Cougars 26-50

In the second installment of the ultimate spring reference guide, we go through numbers 26 through 50. These numbers include mostly the linebackers and running backs, who are working hard this spring to make an impact this coming season on the field of play.

#26 CJ Santiago: Santiago is punting well this spring. His consistency has seemingly gotten better, as most of his punts see great hang time during most practice sessions. Consistency is key for any punter, and Santiago looks to improve on his performance from a season ago.

#27 Matt Marshall: Marshall has been having a nice spring so far. He is playing a lot with the second team and has made some nice catches, primarily on underneath routes. Marshall played a very significant role with the scout team all of last year and now aims to make his mark as a player who can help out during game time.

#27 Jordan Pendleton: Pendleton was playing well, holding steady behind David Tafuna at the strong safety position, until he was sidelined about a week ago with a rib injury. Pendleton showed better in full-contact drills, as he was able to make his physical presence more relevant.

Missing most of the spring of course doesn't help Pendleton's cause in regards to seeing a lot of playing time this fall. Pendleton is someone whose development garners a lot of interest when considering his physical attributes, and we'll have to wait once again until fall to learn if Pendleton can get it done this year or if he's still a year away.

#28 Bryan Kariya: Kariya has been seeing some good reps with the second-team and third-team offensive units. He's shown to be able to catch the ball well. Look for Kariya to possibly become the primary RB with the scout team this year, which would give him some valuable experience.

#29 Luke Ashworth: Ashworth got set behind for about a week due to injury, but is now back and making some nice plays during most practice sessions. He has not looked like someone so recently removed from his mission so far this spring. He looks fast, strong and very able to break the two-deep at the wide receiver position. Ashworth also looks to be a prime option to return kickoffs this year.

#30 Isaac Taylor: Taylor has been having a very nice spring after having switched to the fullback position. He is seeing almost every rep with the second teamers at the position and has been very consistent in his play.

#30 Jake Webber: Webber is working hard and looking to move up the depth chart.

#31 Byron Putnam: Putnam is playing CB and looking to move up the depth chart and get some reps during scrimmages.

#32 Dennis Pitta: Pitta looks every bit as good as he did last season, and then some. In most practices it appears as if Hall can go to Pitta anytime he wants, as Pitta is open on just about every occasion. Pitta should have another big season this coming year to follow up on the season he had a year ago.

#33 Wayne Latu: Latu has been running the ball very well this spring. He's shown a very quick burst through the line and if he can become more consistent in picking up blitzes and catching the ball, he should be getting some reps during game time.

#34 Matt Ah You: Ah You hasn't been practicing this week due to injury, but his overall development following his mission had been impressive before his injury. Ah You will be looked at to play a huge role at inside linebacker this coming season and should be up to the challenge.

#34 Tyler Holt: Holt is backing up Mitch Payne at the kicker position.

#35 Matt Bauman: Bauman has added some bulk and has looked very good this spring. He's very good in the open field and proving better every day in defending the run. Bauman has seen all of his reps with the first teamers and looks to start this coming season.

#36 Andrew Rich: Rich has been playing free safety with the second teamers, playing behind Kellen Fowler. Rich is one of the bigger bodies at defensive back and looks almost as big as Jordan Pendleton.

#37 Vic So'oto: So'oto seems to be born-again while playing boundary linebacker. He has seen all of his reps with the first-team defense and always seems to record a sack with every practice session. So'oto's physical attributes are impressive and he's shown very well in rushing the quarterback and in covering players in the open field.

The most important thing So'oto needs to work on in becoming a regular contributor at outside linebacker is defending the run. Learning gap and containment assignments isn't easy, but he is doing well with it so far.

#38 Mitch Payne: Payne had a very good day kicking the ball in the scrimmage on Friday. There have been some missed field goals, but Payne is working hard to establish himself as the starting kicker before the arrival of Justin Sorensen this fall.

#39 Grant Nelson: Nelson has shown well when he subs in for So'oto at boundary linebacker. He knows his assignments well and will be a valuable commodity this fall and should be getting a lot of looks at the position.

#41 Coleby Clawson: Clawson switched to outside linebacker, where he's playing mostly with the second-team defense and at times with the first teamers. Clawson has also shown well, earning him some sacks and pass knockdowns. He may be one of those players the coaches choose to switch back inside in light of Terrance Hooks' season-ending injury.

#42 Shawn Doman: Doman is the leader at inside linebacker and has had an outstanding spring. He has been held out of most contact drills, but should he remain healthy he's due to see the most reps of anyone at the inside linebacker position.

#43 David Nixon: Nixon has missed a lot of the full-contact work during spring, as there simply isn't much reason for him to be out there. He is obviously very experienced at the position and will be leading the linebacker corps this fall.

#44 Dan Van Sweden: Van Sweden switched to inside linebacker prior to spring practices and now is the main guy coaches are looking at to fill in for Terrance Hooks. Van Sweden has proved good in space in covering guys and moving laterally in open-field pursuit. Defending the run is where he aims to make the most improvement this spring.

#45 Harvey Unga: Unga, much like Nixon, has little to prove or to gain from seeing contact work this spring. Unga looks every bit as good as he did a season ago. He had an incredible season for a true freshman and looks to improve on that this year.

There were initial concerns from fans about Unga gaining too much weight in the offseason. Rest assured that Unga looks very similar to what he looked like a season ago, showing the same burst and movement through the line which made him the team's offensive MVP for the 2007 season.

#46 Masi Tuitama: Tuitama looks very promising early on as he plays mostly at the field linebacker position. He has shown very good lateral movement and is learning better and better every day how to play the position and to make plays.

#47 Terrance Hooks: Hooks was having as good of a spring as anyone before going down with a season-ending injury. The team will miss his services greatly this coming season, but hopefully Hooks can recover fully and contribute heavily to the team in 2009.

#48 Dustin Graham: Graham is working hard to move up the depth chart this spring.

#49 Jadon Wagner: Wagner has missed all of spring due to injury.

#50 Connor Hamilton: Hamilton has had a good spring playing outside linebacker. He has seen some reps with the second-team defense and has shown well. Connor may be one of those guys looked at to move inside to help compensate for the loss of Hooks.


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