Pac-10 lunch links: Cal vs. Colorado in 2011?

February, 4, 2011
Happy Friday.

Arizona QB Matt Scott to redshirt?

February, 4, 2011
It took a while for Arizona coach Mike Stoops to warm to the idea, but it appears that he's seriously considering redshirting backup quarterback Matt Scott next year, according to the Tucson Citizen, which cited a radio interview with Jody Oehler.

The idea is Nick Foles starts in 2011, stays healthy and heads to the 2012 NFL draft, while leaving behind an experienced backup in Scott who can take over the job the next fall.

Foles will be one of the nation's top senior quarterbacks this coming season, so it's unlikely that Scott, also a senior but with a redshirt year available, would beat him out. But Scott proved in 2010 that he can play at a high level when he stepped in while Foles was injured. In fact, more than a few fans wanted to see more of Scott, who can make things happen as a runner, even when Foles was healthy.

Of course, you know what they say about your best laid plans? As the Citizen article notes:
Some of the guidelines might still have to be established. If Foles were injured, how long would he have to be out for Arizona to consider activating Scott? The Wildcats’ plan is to use senior Bryson Beirne as the backup in 2011. Can he handle the job for a half? For a game? Two?

How late in the season would be the point of no return for taking Scott out of his redshirt?

Put it like this: Say Foles gets hurt in Game 5 at USC. The severity of his injury is unknown. The Wildcats lead by three heading into the fourth quarter.

If the plan in place is to redshirt Scott, that means Beirne would be getting second-team reps in practice ahead of Scott. So you'd think Beirne would be the guy to try to shepherd home a critical road victory against a South Division foe.

Or would Stoops go with Scott, a more talented, experienced player, no matter the practice work? And then what if Foles is ready to go the next week?

In other words, it's an idea that makes sense but requires crossed fingers.

Know, however, that it has worked: Oregon played quarterback Darron Thomas as a true freshman in 2008 and then redshirted him in 2009, which looks like it will turn out great for the Ducks. Of course, the situations aren't the same. The Ducks had veteran Nate Costa backing up Jeremiah Masoli in 2009, and Costa even started and won at UCLA. The Wildcats don't have the same luxury at the position, though it does help that true freshman Daxx Garman is enrolled and will participate in spring practices.

It will be a situation worth watching this spring. Certainly it would help if Beirne -- or Garman? -- steps up and shows his coaches that he can be a reliable backup.

Utah reshuffles staff

February, 4, 2011
Norm Chow: Utah tight ends coach.

Sorry. Just wanted to type that.

Here's how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has reshuffled his staff after hiring Chow away from UCLA, per a press release:

[O]ffensive coordinator Norm Chow will also coach the tight ends, while Dave Schramm takes over at running back -- a position he managed during his first four years at Utah (2005-08). Aaron Alford, a Ute assistant since 2007 and the running backs coach for the last two seasons, moves into an administrative role as the director of high school relations. The rest of Utah’s offensive staff has Aaron Roderick beginning his seventh year with the receivers, Brian Johnson coaching the quarterbacks for the second year, and Tim Davis taking over the offensive line.

[+] EnlargeNorm Chow
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport - US PresswireNew Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow will bring a lot of experience to the staff.
Utah also announced that Chad Kauha’aha’a will take over as defensive line coach. He replaces John Pease, who retired after the season. Kauha’aha’a was Utah State's defensive line coach for the past two seasons. He's a former second-team all WAC player for the Utes in 1996. Whittingham was the defensive coordinator during Kauha’aha’a’s last three years at Utah.

But back to the offensive shakeup. Here's how Whittingham explained it:

“We took our time re-positioning the offensive staff and made sure that we got everybody into the roles we felt were best for the program. Aaron Alford did a nice job with our running backs, and the cornerbacks before that, but as the director of high school relations, he will fill a critical role for us in our move to the Pac-12.”

It seems like Whittingham tried to limit the shock to his staff's system as best he could, seeing that Schramm and Roderick shared the coordinating duties last year and are functionally getting a demotion because of the arrival of Chow.

Most interesting: Chow is not coaching quarterbacks. That's been his specialty since his BYU days in the 1970s. That decision feels like tip of the cap to Brian Johnson, as well as a way to allow Chow to serve in a more supervisory role. A graduate assistant can put tight ends through drills. Coaching quarterbacks is far more involved.

Further, Chow turns 65 in May. It seems unlikely he'll be Utah's offensive coordinator for the next decade, though you never know. You'd think the rest of the offensive staff, even if they are grumpy at present about the changes, could absorb plenty of knowledge from Chow over the next few years that will benefit them down the road.

While Chow's tenure at UCLA wasn't successful, he's still on a short list of the best offensive minds in college football history. You'd also think he'll be plenty motivated to wash the bad taste out of his mouth over how things went in Westwood.

And who isn't excited about UCLA's visit on Nov. 12?

43 Pac-12 players headed to NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
If you are invited to the NFL combine, which will be held February 23 – March 1, in Indianapolis, you know you are on the NFL radar.

For example, I wasn't invited.

43 players from the Pac-12, however, were. Hopefully, I didn't miscount; there are around 300 names on the list.

Top executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams will be on hand to evaluate the players eligible for the upcoming NFL draft. It's basically a four-day job interview -- with a 40-yard dash and bench press test.

You can see the entire list here.

Here are the Pac-12 invitees.

Mat Asiata, Utah, RB
Akeem Ayers, UCLA, LB
Brandon Bair, Oregon, DT
Allen Bradford, USC, RB
Jalil Brown, Colorado, CB
Brandon Burton, Utah, DB
Jordan Cameron, USC, TE
Jurrell Casey, USC, DT
Chris Conte, California, S
Ricky Elmore, Arizona, DE
Kai Forbath, UCLA, K
Reid Forrest, Washington State, P
Mason Foster, Washington, LB
Sione Fua, Stanford, NT
Adam Grant, Arizona, OL
Lawrence Guy, Arizona State, DT
Stanley Havili, USC, FB
Ronald Johnson, USC, WR
Cameron Jordan, California, DE
Alex Linnenkohl, Oregon State, OC
Jake Locker, Washington, QB
Jeff Maehl, Oregon, WR
Owen Marecic, Stanford, FB
Casey Matthews, Oregon, LB
Mike Mohamed, California, LB
Rahim Moore, UCLA, S
Kristofer O'Dowd, USC, C
Stephen Paea, Oregon State, DT
Brooks Reed, Arizona, DE
D'Aundre Reed, Arizona, DE
Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, RB
Caleb Schlauderaff, Utah, OG
Richard Sherman, Stanford, CB
Sealver Siliga, Utah, DT
Jimmy Smith, Colorado, CB
Tyron Smith, USC, OT
Nate Solder, Colorado, OT
Zane Taylor, Utah, OC
Shane Vereen, California, RB
Ryan Whalen, Stanford, WR
Nate Williams, Washington, S
Zach Williams, Washington State, OC
Shareece Wright, USC, CB

Afternoon links: No felony charges for Mustain

February, 3, 2011
Some post-signing day links for your review.

Podcast: Signing day recap

February, 3, 2011
Ivan Maisel talks recruiting and signing day with Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald and Oregon’s Chip Kelly.

Arizona recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011
Arizona Wildcats

The 2011 class

Recruits: 17, who will join five players who enrolled at mid-year

Top prospects: Rob Hankins, the No. 10 linebacker in the nation, was a nice get out of Texas. Dominique Petties and Hank Hobson are undersized but speedy prospects at outside lilnebacker. Running back Ka'Deem Carey and wide receiver Patrick Onwuasor could break into the rotation, though the Wildcats are deep at receiver.

Needs met: The class includes four offensive linemen, three linebackers, two receivers, two running backs, two defensive ends, two defensive backs, one defensive tackle and one tight end. The top needs were at defensive end, linebacker, offensive line and running back, so the class filled the needs.

Analysis: The class is strong at linebacker, which shows that coach Mike Stoops doesn't want to again find himself the pickle he did last year when the position lost three starters and there was little depth behind them. Carey and Jared Baker could find their way into the rotation at running back with the loss of Nic Grigsby and injury issues with Keola Antolin. Quarterback Daxx Garman will participate in spring practices after missing his senior season due to eligibility issues. Most of the incoming offensive linemen look like projects, which isn't good when the line needs rebuilding. This is a solid class but it's not high on star-power.

ESPN recruiting grade: C+

Arizona State recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011
Arizona State Sun Devils

The 2011 class

Recruits: 14, 12 high school players and two from junior colleges

Top prospects: Mo Latu could immediately be in the mix at defensive tackle (or he could end up on the O-line). Gary Chambers is an intriguing prospect at receiver. Michael Eubank and Michael Bercovici, who's already in school, should provide depth at quarterback. Josh Hubner is the favorite to win the punting job.

Needs met: The Sun Devils signed three defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, two quarterbacks, two linebackers, a punter, cornerback, safety and receiver. The had needs at linebacker, punt and QB, so those needs were hit, despite a small signing class due to a small class of graduating seniors.

Analysis: While hopes are high for the Sun Devils in 2011 -- they are the frontrunners in the Pac-12 South -- this class is underwhelming. Arizona mostly beat the Sun Devils in-state, and Utah lured away WR/DB Quinton Pedroza, who had been committed. Running back Ka'Deem Carey chose Arizona, while DL Todd Peat took a last-minute turn to Nebraska. The Sun Devils recent on-field struggles and questions about coach Dennis Erickson's future with the program probably hurt.

ESPN recruiting grade: C

Colorado recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 19, including 18 high school and one JC player.

Top prospects: DL Stephan Nembot was a nice poach from Washington, and OL Marc Mustoe was lured away from UCLA. Sherrard Harrington could be in the mix immediately at cornerback.

Needs met: The class included four defensive backs, three linebackers, three offensive linemen, two running backs, two quarterbacks, two defensive ends, a receiver, a kicker and an athlete. The Buffaloes needed to upgrade team speed, with an emphasis in the secondary and at receiver. Four new DBs help but the results at receiver weren't as good.

Analysis: New coach Jon Embree got a late start but closed fairly well, snagging Nembot and OG Paulay Asiata away from the Huskies. Toss in Juda Parker and LB K.T. Tuumalo, and Colorado ended up with perhaps the top three prospects from Hawaii, a good state in which to establish recruiting ties. It hurt losing QB Brock Bergland, the top prospect in the state to Kansas. Embree figures to do better next go-around when he gets a full year to plan and recruit. And he'll have to in order to quickly become competitive in the Pac-12.

ESPN recruiting grade: D

California recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011
California Bears

The 2011 class

Recruits: 22, 20 high school players and two from junior colleges

Top prospects: DE Todd Barr and DT Viliami Moala might be the best pair of defensive linemen any team signed. Avery Walls is the nation's No. 6 safety. Maurice Harris is an elite receiver. Brendon Bigelow is the No. 13 RB.

Needs met: The class includes five defensive backs, five defensive linemen, three linebackers, three running backs, two offensive linemen, a quarterback, a tight end, a receiver and an "athlete." The Bears top needs were D-line, linebacker and running back, so needs met.

Analysis: This might be the Pac-12's best class of defensive players. The class ranks 17th in the nation and features five players from the ESPNU 150. Expect to see guys from this class playing next fall on all three levels on defense. Further, the Bears didn't lose any guys on signing day while luring away CB Kameron Jackson from Washington. If Bigelow stays healthy, he could immediately challenge for playing time. If you are looking for a weakness, the Bears didn't sign an elite QB, perhaps the team's biggest question heading into spring practices.

ESPN recruiting grade: B

Oregon recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 23, 21 high school players and two from the JC ranks

Top prospects: A very fast team just got faster. The nation's No. 1 "athlete," DeAnthony Thomas, was lured away from USC on signing day. He'll play running back for the Ducks, but he could end up at cornerback. Devon Blackmon is the No. 2 athlete. Tacoi Sumler provides sprinter's speed at receiver. Andre Yruretagoyena and Jacob Fisher will bolster the offensive line. Colt Lyerla might actually be the best athlete in the class.

Needs met: The Ducks wanted to restock on the defensive and offensive lines, at linebacker and at receiver. They signed five offensive linemen, five receivers, five linebackers, three defensive linemen, two running backs, a safety, tight end and quarterback. So they mostly met their needs, though the class of defensive linemen isn't as strong as the others.

Analysis: The class ranked 14th in the nation and included five members of the ESPNU 150. Some are calling this the best recruiting class in Oregon history. It's clear the Ducks have taken a big step forward as a program -- first on the field, now in recruiting. The class includes players from eight states -- California (8), Arizona (3), Oregon (3), Hawaii (2), Iowa (2), Texas (2), Florida (1), and Michigan (1) -- so the Ducks are now national recruiters. On the downside, there were some misses, most notably on the defensive line: defensive end Roderick Byers decommitted from Oregon and signed with Clemson; defensive tackle Christian Heyward picked USC; and defensive tackle Delvon Simmons signed with North Carolina. Still, Oregon's positive momentum under coach Chip Kelly continues.

ESPN recruiting grade: B

Oregon State recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 24, which includes 21 high school players and three JC transfers.

Top prospects: Darryl Jackson is a huge -- 6-foot-7 -- offensive tackle. He might get into the mix pretty quickly, considering the Beavers' offensive line struggles in 2010. Brandin Cooks is a top-fifty receiver. More than a few folks believe tight end Kellen Clute is an underrated prospect.

Needs met: The class included six defensive ends -- three from the JC ranks -- four receivers, four defensive linemen, three athletes, two running backs, two offensive linemen, a tight end, an outside linebacker and a quarterback. At least a couple of the defensive ends will immediately compete for playing time, and the Beavers needed to restock at receiver and running back, where Jacquizz Rodgers must be replaced.

Analysis: The typical Oregon State class. Not a lot of headliners (thought more than a few schools would have signed Jackson), but a solid top-to-bottom class of athletes, most of whom will need a bit of seasoning to get Pac-12 ready. It will be interesting to see if either of the running backs -- Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew -- get into the mix in the fall.

ESPN recruiting grade: C+

Stanford recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 19, all high school seniors

Top prospects: LB James Vaughters and S Wayne Lyons are both ESPNU 150 members. Jordan Richards could play receiver or cornerback, two positions of need. LB Patrick Skov is the younger brother of standout Cardinal LB Shayne Skov.

Needs met: The top three need areas were receiver, defensive line and secondary and the Cardinal hit all three. The class includes five defensive linemen, four defensive backs, two offensive linemen, two running backs, two wide receivers, two quarterbacks and two linebackers.

Analysis: The class mostly held together after the departure of coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers. There's a lot of top-to-bottom quality that hits needs, and the class upgrades the Cardinal's team speed, particularly in the secondary where it is most needed. On the downside, Stanford lost athlete Amir Carlisle and LB Anthony Sarao to USC. Both had been committed to Harbaugh.

ESPN recruiting grade: B

UCLA recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 16, which includes three prep seniors already attending classes and a junior college player who signed his letter of intent in December and will enroll for the spring quarter.

Top prospects: The jewel of the class is Brett Hundley, who is widely regarded as the nation's best dual-threat QB. DT Kevin McReynolds was a nice late pickup, as was WR Devin Lucien. The Bruins also got offensive lineman Torian White, who announced he would sign with USC on Wednesday but changed his mind and honored his commitment to UCLA.

Needs met: The class included five offensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive tackles, two quarterbacks, a receiver, a running back, a defensive end and a tight end. O-line, D-line and quarterback were the top three need areas and the class hit those.

Analysis: The Bruins' class was going to be small, numbers-wise, anyway, but the lack of star power here received negative national attention, particularly with cross-town rival USC surging, despite NCAA sanctions. Hundley is the only member of the ESPNU 150 in the class. The Bruins lost a number of signing-day battles, too, most notably DE Jalen Grimble (Miami) and LB Tony Steward (Clemson). And many of the battles they won weren't against top teams -- offensive lineman Will Oliver, for example, was committed to Sacramento State, and DT Brandon Tuliaupupu was lured away from Washington State. Part of the problem is the perception that coach Rick Neuheisel is on the hot seat. And the Norm Chow soap opera didn't help, as didn't the continuing void at defensive coordinator.

ESPN recruiting grade: C-

USC recruiting wrap

February, 3, 2011

The 2011 class

Recruits: 30, which includes eight early enrollees. The Trojans added 21 high school football players and one junior college player Wednesday.

Top prospects: Take your pick. George Farmer is the nation's No. 1 receiver. Antwaun Woods was the No. 5 DT. Cyrus Hobbi was the No. 1 OG. Max Wittek was the No. 3 QB. Ten of the signees were ESPNU 150 members.

Needs met: The biggest need: Numbers. And the Trojans clearly hit that. Five high school players and three junior college players already enrolled at USC in January and will participate in spring practices. The class includes five defensive linemen, four offensive linemen, four linebackers, three receivers, two running backs, two defensive back, a tight end and a punter. The Trojans stocked up on linemen -- depth on both sides of the ball was an issue -- and at linebacker, another need. There's also enough speed to fortify the secondary, which struggled in 2010.

Analysis: The class was ranked fourth in the nation by ESPN Recruiting. Said coach Lane Kiffin: “This may be the most critical class that ever signed at USC." The reason for that is the Trojans restocked their numbers while they wait for the NCAA to rule on their appeal of severe sanctions. Even if they don't get relief, getting to a full 85 scholarships this fall will make things easier over the next three years when scholarship reductions are in place, particularly the increased numbers on the line, where players typically need more time to develop.

ESPN recruiting grade: A