Pac-12: Keith Pankey

Pac-10 lunch links

November, 12, 2010
11/12/10
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Pac-10 players of the week

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
3:45
PM ET
Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl, Arizona State defensive end Junior Onyeali and Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer have been named Pac-10 players of the week.

Maehl, a senior from Paradise, Calif., caught eight passes for a career-best 145 yards and three touchdowns in the Ducks' 53-32 win at USC. Each of his three touchdowns came at times Oregon was trailing and gave the Ducks the lead. Over the past three games, he’s collected 26 receptions for 371 yards. Maehl has 148 career receptions and needs 14 more to reach the top five on Oregon’s all-time list.

Onyeali, a freshman from Denver, Colo., made his third career start in the 42-0 shutout of Washington State. He collected four tackles for a loss, including a career-high three sacks. He also forced two fumbles. The Sun Devils limited Washington State to 264 yards of total offense.

Fischer, a sophomore from Oro Valley, Ariz., helped preserve a Wildcat lead with his special-teams play in the second half of Arizona’s 29-21 victory at UCLA. The Bruins, who had just cut a 12-point deficit down to five points, forced Arizona to punt from its own 27-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Wildcats called for a fake punt on fourth-and-3, which Fischer turned into a 29-yard gain to maintain possession and ultimately flip the field position on the Bruins. After that, UCLA started each of its final two drives from inside its own 30-yard line. The Bruins netted minus-6 yards of offense on those two possession. On the Wildcats kickoff coverage teams, he recorded two tackles in the second half. Each of Fischer’s kickoff coverage tackles kept the Bruins inside their own 30-yard line.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterback Matt Scott of Arizona, quarterback Steven Threet of Arizona State, running back Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State, quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford and wide receiver Randall Carroll of UCLA. Also nominated on defense were defensive end Brooks Reed of Arizona, linebacker Spencer Paysinger of Oregon, linebacker Keith Pankey of Oregon State, linebacker Chase Thomas of Stanford and safety Tony Dye of UCLA. Also nominated on special teams were punter Trevor Hankins of Arizona State, linebacker Bosko Lokombo of Oregon, kicker Nate Whitaker of Stanford and punter Jeff Locke of UCLA.

Pac-10 lunch links: Cal gets another shot at the 'pistol'

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
2:33
PM ET
He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage.

Pac-10 lunch links: ASU QB Osweiler pulls ahead?

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
2:40
PM ET
I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

Preseason position reviews: linebacker

August, 4, 2010
8/04/10
12:40
PM ET
Linebacker is not an easy position to rate in the Pac-10. It's fair to say that only Oregon is worry-free at the position.

There are plenty of good individual players: Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict, California's Mike Mohamed and UCLA's Akeem Ayers are getting preseason All-American attention and Washington's Mason Foster looks primed for a breakout. But other than the Ducks, every team gives you reason to pause over the depth chart.

So what's the pecking order?

Great shape

  • Oregon: The Ducks are fast and deep and experienced. Casey Matthews was second-team All-Pac-10, while Spencer Paysinger was his equal in production. Josh Kaddu and Boseko Lokombo are impressive enough that returning starter Eddie Pleasant moved to rover. And sophomore Michael Clay might end up the best of the lot by season's end.
  • USC: Everyone read all about the Trojans problems at LB during spring practices, but that was mostly about a lack of depth. The bottom line is there are three returning starters from the Pac-10's No. 1 scoring defense, and sophomore Devon Kennard may be good enough to beat out Chris Galippo in the middle.
Good shape
    [+] EnlargeVontaze Burfict
    Matt Kartozian/US PresswireVontaze Burfict had 61 tackles and two sacks last season.

  • Arizona State: Burfict may be the best middle LB in the conference, and Brandon Magee and Shelly Lyons saw plenty of action as backups for a unit that ranked No. 1 in the conference in total defense. Still, there's reason to pause over the loss of Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel, two heady, productive players.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal switched to a 3-4 defense, and the lineup of LBs is impressive in terms of potential. Sophomore Shayne Skov is a budding star and Owen Marecic is a beast, though this will be his first season as a full-time LB after playing FB last year. It's possible Chase Thomas and Thomas Keiser will be better OLBs than DEs. But we'll have to see.
  • California: Mohamed led the Pac-10 in tackles last year and, though two starters must be replaced, there's talent and experience on the depth chart, particularly if Mychal Kendricks breaks through. The Bears ranked second in the conference in run defense in 2009.
  • UCLA: The Bruins are breaking in two new starters next to Ayers, though MLB Steve Sloan started nine games in 2008. But Ayers may end up the conference's defensive Player of the Year, so he makes up for a lot of the issues here.
  • Washington: Mason Foster is as good a LB as any in the conference, and Cort Dennison is solid in the middle. But who starts on the strong side is one of the Huskies' biggest preseason questions.
  • Oregon State: The Beavers are replacing their two best linebackers: Keaton Kristick and David Pa'aluhi. Keith Pankey and Dwight Roberson both have significant experience platooning on the outside, though it remains to be seen how full-speed Pankey is after tearing his Achilles during the offseason. Tony Wilson and Rueben Robinson are competing in the middle.
We'll see

  • Washington State: Though the Cougs are replacing two starters, they have plenty of experience. The problem is the run defense has been terrible the past two years.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats, you might have heard, are replacing all three starters. Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo are JC transfers who have never played a down in the Pac-10. Sophomore Jake Fischer is hardly a veteran. Things could turn out fine, but as the title says, "We'll see."

Pac-10 lunch links: Jeremiah Masoli talks

July, 30, 2010
7/30/10
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday.

Opening the mailbag: Neuheisel vs. Sark discipline

July, 23, 2010
7/23/10
6:48
PM ET
Happy Friday.

You can follow me on Twitter.

To the notes.

Tristan from New York writes: As a UCLA fan, I was impressed with Rick Neuheisel's decision to suspend the three freshmen who were accused of theft. They were all given a chance to rejoin the team and re-enroll at UCLA if they improved their behavior. Obviously Josh Shirley just committed to Washington, but how does this bode for Coach Sark and Washington? Seems like a questionable move.

Ted Miller: It means Neuheisel is a disciplinarian and Steve Sarkisian is slack! Kidding.

Coaches walk a tightrope on discipline. Go too harsh and you lose good players and maybe your locker room. Go too lenient and you cultivate a culture of limit-pushing where players act without fear of substantive penalty.

Neuheisel has a reputation -- fair or unfair -- as being a "player's coach" who is slack on discipline. The early impression of Sarkisian is he doesn't take a lot of crap. So the booting by UCLA and salvaging by Washington runs counter to the present impression.

But you know what? Coaches are paid to win. Neuheisel may have felt he needed to make a statement about discipline, so he may have helped his program, in the long run, by taking a notable hard line. Sarkisian really, really needs an outside linebacker. He probably thinks rolling the dice on Shirley will help him win.

You'd hope that Shirley is embarrassed about being caught allegedly stealing a purse and has learned his lesson. So, as a firm believer in second chances, I say good for UCLA and good for Washington.


Jeremy from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: With all the information coming out about agents, I saw [a commentator] say that the players should be paid $5000 a year. I used to be in favor of paying players, but then I realized that even just $5000 a year means universities paying out an extra $425000 a year. That probably means the elimination of at least one other men's team because of Title IX (travel and per diem allowance) and most athletic departments are operating in the red. I don't think a lot of big name universities (like Stanford) would be on board for this and I understand why. Do you think they could stop as low as $5000 (like that's going to stop future Reggies) or that it is even reasonable?

Ted Miller: You can't pay football players because you'd then have to pay all athletes -- at least at public institutions -- per Title IX.

Moreover, college athletes do get paid: They get a college scholarship, room and board and a stipend. When people say college athletes aren't paid, they either don't know what they are talking about or are being disingenuous. College athletes get paid about -- conservatively -- $30,000 to $60,000 a year (depending on where they play) even if they never set a foot on the field over five years.

How much did you get paid when you were 18 to 22 years old? Any parents of college-aged children out there think a full-ride scholarship sounds financially super-awesome?

I know, I know: College football generates millions -- heck, billions -- and everybody is getting rich but the athletes.

Know what really generates billions? The jerseys.


Old Dame from Portland writes: Do you see Oregon State's success hinging on the defense? Last year in losses they gave up 28, 37, 42, 37, and 44 points and on average 400 yards. The only game you could argue the offense was an issue was against Cinci. (don't give me the wind bowl and it's negative yardage punts). With what they have coming back, I don't see the offense being an issue again this year. In past years OSU had near tops in the conference defense but it disappeared last year.

Ted Miller: Well, we'll have to wait and see at quarterback. Recall that Oregon State is replacing the first-team All Pac-10 QB -- Sean Canfield -- with a sophomore who has yet to play a meaningful snap. Ryan Katz has looked great in practice, but you just don't know how he will do when the spotlight shines down on him and he's running from 250-pound ends.

But I hear you on the defense. I haven't had my annual summer chat with defensive coordinator Mark Banker yet, but I'd imagine some of last year's game tape gives him indigestion. The Beavers defense has been near the top of the Pac-10 most years under Banker but last year it ranked sixth in scoring (25 ppg) and sixth in total yards (350 ypg). While a downturn was not completely unexpected -- see the linked Q&A -- what was unexpected was how few big plays the Beavers were able to generate in 2009.

They recorded just 17 sacks, which ranked ninth in the conference, and forced 16 turnovers, the fewest in the conference. For a defense that thrives on pressure, those are worrisome numbers.

At the end of the 2009 season, Oregon State's depth chart was encouraging: Nine starters were scheduled to return, topped by perhaps the conference's best defensive tackle in Stephen Paea. But then two starters with promising upsides quit: end Matt LaGrone and middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi. And outside linebacker Keith Pankey tore his Achilles (he's expected to be ready for fall camp; we'll see). More to worry about.

To me, the guy who holds the key in 2010 is end Gabe Miller. He's a great athlete who appears poised for a breakthrough as a pass rusher. With Paea collapsing pockets from the inside, and Miller hurling himself at the QB from the outside, the Beavers should generate more pressure -- so more sacks and more forced turnovers.

Oregon State is going to be pretty good next year. The difference between seven or eight wins and nine or 10 wins is mostly going to be about solid QB play and more big plays on defense.


Matthew from Corvallis writes: ATTENTION TED MILLERATTENTION TED MILLER I have started to notice that you don't seem to think that Oregon State is Oregon's arch nemesis (Please see Oregon's best case - worst case, specifically worst case where Locker wins the Heisman).Just so you know, since Washington hasn't been relevant for quite some time. Also, the Oregon State - Oregon rivalry is BIGGER than Ohio State and Michigan.Please adjust Oregon's worst case scenario, so that Rodgers wins the Heisman, because that really would be the worst thing to happen to UO.Thanks,Beaver Nation P.S. I better see this e-mail on the mailbag blog, or else I'll be forced to switch to Buker's blog, and nobody wants that.

Ted Miller: Have you been to an Ohio State-Michigan game? Yeah, well, me neither. But I hear it's super-cool.

Anyway perhaps that's a future poll question for Oregon fans: Whom do you hate more, the Huskies or Beavers? (I still think the Ducks hate the Huskies more but maybe I'm wrong).

As for Buker's blog, I'd be careful. That guy is all into a mind control and stuff like that. Just look at his picture.

Best case-worst case: Oregon State

July, 21, 2010
7/21/10
12:58
PM ET
Eighth in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-10 teams, starting at the bottom and working up from my vote in the Pac-10 media poll.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction.

Up next: Oregon State

Best case

TCU coach Gary Patterson looks at the scoreboard and shakes his head.

"We were lucky to win this one," he says. "Very lucky. That's a very good team and they pushed us around."

Nonetheless, a 24-23 loss doesn't offer Oregon State much consolation, even if it comes against the nation's No. 7 team. The Beavers outgain the Horned Frogs 435 yards to 305, but three turnovers -- two off tipped passes in TCU territory -- and a missed extra point explain the final tally. Jacquizz Rodgers' 135 yards rushing and 65 yards receiving and two TDs are only a footnote.

After a week off, the Beavers take out their frustration on overmatched Louisville. QB Ryan Katz throws two TD passes-- one to each Rodgers brother -- and Jacquizz rushes for 188 yards.

Up next: a visit to No.3 Boise State.

"We have a chance to do something special here and really get everything back from that tough loss to TCU," coach Mike Riley says.

That's exactly what the Beavers do. With the Broncos forced to double-team defensive tackle Stephen Paea inside, end Gabe Miller sacks Kellen Moore three times. The Broncos are unable to run the ball consistently, and the constant pressure gets to Moore, who's uncharacteristically off-target. Meanwhile, Katz plays a mistake-free game, distributing the ball to the Rodgers brothers and breaking off a handful of backbreaking first-down scrambles.

"[The Rodgers brothers] are the two most dangerous players in college football," Katz says afterwards "They make it easy for me. Jacquizz should win the Heisman, but what they really should do is give it to both of them."

What ensues is a six-game winning streak. The Beavers, at 8-1, ascend to No. 6 in the national rankings. With unbeaten, third-ranked USC coming to town, ESPN's "College GameDay" makes its first trip to Corvallis.

"I know Jacquizz Rodgers is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at this point," GameDay's Chris Fowler says. "But isn't the bigger story that they may be the best brothers combination on the same team in college football history?"

Replies Lee Corso, "It probably won't happen, but wouldn't it be neat if they both were invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony?"

The Trojans jump ahead 14-0 in the first half, with Matt Barkley connecting on two long TD passes to Ronald Johnson and the defense bottling up the Rodgers brothers until Jacquizz slips away for a 56-yard scoring run just before the break. A 23-yard toss from Katz to James Rodgers ties the score in the third, but the Trojans retake the lead early in the fourth when Allen Bradford bursts in from 2-yards out.

Heisman Trophy winners typically produce a signature highlight. Jacquizz Rodgers already has potential candidates for that, but none more spectacular than the screen pass he transforms into a 62-yard, game-tying score with 1:10 left.

The only problem is Johnson silences the euphoric Reser Stadium crowd with a 65-yard kick off return to the Beavers 35-yard line. Three plays later, with five seconds left, Jacob Harfman boots the game-winner from 44 yards.

"This was a tough one," Riley says. "But we've still got a lot to play for. We've got to get re-focused quickly because if we don't Stanford is going to kick our butts."

The Rose Bowl is still up for grabs: The Beavers, Stanford and Oregon only have suffered one conference defeat. After the Beavers dispatch the Cardinal, 30-28, everyone knows the stakes: It's a Civil War for the Roses II.

Riley gathers his players in the locker room.

"Oregon State hasn't been to a Rose Bowl since 1965," he says. "That's going on 46 years. Every person in this stadium knows what's at stake. You carry the hopes of everyone who wears black and orange. Tonight you have an opportunity to make a permanent mark, to be remembered and to create a memory that you will be able to return to fondly for the rest of your lives. But that team over there in that other locker room has an advantage over you. They think they are better than you. They carry that confidence. It's a smirk, isn't it? They are smirking at us in our house. I want you to see that smirk in your mind's eye right now. Hold on to that. If at any moment tonight you start to doubt or start to falter, think of that smirk. Now let's go knock it off their faces."

Speeches don't win football games, though. The game plays out much like the 2009 version. With two minutes left, Oregon leads 27-23 and faces a fourth-and-3 from the Beavers' 33-yard line. Ducks coach Chip Kelly opts to go for it. Quarterback Nate Costa drops back and, under pressure from Paea, shovels the ball to LaMichael James, who breaks to his right toward the sideline. One yard. Two yards. But at the marker he meets safety Lance Mitchell, who blasts James backward inches short of the first down.

Fumble. Keith Pankey recovers at the 50.

On first down, Riley shocks everyone by running a draw play to Rodgers, who bounces outside and is forced out of bounds at the 7-yard line. With just under a minute left, Rodgers gains four yards up the middle. The Beavers use their final timeout. Rodgers goes for two. The Beavers hustle to the line. 11, 10, 9 goes the clock.

Rodgers. Touchdown. Rose Bowl. Pandemonium in Reser Stadium.

With his brother at his side, Rodgers wins the Heisman Trophy. And the Beavers beat Iowa 28-24 in the Rose Bowl and finish 11-2 and ranked fourth.

Worst case

A brutal nonconference schedule sometimes offers opportunity. But playing a pair of top-10 teams ultimately ends up meaning Oregon State is 1-2 heading into conference play.

The Beavers bounce back to beat Arizona State at home, but after consecutive road losses to Arizona and Washington, it becomes clear that sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz is a different player on the road, which is to be expected with a young, first-year starter. Teams crowd the line of scrimmage to stop Jacquizz Rodgers, run bracket coverages on James Rodgers and dare the offense to use other weapons to win. It can't, at least not consistently.

Still, after beating California and Washington State at home and UCLA on the road, the Beavers sit at 5-4 overall and are again in good position to play in a quality bowl game.

But the back-loaded schedule is brutal. USC whips the Beavers 30-17. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck throws four TD passes in a 35-24 win.

A final opportunity for redemption: Oregon and Stanford are tied atop the Pac-10 (USC also has one loss but is ineligible for the postseason). If the Beavers beat Oregon in the Civil War, it will knock the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl.

But LaMichael James, the nation's leading rusher, outshines Jacquizz Rodgers, rushing for 193 yards and three TDs in the Ducks' blowout, 35-17 win.

"I don't get into that comparing myself to Rodgers -- I leave that to the media and fans," James says afterward. "But you guys did see the game, right?"

James wins the Heisman Trophy and the Ducks roll over Ohio State 27-14 in the Rose Bowl.

Beavers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf is hired as the head coach at Nevada, while defensive coordinator Mark Banker is hired by Pete Carroll to run the Seattle Seahawks' defense.

Jacquizz Rodgers opts to leave a year early and join his brother in the NFL draft.

A look back at 2007 recruiting

July, 21, 2010
7/21/10
9:00
AM ET
The 2007 recruiting class members are either seniors or redshirt juniors this fall, so they should be the backbones of most Pac-10 team's starting lineups.

Therefore, it seems like a reasonable moment to look back and review some recruiting hits and misses. (And, yes, we did this last summer with the 2006 class, which you can review here -- Ducks fans should get a kick out of it).

As for the 2007 rankings, USC ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. Oregon, at No. 23, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25.

Scout.com ranked USC No. 2 in the nation, Oregon ninth, and California 12th. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Washington (29th in nation), UCLA (36th), Arizona State (38), Oregon State (40), Stanford (43), Arizona (49) and Washington State (54).

Here's an overview.

Arizona

Class: 17

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (DE Apaiata Tuihalamaka, TE Rob Gronkowski)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (RB Nic Grigsby, CB Trevin Wade, WR William Wright, K Alex Zendejas)

Misses: Tuihalamaka, QB Bryson Beirne,

Verdict: Obviously, the biggest catch of this class, Gronkowski, is gone. Otherwise, a lot of these guys qualify for the "where are they now?" file.

Arizona State

Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (C Garth Gerhart, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, OG Matt Hustad)

Misses: OL Po'u Palelei, LB Oliver Aaron

Verdict: This is a decent class, particularly when you factor in the contribution of the since-departed JC signees, such as LB Morris Wooten and DE Luis Vasquez. And there are several non-starters who will contribute this year.

California

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (OT Matt Summers-Gavin, P Bryan Anger, LB D.J. Holt, WR Alex Lagemann, OT Mitchell Schwartz, S Sean Cattouse, S Chris Conte, OG Justin Cheadle, DE Cameron Jordan, RB Shane Vereen).

Misses: QB Brock Mansion, CB D.J. Campbell

Verdict: Obviously, ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., missed with its evaluation of this solid recruiting class, particularly when you consider RB Jahvid Best, WR Nyan Boateng and LB Devin Bishop were significant contributors before their tenures were done. Jordan and Vereen obviously were well underrated. And there were 21 running backs better than Best?

Oregon

Class: 29

ESPNU top 150 players: 1 (DE Kenny Rowe)

How many are expected to start in 2010: 10 (Rowe, WR D.J. Davis, LB Casey Matthews, CB Talmadge Jackson, OG Carson York, TE David Paulson, OG Mark Asper, WR Jeff Maehl, S Eddie Pleasant, DE Terrell Turner).

Misses: DT Myles Wade, S Malachi Lewis

Verdict: When you toss in DE Will Tukuafu, WR Aaron Pflugrad (a starter who transferred to Arizona State) and WR Terence Scott, this is a good, if not great, class. Three or four of these guys should be All-Conference players.

Oregon State

Class: 35

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (HB Joe Halahuni, S Cameron Collins, WR Darrell Catchings, CB Brandon Hardin, FB Will Darkins, DE Taylor Henry, LB Keith Pankey, WR James Rodgers)

Misses: CB David Ross, RB Reggie Dunn

Verdict: We don't have the time to go back and retrace the maneuvers that are part of managing a 35-man recruiting class (each class can only include a maximum of 25 members, but there are lots of ways to fudge numbers). Obviously, there are the Beavers typical crew of so-called diamonds in the rough -- hello, James Rodgers -- but here's a guess that coach Mike Riley winces over some of these names. Certainly not a lot of production from the six JC guys.

Stanford

Class: 19

ESPNU top 150 players: 0.

How many are expected to start in 2010: Six (P David Green, CB Corey Gatewood, LB/FB Owen Marecic, TE Coby Fleenor, DE Thomas Keiser, DE Matt Masifilo)

Misses: QB L. D. Crow, S Sean Wiser

Verdict: An interesting class considering that six of the eight lowest rated players are on the Cardinal's preseason two-deep depth chart, including three starters. In terms of skill positions -- see the two QBs -- this class doesn't measure up.

UCLA

Class: 11

ESPNU top 150 players: 2 (QB Chris Forcier, RB Raymond Carter)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (LB Akeem Ayers, LB Glenn Love, LB Steve Sloan, DT Nate Chandler, OT Mike Harris)

Misses: Forcier, Carter

Verdict: This is a very small but highly productive class collected by former coach Karl Dorrell -- note that it includes DT Brian Price, who bolted early for the NFL. The only busts were the two highest rated players, Forcier and Carter, and JC LB Mike Schmitt. The other eight members are either on the two-deep or, in Price's case, already in the NFL.

USC

Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 10 (RB Joe McKnight, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, S Marshall Jones, DE Everson Griffen, QB Aaron Corp, WR Ronald Johnson, OT Martin Coleman, DT DaJohn Harris, C Kris O'Dowd)

How many are expected to start in 2010: Four (LB Chris Galippo, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristofer O'Dowd, LB Malcolm Smith)

Misses: S Marshall Jones, OT Martin Coleman

Verdict: Obviously, this class, ranked No. 1 in the nation, was overrated, even when you factor in that McKnight, Griffen and Damian Williams already are in the NFL, and NT Christian Tupou would be a second-year starter if he didn't blow out his knee this spring. Lots of guys who never contributed or left the program.

Washington

Class: 27

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Eight (WR Devin Aguilar, LB Alvin Logan, LB Cort Dennison, SS Nate Williams, LB Mason Foster, CB Quinton Richardson, DE Kalani Aldrich, K Erik Folk)

Misses: DE Emeka Iweka, DT Nick Wood

Verdict: You read the names of the seven highest-rated players in this class and you have one reaction: Terrible. But then you see six defensive starters among the lower rated guys. Still, the Huskies defense is a huge question mark. How it performs this year will tell you how this class should be rated.

Washington State

Class: 26

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2010: Five (CB Aire Justin, WR Daniel Blackledge, C Andrew Roxas, OG B.J. Guerra, SS Chima Nwachukwu)

Misses: WR Deon Ford

Verdict: Not much should be expected from Bill Doba's final recruiting class, and this one doesn't deliver much sizzle. A couple of solid hits, though, including a couple of departed JC transfers.

Oregon State LB Pankey is back running

June, 21, 2010
6/21/10
5:37
PM ET
Good news for Oregon State fans: Coach Mike Riley just tweeted -- and it was confirmed by a school spokesperson -- that linebacker Keith Pankey ran for the first time Monday after tearing his Achilles tendon in February.

Odds are now good that Pankey, a senior who was in a platoon with Dwight Roberson at the "will" outside linebacker spot for two seasons, will be ready for preseason practices.

Back in January, the Beavers expected to have three of their top four linebackers back in 2010, with only Keaton Kristick departing. But Pankey got hurt and middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi quit -- so much for his widely reported military aspirations -- transforming a fairly solid position into a questionable one.

Pankey and Roberson now likely will man the two outside spots while sophomore Tony Wilson is the leader to replace Kristick inside.

Pac-10 deep & thin: Stocked and depleted positions

June, 3, 2010
6/03/10
5:38
PM ET
At what position is the Pac-10 deep? At what position in the Pac-10 thin? Here's the third of three parts taking a look at just that.

Deep: Specialists

[+] EnlargeKai Forbath
Jim Brown/US Presswire Kai Forbath of UCLA is one of two Lou Groza Award winning kickers returning to the Pac-10 this season.
Why is it deep? Eight teams welcome back both their punter and kicker, and many of them are quite happy about that. Three conference kickers ranked among the top-20 in field goals per game, while three punters ranked in the top 21. No team is replacing both specialists. Oregon is replacing kicker Morgan Flint and USC is replacing kicker Jordan Congdon, who ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in field goals per game in 2009.

The big names: Start with two Lou Groza Award winning kickers: UCLA's Kai Forbath (2009) and Arizona State's Thomas Weber (2007). Then there's Oregon State's Justin Kahut, who made 22 of 27 field goals with a long of 50, and Washington's Erik Folk, who was 18 for 21 with a long of 48. As for the punters, Arizona State's Trevor Hankins ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation in punting (44.2 yards per punt), while UCLA's Jeff Locke (43.6) was 16th in the nation and Washington State's Reid Forrest (43.2) was 21st. Oh, and California's Bryan Anger might have the biggest foot of everyone; he dropped a conference-high 24 punts inside the 20 last year.

Thin: Linebacker

Why is it thin? Four of the six linebackers who made up the first and second All-Pac-10 teams are gone as are five of the 11 LBs who earned honorable mention. Only two teams -- USC and Oregon -- welcome back all of their starting LBs from 2009, and a big story this spring was the Trojans lack of depth at the position, while the Ducks moved Eddie Pleasant to safety (in large part because of depth at the position). Arizona is replacing all three starting linebackers, while Arizona State, Oregon State and UCLA only have one returning starter at the position (though the Beavers outside linebacker platoon of Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey probably should count as more than one starter).

Fill the void? This is not a "strength" position, but the cupboard is hardly empty: UCLA's Akeem Ayers, California's Mike Mohamed and Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict are All-American candidates, while Oregon's Casey Matthews earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and Washington's Mason Foster is a likely breakout player. The Ducks, in particular, are fast and deep at linebacker, while the Sun Devils aren't far behind in terms of young talent.

Oregon State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
8:30
AM ET
OREGON STATE

2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 6-3 (tied for second)

Returning starters

Offense: 8, Defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, WR James Rodgers, C Alex Linnenkohl, DT Stephen Paea, DE Gabe Miller, LB Dwight Roberson, CB James Dockery

Key losses: QB Sean Canfield, LB Keaton Kristick, LB David Pa'aluhi, DE Matt LaGrone

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers* (1,440)

Passing: Sean Canfield (3,271)

Receiving: James Rodgers* (1,034)

Tackles: Keaton Kristick (95)

Sacks: Stephen Paea*, Gabe Miller* (3)

Interceptions: Lance Mitchell* (3)

Spring Answers

1. Cool Katz: Sophomore Ryan Katz entered the spring as the favorite to win the quarterback job and he didn't disappoint. He has a big arm and good mobility. All he is missing is experience. He'll enter fall camp as the clear leader, while Peter Lalich and Cody Vaz compete for the backup job.

2. There are plenty of offensive weapons: Everything starts with the Rodgers brothers, running back Jacquizz and receiver James, but it doesn't end there. Receivers Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop and tight end/H-Back Joe Halahuni will give Katz plenty of options when he distributes the football.

3. Solid in the secondary: The Beavers will be experienced -- not to mention big -- in the secondary, with three starters back from 2009 and all four first-teamers measuring over 6-feet. James Dockery and 6-foot-2, 219-pound Brandon Hardin are the corners, while Lance Mitchell, 230-pound Cameron Collins and Suaesi Tuimaunei have combined for 29 starts at safety.

Fall questions

1. Front seven issues: Taylor Henry stepped up at defensive end after Matt LaGrone quit the team, but what's unclear is if he can hold off touted JC transfer Dominic Glover as the starter. Things also are fluid at linebacker. Will Keith Pankey be 100 percent by fall camp after missing spring with a torn Achilles tendon? Will Tony Wilson or Rueben Robinson step in at middle linebacker?

2. How will the offensive line shake out? Starters Grant Johnson and Michael Philipp missed spring with injuries, which forced line coach Mike Cavanaugh to do some mixing and matching. The good news was the re-emergence of tackle Wilder McAndrews, who almost quit due to persistent wrist problem. It's possible that McAndrews could take over at left tackle and Philipp could move inside to guard. Then Johnson and Burke Ellis could compete at the other guard.

3. Who is Katz’s backup? The story of spring might have been Katz's impressive effort, but Vaz also deserves note. His rise is more about how well he played than Lalich not producing. Considering how often a backup quarterback is needed, this will be an interesting competition to follow during fall camp.

Former OSU LB Pa'aluhi may resurface at Hawaii

April, 19, 2010
4/19/10
7:46
PM ET
It was a big blow to Oregon State when middle linebacker David Pa’aluhi quit the team.

A potential All-Pac-10 player in 2010, the official reason for the decision was Pa'aluhi had family issues and wanted to join the military.

It seemed an extreme and short-sighted decision at the time, but, hey, it's his life, right? And military service is certainly honorable.

It appears that Pa'aluhi now wants to play football again at Hawaii.

Says the Beaver nation: Hmm.

The Oregonian reports that the deal isn't done but that Pa'aluhi asked for and was a granted a release by coach Mike Riley and will be eligible to play in 2011.

From the story:
Riley said he was “disappointed’’ at how this is turning out but he was not about to slam the door shut on Pa’aluhi playing football again, or earning a degree.

“With his immediate family situation pretty much overwhelming for him (in Corvallis) maybe it’s best this way with more family around to help with the baby,’’ said Riley.

While Riley and Beavers linebacker Keith Pankey both seem a bit put off by Pa'aluhi's change of course, their reactions are notable for a lack of bile.

Said Pankey to the newspaper: “He’s my friend until the day I die, but he does play (again) I wish he was playing for us... As long as he’s happy and doing better, it’s hard to have malice for your friend even though he’s not doing what you want him to do.’’

Oregon State fans might want to salve their frustration over Pa'aluhi's machinations by taking a moment to admire Pankey's generous and level-headed maturity.

Bigger shoes than you think: Oregon State

March, 31, 2010
3/31/10
11:30
AM ET
Fifth in a series looking at lineup holes that are important even if they don't make headlines.

Oregon State

Everybody is talking about: The Beavers not only must replace their quarterback, they must replace Sean Canfield, who earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors after posting an outstanding senior season. Therefore, the marquee competition this spring is between sophomore Ryan Katz and junior Peter Lalich.

Bigger shoes than you think: Middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi

The obvious answer here would be first-team All-Pac-10 linebacker Keaton Kristick, who started 27 games during his career and led the Beavers in tackles in 2009. But this isn't about obvious. Moreover, the Beavers will be moving senior Keith Pankey, who's sitting out spring practices with a torn Achilles tendon, to Kristick's strongside spot. Pankey has started 13 games while previously platooning with Dwight Roberson at weakside linebacker, so he's hardly green. There will be no such veteran presence ready to fill the void at MLB. Pa'aluhi, an underrated player who looked ready to blossom in 2010 as a junior, opted to quit the team for personal reasons and, reportedly, to join the military. He started all 13 games last year and ranked second on the team with 77 tackles and tied for second with eight tackles for a loss. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors.

Who is stepping in: It figures to be an interesting competition. Sophomores Feti "Kevin" Unga and Rueben Robinson and senior Walker Vave combined for 32 tackles in 2009, but sophomore Tony Wilson, who sat out last year with a knee injury, might be the frontrunner. There's plenty of potential here, but it's mostly unproven.

Oregon State loses starting defensive end

March, 29, 2010
3/29/10
7:55
PM ET
Oregon State's projected starting defensive end Matt LaGrone has left the team for personal reasons, The Oregonian reported and a school spokesperson confirmed.

The Beavers started spring practices Monday.

LaGrone, a former Nevada basketball player, started four of Oregon State's final five games in 2009 and was listed No. 1 on the spring depth chart ahead of sophomore Taylor Henry, redshirt freshman John Braun and injured senior Mitchel Hunt.

According to The Oregonian, LaGrone was struggling with being separated from his family -- a wife and two daughters -- who live in Reno.

LaGrone is the second projected starter to leave the team. Middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi also left the Beavers to reportedly join the military. The Beavers also lost receiver Casey Kjos (injuries). Linebacker Keith Pankey will miss spring with a torn Achilles.

"It does (hurt the team), because [LaGrone] had made a lot of progress and played a lot,'' Beavers coach Mike Riley told The Oregonian. "I think we've got good depth. We've got young guys coming up who I think will be good players but it's a tough loss. ... it's just like Pa'aluhi. You've got a guy almost at the stage to get his best performance, and then he's gone.

SPONSORED HEADLINES