Spring Stars of the Pac-12
With the help of the Scout network and publishers here's a list of a spring star from each one of the Pac-12 schools. These are players that had an outstanding group of practices who look to contribute or star for their respective programs this fall.
Arizona is home to a number of terrific, versatile athletes. But there was one offensive Wildcat in particular that had an outstanding spring. His name is Tyrell Johnson and he’s a sophomore from the Milford Academy (N.Y.) via the Sunshine State. He saw action at both wide receiver and running back this spring. This kid is lightning fast and ran a blazing 6.66 in the 60 meters, a school record. He will primarily man the slot and get some touches in the run game. Get Johnson the ball in space and let him do his thing. He’s also a very good return man.
A player that really came on and had a terrific spring for the Sun Devils was Kalen Ballage. This sophomore from Peyton (Col.) Falcon was never really healthy in 2015 after injuring his back early during fall camp. Still, he saw a lot of playing time and was a running back featured near the goal line. He scored three touchdowns on 42 touches. This spring he showed off his added weight (about 10 pounds) and strength and ran with more power between the tackles. Ballage also has deceptive speed and looks to be another very good bigger back for this Arizona State offense. He’s now 6-foot-2, 222-pounds.
Lonny Powell and Vic Enwere are two running backs that shined for Cal this spring. Powell, 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, is a true freshman from Sacramento (Calif.). He showed the ability to move a pile and drag defenders. Powell is going to be a powerful force in the run game for offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. That’s already the case for sophomore Vic Enwere. He played in 12 games last season but touched the pigskin only 34 times. Still, he showed flashes and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. This spring he showed he has advanced as a player and should take some carries away from Daniel Lasco, the team’s No. 1 running back. This is going to be an extremely potent offense considering the running game and passing attack with quarterback Jared Goff.
Addison Gillam is the Buffaloes starting middle linebacker. He was a freshman All-American in 2013 that recorded 119 tackles. In 2014 he suffered a foot injury in fall camp, two concussions and then had a terrible long time bout with the flu. This spring he showed he was healthy and rounding back into his All-American form. They will need a big 2015 from Gillman, as Colorado is primed to progress as a program this coming season.
One of my favorite players from the 2013 class from the state of Florida was Charles Nelson. He was a super athletic and a speedy talent from Daytona Beach Seabreeze. That’s exactly what he has shown while at Oregon. He started off at wide receiver and played well as a true freshman. Nelson made the switch to cornerback this spring and had an interception during the spring game. He also moonlighted on offense, catching five passes for 144 yards and two scores. How can the offensive minded Ducks not play him on that side of the ball? He’s just so explosive.
There’s so much turnover for the Beavers, from their coaching staff, to quarterback and a handful of other positions. That’s why it was key for Gary Andersen’s first spring that he find a signal caller to build his offense around. It looks like they found their guy in true freshman Seth Collins. Yeah he played like a freshman much of the time and made his share of mistakes and errant throws. But Collins also made a ton of big plays for the Beavers offense over the spring. There’s no doubt that this kid has some moxie and brings some crazy excitement to this side of the ball.
There were several stars for the Cardinal over the spring. The one I want to mention is former three-star defensive back from Oceanside (Calif.), Alijah Holder. He plays cornerback at Stanford. Holder red-shirted last spring as a freshman and is ready to make his impact this fall. He’s made plays over and over all during the spring and finished with a big game in April. Holder has great size at 6-foot-2, 174-pounds and is your prototype big and long cornerback that every team at every level covets.
There’s a reason why Josh Rosen was the No. 1 ranked quarterback and five-star recruit in the class of 2015. He has everything you want in a signal caller – size, arm talent, the brains, brass and poise to succeed and succeed early at the college level. The big test for Rosen is simple – the adjustment to the speed of the game. Some make the quick transition while others do not. If this spring was any indication then the Bruins look set at quarterback, at least for the next three years. Rosen played like a true freshman at times for UCLA but he improved and progressed with every practice and scrimmage. This quarterback has as high of a ceiling as any I have seen in recent years.
The Utes are a little thin at wide receiver so the coaches were hoping someone would step up with a big spring at this position. That’s exactly what Raelon Singleton did. This is great bounce back for him, as he missed the 2014 season with a shoulder injury. This Crosby, Texas standout is a big wide receiver in the 6-foot-3 range. Singleton has terrific upside and should be a main contributor this fall. Utah will need him and others this year, as they lost three of their top four receivers in terms of production from 2014.
If there was one player that needed to step up and have a monster spring for the Trojans it was Steven Mitchell and boy did he deliver. This former four-star recruit from Mission Hills (Calif.) Biship Alemany is now a red-shirt sophomore wide receiver. His first two seasons at USC were plagued by knee and groin injuries. Finally healthy, Mitchell showed off his speed, quickness and ball skills this spring. He’s stronger and more explosive than ever. If Mitchell can avoid the injury bug this fall expect a giant season from this Trojan in that offense. In fantasy terms, he could project as a No. 1 wide receiver playing with Cody Kessler.
How good was defensive back Darren Gardenhire for Washington this spring? He will have a chance to be one of the starting cornerback for the Huskies this fall. He played a little bit as a freshman in 2014, mainly on special teams. This spring, with Washington looking for someone to come up big and take advantage of the playing opportunity, it was Gardenhire who stepped it up and in a big way. He led the way for defense with the most interceptions over the spring.
Keith Harrington is a smaller player that absolutely blew things up this spring at Washington State. He’s a smaller wide receiver/slot from my hometown who I actually saw play a lot his last few seasons at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Northeast high school. Harrington is quicker than fast and can create a lot of big plays for an offense, especially for one like the Cougars. Harrington red-shirted in 2014. Expect him to be a main contributor in Mike Leach’s offense this fall and beyond.
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