Pac-12 Fall Camp Notes
David Bakhtiari makes ESPN All-Pac-12 team
The ESPN preseason All-Pac-12 team is 25 players strong, with 14 of those players coming from USC and Oregon.
Colorado does have a representative on the list, junior left tackle David Bakhtiari.
Of the 11 players not wearing the uniforms of USC or Oregon, five are from Stanford, leaving the remaining nine teams in the league six spots. Washington, Oregon State, Cal, Washington State, Utah and Colorado all had one player named, while Arizona State, UCLA, and Arizona were shut out.
The Pac-12 – if this pre-season list proves accurate – is not a very well balanced league. USC and Oregon are both in the top five nationally, while Stanford rates a top 20 ranking in the polls.
The rest of the league? It’s up for grabs …
Cecil Whiteside will not play for Cal this fall
For those who follow CU recruiting, the name Cecil Whiteside will sound familiar. Whiteside was a 6’3″, 220-pound linebacker who was a four-star member of the recruiting Class of 2010. Whiteside took an official visit to Boulder in October, 2009, for the Buffs’ 34-30 upset win over No. 17 Kansas. “I got to see the campus, see the dorms, see Ralphie their mascot, got to hang out in the locker room and see the pre-game speech,” Whiteside told BuffStampede.com at the time. “I also talked to basically the whole entire staff,” Whiteside recapped. “I really liked how into the game their fans were. They rushed the field after the game. It was really cool.”
Well, Whiteside signed with Cal the following February, but he is no longer a Bear.
According to the San Francisco Examiner … Sophomore outside linebacker Cecil Whiteside was declared academically ineligible for the 2012 season Tuesday, ending what had been a troubled period for him. Whiteside had been suspended indefinitely in the spring but was reinstated by Tedford for camp. Whiteside showed flashes of ability as a freshman but as a sophomore, he was not on the two-deep roster.
Jeff Tuel may not be the starter for Mike Leach
Washington State lost starting quarterback Jeff Tuel to injury the first game of last season. Tuel later returned to duty, only to be injured once again.
It had been anticipated for much the spring, and well into Fall Camp, that Tuel would be the starter in 2012 … but not so fast.
From ESPN … New Washington State coach Mike Leach declined to reveal Tuesday whether veteran Jeff Tuel or sophomore Connor Halliday will start Thursday night’s season opener at BYU.
The depth chart for the game lists either Tuel or Halliday starting.
Leach said last Saturday that if the game were to be played that day, Tuel would start. Tuel also took the majority of reps with the first team during training camp.
Tuel threw for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore, the one season he stayed healthy. He missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. Halliday did well as his replacement until a lacerated liver ended his season.
Leach did say that he won’t be rotating both quarterbacks.
Coloradoan – “There’s really no reason for CSU to lose”
From Matt Stephens, writer for the Coloradoan, in predicting CSU’s record for 2012 …
That’s what we all thought after taking an initial glance at last year’s CSU football schedule. No reason the Rams shouldn’t win six games, we thought.
Then the opener rolled around. Beating lowly New Mexico became a struggle and the rest of the season fell by the spillway. And after losing a third consecutive year to Wyoming, a 3-9 season almost seemed inevitable in retrospect.
Well, another season starts Saturday and just like a year ago, the schedule looks easy. Predicting seven wins is absolutely reasonable, but no one would think you’re crazy projecting nine losses, either.
Nothing with Colorado State University football seems to come easy anymore, but I want to cover a winning team for a change. With that in mind, I bring you my official predictions for the 2012.
This is on the record.
• CU-Boulder (W, 1-0): The Buffs are a six-point favorite in Las Vegas. I still think CSU wins this, even though the Rams haven’t won in Denver since 2006.
There’s really no reason for CSU to lose, aside from the fact it’s the Rocky Mountain Showdown. CU quarterback Jordan Webb did nothing but throw interceptions at Kansas and without Paul Richardson at receiver — ouch.
… Stephens goes on to predict a 7-5 record for the Rams in 2012.
Clip and save …
Arkansas State dismisses two wide receivers
And it’s not like Oregon needed anymore help in its opener …
From ESPN … Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn says wide receiver Earl Lucas has been dismissed from the football team for violating team rules.
Lucas, a sophomore from Prattville, Ala., had 20 catches for 225 yards last season for the Red Wolves on their way to a 10-3 season and Sun Belt Conference championship.
The announcement follows Friday’s suspension of another wide receiver, Tres Houston, for the entire season, also for violating team rules. Also, former Auburn running back Michael Dyer was dismissed from the team last month.
Trojans lose starting cornerback to academically ineligibility
From ESPN … USC cornerback Isiah Wiley has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2012 season and has been taken off athletic scholarship, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin confirmed Friday.
Wiley, a senior, was a returning starter for the Trojans but had not practiced in fall camp because of questions about his academic status. Kiffin said that lessened the impact of his absence.
“The blow is not as big, I think, because of the way we went about it,” Kiffin said. “We had kind of moved forward, as you can tell, by not having him here in camp.”
Wiley started the final six games of the 2011 season for the Trojans and played a key role against Stanford and Oregon. He had 11 tackles against the Cardinal and a fumble recovery in the win over the Ducks.
With Wiley off scholarship, USC is now able to extend scholarships to all three walk-ons who had been given them in previous seasons and still meet the NCAA-mandated limit of 75.
Oregon names its starting quarterback
Oregon has followed Colorado in at least one respect this season … less than a week after CU quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer hinted the Buffs might alternate quarterbacks in the early season, Jon Embree went ahead and named a starter.
Less than a week after Oregon head coach Chip Kelly hinted the Ducks might alternate quarterbacks in the early season, Kelly went ahead and named a starter.
From ESPN … The Oregon Ducks have named redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota their starting quarterback, ending a seven-month battle with third-year sophomore Bryan Bennett, the team announced Friday.
Mariota, a redshirt freshman from Honolulu, is a speedy option with breakaway ability. He proved as much in a breakout performance during the Ducks’ spring game, when he took a keeper 82 yards for a score.
He completed 18 of 26 passes in that game for 202 yards and a touchdown while also running for 99 yards and two scores.
Bennett, a redshirt sophomore, played in eight games in 2011, going 25-of-46 for 369 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Mariota is the first freshman to start in an opener for Oregon since Danny O’Neil in 1991.
Neuheisel: ESPN made the SEC the strongest conference
Okay, if the over/under on former CU/Washington/UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel saying something interesting/controversial in his new job as Pac-12 Network commentator was one week, and you took the under, congratulations! You’re a winner.
From the Los Angeles Daily News… When Neuheisel got a taste of media work recently on the New York-based CBS Sports Network last fall, he couldn’t believe how the Pac-12 always seemed to get the short end of conversation.
Not any more.
“TV has its own language – there’s the A block, the B block, the C block when you’re doing segments at the start of the show,” Neuheisel said. “Gosh darn it, the Pac-12 was always in the F block, way in the back, just four or five minutes, enough time to maybe cover two teams, and that’s it.
“We don’t have to take that anymore – it’s like we’re in that Twisted Sister video. We’ve got all kinds of storylines in this conference. No producer in my ear telling me to wrap it up before we start talking about something in the Pacific Time zone.
“You wonder how the SEC became so powerful? It’s a direct correlation to how ESPN has been talking them up over the years, because they have a financial interest in them. So all the sudden, it’s a monster conference.”
For the record, ESPN is invested in the Pac-12, having signed a rights deal in partnership with Fox Sports that covers 12 years and $3 billion for the conference. Neuheisel still isn’t convinced that’s enough to make a network like ESPN change its focus.
“I think they just want to be competitive in all the time zones, but we’re still not given the same amount of attention as the SEC or the Big Ten. Watch `(College) Game Day,’ and the Pac-12 will get one block, and it’s usually just about USC or Oregon.”
It’s Rick being Rick. It doesn’t matter that he is probably right, it’s still not the politically correct thing to say.
Still, if the Pac-12 Network – and, by extension, the Pac-12 – is to build on its brand, and attract a greater following, a little “Rick being Rick” won’t hurt.
Arizona suspends starting defensive lineman
From the ArizonaStar … Defensive tackle Justin Washington has been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. Coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed the suspension tonight following a rain-soaked practice at Kindall/Sancet Field.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 268-pound senior has not been with the team since late last week, and was not in attendance at Sunday’s meet-the-team function in McKale Center. He’s not likely to be on the sidelines when the Wildcats open their season Sept. 1 against Toledo.
“He’s got to do some things to get back with the team,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, he’s not practicing and he’s got to do some other things before we allow him to join the Wildcats.”
Washington registered 15 starts and played in 21 games during his first two seasons at the UA. After playing extensively as a freshman, Washington had just 18 tackles and two tackles-for-loss as a sophomore. He was expected to compete for playing time in the UA’s 3-3-5 “odd stack” defense; he and Kirifi Taula were listed as co-starters at one of the two end positions in the team’s first depth chart of training camp.
USC opens ridiculously spectacular athletic center
From the Orange County Register … USC dedicated the John McKay Center on Tuesday, but its positive impact already has been felt on the recruiting trail.
While the $70 million, 110,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art athletic facility was under construction, football coach Lane Kiffin would show recruits videos of what the building would look like. Now they can walk through it. It’s hard to come away unimpressed.
“It’s a huge advantage,” said Kiffin, who has the No. 1 class for 2013, according to Rivals.com. “We were way behind our conference and (the) country. I think we not only caught up, but we probably passed everybody.”
Years in the making, the McKay Center opened for USC’s student-athletes late last month. The facility, named for the former USC football coach who won four national championships during his 16-year tenure, seamlessly blends the school’s storied athletic past with modern amenities and technology.
The building’s centerpiece is a 33-by-15-foot video wall in the main atrium. Recruits and others can watch USC promotional videos and live games on the video board from a lounge across the room. They even can play video games on it.
CSU conducting walk-on tryouts
Read into this what you will, but the positions CSU is looking for, I believe, is telling …
From the Coloradoan … On Wednesday morning, new coach Jim McElwain is extending the opportunity for a new generation of walk-ons to form their own success stories. The coaches will hold a meeting in the McGraw Athletic Center auditorium at 7 a.m. for any eligible CSU student looking to play college football.
Director of Football Operations Tom Ehlers said the team has four to five roster spots available that need to be filled this fall.
“There’s a good opportunity for a guy to think, ‘hey, maybe I should do it,” Ehlers said. “We realize maybe they haven’t trained like ours guys did all summer, but we’re not out there to embarrass anyone or anything. We’re going to work them in quickly, but we’re not going to kill them.”
Anyone interested in attending the meeting is encouraged to bring a DVD or YouTube link with their film from high school or other college teams, although it is not a requirement, Ehlers said.
McElwain, who has stressed the importance of depth on both the offensive and defensive lines, tight end and fullback, said the invitation for potential walk-ons is open to “all comers.”
Size, however, is ideal simply because of the difficulty of finding the right body type, but those looking to try for skill positions will get a fair look Ehlers said.
Stanford names Nunes starter
From ESPN … Josh Nunes will step into Andrew Luck’s very big shoes for Stanford.
Nunes, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt junior, was announced as the winner of Stanford’s quarterback competition on Tuesday. He beat out redshirt sophomore Brett Nottingham, who began spring practices as the favorite to win the job, and redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan.
Nunes’ only action for Stanford came in 2010, when he completed 1 of 2 passes for seven yards against Wake Forest.
An ESPN/Under Armour All-American in 2008, he threw for 2,813 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Upland (Calif.) High School.
Arizona State picks quarterback; Stanford remains undecided
From ESPN … In a mild upset, Taylor Kelly will start at quarterback for Arizona State against Northern Arizona on Aug. 30.
Kelly, a redshirt sophomore from Eagle, Idaho, beat out redshirt freshman Michael Eubank and sophomore Mike Bercovici, who was Brock Osweiler’s backup in 2011.
At the end of spring practices, Kelly appeared to rank third and Bercovici first, but Kelly took control early in preseason practices and has been running with the first team most of the month.
While the initial announcement was made without comment, it’s almost certain Eubank will see significant playing time. He’s the best runner of the three, and first-year coach Todd Graham wants to use his quarterbacks in an option running game. Graham has repeatedly said that Eubank will see game action this fall.
Kelly, 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, was 4-of-4 for 31 yards last season, all in an appearance against Colorado.
Meanwhile, from the San Jose Mercury News … Stanford completed its final scrimmage of training camp Sunday with no resolution at quarterback.
Junior quarterback Josh Nunes worked with the first team, and sophomore Brett Nottingham led the second team.
Nunes completed 7 of 10 passes for 49 yards and one touchdown, Nottingham was 5 of 6 for 125 yards, and third stringer Kevin Hogan was 7 of 13 for 31 yards.
Shaw, who called the scrimmage a “significant but small part” of the evaluation process, is expected to name a starter this week.
Even with (awful) ad campaign, Colorado State season ticket sales still sad
From the Coloradoan …
As of a few days ago, CSU had sold 4,743 season tickets, senior associate athletic director Gary Ozzello said. That’s a 5.2 percent increase from the same date a year ago, when 4,507 had been sold.
CSU’s season-ticket sales for football have been on a general decline in the past several years, dropping from 8,082 in 2006 to 5,994 in 2010. There was a slight tick upward last season to 6,212, and new athletic director Jack Graham is hoping to see an increase again this year with a new head coach and an overall average price reduction of nearly 12 percent. Prices range from $75 for youth season tickets, available only in the north end zone of Hughes Stadium, to $199. Seats in some sections require Ram Club memberships of $100- $350.
If the whopping 5.2% increase in season ticket sales holds (great excitement about the new head coach in Ft. Collins, everyone!), the season ticket sales will climb to around 6,535, or 323 more season tickets than in 2011. (For comparison’s sake, CU has historically averaged between 20,000 and 25,000 season ticket holders).
Certainly enough reason to build a 42,000-seat stadium, no?
In case you missed it, the CSU season-ticket television commercial is below. As of Saturday, it was up to 725 views on YouTube (going viral anytime now!) …
USC loses defensive end for the season
The only thing which can stop USC from competing for a national championship in 2012?
From ESPN … USC Trojans defensive end DeVante Wilson has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will undergo season-ending surgery, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin announced Wednesday.
Wilson will redshirt the 2012 season.
A true freshman, Wilson suffered the injury on Tuesday during noncontact drills, Kiffin said. It’s the second torn ACL Wilson has suffered since originally signing with the Trojans in February 2011.
He underwent surgery on the right ACL last August after tearing it in offseason work in his hometown of Corona, then grey-shirted last season and enrolled at USC in January.
The Trojans are now down to 70 healthy scholarship players on their roster, with the academic status of three players not yet determined and three others likely out for the 2012 season.
Wilson is the second defensive end to go down long-term. Senior Devon Kennard tore his pectoral muscle last month and is expected to be out until at least November or December, if not the entire season.
Late last week, Kiffin said he was “really comfortable” with the backups at only three positions: running back, quarterback and safety. I’d include receiver too, given De’Von Flourney’s ascent. But as Kiffin noted, USC oddly has very few junior and senior reserves who have played meaningful snaps. Flournoy, a redshirt junior, has yet to catch a pass in a game.
Kiffin said Wednesday that USC is “not going anywhere if we don’t get these backups ready. Like we tell them, it’s not a video game; the same 11 players can’t play every snap. We’ve got to have some other guys ready to go.”
“With our ones, we can pretty much do whatever we want,” quarterback Matt Barkley said. “After that, it’s who knows what’s possible.”
Colorado State lose running back and wide receiver for Rocky Mountain Showdown
From the Denver Post… Colorado State sophomore wide receiver Thomas Coffman underwent emergency surgery early Wednesday morning after alerting team trainers to acute pain in his lower abdomen following team meetings Tuesday night.
CSU coach Jim McElwain said he expected Coffman, who was vying for a starting job, to be out 2-3 weeks, meaning he probably won’t be available for the season opener against Colorado on Sept. 1. McElwain praised the swiftness with which his staff acted to get Coffman taken care of.
Coffman is the Rams’ deadliest deep threat, leading the team with a 26.2 yards per catch average last season. He also returned kickoffs, so there is a bit of a hole for McElwain and the coaching staff to fill while he’s gone.
“You have to plan without him,” McElwain said. “I look at it not as a deterrent, but it allows somebody to step up, grab the flag, take his reps on offense as well as in the return game. It gives somebody the opportunity to step up and be a player.”
Meanwhile … A few days after making his best impression of the preseason in last Saturday’s scrimmage, running back Davon Riddick suffered a broken wrist that will require surgery on Wednesday, Colorado State coach Jim McElwain said.
“He kind of fell on his wrist and we didn’t think much about it, but the x-ray shows he’ll probably need surgery,” McElwain said. “He was really having a great camp. I feel real bad about that.”
McElwain said it was too early to tell how much time Riddick, who ran for 83 yards on 10 carries in the scrimmage, will miss. The injury was suffered in practice on Monday. It’s a blow to a CSU team looking to get some seasoning to a stable of young running backs that are slated to provide depth behind starter Chris Nwoke.
With Riddick out, the battle for primary backup comes down to Donnell Alexander and Tommey Morris with Mark Woodbury in the mix.
Jordan Wynn hasn’t won the Utah starting job … yet
From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Just as many hoped, one Utah quarterback ripped it up in Tuesday’s scrimmage, separating himself from the others by completing all but one pass, throwing for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Yep, Adam Schulz, a freshman from Muskego, Wis., had a great day in the session held at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
As for the quarterbacks everyone else is wondering about, veteran Jordan Wynn, Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson all had their moments too, just not enough to prompt coach Kyle Whittingham to proclaim he has a starting quarterback.
With two weeks remaining before the Utes open the season against Northern Colorado, Whittingham insists the quarterback position is open, despite the presence of Wynn, who has recovered from shoulder surgery well and enters his fourth year with the program.
It is assumed Wynn, a former CU commit, will be the starter when the dust settles, but the Utes also like how Wilson, an agile, 6-foot-6 freshman, is developing.
Wynn was 6 for 9 for 85 yards, Wilson completed 4 of 9 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown, and Hays was 3 for 6 for 37 yards and a touchdown. And Schulz, a freshman who has made the most progress in the last year according to Whittingham, was 8 for 9 for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
Star Arizona State running back “done being tackled”
From the Arizona Republic … Senior running back Cameron Marshall, limited in practice for the second consecutive day Tuesday,won’t play in Saturday’s scrimmage. Perhaps more concerning: Coach Todd Graham said Marshall is done getting tackled for the rest of camp.
“We’re just resting him,” Graham said. “He won’t scrimmage Saturday or any of that, not that he couldn’t. He’s done being tackled.”
Asked if Marshall’s ankle is an issue, Graham said, “No, he’s just fatigued.”
Marshall battled ankle issues all of last season and had minor surgery in the spring. At Pac-12 Media Day last month, Marshall said he was 100 percent. Last season, the running back rushed for 1,050 yards and tied a school record with 18 rushing touchdowns. This season, he’s expected to be the featured back in Graham’s fast-paced attack.
UCLA loses starting linebacker and captain
From InsideUCLA.com … Linebacker Patrick Larimore, voted a team captain in 2011 and undoubtedly the heart and soul of the defense, medically retired and left UCLA camp after Sunday night’s practice, according to sources.
Larimore, a 6-foot-2 redshirt senior out of Santa Clarita’s Hart HS, last week suffered his second concussion in a span of six months. He suffered his last concussion at the tail-end of spring camp. Initially during fall camp it was believed that Larimore was experiencing heat exhaustion but soon it was revealed that it was actually worse.
There was no indication given as to how soon Larimore would return to practice, but with a concussion it was assumed the team, trainers and doctors would take extra precaution given the proximity of the concussions, but nobody expected this bomb shell. According to sources, players were informed of the news during a team meeting and soon after went looking for Larimore to offer consolation. The heartbreaking news comes on the heels of offensive lineman Chris Ward announcing last week he would medically retire.
Losing a player of Larimore’s caliber is a huge blow to UCLA, which also lost DE Sam Tai for the season after tearing his ACL. But it was Larimore who anchored the defense and was an unquestioned leader and respected by players, coaches and media alike. Larimore started all 13 games last year and was named the team’s defensive player of the year after leading the team with 81 tackles. Redshirt junior Todd Golper is listed behind Larimore in the post-spring depth chart.
Arizona State struggling to identify a starting quarterback
See if this sounds familiar …
From azcentral.com … Throughout Arizona State’s three-man quarterback competition, Todd Graham always had said he prefers one to take the job, but he hasn’t ruled out playing two.
The first-year coach mentioned it again after watching the Sun Devils scrimmage late Saturday night, a key evaluation period for sophomores Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici as well as redshirt-freshman Michael Eubank. Until then, each had gotten first-team reps in preseason camp, but Graham said that’s about to change.
“You’ll probably see two guys get the majority of the reps (this) week,” said Graham, adding that he hopes to have one quarterback in place once the team returns from Camp Tontozona, where the Sun Devils train Wednesday through Saturday. “(But) two guys could play.”
Colorado State season ticket television campaign
It is to laugh …
UCLA names red-shirt freshman as starting quarterback
Colorado coaches have indicated that the three-way quarterback race will last until the end of camp, if not longer.
Meanwhile, at UCLA, the race for the starting job was decided in the first week of Fall Camp.
From ESPN … Jim Mora tapped touted redshirt freshman Brett Hundleythe winner of the Bruins’ four-way competition on Friday, prevailing over senior veterans Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and Jerry Neuheisel.
“All four quarterbacks have raised their level of play significantly since my staff and I took over, and we are excited about all of them,” Mora said in a statement from the school. “That said, Brett has consistently demonstrated the qualities we value in a starting quarterback and is an outstanding leader who commands the respect of his teammates. He has shown excellent decision-making skills, and his accuracy and timing continue to improve with each practice. In addition, he has shown the mobility and creativity needed when a play breaks down.”
Prince had started 26 games and Brehaut 11, but Hundley’s upside was difficult to ignore and it has seemed clear since the start of preseason camp that he was the leader. Mora and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone also know that they have two veteran backups if Hundley gets hurt or struggles. It wasn’t revealed who Hundley’s backup is.
This leaves the Pac-12 with four teams without starting QBs. Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon and Stanford still have unresolved competitions.
Colorado State running back leaves team; Washington running back tears ACL
The first week of fall camp, and the attrition has already begun.
From the Coloradoan … The CSU football career of Dorian Brown appears to be over before it ever really started.
Coach Jim McElwain said Tuesday that Brown, a redshirt freshman, had chosen to leave the program.
Brown’s mother told the Coloradoan that her son had been declared academically ineligible.
“It’s grades,” Kim Brown said.
Brown, a highly recruited running back out of Thompson Valley High School, was trying to raise his grade-point average through summer-school courses, his mother said, and still hadn’t received formal word about his grades. But he didn’t think he had done well enough to regain his eligibility, she said.
Dorian Brown couldn’t be reached for comment. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back practiced this past spring with the Rams but hasn’t played in an actual game since 2009, his junior year of high school. He missed the entire 2010 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, then redshirted as a freshman last fall at CSU.
From ESPN … Washington has lost running back Deontae Cooper to yet another torn anterior cruciate ligament, the third time he has had the injury since becoming a member of the Huskies.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian announced the injury to Cooper’s right knee Wednesday night, saying it occurred during a non-contact drill in practice. Sarkisian was “saddened and dismayed” by the news of yet another knee injury for the promising prospect.
Cooper missed his first two seasons at Washington after twice tearing the ACL in his left knee. Cooper was expected to be slowly worked back into the mix at running back with the Huskies looking to replace Chris Polk. Cooper has yet to play a game in college because of his knee injuries.
From the Oregonian … Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tacoi Sumler has left Oregon’s football program in order to transfer to a lower division school closer to his hometown of Miami, Fla.
Sumler informed Oregon coach Chip Kelly of his plans before Wednesday’s practice.
“He came in and we had a good conversation,” Kelly said. “He’d like to get back a little bit closer to home. He’s going to drop down a division and look at some I-AA schools. We told him we would help him in any way we can.”
Per NCAA rules, Sumler would have to sit out a season if he transferred to another FBS program before becoming eligible to return to the field in 2013. By transferring to a I-AA, or FCS program, he could play this year.
Sumler, who participated in practices on Monday and Tuesday, is a part of Oregon’s much-hyped wide receiver recruiting class of 2011 that also featured fellow four-star recruits, Devon Blackmon and B.J. Kelley. All three redshirted last season.
Sumler, who caught three passes for 15 yards during Oregon’s spring game in April, might be best known for running the 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds during a Nike SPARQ camp prior to enrolling at Oregon.
Cal and Arizona have injury issues in first week of practice
Arizona has lost a potential starter along the offensive line.
According to the Tucson Citizen… Arizona Wildcats offensive lineman Jacob Arzouman, who was set to be in the playing rotation, suffered what likely is a torn ACL in Monday’s practice, coach Rich Rodriguez said.
Arzouman will have surgery “sometime soon,” Rodriguez said, which ends the redshirt freshman’s season. “It’s really sad,” Rodriguez said after Tuesday’s practice. It was in a one-on-one drill and it just kind of buckled on him. He would have contributed. He had a good summer and he was in good shape.”
Arzouman, who has seen practice work all across the offensive line, was listed as a co-starter at right tackle with redshirt freshman Lene Maiava and sophomore Mickey Baucus on the pre-camp depth chart.
Meanwhile Cal may have to go without a star cornerback.
From the San Jose Mercury News… Cal sophomore cornerback Stefan McClure, who suffered a major injury to his right knee last Nov. 25 against Arizona State, is not as close to being ready to play as originally expected.
“He’s not doing much right now and won’t through most of camp,” Cal coach Jeff Tedford said Tuesday. McClure had his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments surgically repaired and also underwent microfracture surgery to repair his meniscus.
Tedford conceded it’s possible McClure could wind up redshirting this season. “That’s an injury you don’t want to mess with,” he said. “We will definitely err on the side of caution. He’s a big-time player. He’s got a future in this game to play at the next level.”
A consensus top-10 cornerback prospect as a high school senior in Southern California (Buff fans will remember the name. CU recruited McClure heavily), McClure played in 11 games as a freshman last fall, starting twice.
CSU to play only four afternoon games all season
Colorado State held its media day on Monday. The summary can be found at the CSU website.
CSU schedule … Every CSU home game this season will kickoff at 5:00 p.m. Other than the Rocky Mountain Showdown against Colorado (which starts at 2:00 p.m.), and road games against Air Force, Wyoming, and Boise State, every CSU game will be played under the lights. New head coach Jim McElwain’s thoughts: “I look at the 5 o’clock start for the fans. If they have sons or daughters playing soccer they can now get to the game, or they can go play golf, enjoy the day and still give them an opportunity to get to the ballgame.”
Last season, Colorado State averaged 21,867 per home game, with less than 20,000 against rivals Air Force and Wyoming to close out the 2011 campaign.
McElwain’s coaching philosophy … This early in camp, starting where I believe you win games is up front and being strong through the middle. You have to be able to run the football and you have to be able to stop the run. The teams that are consistently top-winning teams don’t rely on one or the other, so you need some balance. At the end of the day, if you can stop the run on defense and make a team be one dimensional, and offensively be able to run the ball; finish in the fourth quarter to break their will.”
On practice schedule … “Our two-a-days will be mornings and evenings trying to stay out of the heat of the day to save a little bit on that. Your one-a-days, where you really need to get your work done, will be the hottest part of the day.”
Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin on bringing in a new offense … “I’ve been a lot of places, brought in supposedly this multi-personnel, multi-formation pro-style offense. It doesn’t change. There are only so many formations you can have. Now do you motion, do you shift, you do all of the things with it, the terminology changes. What they might call X, we may call the H receiver. What they call Y, is Z to us, so the terminology changes for them, but it’s the same. I think it’s our tempo in practice that’s different. It’s our demanding of the little things that’s been different. If you’re supposed to stand in and get up to six yards, you get six, you don’t get to four. That’s going to hurt us if you don’t. It’s demanding the little things that go with it and that’s how you get good.”
Co-Defensive Coordinator Dave English on lack of size along the defensive line … “They’re not huge. Our guys probably put on eight or 10 pounds over the summer. There’s no 290 pounder. We might have gone from 250 to 260, but what they’ve done is hugely beneficial to our guys and what they need to do.”
Linebacker Shaquil Barrett on playing Colorado … “I’m excited for that game. We lost to them last year, which I don’t think we should have. Last year we didn’t play four great quarters, which we’re working on this year. I’m already getting excited; everybody’s excited. The energy around the locker room . . . Sept. 1 can’t come quick enough.”
Cornerback Momo Thomas on playing Colorado … “It’s a rivalry, so it’s going to be there, definitely. Seeing it over the years, I don’t think it’s been where it should have been at. I think this year it’s going to get back to where it should be. I’m looking forward to all the fans coming out and seeing us as a family, trusting one another on the field again and having a good season.”
Quarterback Garrett Grayson on playing Colorado … “I’m beyond excited. I just want to show everybody what we are doing this offseason. We still have doubters, I think we are picked sixth or seventh, so I just want to show everybody what we’ve been doing this offseason and how it will pay off. Going against our big rival, hopefully we can go down there and show them what we’ve been doing all summer and spring and bring them down.”
Utah quarterback confident
Former Colorado commit Jordan Wynn is feeling comfortable as the presumptive starter at quarterback for Utah this season.
From the Salt Lake City Tribune … Thanks to a renewed sense of confidence in himself and his game, Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn realizes now just how much he was struggling early in 2011.
Wynn, whose throwing motion was hampered despite his insistence that he was healthy last year, admits now just how off his game he was.
Wynn completed Utah’s first three days of camp in solid form. On Saturday, he made several long throws that found their mark with receivers Kenneth Scott and Quinton Pedroza.
He admitted that as much as he tried, completing those throws a year ago was difficult for him.
Wynn finished the 2010 season with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State.
The subsequent rehabilitation from shoulder surgery affected his throwing motion more than he let even himself know, he said.
“I was telling myself I was 100 percent, but it’s tough to come back from something like that,” he said. “I was doing the best I could.”
Wynn struggled in the games he did play, going 66 of 116 with two interceptions and six touchdowns.
Wynn was a verbal commit to the Buffs in the fall of 2008. A three-star quarterback from Oceanside, California, Wynn not only committed to Colorado, but was planning on enrolling early, in January, 2009. Instead, Wynn went with Utah, where starting would come to pass more quickly (Cody Hawkins was just a sophomore, while Utah quarterback Brian Johnson was graduating).
CSU stadium announcement pushed back
A “transformational” announcement is coming to Ft. Collins, just like in Boulder.
It just might not be coming as soon as forecast … just like in Boulder.
From the Coloradoan … After CSU announced its establishment in February, the Stadium Advisory Committee got to work gathering public input and preparing a feasibility study on whether the university should erect an on-campus football stadium, where it would build it and how it would be funded. Private donors have said they will foot the bill for the proposed $246 million, 43,500-seat stadium that would be located off Lake Street.
The SAC will on Thursday give CSU President Tony Frank this report, which contains architectural renderings, and fundraising and naming opportunities, among a slew of other details.
It will also include information about what the university could do with historic Hughes Stadium, located about three miles west of campus, in the wake of Frank’s decision – whether that means moving forward with the on-campus stadium or not. A university spokesman told the Coloradoan previously that information about Hughes would be included in an “addendum” in the report and said there wouldn’t be a formal presentation about the future of Hughes.
Q: Will the Stadium Advisory Committee make a recommendation on Thursday?
A: No. While it appeared initially that the committee’s duties included making a recommendation to Frank, officials previously told the Coloradoan its members would do no such thing. Instead, the SAC will hand over the feasibility study to Frank, who will make the ultimate decision no sooner than the start of the fall semester, he has said. While there’s no set deadline, Frank told attendees of a public input session last week that he’d prefer to make the decision sooner, rather than later.
Here is a link to the Stadium Advisory Committee’s website, if you are looking for more information on the (likely) new stadium in Ft. Collins.
Colorado State conducts first fall practices of Jim McElwain era
From the Coloradoan …
With the first CSU football game less than a month away, first-year coach Jim McElwain knows there is plenty to do for his team to get ready to face rival CU on Sept. 1 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
The Rams started their first fall practices Saturday when the team went through a 2-hour, 15-minute practice in the morning and another in the afternoon. The morning practice was for veteran players, while the afternoon session was for freshmen and newcomers.
“I was really happy with the flow of practice,” said McElwain, who was hired in December and had only seen the team in spring practices. “I think the guys picked up where they left off in the spring, kind of knowing what we expect tempo-wise. We still have to teach them how to finish, but I think they got the message.”
McElwain split the first day into two practices so newcomers would have a chance to get up to speed. With 105 players on the team, he felt those who hadn’t been through a practice yet with the Rams would feel more comfortable learning together.
“The most impressive thing is that they obviously attacked their summer workouts and summer group work the way it was supposed to be done,” McElwain said. “They were in and out, and I was really proud of that.”
NCAA toughens potential penalties for violators
From the AP … Nearly a year after promising to impose harsher sanctions on the most egregious rule-breakers, NCAA leaders endorsed a proposal Thursday that would make schools subject to the same crippling penalties just handed to Penn State.
The measure includes postseason bans of up to four years, fines that could stretch into the millions and suspensions for head coaches. A final vote on the sweeping overhaul will not occur before the board of directors’ October meeting.
“Coaches come to me and say, `I feel like a chump. I’m trying to do things the right way and I have peers who laugh at me because I don’t play the game and bend the rules the way they do,”‘ board chairman Ed Ray said in a statement released by the NCAA. “That’s got to stop … Most coaches are terrific people who love their student-athletes, try to do it the right way, try to have the right values and succeed. They’re very frustrated. This has got to stop. I think most coaches are saying it’s about time. We want a level playing field.”
The plan calls for changing the current two-tiered penalty structure of major and secondary violations to a four-tiered concept, increasing the size of the infractions committee from 10 up to 24 in an effort to speed up the enforcement process and holding coaches individually accountable for any violations that occur in their program.
But it’s the penalties that will make school leaders take notice.
A program found to have made a “serious breach of conduct” with aggravating circumstances could face postseason bans of two to four years. In addition, the program may have to return money from specific events or a series of events or the amount of gross revenue generated by the sport during the years in which sanctions occurred – fines that could cost a school millions of dollars.
Cal picks up Penn State linebacker
Cal picked up help at linebacker Tuesday, signing former Penn State linebacker Khairi Fortt. Fortt is eligible to transfer immediately without sitting out a season after Penn State was hit with unprecedented sanctions two weeks ago, including a four-year bowl ban.
Fortt, a junior who will have two years of eligibility remaining, was expected to battle for the Nittany Lions’ starting middle linebacker spot this fall. His father said his son has had between 30 and 40 schools contact him since the NCAA announced severe sanctions on the program.
An ESPN 150 recruit and a U.S. Army All-America selection out of high school in Stamford, Conn., Fortt has seen action in 23 games for the Nittany Lions, racking up 50 tackles, including seven for a loss. Last season, he posted 33 tackles, six for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Fortt joins running back Silas Redd in leaving the Big Ten for the Pac-12. Redd announced Tuesday that he would be joining the USC Trojan roster this fall.
(Fortt is actually the second “new” linebacker for Cal this week. Earlier this week – see July 30th story, below – the Bears reinstated Cecil Whiteside, who had been dismissed from the program in May for violation of team rules).
Arizona State has issues
Safety in numbers? It’s nice to have company?
Colorado is not the only team in the Pac-12 which has significant issues to address during fall camp. Like Colorado, Arizona State has an unwelcome streak of losing seasons to contend with (the Sun Devils are up to four). Arizona State lost its final five games in 2011, losing head coach Dennis Erickson in the process. New head coach Todd Graham was not exactly a popular choice, and he left behind a wake of hurt feelings at Pitt.
In addition to the off-field issues, the Sun Devils have some on-field concerns as well. In an article for the Arizona Republic, writer Doug Haller lays out the issues (summarized here):
Utah to go without starting safety for first three games
From ESPN … Safety Brian Blechen has been suspended for three games for violating team rules, the school announced on Monday. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound strong safety has been a starter since his true freshman season.
Blechen, who was originally recruited to play quarterback out of Moorpark, Calif., will have to sit out against Northern Colorado, Utah State and – in one game which will the suspension might come into play – rival BYU.
Blechen, who earned all-conference honorable mention last season, is one of Utah’s most versatile defenders, having started four games at linebacker last season before moving back to safety. Last season he forced three fumbles and had three interceptions. The freshman All-American has seven interceptions in his first two seasons.
Junior Quade Chappuis is listed behind Blechen on Utah’s post-spring depth chart. The former walk-on has one career interception — against BYU. He appeared in all 13 games last season, starting one against Washington.
Blechen will continue to practice with the team throughout his suspension. He’s eligible to return Sept. 22 at Arizona State. The Utes are then on bye before their Oct. 4 showdown with USC in Salt Lake City.
Cal reinstates suspended linebacker
From CBSSportsline.com … Cal linebacker Cecil Whiteside has been reinstated to the team.
Whiteside was dismissed from the program on May 24 for violating unspecified team rules. Tedford didn’t elaborate on which rules Whiteside violated, but he did say, “I think that he understands what he needs to do to be a good teammate and comply with everything we do as a team.”
Whiteside’s return will be a boon to a defense that lost two starting linebackers, including Pac-12 defensive player of the year Mychal Kendricks. If Whiteside isn’t in Tedford’s doghouse, he’ll most likely compete with outside linebacker Chris McCain for a spot in the starting rotation.
Whiteside finished 2011 with 17 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Golden Bears report for fall camp Aug. 3. The team’s first practice will be the following day.