Arizona: Jonathan McKnight returns, but the Wildcats will have to replace a good player in Shaquille Richardson. Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez mentioned Derek Babiash and Devin Holiday as potential candidates for Richardson's spot. Babiash appeared in nine games with a pair of tackles last season, and Holiday appeared in all 13 with an interception. Junior college transfer Patrick Glover could be a factor, and freshmen Logan Bartlett, Jarvis McCall and Arlandis Hinton are coming off redshirt seasons.
Arizona State: With potentially 10 starting quarterbacks returning in the Pac-12, it's not a good season to lose both corners, which is the case for ASU. Robert Nelson and Osahon Irabor are gone, and Lloyd Carrington returns as the most experienced player. Junior college transfer Kweishi Brown was the nation's No. 3-ranked corner and should be expected to contribute right away.
California: Kameron Jackson's surprising decision to leave early for the NFL leaves new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman without much experience. Cedric Dozier, Joel Willis, Adrian Lee and Isaac Lapite all started at least one game last season, but none more than four (Dozier). The newcomer is junior college transfer Darius White, who was the No. 7-ranked juco CB in the Class of 2014.
Colorado: The Buffs return both Kenneth Crawley and Greg Henderson, who topped the final depth chart of the season. Chidobe Awuzie started at nickel and the team also returns Jeffrey Hall, John Walker and Marques Mosley, all of whom appeared on the three-deep depth chart.
Oregon: Terrance Mitchell decided to leave a year early for the NFL, but the Ducks will benefit greatly from Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's decision to return. Dior Mathis, who played in all 13 games last season, is the favorite to move into Mitchell's role, and Troy Hill should be in the rotation. Junior college transfer Dominique Harrison is on campus and a candidate for playing time and the coaches like Chris Seisay, who is coming off his redshirt.
Oregon State: Losing Rashaad Reynolds will be tough, but Steven Nelson, an all-Pac-12 honorable mention honoree, gives the Beavers a playmaker on one side. Like Nelson last season, junior college transfer DeMarlon Morris could be in line for immediate playing time. Dashon Hunt, a prize recruit of the Beavers' 2013 recruiting class, and Larry Scott, who played in 12 games last season, are two others to keep an eye on.
Stanford: Alex Carter is expected to miss all of spring practice with a hip injury, which will create reps for guys such as Ronnie Harris, Ra'Chard Pippens and Taijuan Thomas. Harris is the favorite emerge from that group at corner in nickel situations, when Wayne Lyons will shift over to cover the slot.
UCLA: The Bruins have a lot of talent back, starting with Fabian Moreau, who earned all-Pac-12 honorable mention in his first season as a starter last season. Ishmael Adams started every game and led the team with four interceptions. Priest Willis played mostly on special teams as a freshman, but the former big-time recruit is in line for more playing time on defense.
USC: Kevon Seymour's first season as a starter finished on a high note with a solid performance in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. He'll be expected to remain in that role with a competition for the spot next to him. Senior Anthony Brown figures to get the first crack, but injury problems have been a concern, as has been the case with Devian Shelton. It's a big spring for Chris Hawkins, who is coming off his redshirt, before a solid crop of recruits, led by Adoree' Jackson, arrive.
Utah: The Utes lose one of the draft's rising prospects in Keith McGill, who at 6-foot-3 provided a unique look for the Utah defense. Davion Orphey, a transfer from Santa Ana College, saw the most starts opposite McGill last season, but Justin Thomas and Reginald Porter also saw time in the starting lineup.
Washington: With Marcus Peters coming back, the Huskies have a good starting spot and will look for a new starter to play alongside him. It's an important spring for both senior Travell Dixon, who transferred from Alabama after a brief stop there in 2012, and freshman Jermaine Kelly as they try to make a positive impression on the new staff before four new corners arrive in the fall.
Washington State: Possibly the most important step for the Cougars this spring is to shore up the secondary -- a difficult task following the departure of seniors Damante Horton and Nolan Washington (in addition to Deone Bucannon at safety). Daquawn Brown, who is not short on confidence, started three games last season and fared well against USC's Marqise Lee. There isn't much other experience on the roster, and the team signed four corners from the high school ranks.
The addition is UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, who McShay envisions joining former USC coach Pete Carroll in Seattle with the No. 32 pick.
On Su'a-Filo, McShay wrote:
We only have a second-round grade on him, but he is a guy whose stock is rising as the draft process goes on, and he has good foot quickness and size.
His UCLA teammate, Anthony Barr, is projected at No. 11, but it didn't come with a ringing endorsement:
I'm not someone who thinks Barr has enough upside to be an early first-round pick, but there seem to be a lot of guys in the league who do.
USC receiver Marqise Lee (No. 18 to the Jets) and Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks (No. 26 to the Browns) are the other Pac-12 players included, but both are lower than in McShay’s previous mock. In this scenario, Cooks would be paired with Johnny Manziel, who is projected to Cleveland at No. 4.
- Ka'Deem Carey isn't the only former Arizona player looking to impress at pro day.
- Check out former Arizona State DB Alden Darby's highlight film.
- How might California improve its game-day experience?
- Colorado RB Christian Powell will miss the start of spring football.
- Why are former Oregon players slower at the NFL combine?
- Former Oregon State punter Johnny Hekker is loony for a good cause.
- Stanford's young o-linemen are ready to step up.
- Former UCLA OLB Anthony Barr is impressive but raw.
- A look at USC's QB situation heading into spring practices.
- A scouting report on former Utah TE Jake Murphy.
- More on the suspension of Washington LB John Timu.
- Important question: Which Washington State football player is the best dunker (of a basketball, not a donut)?
“It's an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.99 million people have played college football,” said NFF President Steven J. Hatchell. “The Hall's requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today's elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names.”
The 2014 class will be announced in May, with the official inductions coming on Dec. 9.
Here are the players and coaches for current Pac-12 programs on the ballot:
Eric Bieniemy, RB, Colorado
Tony Boselli, OT, USC
Bob Breunig, LB, Arizona State
Mark Carrier, S, USC
Al Harris, DE, Arizona State
Roy Jefferson, WR, Utah
Keyshawn Johnson, WR, USC
Lincoln Kennedy, OT, Washington
Greg Lewis, RB, Washington
Jess Lewis, DT, Oregon State
Cade McNown, QB, UCLA
Darrin Nelson, RB, Stanford
Ken Norton Jr, LB, UCLA
Ron Rivera, LB, Cal
Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado
John Sciarra, QB, UCLA
Clarence Williams, RB, Washington State
Mike Bellotti -- Chico State, Oregon
Darryl Rogers -- Call State-Hayward, Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State, Arizona State
When NFL executive Ray Anderson was hired in January, he became the Sun Devils' sixth athletic director since 1996, with former ADs such as Kevin White, Gene Smith and, most recently, Steve Patterson leaving for bigger, richer athletic departments.
That shows Sun Devils administrators are pretty good at hiring ADs because they are shortly coveted by other programs, but they'd appreciate some continuity, particularly at a critical time when they are trying to get a stadium renovated.
"I didn't come here to have this be a stepping stone to somewhere else," he said. "This is where I want to be."
One reason to believe Anderson's not-uncommon assertion is he took a pay cut to come to ASU. As the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations based in Manhattan, he said he made over $2 million a year. His base pay at Arizona State will be $600,000, though potential bonuses could as much as double that number.
Anderson said money wasn't the issue. He said, in fact, he was looking for "a more balanced situation where revenue is not the only driver" and had told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in December that he was looking to move on.
"For me, [his NFL job] had run its course ... my position had evolved into dispute resolution," he said. "It became a lot of arguing, fighting and clawing for territory. After a while, that wasn't fun anymore."
He was contacted by Jed Hughes, a friend who worked for executive search firm Korn Ferry, about the vacancy at Arizona State and was immediately intrigued. Things moved pretty quickly, as his hiring was announced just two months after Patterson left.
The fit 59-year-old said he's in the "fourth quarter" of his career, but that "even the word retirement scares me." He projected he'd like to stick around for 12 to 15 years.
It's unlikely, however, he will face any more important challenge over the next decade than the short-term need to improve the Sun Devils football facilities, starting with the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium.
"We need to spruce up the place, quite frankly," he said.
The stadium project already has begun at a symbolic level with renovation of the north end zone, a demolition that will open up the view to Tempe Town Lake and reduce capacity by about 5,700 seats. But that's not part of an ambitious $260 million plan to completely renovate and modernize the stadium, which will require raising $50 million.
That, once Patterson's challenging child, is now Anderson's to raise. The goal is to open the renovated stadium before the 2016 season.
Anderson, a Stanford and Harvard Law School graduate, knows about dealing with people and negotiating. A former agent, he represented Tony Dungy, Brian Billick, Tyrone Willingham and Marvin Lewis, among others. He's also a quick learner when it comes to AD-speak.
As in, "Your athletic success kind of brands your university, the broad appeal and knowledge people have a lot of times is led by how your football and basketball teams are doing."
Or, "[We need to] strike balance between revenue generation and what's good for the student-athlete and coaches."
Arizona State football seems to be on the uptick under coach Todd Graham, but there's no question the arms race has been renewed in the Pac-12 and the rest of the country. And that ASU lags behind most top-25 programs.
Anderson's chief task as long as he fronts Arizona State's athletic program is to make sure the Sun Devils catch up. And then becomes a member of the elite.
"There's no question our facility, our football facilities, are substandard," he said. "We can't hide from that. I've been in a lot better football facilities than here and we need to do something about it."
Arizona: The Wildcats are going to be young at linebacker, as even returning starter Scooby Wright is a true sophomore. Stalwarts Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers, the Wildcats' top two tacklers in 2013, are gone. Senior Hank Hobson was Fischer's backup last year, and sophomores DeAndre' Miller and Jake Matthews were officially behind Flowers. But there will be plenty of competition, with touted juco transfer Antonio Smothers, junior Keoni Bush-Loo and sophomore Derrick Turituri -- listed behind Wright last year -- also in the mix, along with a handful of redshirt freshmen.
Arizona State: Arizona State is replacing three of its four starting linebackers, most notably Carl Bradford and Chris Young. Sophomore "Sam" linebacker Salamo Fiso is the only returning starter. Expect Carlos Mendoza and Antonio Longino to top the spring depth chart at the "Spur" and "Will" spots. They combined for 11 tackles last season. Chans Cox and Viliami Latu could be in the mix to replace Bradford in the key "Devil" LB spot, though neither at present looks like the pass-rushing threat he was. There could be some mixing and matching, and safety Viliami Moeakiola played some linebacker last year. Also in the fray: true freshman early enrollee D.J. Calhoun, Eriquel Florence and juco transfer Darrius Caldwell.
California: Junior Jalen Jefferson, sophomore Michael Barton and sophomore Hardy Nickerson are back. They ranked among the Bears' top six tacklers in 2013. Those three seem likely to find a spot in the starting lineup, but this is a fluid situation after Cal was hit hard by injuries last year and has a new defensive coordinator in Art Kaufman. Nathan Broussard, who is coming back from an ACL injury, could be in the mix, as could Jason Gibson. Obviously, young players will have an opportunity to earn early playing time.
Colorado: While the Buffaloes lose Derrick Webb, they welcome back Addison Gillam, who had a sensational freshman year, and seniors Woodson Greer III and Brady Daigh, who both started and/or saw significant action last season. Sophomores Kenneth Olugbode, Ryan Severson and Clay Norgard also are in the mix. Watch out for sophomore Pittsburgh transfer Deaysean Rippy, cousin of former LB Doug Rippy. Deaysean Rippy, a touted recruit in 2012, seems likely to challenge for a starting job.
Oregon: The Ducks lose only one of their four starting linebackers from 2013 -- Boseko Lokombo -- and his backups, Tyson Coleman and Torrodney Prevot, saw plenty of action. Outside linebacker Tony Washington and inside 'backers Derrick Malone and Rodney Hardrick should be better as second-year starters. Backup inside LBs Joe Walker and Rahim Cassell also have significant experience. It will be interesting to see if any youngsters, most notably Prevot, make a push.
Oregon State: This might sneak up on you, but Oregon State has one of the best linebacker trios in the conference coming back: D.J. Alexander, Michael Doctor and Jabral Johnson. Johnson replaced Doctor when his season ended in Week 2 with a foot injury, so it should be interesting how the outside spots work out. In the middle is sophomore Rommel "The Desert Fox" Mageo, who replaced the inconsistent Joel Skotte, a junior, in the starting lineup five games into the season. Sophomores Caleb Saulo and Darrell Songy also saw plenty of action last year.
Stanford: The Cardinal are replacing two first-team All-Pac-12 linebackers from their 3-4 defense: OLB Trent Murphy and ILB Shayne Skov. James Vaughters is back on the outside and 2013 second-leading tackler A.J. Tarpley is back on the inside. Kevin Anderson is almost certain to replace Murphy. He had 6.5 tackles for a loss to go with 26 tackles last year. Blake Martinez, Joe Hemschoot and Noor Davis are competing for the other inside spot.
UCLA: The Bruins are replacing All-American OLB Anthony Barr and ILB Jordan Zumwalt, two highly productive players who figure to have NFL careers. The good news is the return of senior Eric Kendricks on the inside and sophomore Myles Jack on the outside. Junior Kenny Orjioke is the top candidate to replace Barr, and sophomore Isa Savaiinaea and senior Ryan Hofmeister have received a lot of playing time inside.
USC: The Trojans lose outside linebacker Devon Kennard, but welcome back three starters (considering OLB Morgan Breslin only played five games), including highly productive veteran ILB Hayes Pullard, who has led the team in tackles the past two seasons. Also back is OLB J.R. Tavai and ILBs Anthony Sarao and Lamar Dawson, co-starters last year. Still, things figure to be highly competitive this spring, with Pullard being the only sure thing. Sophomore Jabari Ruffin received plenty of playing time last season, and fellow sophomores Michael Hutchings and Quinton Powell should be in the mix. Some touted freshmen might enter the mix in the fall.
Utah: While Utah loses Trevor Reilly, a hybrid DE/OLB, it welcomes back pretty much every linebacker from the 2013 depth chart. In the middle there's Jason Whittingham, who earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors last season. Also back are senior Jacoby Hale, who had 6.5 sacks last year, and Jared Norris. Further, Miami transfer Gionni Paul figures to challenge for a starting spot after sitting out last season, and there are several younger players who could make a move. Also, it remains to be seen where Brian Blechen, who has bounced back and forth between safety and linebacker, ultimately ends up.
Washington: Inside linebacker John Timu was suspended after he was charged with misdemeanor vehicle prowling, which wasn't a great welcome for new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. Nevertheless, the Huskies are pretty stacked at linebacker. If Timu gets his act together, then the Huskies will have three players with starting experience, including the athletic duo of Travis Feeney and Shaq Thompson on the outside. You could also include rush ends Corey Littleton and Josh Shirley as returning OLBs in the hybrid defense the Huskies ran under Justin Wilcox. While junior Scott Lawyer has some experience, the overall depth is young, if promising. Azeem Victor, Connor O'Brien and Keishawn Bierria are youngsters to watch.
Washington State: With junior Destiny Vaeao moving to end from "Buck" linebacker, the Cougars will be replacing two starters. Junior Darryl Monroe is a two-year starter and the leader in the middle, and Cyrus Coen is back at "Sam" LB. The battle to replace Vaeao figures to be between juniors Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan, and Tana Pritchard is the favorite to replace Justin Sagote at "Will" linebacker. A big question: Where does junior Chester Su'a fit in? He missed last year because of injury, and could play behind Monroe or challenge Pritchard. There are some intriguing young players who also could insinuate themselves into the rotation.
But for Arizona receiver Austin Hill, spring practice feels like he's standing in front of a spectacular buffet dinner. And he's really, really hungry.
Hill was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection following the 2012 season after ranking second in the conference in receiving yards. The sophomore looked like a potential All-American in 2013 after catching 81 passes for 1,364 yards -- 16.8 yards per reception -- with 11 touchdowns.
But his 2013 season ended before it began on April 10 after he tore his ACL during the second-to-last session of spring practice.
Poof -- just like that, football was taken away, replaced by uncertainty and the daily burden -- and boredom -- of rehabilitation. That's why even a no-pads practice to start spring drills this week was invigorating.
Hill practiced with the Wildcats in a limited fashion during the final weeks of the 2013 season, but he's still not 100 percent healthy. While he's officially full-speed this spring, he's still wearing a knee brace and his explosiveness and speed are not fully back.
"That's basically the last step of ACL recovery," he said. "I'm still in those processes."
Neal and Jones both sat out last season, so Hill knows they share his hunger, while the returning starters and contributors don't want to yield repetitions. While it's a collegial atmosphere among the receivers at practice, it's also a competition for touches and position in the pecking order.
"Everyone is helping each other out on the field," Hill said. "It's fun to see athletes compete. It's always fun."
Of course, the competition at receiver figures to yield certainty -- an outstanding and deep crew of four or five guys in a regular rotation with one or two leading the way. The bigger issue is who is going to deliver the ball.
Hill laughs at the inevitable quarterback competition question, for an answer behind center probably won't be delivered until fall camp. Perhaps even late in fall camp, as it was last year.
Hill, for one, admits he'd prefer to get some clarity much sooner.
"Right now ... who knows? I just hope it doesn't end up like it was last year, where even in the first couple of games we really didn't know who the quarterback was," he said. "I want it to be a QB we know is going to start. That's the most important thing for your passing game, that receiver-QB sync. It's hard to get that sync when you don't know who your quarterback is and it's getting switched up every day."
“Of course, that's up to the QBs -- senior Jesse Scroggins, sophomore Connor Brewer, junior Jerrard Randall and redshirt freshman Anu Solomon -- and coach Rich Rodriguez, who has said repeatedly about QB competitions that he would prefer that one guy quickly and decisively wins the job.
I just hope it doesn't end up like it was last year, where even in the first couple of games we really didn't know who the quarterback was. I want it to be a QB we know is going to start. That's the most important thing for your passing game, that receiver-QB sync. It's hard to get that sync when you don't know who your quarterback is and it's getting switched up every day.” Arizona receiver Austin Hill on the Wildcats' quarterback competition.
Just don't expect it to happen this spring.
As for Hill's take, he often doesn't even know who's delivering the ball.
"The quarterbacks are getting switched around so much, sometimes it's even hard to tell which quarterback even went with my group when I went," he said. "We move so fast, I don't get to pay attention to what quarterback is throwing me the ball."
While the QBs work through their competition, Hill will be a veteran leader for the offense, back in action after a year of observing the team from the outside. When he looks around at practice at the improved personnel on both sides of the ball, he senses that the Wildcats are going to surprise some folks this season.
"I'm ready to help this team to a BCS bowl," he said. "I feel like that's where we're headed."
As Hill missed last season and is still not 100 percent, he, of course, can be forgiven for forgetting 2013 was the last season of the BCS era. His point is clear. He believes Arizona is going to be a threat in the Pac-12's South Division in 2014.
- In case you missed Rich Rodriguez's "Arizona Speed," here it is again. It's worth watching.
- Arizona State's Carl Bradford on his NFL combine experience.
- Looking at the state of Cal heading into spring practice.
- Are there bowl expectations at Colorado next year?
- Oregon picked up a commitment from an offensive lineman.
- This mock draft has Oregon State DE Scott Crichton to the Vikings.
- A Q&A with new Stanford running backs coach Lance Taylor.
- UCLA is No. 2 on this list of teams that could win a national title by 2020.
- Previewing USC's offensive line.
- New Utah QB Kendal Thompson said he needed a "fresh start."
- Washington suspended LB John Timu for the first two weeks of spring practice.
- Is it time to expand alcohol sales at Washington State football games?
He returned a Super Bowl champion.
The All-Pro cornerback is part of a group of several NFL players -- including Andrew Luck, Zach Ertz and Jonathan Martin -- back on campus as part of a coordinated trip. More than 20 are expected back at some point to train together and take advantage of the program's new alumni locker room, which was part of a $21-million addition to the Arrillaga Family Sports Center completed in October.
"It's unbelievable, man," Sherman said. "It feels nice to have somewhere to go when you come here. You don't have to borrow or bum any of the young guys' lockers."
That Stanford has a designated area for NFL players is symbolic in the program's rise.
"It's a testament to a lot of groups of guys. It's testament to the group of guys that came before us who set the groundwork for us," Sherman said. "Jim Harbaugh did a heck of a job changing the culture and changing the mindset and also the players now."
Sherman's arrival was good timing, too. The Cardinal are still without a full-time defensive backs coach following Derek Mason's departure for Vanderbilt and are in the process of converting Kodi Whitfield from receiver to safety. Sherman made a similar change, albeit to corner, while he was at Stanford.
The Seahawks star spoke with Whitfield and other defensive backs about technique during position drills and watched from the sideline during team drills.
"He's trying not to coach from the sidelines, but he can't help himself sometimes," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "Just the fact that he's here, just the fact that he's around kind of reaffirms why some of these guys are here."
Sherman said he would like to get into coaching after his NFL career is over, but said he's more interested in the high school level.
He will spend the majority of his offseason in Seattle, but, along with several others, plans on being a visitor to his old home.
2013 summary: 4 carries, 18 yards; 3 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD.
The skinny: A brief look at West's season summary doesn't read like a player in line to make a big impact next year -- and that still could be the case. His regular-season totals -- 1 carry, 1 yard; no catches -- are even less inspiring. So, why West? The Gildan New Mexico Bowl, that's why. Whether it was something he did during the bowl lead-up that opened coach Mike Leach's eyes or a build up that finally peaked, there was a difference. West got an opportunity to showcase what he can do and took full advantage. In addition to contributing in both the receiving and running game, West blocked a punt. He won't necessarily make a huge impact as a runner, receiver or on special teams next year, but he looks like a player who could hold a measurable value doing all three.
Arizona: Coach Rich Rodriguez is confident in both Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato and anxious to get junior-college transfers Jeff Worthy, who also spent a year at Boise State, and Jerod Cody acclimated to the system. Calvin Allen, Jack Banda and Luca Bruno are coming off redshirt seasons and represent a group Rodriguez said the team needs production from.
Arizona State: With the departure of Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman, there is a question about the team's depth at end. Without Will Sutton clogging things up next year, the Sun Devils' lack of experience is even more of a concern. Sean O'Grady backed up Conway and Coleman last year, but ASU has several well-regarded junior-college transfers in Edmond Boateng, Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry.
California: The Bears list seven defensive ends, but former junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa gained the most experience last season listed at the rush position. Antione Davis was outgoing starter Dan Camporeale's primary backup, but Brennan Scarlett's return is more important. He started nine games in 2012 and has been cleared to play following a hand issue that cost him the 2013 season. Todd Barr, Sione Sina and recent-transfer Jonathan Johnson are also in the mix.
Colorado: Colorado must replace Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but Juda Parker is back for his senior season, and several others have game experience. Samson Kafovalu is the likely candidate to start opposite him after making 18 tackles in seven games last year. Jimmie Gilbert was Uzo-Diribe's backup, Kirk Poston and De'Jon Wilson also played.
Oregon: The Ducks took a hit with the departure of Taylor Hart, who was named second-team All-Pac-12, but have a talented player in Arik Armstead lined up to take his spot. Armstead started five times in 2013 and left the basketball team midseason to shift his focus back to football. T.J. Daniel, Jason Sloan are projected to be in the mix for playing time.
Oregon State: Scott Crichton is gone, but Dylan Wynn remains and will likely be the Beavers' best defensive player a year after finishing fourth on the team in tackles. Lavonte Barnett, Crichton's primary backup in 2013, and Jaswha James figure to compete for the starting job, but there are two others to keep an eye on. Obum Gwacham recently switched from receiver and Mike Riley has been complimentary of Titus Failauga, who is coming off his redshirt.
Stanford: Henry Anderson has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the conference and Blake Lueders, who switched from OLB, began the spring atop the depth chart. The intriguing prospect is Luke Kaumatule, who was recruited to play defense but began 2013 as the team's starting tight end. Spring will be important for his development, but his raw ability is impressive.
UCLA: Both Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes were all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and highlight a talented UCLA defensive line. Their return will help account for the loss of Cassius Marsh, who started 12 games last year. Both McCarthy and Vanderdoes can play inside or outside, but the Bruins listed them both at end. Highly recruited DE Kylie Fitts saw playing time as a true freshman last season.
USC: Leonard Williams, the only sophomore named first-team all-Pac-12 on defense last season, is the best in the conference. Delvon Simmons, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has a lot of game experience. He started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012 and had regular playing time as a freshman there in 2011. Both Simmons and J.R. Tavai, who was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, can play inside or outside.
Utah: There's no replacing Trevor Reilly, who made 100 tackles despite lingering effects from a torn ACL, but Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick both saw extensive playing time last season. The Utes have five other defensive ends on the roster, but of that group only LT Filiaga made a tackle last season.
Washington: The Huskies are in great shape with the return of Hau'oli Kikaha, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson. Josh Shirley has 10 career starts, while Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provide depth.
Washington State: With Toni Pole expected to move back inside, the depth chart will look similar to how it did going into last season, minus Matt Bock. After making 50 tackles last year, Xavier Cooper will start on one side, with Destiny Vaeao and Lyman Faoliu strong candidates for more playing time. Emmitt Su'a-Kalio is coming off a redshirt, and the Cougars also signed a pair of defensive ends from Hawaii in Kingston Fernandez and Hercules Mata'afa.
- Arizona announced some early season schedule changes.
- A scouting report on former Arizona State DT Will Sutton.
- A balanced Cincinnati perspective on new California defensive coordinator Art Kaufman.
- Colorado needs to sell more football tickets.
- One of the funniest men who ever lived dons an Oregon jersey.
- Sports Illustrated's Peter King has a high opinion of former Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks.
- A Stanford spring practice report.
- UCLA is making progress raising money for a new football facility.
- USC has offered a lot of scholarships in Florida.
- Details on new Utah OC Dave Christensen's contract.
- Washington has more than a few roster questions as spring practices begin.
- Some thoughts on former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon's improving NFL draft status.
You can see the complete list here.
And here is the Pac-12 list, with the number to the left being Steele's overall ranking.
12. Tui Talia, DL, Oregon
13. Claude Pelon, DT, USC
15. Eric Lauderdale, WR, Arizona State
23. Dalvon Stuckey, DT, Arizona State
35. Kweishi Brown, CB, Arizona State
42. Edmond Boateng, DE, Arizona State
49. De'Chavon Hayes, RB, Arizona State
50. Darrius Caldwell, DE, Arizona State
51. Antonio Smothers, LB, Arizona
53. Haniteli Lousi, OL, Oregon
71. Darius White, CB, California
72. Dominique Harrison, DB, Oregon
It's not surprising that four of the six headed to Tempe are defensive players. The Sun Devils must replace nine starters on defense. Also, Lauderdale might immediately become the Sun Devils' No. 2 wide receiver beside Jaelen Strong.
2013 summary: Thompson recorded 78 tackles, with four coming for a loss, 0.5 sacks and an interception.
The skinny: I know what you're thinking: Everyone knows who Shaq Thompson is. He's already in the spotlight. Well, everyone does know who Thompson is -- a touted recruit with tremendous upside. Yet while Thompson has been mostly impressive his first two seasons, he has not yet fully broken out, so to speak. He is not yet a national star. He ranked second on the Huskies in tackles and didn't contribute many big plays. He only earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. He didn't make the Pac-12 blog's 2013 top-25 players list, and Washington fans know as well as anyone that the Pac-12 blog's top-25 players list should be carved into granite tablets, inscribed with gold leaf and placed behind a glass case in the Smithsonian. There's no question Thompson is a preternatural talent and a good leader. Heck, he could see some action on offense next year as a running back, going all Myles Jack for the Huskies. The general feeling is this will be Thompson's last season before he enters the NFL draft. He leads a Huskies defense that should be pretty darn stout next fall, at least if the secondary can be rebuilt. He should become a first-team Pac-12 guy who earns All-American consideration. If he reaches his potential, he should become a first-round NFL draft pick in 2015. But only after he earns a coveted spot near the top of the Pac-12 blog's 2014 top-25 players list.