Neuheisel steals one in Husky Stadium? Golly.

They'll have to invent a new word to describe how bitter the Husky Nation will feel.

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