Pac-12: Will Powers

Arizona State's Nixon leads the smart guys

December, 2, 2009
Let us remember as the season winds down that the teams we follow with such passion are made up of college students.

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
(2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection

(3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection

Ranking the Pac-10 linebackers

September, 1, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Just about every Pac-10 team feels good about its linebackers.

Not an easy position to rank.
  1. UCLA: Senior Reggie Carter was second-team All-Pac-10, up-and-coming sophomore Akeem Ayers and senior Kyle Bosworth man the two outside positions, while sophomore backup Steve Sloan started nine games last year.
  2. Oregon State: Keaton Kristick was second-team All-Pac-10, and the two-headed monster on the weakside -- Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey -- is back. Sophomore David Pa'aluhi -- a mixed martial arts fighter -- is promising in the middle.
  3. USC: Yes, USC gets the benefit of the doubt, despite three new starters. By season's end don't be surprised if Chris Galippo, Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith look like the conference's best unit.
  4. Oregon: Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews return, and Eddie Pleasant steps in for Jerome Boyd on the outside. There's good depth and good speed here.
  5. Arizona State: The Sun Devils have a lot of experience as well as young talent, but the starting crew of Travis Goethel, Gerald Munns and Mike Nixon doesn't possess top-end speed. And sophomore Shelly Lyons is hurt and the NCAA Clearinghouse hasn't yet cleared spectacular true freshman Vontaze Burfict.
  6. California: On the outside, Mike Mohamed and Eddie Young have plenty of experience. Inside, Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt are promising but green. The depth is solid.
  7. Arizona: The Wildcats are fast with Sterling Lewis, Xavier Kelly and Vuna Tuihalamaka, and Lewis and Kelly have starting experience. There's a pretty fair drop-off to the second unit.
  8. Stanford: Clinton Snyder will lead a solid crew that includes Will Powers and Chike Amajoyi. The uncertain status of Alex Debniak (knee) hurts.
  9. Washington: The Huskies have a solid triumvirate. E.J. Savannah returns after missing all of 2008 due to a suspension. He'll play outside opposite Mason Foster with Donald Butler in the middle. Depth is an issue.
  10. Washington State: Andy Mattingly's return on the strongside from defensive end should help. Jason Stripling is a senior on the weakside, but isn't terribly experienced -- he missed almost all of 2008 with a shoulder injury. JC transfer Alex Hoffman-Ellis will man the middle. He redshirted last year. It would help if undersized but quick Louis Bland was 100 percent because he would add much-needed speed.

The hit men: Who's loaded at linebacker?

March, 11, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

And finally there were linebackers. Or a lack thereof.

All three first-team All-Pac-10 linebackers are gone. USC and California both lost three starting linebackers from elite units.

The only team that welcomes back an intact crew is Washington, which is a mixed blessing when a defense is among the worst in the nation the previous season.

That said: No one is completely rebuilding.

Each linebacker unit, other than USC, has at least one starter back, and the Trojans crew has seen significant playing time and is probably as talented as any in the Pac-10.

Great shape

  • UCLA: This is a position of strength for UCLA, with a lot of experience and athletic ability, led by middle linebacker and leading tackler Reggie Carter, who was second-team All-Pac-10 a year ago. Akeem Ayers and Kyle Bosworth man the two outside positions, while Steve Sloan started nine games last year.
  • Oregon State: Keaton Kristick, second-team All-Pac-10, leads another solid corps of Beavers linebackers from the strongside. Middle linebacker Bryant Cornell is gone, but he only ranked fifth on the team in tackles. Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey are back on the weakside, while David Pa'aluhi is slated to replace Cornell.

Good shape 

  • USC: Sure, all three starters are gone, but we just can't pull the trigger and downgrade the Trojans. The general feeling that Chris Galippo inside with Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan on the flanks will be as physically talented as any crew in the conference. Each saw significant action last year and recorded double-digit tackles, with Morgan leading the way with 24, including five for a loss.
  • Arizona State: Lost second-leading tackler Morris Wooten but the Sun Devils get everyone else back, including Gerald Munns, who left the team early last season due to personal issues. Moreover, young players such as Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee will push for playing time.
  • Arizona: Lost leading tackler and leader Ronnie Palmer in the middle, but Sterling Lewis (five starts) and Xavier Kelly (eight starts) are back and Vuna Tuihalamaka, who is slated to replace Palmer, saw a lot of action in 2008.
  • Stanford: Pat Maynor is gone, but Clinton Snyder leads an experienced crew that includes Chike Amajoyi, Will Powers and Nick Macaluso.
  • California: Lost three of its four starting linebackers, but both Eddie Young and Mike Mohamed started games last year, with Mohamed ranking third on the team in tackles.
  • Oregon: Jerome Boyd is gone but second-leading tackler Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews are back. Eddie Pleasant likely steps in for Boyd.
  • Washington: Because the Huskies defense was so bad last year, it's hard to rank them in good shape just because all three starters are back. But the addition of 2007 leading tackler E.J. Savannah, who was suspended by former coach Tyrone Willingham, makes this an area of least concern on a team with many concerns.

We'll see

  • Washington State: It might seem like we're picking on the Cougars by leaving them alone down here but here's the situation. WSU lost its best defensive player and leading tackler, middle linebacker Greg Trent, from the nation's worst rushing defense (248 yards per game). Undersized weakside linebacker Louis Bland, who had nine tackles for a loss in 2008, is back, and word is Andy Mattingly might move back to linebacker from end. If that happens, the position upgrades substantially.

Maynor questionable for Big Game

November, 18, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

Linebacker Pat Maynor, who leads Stanford with 6.4 tackles per game, might not play in the Big Game on Saturday at California, though it's hard to get a feel for what his status is from coach Jim Harbaugh.

"To be honest with you, I'm not really comfortable talking about the status of injuries," Harbaugh said. "Not required to. We'll see how it progresses out with treatment and this week of practice."

Harbaugh did describe the injury as "soft tissue on his knee that he is working to rehab. Some swelling." The San Francisco Chronicle said the injury was a "knee contusion."

The injury was bad enough that Maynor, who's logged 30 career starts, didn't play against USC. He was replaced in the lineup by junior Will Powers.