Who needs Hallmark when we have Kaelin Clay?

The former Utah receiver, who is currently preparing for the NFL combine, took to Twitter with a hilarious Valentine's Day card suggestion, poking fun at his costly gaffe against Oregon during the 2014 season in which he celebrated just a little bit too early.


Your move, Longfellow Deeds.

In case you just moved back from a remote destination without contact to the outside world, here's the full replay of the now infamous play.

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Biggest shoes to fill: Oregon

February, 13, 2015
Feb 13
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Players come and go.

In a perfect world, the teams only have to reload, not rebuild. But following this season, there are a lot of shoes that need to be filled due to early departures and expected graduations.

That leaves the question: Will these spots be reloading or rebuilding? Your humble Pac-12 Blog takes a look at some of the biggest shoes that need to be filled entering the 2015 season.

Oregon Ducks

Biggest shoes: OK, did you really want to read another post about who is going to take over the quarterback job and whether it will be Vernon Adams/Jeff Lockie/Morgan Mahalak? Didn't think so. So, in lieu of another Marcus Mariota story, we bring you an amended version of the biggest shoes to fill -- the second-biggest shoes to fill.

That only made us realize that the second-biggest shoes to fill were cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's. With him being out during the postseason, those shoes were already starting to be filled by Chris Seiasy, which brings us to ...

Third-biggest shoes: S Erick Dargan

Dargan was one of the best surprises on this year's Oregon roster. Though he had no serious starting experience coming into the 2014-15 season, he commanded the Ducks secondary like a seasoned veteran. He led the Pac-12 in interceptions with seven (for comparison, the next-best in the conference was three) and led the Ducks in tackles with 95.

Stepping in: Tyree Robinson

Replacing Dargan is going to be no small task, especially since it's not just the tackles and interceptions that need to be made up for. One of Dargan's biggest responsibilities this season was getting the play call from coaches and dispersing it to the defensive backs, so whoever steps into Dargan's shoes will need to be an automatic leader. Robinson was Dargan's primary backup this season, finishing the year with 36 tackles (12th-best on the team) but he has experience at strong safety as well, which will come in handy as he leads this young secondary in 2015. One of the best attributes about Robinson at free safety is his size. At 6-foot-4, he's much taller than most of the recent free safeties in Oregon's defense -- Dargan was 5-foot-11; Avery Patterson was 5-foot-10; John Boyett was 5-foot-10.
It's become almost automatic at signing-day news conferences: "I'll be spending the next four years at (fill in a school)."

The kids who are confidently eyeing an early entrance to the NFL might say "three years" and some say "five," but it's basically part of the script in some fashion. In reality, the amount of players who actually spend a full four seasons at whatever school they commit to -- assuming they don't switch before signing -- can be quite low.

Of the 236 high school seniors who signed with a Pac-12 school in 2011, only 137 (58.1 percent)* appeared on that school's roster in 2014.

To get a sense for how the attrition manifests, I categorized the varying reasons into five groups: dismissals/transfers; injury/health; entered NFL draft; other/stopped playing football; non-qualifiers/never appeared on roster.

Here is the breakdown:
  • Played in 2014: 137 (58.1 percent)
  • Dismissals/transfers: 50 (21.2)
  • Injury/health retirements: 17 (7.2)
  • Entered NFL draft after three seasons: 11 (4.7)
  • Other/stopped playing football: 11 (4.7)
  • Non-qualifiers/never appeared on roster: 10 (4.2)

Of the players who signed, 92.7 percent were on rosters as true freshmen, with the remainder made up of a combination of grayshirts and players who did not qualify or never enrolled. That percentage dipped to 83.9 in 2012 and 70.8 in 2013 before sinking to 58.3 this past season.

Stanford was the obvious outlier. All 19 players who signed as part of David Shaw's first class in 2011 were on the team in 2014 -- and all 19 are expected to walk at the school's spring commencement ceremony.

On the other side of the spectrum is Washington State, which retained seven of the 21 high school players who signed with former coach Paul Wulff through at least a portion of the 2014 season. That class, which was ranked No. 10 in the Pac-12 by ESPN.com and also included six junior college players, was hurt significantly by those who never enrolled (four) and transfers/dismissals (six). Three of those 10 -- Rahmel Dockery (Oregon State), David Davis (Cal), and Demetrius Cherry (Arizona State) -- eventually landed at a different Pac-12 school.

Though the Cougars had the worst retainment percentage in the conference (33.3), Arizona State was left with the fewest players from its class -- the last under former coach Dennis Erickson -- with just six of 14 (42.9). Six transferred to play college football elsewhere (two are currently at the FBS level), one didn't qualify, and Israel Marshall took a medical retirement.

I found it interesting to sift through the data, but it's tough to draw any meaningful conclusions from just one year's data because of the variables in play -- particularly coaching changes.

Cal (16-33 in that span) and Colorado (10-39) are good examples.

In theory, it makes sense to assume a high retention rate is more desirable. Except Cal (70 percent) and Colorado (60.9 percent) ranked second and fourth in the conference, respectively. And unlike Colorado (coached then by Jon Embree), Cal's class (under former coach Jeff Tedford) was highly rated, coming in at No. 18 in the country. I still maintain retention is a good thing, but primarily if it's part of a larger theme of continuity.

The Bears lost one player to medical retirement and one transferred, but four entered the NFL draft after three years in Berkeley -- defensive lineman Viliami Moala, running back Brendan Bigelow, tight end Richard Rodgers, and cornerback Kameron Jackson. Rodgers, in Green Bay, was the only one to stick on an NFL roster.

The conference's other seven players to leave after three years include: running back Ka'Deem Carey (Arizona), running back De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), receiver Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), receiver Marqise Lee (USC), center Marcus Martin (USC), running back Bishop Sankey (Washington), and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. All seven were drafted.

Oregon, which boasted Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and offensive tackle Jake Fisher in its 2011 haul, is an example of how a talented roster can lead to departures. Of the five players who transferred, four -- Devon Blackmon (BYU), Tacoi Sumler (Appalachian State), Anthony Wallace (North Texas), and Tra Carson (Texas A&M) -- were at FBS schools in 2014. The Ducks also saw two players retire because of injury, and tight end Colt Lyerla leave (along with Thomas) for the NFL.

By no means should kids stop aspiring to "spend their next four years at (school)," but let's just hope they understand the track record of those who have come before them.
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recruiting

Roquan SmithTom Hauck for Student SportsElite players like Roquan Smith may opt to sign financial aid agreements instead of letters of intent.
Roquan Smith has made a decision, and he's sticking with it.

Or so he says.

Smith, a heralded linebacker prospect who announced his plans to attend UCLA as part of the "ESPNU National Signing Day Special" last week, announced his new choice to play at Georgia on Friday.

Top performances: Nick Wilson

February, 13, 2015
Feb 13
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We conclude our series looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2014. If you feel a little nostalgic, you can check out the top performances from 2013.

Up next: Frosh shows up in Nick of time

Who and against whom: Arizona true freshman running back Nick Wilson slices and dices a typically stout Utah defense in a 42-10 road victory.

The numbers: Wilson rushed for a career-high 218 yards on 20 carries -- 10.9 yards per rush -- with three touchdowns.

A closer look: If you recall this game, you know that final score is deceiving. Yes, Arizona entered the fourth quarter leading 21-10, but the Wildcats lost starting quarterback Anu Solomon to injury at halftime, and Utah was driving to start the fourth quarter. But the Utes botched a snap at the Wildcats 28 and opted to punt instead of trying a long field goal in the rainy conditions, and Wilson took over. He went 75 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-2 play. He then went 19 yards for another touchdown after the Wildcats picked off Utes quarterback Travis Wilson. In a three minute span in the fourth quarter, Wilson rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on six carries, almost single-handedly taking over the game. It was the most rushing yards ever for a Wildcats freshman, and it keyed a critical victory in their run to the Pac-12's South Division crown. It was Wilson’s third-straight 100-yard game and it made him the first Arizona freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.

Biggest shoes to fill: Colorado

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
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Players come and go.

In a perfect world, the teams only have to reload, not rebuild. But following this season, there are a lot of shoes that need to be filled due to early departures and expected graduations.

That leaves the question: Will these spots be reloading or rebuilding? Your humble Pac-12 Blog takes a look at some of the biggest shoes that need to be filled entering the 2015 season.

Colorado

Biggest shoes: CB Greg Henderson

The school's all-time leader in defensive snaps played, Henderson has been one of the most reliable players in the Pac-12 over the past four years. He arrived on campus as a two-star recruit in 2011, but was a fixture atop the depth chart from day one. With 36 passes broken up in his career, Henderson landed at No. 3 on the school's all-time list. He was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection and while not invited to the NFL combine, Henderson is considered a potential late-round pick and figures to be in a NFL training camp regardless of whether or not he gets drafted.

Stepping in: TBD

This is a situation that could go into the season before we see a clear emergence. Ken Crawley, who started opposite Henderson, figures to retain his job leaving several players to compete for the role vacated by Henderson’s departure. Chidobe Awuzie saw the most significant playing time last year (608 snaps), while John Walker (438 snaps) and Ahkello Witherspoon (144 snaps) will also factor in. Colorado brought in three-star Nick Fisher in the recent recruiting class, along with junior-college transfer Afolabi Laguda, who coach Mike MacIntyre called a corner/safety.

Signing day has come and gone. The combine list is (basically) set. The coaching carousel is slowing down. All of which adds up to one thing ... we've reached mock draft season.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his second mock draft of 2015 Insider, and after reviewing all-star game film his top 10 has a strong Pac-12 flavor to it. Led by USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams at No. 2, Kiper projects five Pac-12 players to be tabbed among the draft's first 10 selections.

Here is the Pac-12 representation in Kiper's mock draft:

No. 2 Tennessee Titans -- Leonard Williams, DE, USC
No. 6 New York Jets -- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
No. 7 Chicago Bears -- Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
No. 8 Atlanta Falcons -- Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
No. 10 St. Louis Rams -- Andrus Peat, LT, Stanford
No. 20 Philadelphia Eagles -- Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

A year ago, only three Pac-12 players were drafted in the first round (UCLA's Anthony Barr, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and WSU's Deone Bucannon), and if six were to go this year, it would equal the conference's most since 2008, when USC accounted for four of them (Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Sam Baker and Lawrence Jackson).
Some coaches put on a hard hat to inspire their players to work hard.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham puts on a hard hat and helps to tear down Sun Devil Stadium.

"I'm a football coach, a defensive guy, so I like tearing stuff up," Graham said. "It's an exciting time, an unprecedented time in our program."

[+] EnlargeTodd Graham
Courtesy of Arizona State athleticsTodd Graham provided a helping hand in Sun Devil Stadium's projected $265 million renovation.
The stadium's public fundraising began last September as the Sun Devils work toward what is projected to be a $265 million renovation. The first phase -- which is where Graham's hard hat came in -- is expanding the Sun Devils' student section by bringing it to field level in the south end zone. It will also include much-needed infrastructure upgrades.

Over the past two seasons the Sun Devils -- which boast the largest student section in the Pac-12 -- are 12-1 at home. Graham said that the students are a big part of that, which is why he's looking forward to having more of them at field level.

"We've had so much success," Graham said. "And a reason why we've had so much success is because our student section is absolutely the best I've ever been around. They're loud and it's a very, very adverse and difficult place to play because of our students."

Though Graham looked a little out of place in a tractor, it wasn't his first time operating machinery like that.

"I grew up being a construction helper," Graham said. "I've poured concrete, roofed houses, did a lot of stuff growing up."
There is little question that Colorado hired a good coach when it named Jim Leavitt its defensive coordinator last week. Leavitt studied under Hall of Famer Bill Snyder at Kansas State and then built South Florida from nothing into a nationally ranked team as head coach.

But Leavitt's availability to the Buffaloes, a program struggling to crawl back to respectability, is in large part because of a controversy that stunningly ended his 13-year tenure at South Florida and had some wondering if he'd ever return to the college ranks.

At some point, Leavitt, who spent the past four seasons coaching linebackers for the San Francisco 49ers, will be recruiting for Colorado and an athlete or his father or mother is going to ask him what happened at South Florida in 2009-10, when he was fired with cause, according to the school, after an altercation with a player and subsequent interference in the investigation.

It was an ugly incident, fraught with conflicting accounts. The player in question, Joel Miller, is still bitter about what happened. His father, Paul, told told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd that the hiring was "terrible," adding that Leavitt "... doesn't belong with any kids."

[+] EnlargeJim Leavitt
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicJim Leavitt built the program at South Florida before being fired after an altercation with a player.
Leavitt wants to put the issue in the past and to talk about his new job, but he also knows that more than a few folks will be uncertain about him.

“In recruiting, if you are going to have to get a player to come [to your school], you are going to have to develop a relationship -- a real relationship," Leavitt said. "There is no player who is going to go to any school without a great relationship, with not only the coach, but with the recruiter. When we spend time about that, I will be very honest about everything.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue. I don’t see that at all.”

Leavitt, 58, has always steadfastly denied wrongdoing. He essentially won a wrongful termination lawsuit when USF settled with him for $2.75 million. Colorado athletic director Rick George told CBS that Leavitt was thoroughly vetted before was hired.

"We've done our due diligence," George told Dodd, "and feel very confident it was an isolated incident."

Said Leavitt, "The only comment I’ll have on that is I was always honest, never lied, always told the truth. Then it just goes from there. [Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre] is going to do all the background work to hire anybody. He knows me. He knows who I am. I think he knows the credibility I have.”

MacIntyre and Leavitt became acquainted when MacIntyre was San Jose State's coach. They both attended the same church. When Jim Harbaugh and his staff were let go by the 49ers in January, MacIntyre asked Leavitt if he had any interest in replacing Kent Baer as defensive coordinator. After establishing mutual interest, prolonged discussions began. The end game was a three-year contract worth $500,000, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

“I wanted to coach, bad. I had another year on my contract with the 49ers but I didn’t want to sit out," Leavitt said. "I love coaching so much. My wife said I’d drive her absolutely nuts. I really wanted to get back to college.”

What Leavitt plans to bring to the Buffs, scheme-wise, is unclear. Colorado played a 4-3 last year and Leavitt was a 4-3 guy at South Florida, but 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is a 3-4 adherent, so Leavitt now has a strong taste for odd and even fronts. He also has plenty of experience running a variety of man and zone schemes in his secondary. It does seem as though he's more of a mind to build his scheme around personnel rather than try to adopt his personnel to a scheme.

“To be honest with you, I’m not sure [what defense Colorado will run]," he said. "I haven’t seen even one guy run anywhere. I’ve got to get to know these guys and what they can and cannot do. That will take some time. The biggest thing I’m all about is guys playing with passion, guys playing with great effort. My philosophy is going to flow with what these guys can do.”

The likelihood is what Leavitt decides to do will work much better than what the Buffaloes did the past two years, when they had defenses that ranked among the nation's worst. For one, he's got eight starters back and MacIntyre has recruited some solid young talent. Second, he's considered an A-list defensive mind.

Questions about Leavitt, at least as he begins his tenure in Boulder, won't be about whether or not he can coach football well. It will be about how things ended at South Florida. Pinning down exactly what happened between Leavitt and that player five years ago, not to mention its context and how the investigation was handled, would be difficult. Moreover, we are a people that believe in second chances.

Leavitt is hoping folks see things like he does. He's moved on.

“It never was an issue with me because I always told the truth and always knew what was right," he said. "When you know you’re right, you know you don’t have any issues. I never felt any different in my life. Half of the people believe you, half the people won’t. That’s just the way life is. I never had an issue and that is why I never got bogged down. However other people want to take it, I can’t control that.”

Top performances: Brett Hundley

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
10:00
AM ET
We continue our series looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2014. If you feel a little nostalgic, you can check out the top performances from 2013.

Up next: Hundley bedevils Arizona State

[+] EnlargeBrett Hundley
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY SportsBrett Hundley riddled Arizona State for 427 yards and five touchdowns.
Who and against whom: In a critical early season matchup with defending Pac-12 South Division champions Arizona State, Hundley stepped up in a big way in a 62-27 victory.

The numbers: Hundley accounted for five touchdowns, throwing for four and running for another. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 355 yards and rushed for 72 yards on eight carries.

A closer look: This was a matchup of unbeaten, ranked teams, yet both had plenty of early season questions. UCLA, in particular, had arrived at 3-0 in unimpressive fashion. But Hundley dominated the Sun Devils with big plays, hurling not one but two 80-yard touchdown passes, one to Eldridge Massington and another to Jordan Payton. Those TDs made him the first UCLA player to complete two passes of at least 80 yards in one game. Hundley’s 427 yards of total offense were the fifth most in school history and extended his own school record to 13 games with 300 yards of total offense. He also became the first UCLA player to have three career games with 400 yards total offense, moving past Cade McNown. While neither team would go on to win the South Division, in this game Hundley stepped up for the Bruins and made a national statement.
Way back in mid-November we proclaimed 2014 the "Year of Close" in the Pac-12. At that point -- two weeks remaining in the regular season -- 34 games had been decided by eight or fewer points, which was already more than the 28 from the year before.

The final tally? Forty-three games were decided by eight or fewer points, which is a lot. There were a lot of close games in 2012, and the final number then was 36.

While there's certainly debate among statistically minded analysts about what close wins and losses mean, most poop on the party and call it happenstance that will even out over the years. If your team won a lot of close games last year, it figures to see a drop in that number the next fall as it regresses to the mean. And vice versa.

College football observer and magazine publisher Phil Steele is a big believer that teams that lose a lot of close games one year are headed for a turnaround the next. And vice versa.

So, yeah, it seems like reviewing the "Year of Close" might be worthwhile.

We're defining "close" as a win or loss by eight or fewer points (a one-possession game). We looked at the South Division on Tuesday. Now it's the North.

California

Record in close games: 3-4

Interpretation: Close games take many forms. The Bears led Northwestern 31-7 before nearly blowing it. They led Arizona 31-13 and did blow it, via a 47-yard Hail Mary that capped a stunning 36-point fourth quarter from the Wildcats. They also snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Colorado and Washington State, couldn't close the deal in an upset bid against UCLA, couldn't complete a huge comeback against USC and got outlasted by BYU in the season finale that cost them a bowl berth. It was a crazy year, indicative of a program that was dramatically improving after an awful 1-11 2013 season. While the Pac-12 blog believes Cal, with 16 position player starters back, could continue a strong upward trend in 2015 -- a notion supported by the information here -- the "Ted Miller" portion of the blog realizes he's not allowed to say nice things about Cal because that only spells doom for the Bears.

Oregon

Record in close games: 1-1

Interpretation: Oregon doesn't really play close games. Or, at least, when the Ducks win, they tend to blow teams out, even good teams -- see Michigan State, UCLA, Stanford, Utah, Arizona (take 2) and Florida State this past season. Oregon played two close games in 2014, the same number it played in 2013 and 2011 and one more than it did in 2012. It got pretty lucky against Washington State, as a few -- cough, cough -- things went the Ducks way late in the game (any feelings there, Cougs?). The 31-24 loss to Arizona wasn't decided until deep into the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see if things are any different, post-Marcus Mariota, but the dearth of close Oregon games preceded him. The Ducks are 4-5 in close games since 2010, by the way.

Oregon State

Record in close games: 3-2

Interpretation: The Beavers won close games they should have won by more against Hawaii and Colorado. They lost close games to Utah and Washington State that could have transformed the season. They notched one shocking upset -- 35-27 over then-No. 6 Arizona State -- with an inspired second-half comeback that seemed to come from nowhere. The Beavers lost in double OT to Utah because they couldn't stop RB Devontae Booker. They lost to Washington State because they got sliced and diced by redshirt freshman QB Luke Falk, who was making his first career start. There were plenty of "what ifs?" in both those games, but no more than those from Colorado and Arizona State.

Stanford

Record in close games: 1-3

Interpretation: Our top candidate for transformative "What if?" games might be Stanford. The Cardinal dominated USC but lost 13-10. It simply blew it at Notre Dame, losing 17-14 on a 23-yard game-winning TD pass on fourth-and-11 in the final minute. It lost a double-overtime slugfest to Utah. And its one close win, 20-13 over Washington, was truly an in-complete-control statistical performance ruined by sloppy play. If you look at how Stanford played over the season's final three games after the loss at Utah, you see a team that came together in an impressive way, most notably in a 31-10 crunching of No. 8 UCLA, which kicked the Bruins out of the Pac-12 title game. There's a pretty good chance you might see the Cardinal reverse that close game record in 2015, which could again put them in North contention.

Washington

Record in close games: 2-3

Interpretation: The above number is actually worse than it appears, at least if you think the Huskies shouldn't be playing close games with Hawaii and Eastern Washington, an FCS team. Those are the two close victories. The 20-13 loss to Stanford wasn't actually that close, as the Cardinal dominated but played a sloppy game, though the Huskies failed fake punt in the fourth quarter was the game's most memorable moment. The 30-22 loss to Oklahoma State in the bowl game also wasn't much of a nail biter, as the Huskies rallied after trailing 24-0 in the first half. The 27-26 loss to Arizona, however, was a certifiable heartbreaker. The Huskies had the game won but a late fumble when Chris Petersen opted to hand the ball off instead of taking a knee set up the Wildcats game-winning, 47-yard field goal on the game's last play.

Washington State

Record in close games: 2-3

Interpretation: The Cougars blew fourth-quarter leads against Rutgers in the season opener, which set the tone for a mostly dreary season. The 38-31 defeat to Oregon was laden with "What ifs?" and a few questionable calls, but the Cougars got the same good fortune in the 28-27 win at Utah. Those two games sort of cancel each other out, particularly when you consider how good the Utes turned out to be. The most crushing -- and meaningful -- loss was to California, a game in which QB Connor Halliday broke the NCAA passing record. The Cougars went down 60-59 when kicker Quentin Breshears missed a 19-yard field goal wide right with 19 seconds. If the Cougs had won, they would have won consecutive quality games and improved to 3-3. Instead, it became the first of four consecutive losses. The lone bright spot of the season's second half was redshirt freshman QB Falk playing brilliantly in his first career start, a 39-32 win at Oregon State.

Pac-12 2015 recruiting in review 

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
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The Pac-12 landed six top-30 recruiting classes and 47 ESPN 300 prospects as every program brought in potential immediate, impact players capable of making an impression on the 2015 season. Here, we take a look back at the recruiting cycle and signing day, and hand out some superlatives for the 2015 recruiting class.


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College football is a game driven by offense, seemingly as much as it ever has been. And yet, in our review of the best Power 5 coordinator hires in this cycle, eight of the top 10 coaches in new places are defensive coordinators.

Maybe that's because when offensive coordinators move, they become head coaches? Or maybe it's because the balance of the sport could eventually swing back toward defense? Or both?


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Roquan Smith to announce Friday 

February, 11, 2015
Feb 11
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The recruitment of ESPN 300 linebacker Roquan Smith will officially come to an end Friday. The four-star prospect, ranked No. 29 overall in the 2015 class, committed to UCLA live on ESPNU on national signing day, but did not sign a letter of intent with the after word that Bruins defensive coordinator and primary recruiter Jeff Ulbrich was likely headed to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

In the days following his commitment and subsequent backing off his verbal pledge, the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game outside linebacker did speak with all four schools that were recruiting him. Smith has taken the time since signing day to think about a decision, and he's now prepared to announce.

Smith will choose between Georgia, Michigan, Texas A&M and UCLA, but the Peach State star says not all four are currently under consideration.


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Oregon has the unenviable task this offseason of replacing Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Earlier this week, the Ducks’ quarterback depth -- there are already four quarterbacks on the roster and a fifth who will enroll before the spring season -- got an even bigger boost when Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams announced he’d be transferring to Eugene.

Naturally, this sparked impassioned debate within the Pac-12 Blog, most notably between Ted Miller and Chantel Jennings. The two decided to take their debate public:

Ted Miller: If Chantel were threatening to drown me in a butt of malmsey wine, which she frequently does, if I didn’t announce my favorite to be Oregon’s next quarterback, I would whimper, “Vernon Adams.”

But unlike many folks, I think Adams is far from a certainty, both to win the job and then to be successful. It’s one thing to get juiced to play a one-off game against Oregon State or Washington before going back to a Big Sky schedule. It’s another to open against your former team -- yeah, the Ducks open the 2015 season against Eastern Washington -- and then head to Michigan State, a preseason top-10 team, and then play a nine-game schedule against the nation’s deepest conference.

Adams is talented. He can run. He can throw. He’s a good fit for the Ducks offense. He was overlooked in recruiting because of his height, which might remind folks of celebrated NFL QBs such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.

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Which quarterback will be Oregon's starter in the season opener?

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Ah, but the magical FBS QB transfer is rarely just that. I think of magical transfer QBs through the years -- Jake Heaps, Tate Forcier, Garrett Gilbert, Mitch Mustain and, Oregon’s own, Jeremiah Masoli, etc. -- and can’t recall much real magic transpiring in the win-loss column. I see hype and hope, but the reality is Wilson going from NC State to Wisconsin and leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl is the exception, not the standard.

Further, while I keep hearing from folks about how poor-to-middling Oregon’s existing crew of QBs have looked, including Mariota’s 2013 and 2014 backup, Jeff Lockie, I tend to be as skeptical of negative whispers coming from teams with closed practices as I am of hype about magical transfers. I’m skeptical that good QB guys such as coach Mark Helfrich and offensive coordinator Scott Frost don’t feel like they’ve recruited a QB in the previous three seasons who can excel in their system next fall. I think Adams represented an opportunity to deepen the competition and give the Ducks another quality option.

Adams is an intriguing potentiality. He is not a sure thing.

Adams' transfer is a no-lose situation for Oregon. I seriously doubt he’s, say, taking up a scholarship that could have gone to a five-star defensive lineman. The scholarship was open and -- egad! -- so is the Ducks' QB job.

Now let the competition begin, which I believe will be wide-open and legitimate.

Chantel Jennings: Ted, I have to believe that this is some of your “I’m going to pick against what I actually believe” mojo stuff, right? Because there’s no way you’re actually being this na´ve. Though, this whole act is really quite cute, Goldilocks.

By default, I think we have to believe that even without Adams enrolling for the spring season, he’s the front-runner to earn the starting job this fall.

Forget the fact that the Ducks will be taking on his former team in the season-opener (a team that has proven to be quite a difficult foe for Pac-12 teams in the past two seasons) and the advantage that comes with having a former Eastern Washington quarterback command Oregon’s offense. Even if the Ducks were playing their Week 2 opponent (Michigan State) in Week 1, I still believe that Adams would be the guy.

And Ted, as far as your argument about other FCS transfers, I see where you’re coming from. It’s a scary thought to believe in something when it has been proven as the expectation, rather than the rule, as you pointed out with Wilson. But I truly believe Adams can work his way into that “exception” category based on a few facts.

First: Look at what the Ducks are bringing back offensively -- you’ve got the deepest running back group in the nation. The wide receivers are talented. The tight ends are experienced and the offensive line proved this past season that it will take whatever is thrown at it. So what do the Ducks need at the QB spot? Someone who A, knows how to handle the pressure; and B, is athletic enough to keep defenses honest.

Can you point to another quarterback on Oregon’s roster that has both of those qualities?

Bueller? Bueller?

What about even one of those qualities?

OK, maybe two of the current quarterbacks have the athleticism of Adams, but they lack his experience.

Given that point alone, I don’t see how you can’t come over to my side of the argument, Ted.

I don’t think Oregon wants its quarterback to be perfect.

But what Oregon needs is a guy who’s going to take care of the ball. And until you can show me a quarterback that instills that level of confidence on the field (in a spring game, or in garbage minutes), I’m going to firmly plant my flag in the “Adams is the starter by default” camp.

You should really head over this way though, Ted. We’ve got campfires and s’mores.

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