Pac-10's Offensive Impact Newcomers Part II

Fifteen first- and second-team All-Pac 10 selections from last year have moved on due to graduation or an early entry to the NFL. Thus, virtually every team in the league faces the challenge of replacing key components on its offense. DevilsDigest.com concludes this in-depth two-part feature by analyzing Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.

Oregon State

When a team loses a player the caliber of Yvenson Bernard, the only running back in college football to have surpassed 1,200 rushing yards in each of the past three seasons; it stings, no question about it.

And when that departure is one of many which entirely depletes that team's running backs depth chart, it can be downright handicapping as the team prepares for the future.

When Patrick Fuller, who would have been the only tailback on the roster with game experience, recently parted ways with the team, Oregon State's running game was left literally no option but to feature FBS newcomers, as the four backs listed on the team's website include one first-year junior college transfer, one redshirt freshman and two true freshmen, leaving the Beavers without a running back on the roster to have ever carried the ball at the FBS level.

Head coach Mike Riley and staff believes the Beavers may have the school's next great running back in redshirt freshman bruiser Ryan McCants, who at 6-1, 240-pounds is generally considered to be a Steven Jackson clone. Before waiting in the wings during the 2007 season to have a crack at the starting gig in 2008, McCants arrived to OSU with high praise, being rated by Scout.com as a four-star athlete and the No. 35 back in 2007 after his prep career at Santiago High School in Corona, Calif.

The Beavers face the task of replacing not just the starting tailback but the majority of the depth as well, as also gone from 2007 are backs Clinton Polk and Matt Sieverson, who combined for 531 yards and five touchdowns playing behind Bernard.

Perhaps the most exciting option behind McCants is true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers, the brother of OSU sophomore receiver and leading returning rusher James Rodgers. The younger Rodgers was one of the most thrilling offensive high school players in the nation last season, rushing for 2,902 yards and 43 touchdowns while leading Richmond (Texas) Lamar Consolidated to its first ever state championship.

Despite lacking size at 5-6, 180, Rodgers was listed by Scout.com as a four-star player and the nation's No. 22 running back prospect last season, and the odds are high that Riley will quickly find ways to involve the true freshman in the OSU offense.

Also expect to see James Rodgers heavily involved in the running game despite his designation as a wide receiver. He enters 2008 as the team's leading returning rusher after carrying 50 times for 586 yards (11.7 avg.) and three touchdowns, primarily being utilized on fly sweep plays.

Jeremy Francis (5-11, 218) joined the team as a midyear transfer after earning second-team All-Mission Conference honors as a sophomore at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., in 2007, while true freshman Jovan Stevenson (5-11, 195) was rated as the nation's No. 81 running back prospect in 2008 by Scout.com after his senior season at Tucson (Ariz.) Sunnyside High School.

Ryan Katz (6-1, 208), rated by Scout.com as the nation's No. 19 quarterback prospect in 2008, joined the Beavers during the spring to compete with returning veterans Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield for action in the backfield.

At wide receiver, OSU adds true freshmen Geno Munoz (6-0, 180), a three-star prospect from Tacoma (Wash.) Mount Tahoma High School and Jordan Bishop (6-3, 195), a two-star receiver from West Salem (Ore.) High School, as well as Canadian classmate Keynan Parker (6-0, 183), who was evaluated as a two-star running back by Scout.com in 2008 but will line up at receiver for the Beavers.

Redshirt freshman tight end Joe Halahuni (6-2, 254) missed spring action due to injury and may be sidelined for all of 2008, however Kevin Pankey (6-5, 255), who was categorized by Scout.com as an offensive or defensive line prospect in the 2007 class, and Colby Prince (6-3, 250), listed as a two-star tight end prospect that year, both greyshirted in 2007 and joined the team this spring as true freshmen and look to add depth among OSU's talented group of tight ends.

Rory Ross (6-4, 294) of Peoria (Ariz.) High greyshirted in 2007 and joins the team this season as a true freshman. Junior college offensive tackle Brent McNeil (6-3, 325), and true freshman offensive tackle Colin Lyons (6-4, 307) will begin their Pac-10 careers in the fall, as will true freshman Colin Kelly (6-6, 260) was evaluated by Scout.com as an offensive tackle, however on OSU's athletics website he is designated simply as "player."

Stanford

Despite Tavita Pritchard etching his name into Cardinal history by defeating overwhelming favorite USC in his first career start, the junior faces stiff competition to remain Stanford's first-string quarterback in 2008 and beyond.

Michigan transfer Jason Forcier (6-2, 213), formerly the No. 8 national quarterback prospect in 2005, relocated to The Farm prior to the start of last season and sat out the 2007 season due to transfer rules. Despite limited career playing time – having only appeared in six games and having attempted only three passes – Forcier has two years of eligibility remaining and is a threat in and out of the pocket, and will push Pritchard for time in 2008.

Joining Forcier in the quarterback scrum is redshirt freshman L.D. Crow (6-3, 230), rated by Scout.com as the nation's No. 45 quarterback prospect in 2007 as a senior at Palm Harbor (Fla.) Countryside High School.

The prize of head coach Jim Harbaugh's second recruiting class at Stanford is likely to be Andrew Luck (6-3, 215) of Houston's Stratford High School, Harbaugh's first five-star recruit and Scout.com's No. 4 national quarterback recruit in 2008. Luck could make his way into action with a standout showing in preseason camp, however in any event he is likely the future of the Cardinal offense.

The wildcard of Stanford's 2008 signing class may pan out to be tight end Konrad Reuland (6-6, 262), who began his career at Notre Dame in 2006, appearing in seven games for the Irish as a true freshman. A five-star prospect and the nation's No. 2 tight end recruit, left South Bend for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., for the 2007 season before pulling the trigger to resume his FBS career at Stanford. Although the Cardinal are in no desperate need for talent at the position with reliable athletes such as Ben Ladner and Jim Dray available, Reuland comes to Stanford with high expectations and tremendous potential.

Redshirt freshman Sean Wiser (6-2, 193) will vie for reps at wide receiver, as will classmate Cody Fleener (6-6, 228), who rated by Scout.com as the No. 39 tight end prospect in 2007 and may see action at both tight end and wide receiver in 2008.

Stanford added excellent skill position talent with its 2008 class, including running backs Delano Howell (5-11, 185) and Michael Thomas (5-11, 180), who were respectively listed as the No. 17 and No. 43 running back prospects in the country by Scout.com, while wide receivers Chris Owusu (6-2, 180) and Warren Reuland (6-5, 205), Konrad's younger brother, will also debut for the Cardinal in the fall. Owusu was rated by Scout.com as the No. 54 receiver prospect in the nation, while Reuland was listed as the country's No. 78 recruit at the position.

A trio of redshirt freshmen from Stanford's 2007 class will make its debut along the offensive line this season, including George Halamandaris (6-7, 287), the No. 67 offensive guard recruit, Brad Hallick (6-6, 287), the nation's No. 54 offensive tackle prospect, Tyler Mabry (6-7, 293), the country's No. 69 recruit at offensive tackle.

Center David DeCastro (6-5, 290) was one of the highest-rated signees for the Cardinal in 2008, earning recognition by Scout.com as the nation's No. 3 prospect at the position. Fellow linemen Sam Schwartzstein (6-3, 270), the No. 52 offensive guard recruit and Jonathan Martin (6-5, 265), the country's No. 60 offensive tackle prospect will soon enroll at Stanford as true freshmen.

Redshirt freshman Kellen Kiilsgaard (6-2, 232), evaluated by Scout.com in 2007 as a quarterback and listed as a four-star prospect and the nation's No. 21 recruit at the position, has moved to fullback and will take his new assignment into action in 2008.

UCLA

The Bruins' stagnant offense, which ranked dead last in the Pac-10 in passing (182.6 yards per game) and ninth in scoring (22.4 ppg.), almost gained improved form in the spring, but the air was soon let out with the season-ending injury suffered by senior starter Patrick Cowan.

As they likely will at many positions under first-year UCLA head Coach Rick Neuhesiel, the Bruins may be reliant on several offensive members of their tenth-ranked national signing class in 2008 to help the team make strides this season.

While senior Ben Olson, a former five-star quarterback prospect, has the definite experience edge over all competitors, that in no way guarantees he'll be under center for the Bruins in the fall. Additionally, Olson also missed substantial time in the spring due to injury, allowing the door to swing wide open for others to take control of the first-team offense.

Throwing his name into the hat will be Kevin Craft (6-5, 210), a five-star junior college transfer from Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., that enrolled at UCLA in January and participated in spring drills. Before throwing for 4,231 yards and 44 touchdowns in 2007 at the junior college level, Craft started five of nine games played at San Diego State the previous season, completing 69-of-121 passes for 737 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. The son of former SDSU head coach Tom Craft, Kevin has been applauded for his mobility and arm strength, and has the physical traits to potentially overtake Olson and took over first-string duties in Olson's absence during the spring.

Redshirt freshman Chris Forcier (6-3, 185), younger brother of Stanford's Jason Forcier, was a four-star prospect rated as the No. 19 quarterback recruit in the nation by Scout.com in 2007 and saw ample reps in the spring behind Craft when Cowan and Olson were both sidelined by injury.

Four-star signee Nick Crissman (6-4, 210), listed by Scout.com as the No. 9 quarterback recruit in the country in 2008, arrives to Pasadena in the fall as does Kevin Prince (6-2, 195), who was regarded by Scout.com as the country's No. 40 prospect at his position. Prince's status with the team remains unclear, as he was a greyshirt candidate and had intentions to serve a church mission; however the injuries to Cowan and Olson may alter his decisions.

Whoever is under center for the Bruins may very well take his snaps with one foot in the grave, as UCLA suffers a tremendous lack of experience and proven talent along the offensive line, with only two active linemen to have seen game action in 2007, while injury has been added to insult in the offseason with two projected starters being lost to injury – one of which was career-ending.

Hoping to make an impact up front is redshirt freshman Mike Harris (6-5, 311), who was rated as the No. 28 offensive guard prospect in 2007 and exited the spring as the team's second-string right tackle, however projected starter Sean Sheller was recently lost for the season due to injury, potentially thrusting Harris into first-team action.

True freshmen Jeff Baca (6-4, 265), the No. 36 offensive guard prospect in 2008, and Connor Bradford (6-5, 260), the No. 81 offensive tackle prospect, will push for immediate time among a unit in dire need of talent.

Junior college transfer Donovan Edwards (6-4, 270) signed with UCLA in June from Diablo College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and if able to gain full academic clearance, Edwards will jump right into the offensive line competition in the fall.

The Bruin running game expects to showcase a significant upgrade largely thanks to a skilled set of newcomers. Raymond Carter (5-11, 202) was positioned to earn action as a true freshman in 2007, however a preseason injury shelved him for the year and forced him to redshirt. Carter, the No. 16 prospect at his position in 2007, is expected to be healthy in the fall and will compete for first-team duties with incumbent starter Kahlil Bell, who also had his 2007 season cut short to injury.

True freshman Aundre Dean (6-1, 201) is as capable of enjoying quick success as any first-year skill player in the Pac-10, especially if Bell and Carter suffer further injury setbacks. A four-star recruit and the country's No. 6 running back prospect as a senior at Katy (Texas) High School, Dean rushed for over 2,500 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.

Despite less-than-perfect size, true freshman running back Milton Knox (5-7, 196) wrapped up his high school career at Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham Senior High School as one of the most accomplished rushers in the history of the state of California, and his excellent quickness and agility and his compact running style reminds many of former Bruin Maurice Jones-Drew. A four-star prospect and the No. 30 running back recruit in the nation, Knox has the explosiveness to earn and take advantage of early playing opportunities.

Jonathan Franklin (5-11, 195) and Derrick Coleman (6-0, 220) were also included as members of UCLA's 2008 signing class. Franklin was rated by Scout.com as the nation's No. 55 running back prospect, while Coleman was evaluated as a fullback at earned recognition as the No. 3 recruit at the position in 2008.

Wide receivers Nelson Rosario (6-6, 218), Antwon Moutra (6-2, 190) and Jerry Johnson (6-2, 186) will attempt to immediately add fire to the UCLA passing game. Perhaps the most likely to earn immediate time is Rosario, who brings excellent size as well as the credentials of being a four-star prospect, as was Moutra. Taylor Embree (6-4, 185) signed with UCLA in 2007 but greyshirted last year, making him a true freshman in 2008.

Redshirt freshman Nate Chandler (6-3, 265) exited the spring third in the depth chart at tight end, where he was rated by Scout.com as the nation's No. 7 recruit in 2007. Cory Harkey (6-4, 230) joins the Bruins in the fall after being listed as the No. 47 national tight end prospect in 2008.

USC

What do I do now?

Could that be the sentiment of Mitch Mustain?

After earning an 8-0 record as starting quarterback in 12 total games of action at Arkansas as a true freshman, completing 69-of-132 passes (52.3 pct.) for 894 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, Mustain became disgruntled with the Razorbacks coaching and headed to a "hog heaven" of his own at USC.

During his obligatory redshirt year after transferring, Mustain (6-3, 210) earned USC's Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award following the 2007 and was thought by some to have the edge to replace two-year starter John David Booty in 2008, despite the experience edge at USC held by Mark Sanchez. Much to Mustain's disdain, it was Sanchez who ultimately was named the Trojans' starter during spring drills.

What does Mustain, the No. 1 quarterback prospect and Scout.com's No. 11 overall recruit in 2006, do now?

At USC, the recent windows of opportunity for playing time at quarterback have been incredibly scarce, and if Sanchez does not slip up or become injured, how does Mustain fit into the equation as a third-year sophomore in 2008? He didn't approve of the play calling at Arkansas, how will he, an athlete that has shown a necessity to be in control, take to playing second-fiddle to Sanchez?

Standing on third is Aaron Corp (6-4, 195), who rounds out the quarterback depth behind Sanchez and Mustain after redshirting as a true freshman in 2007. Formerly rated the No. 3 quarterback and a five-star recruit in 2007, Corp may have his work cut out for him to ever receive significant playing time at USC, as by the time Sanchez (and Mustain for that matter) depart from Troy, waiting in the wings will be All-Universe quarterback Matt Barkley, the No. 1 overall prospect of 2009 and a USC verbal commit. Beside the quarterback quandary, for the Trojans the more things change, the more things stay the same. USC gained another top-10 signing class (No. 9 by Scout.com) after winning another Pac-10 Conference Championship, this time splitting top billing with Arizona State in 2007. Offensively, USC's 2008 class featured standout potential along the offensive line as well as at tight end and wide receiver, while many redshirt freshmen are primed for action as well.

True freshman tight end Blake Ayles (6-5, 255) has the athletic potential to instantly create a tremendous early impact, due not only to his credentials which include a five-star rating and recognition as Scout.com's No. 2 tight end prospect in the nation last year, but also the fact that USC loses its top two tight ends from 2007, including last year's John Mackey Award winner Fred Davis. The No. 22 overall prospect in 2008 by Scout.com, Ayles will battle upperclassmen Anthony McCoy and Jimmy Miller for early action; however both players have made limited offensive contributions despite their tenure advantage, allowing Ayles to quickly close the gap.

Rhett Ellison (6-5, 250), a redshirt freshman rated in 2007 as the No. 28 national tight end prospect by Scout.com, will add depth at the position in 2008.

Offensive linemen Martin Coleman (6-5, 315) and Michael Reardon (6-5, 275) look to serve as top backups at left guard and center, respectively, as redshirt freshmen in 2008. Coleman was applauded as a five-star signee and the country's No. 4 offensive tackle in 2007, while the multi-talented Reardon was evaluated by Scout.com as a defensive end, a position at which he was nationally rated as the No. 13 prospect.

USC focused heavy recruiting efforts in 2008 on the offensive line, assembling perhaps the nation's top offensive line signing group – which includes three of the nations' top eight offensive tackle prospects - as the squad looks to replace four departed starters from 2007 and retool the Trojans' usually star-studded front line. In all, USC signed

Five-star left tackle Tyron Smith (6-6, 270) is the headliner of the group, coming to USC heralded as Scout.com's No. 9 overall recruit and the 1 offensive tackle prospect in 2008. Right Tackle Matt Kalil (6-6, 290) follows in his brother Ryan's collegiate footsteps after earning notoriety by Scout.com as a five-star recruit, the country's No. 12 overall player and the No. 3 national offensive tackle prospect as a senior at Servite High School in Anaheim. Matt Meyer (6-7, 295), rated by Scout.com as the No. 66 overall prospect and the No. 8 offensive tackle recruit in 2008, graduated from Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln High School early to enroll at USC in time for spring drills and is listed behind Jeff Byers at left guard.

Right guard Khaled Holmes (6-4, 305) and left guard Daniel Campbell (6-5, 330) were also included in USC's 2008 class and were respectively rated as the No. 10 and No. 28 national offensive guard prospects. Like Kalil, Holmes follows his lineage to Los Angeles, as his brother Alex played tight end at USC from 2000-04.

Damian Williams (6-1, 190), a teammate of Mustain's at Arkansas in 2006, is cleared for action as a redshirt sophomore after redshirting last year in accordance to NCAA transfer rules. As a true freshman for the Razorbacks two years ago, Williams appeared in 13 games with five starts, ranking second on the team with 19 receptions for 235 yards (12.4 avg.) and two touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Brandon Carswell (6-1, 185) was ranked as the No. 15 receiver prospect in the country in 2007 and looks to create an impact in 2008, while five-star wide receiver D.J. Shoemate (6-0,220) was rated by Scout.com as the No. 41 overall player and No. 8 prospect at his position in 2008 and Brice Butler (6-3, 215), the nation's No. 84 overall athlete who was also regarded as a four-star recruit and the country's No. 17 receiver prospect will both begin their Trojan careers in the fall.

Redshirt freshmen Broderick Green (6-2, 235) and Marc Tyler (6-0, 220), as well as true freshman Curtis McNeal (5-8, 180) will look to enter the cluster of Trojan tailbacks that includes four returning lettermen – all of whom are currently listed ahead of Green, Tyler and McNeal on the depth chart. Tyler, who has battled injury problems early in his college career, earned the most recruiting hype of the three, being named the No. 2 national running back prospect by Scout.com in 2007 out of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High School, while Green, a Little Rock, Ark., native, was rated as the No. 12 tailback recruit in that class. The pint-sized McNeal earned four-star accolades and recognition as the country's No. 33 running back as a high school senior last season.

Washington

It needs to get better in Seattle before drastic changes occur, not limited to but including a possible split with current head coach Tyrone Willingham.

A No. 14 national signing class ranking by Scout.com in 2008 certainly helps, but the Huskies need to translate that into results on the field – and fast.

Many national analysts refer to UW quarterback Jake Locker as the "Tim Tebow of the west," but the dual threat Locker may regress in his second year, instead of draw comparisons to Heisman Trophy winners, if the abundance of youth around him does not man up quickly.

To put things in perspective, the majority of Locker's top receivers in 2008 will have to wait until 2012 to participate in their first presidential election.

Beginning at wide receiver, the word overhaul doesn't even begin to describe the difference in personnel from last year to this season. Of the six Husky wide receivers to catch a pass in 2007, five – the top five, including Anthony Russo, Marcel Reece, Corey Williams and Cody Ellis – all depart after combining for 112 passes for 1,829 yards and 15 touchdowns. The two returning receivers to have entered the stat book last year, D'Andre Goodwin and Curtis Shaw, combined for 11 receptions for 76 yards and no scores. Aside from Goodwin and Shaw, the Huskies have only two other non-freshman receivers on the entire roster, sophomore Tony Chidiac, a walk-on that played in only two contests last year, and senior Charles Hawkins, a former walk-on now on scholarship that appeared in eight games last season with no receptions. That could leave a mark.

Freshman orientation at receiver began for the Huskies in the spring, as Devin Aguilar (6-0, 195) and Anthony Broyles (6-3, 190), a pair of signees from 2007 that greyshirted last season, enter 2008 as true freshmen, while fellow 2007 signee Alvin Logan (6-2, 218) redshirted with the Huskies last season. Broyles was one of the premier receiver prospects in the west as a senior, earning four-star recognition by Scout.com and was rated as the No. 18 receiver prospect.

The Husky freshman with arguably the greatest opportunity for success in 2008 is receiver Chris Polk (5-11, 200), who enrolled at Washington in time for spring practice after graduating early from Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High School. Rated as the No. 9 running back prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Polk is likely to find an immediate and permanent home as a starting wide receiver and if his spring showing is any indication, the productivity is soon to follow.

Not far behind Polk in terms of hype and potential is true freshman tight end Kavario Middleton (6-5, 255), rated by Scout.com as the No. 29 overall athlete in the nation in 2008, the No. 3 prospect at his position and a five-star recruit. A large receiving target and a tremendous athlete, Middleton will knuckle-up with veterans Michael Gottlieb and Walt Winter for time initially, as well as talented redshirt freshman Chris Izbicki (6-3, 249), an excellent two-way tight end and Washington's top-ranked signee of the 2007 class, having earned accolades as a the No. 69 overall player in the nation, a four-star recruit and the No. 4 national tight end prospect.

Jermaine Kearse (6-1, 180), the top wide receiver in the northwest in 2008 and a prep teammate of Middleton at Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes High School, has the talent to step into duty quickly also, bring his credentials of a four-star rating by Scout.com and recognition as the nation's No. 32 wide receiver to Seattle. Fellow 2008 signee Cody Bruns (5-11, 168), also a four-star signee for the Huskies, was regarded as the No. 38 wide receiver prospect. Three-star prospect Jordan Polk (5-8, 161), a Portland native of no relation to classmate Chris Polk, punctuates UW's true freshman stash of receivers.

With the loss of Louis Rankin, who last year became the first Husky running back to surpass 1,000 yards since 1997, as well as the seemingly long overdue departure from perennial disappointment J.R. Hasty from the squad, UW is virtually forced to filter through a group of first-year players at tailback to solidify depth at the position, which features tremendously little experience in 2008 as expected starter Brandon Johnson is the only player on the roster to have played a collegiate snap, carrying 51 times for 196 yards (3.8 avg.) and two touchdowns as a true freshman in 2007.

Redshirt freshmen Willie Griffin (5-8, 198) and Brandon Yakaboski (5-11, 205) are first in line to backup expected starter Brandon Johnson. Griffin was the more prominent recruit of the two, earning a three-star designation and regard as the No. 68 national running back prospect in 2007, however each of the pair saw ample time in the spring and is expected to contribute come fall camp.

For obvious reasons, Washington placed major emphasis on the running game in the team's 2008 recruiting efforts, as four incoming true freshmen will all arrive to compete during fall camp. Demitrius Bronson (5-10, 215) and Terrance Dailey (5-10, 194), whom both earned three-star prospect rankings in 2008, while being respectively rated at the running back position as the No. 60 and No. 71 overall recruits last season.

Two-star signee David Freeman (5-7, 190) will attempt to make an early splash, as will Johri Fogerson (6-2, 190), evaluated by Scout.com as the No. 72 safety prospect in the nation for 2008, who will begin his collegiate career at Washington at running back in the fall.

In addition to looking to improve the Husky running game with an abundance of players at tailback, a mass of freshman offensive linemen from the 2007 and 2008 signing classes will look to beef up the front line in 2008 and beyond.

Redshirt freshmen Mark Armelin (6-5, 304), Skyler Fancher (6-5, 294) and Scott Shugert (6-5, 324) are looking to provide depth in 2008. Shugert earned the highest marks as a high school recruit, being listed as a three-star prospect rated as the No. 63 offensive guard in the nation by Scout.com in 2007.

Allen Carroll (6-4, 300), the No. 27 offensive guard recruit in 2008, Mykenna Ikehara (6-3, 291), the No. 35 prospect at guard, Drew Schaefer (6-5, 275), the No. 32 offensive tackle and Terence Thomas (6-5, 275), listed as the No. 68 offensive tackle prospect among 2008's signees, are among the first-year freshmen looking to contribute in 2008.

Redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch (6-1, 203), a three-star prospect in 2007 rated as the nation's No. 44 quarterback by Scout.com, looks to spend the season as Washington's top backup quarterback after earning the Huskies' Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year a year ago.

Behind Fouch will likely be three-star true freshman Dominique Blackman (6-5, 250), a pro-sized passer with a powerful arm, while fellow true freshman Luther Leonard (6-2, 193) will also compete for action in the backfield.

Washington State

For first-year WSU head coach Paul Wulff, it's all about getting the Cougars set in the right direction and making them relevant again in the Pac-10, no matter how devoid of overall talent the 2008 squad may be.

At quarterback, three athletes making their Cougar debuts will compete to replace school record-setting passer Alex Brink. Kansas State transfer Kevin Lopina (6-3, 231) sat out last year after relocating to Pullman, Wash., and is currently the second quarterback behind predicted starter Gary Rogers, while redshirt freshman Marshall Lobbestael (6-3, 201) is also looking to earn reps. J.T. Levenseller (6-1, 187), son of WSU receivers coach Mike Levenseller, greyshirted after signing with the team in 2007, and enters 2008 as a true freshman quarterback.

Chantz Staden (5-11, 200) is one of the more accomplished members of the Cougars' 2008 signing class after being named the All-Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year during his sophomore season at DeAnza College in Cupertino, Calif., in which he collected 2,123 all-purpose yards in 10 games. Staden looks to make a quick impression on both offense and special teams for WSU upon his arrival in the fall.

Washington natives and true freshmen Jared Karsetter (6-4, 195) and Cory Mackay (6-4, 216) and excellent size and a little home state flavor for the Cougs, while the versatile Kevin Norrell (5-9, 183) adds an athletic presence to the passing game.

Redshirt freshman Logwone Mitz (6-0, 228) was evaluated by Scout.com as a fullback in 2007 and was nationally rated as the No. 11 player at the position. Like most Pac-10 teams, WSU does not include a full-time fullback; therefore Mitz will begin his career adding depth as a power type of tailback.

Adam Coerper (6-5, 230), Andrei Lintz (6-4, 225) and Skylar Stormo (6-4, 220) will soon begin their Cougar careers as true freshmen and rival for playing time at tight end. Coerper, an Oregon native, may also practice at defensive end before his full-time position is determined, while Lintz, originally from Russia, attending high school locally in Bellevue and earned recognition as the nation's No. 91 tight end prospect in 2008 by Scout.com. Stormo, a graduate of Mukilteo (Wash.) Kamiak High School, is in a similar boat as Coerper in that he may be thrown into competition at both tight end and defensive line before his ultimate assignment is decided.

Redshirt freshman Steven Ayers (6-4, 299) was one of the highest-ranked members of the Cougars' 2007 class, as he was rated by Scout.com as a three-star recruit and the No. 33 offensive guard prospect in the nation. Classmate Kevin Freitag (6-4, 316) will look to earn time at guard during his first season on the field for WSU in 2008 after redshirting last year.

Three-star junior college transfer Zack Williams (6-3, 285) looks to add talented depth to the interior offensive line, while true freshman guard Tim Hodgdon (6-3, 287) was rated by Scout.com as the No. 86 prospect at the position in 2008. Alex Reitnouer (6-5, 235) has athletic upside at offensive tackle but will be well-served to redshirt as a true freshman in 2008 to add bulk to his frame.

Joe Healey is a 2006 graduate of Arizona State University and a guest contributor to Devils Digest. He is also a feature writer each month in Maroon and Gold Illustrated and has contributed to ASU media guides, press releases and other official athletic publications. He can be contacted by email at josephwhealey@hotmail.com.

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