How did the Athlon Sports preseason All-Pac-12 team rank as high school prospects?
The 2012 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at all-conference teams from across the nation. But where did all these tremendous all-league performers come from and how did they get where they are today? Some showed up on campus as five-star uber-recruits and others defied all odds as walk-ons. Athlon analyzes how the 2012 preseason All-Pac-12 team ranked as recruits.
Matt Barkley has USC in position to contend for the national title.
The obstacles were well-documented. USC would be crippled for multiple seasons by NCAA penalties — after all, it had happened before. De’Anthony Thomas’ recruiting defection to Oregon was a program crusher. Lane Kiffin was an overrated coach. For all of the above reasons, impending doom was predicted for the Trojans for seasons to come.
The Oregon Ducks check in at No. 4 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
With the departure of Lavasier Tuinei and David Paulson, Huff returns as the most experienced pass-catcher on the roster. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound wideout sat out most of spring ball in order to completely recover from a stress fracture in his leg that he played through most of 2011. He also ran “a-fowl” of the law when he was arrested for driving under the influence in early March. He could still face a short suspension. Huff caught 31 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns last fall.
The highly-touted cover-man from Sacramento, Calif., took no time at all to prove he belonged in the starting line-up for Nick Aliotti. He started 12 games as a freshman, leading the team in pass breakups (10) and finishing third amongst defensive backs with 45 total tackles. He posted 3.0 tackles for a loss and intercepted two passes. The 6-foot, 185-pound redshirt sophomore should press for All-Pac-12 honors in 2012.
The menacing 6-foot-4, 246-pound tackler has dealt with some issues off the field — including a bad knee injury that cost him the entire 2010 season — but finally settled into a stable role in 2011. The physical freak from Los Gatos, Calif., posted 46 total tackles, two interceptions, 6.0 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. His 5-tackle, 1.5-sack, one-INT, 2.5-TFL performance against the powerful Wisconsin Badgers offense earned Alonso Rose Bowl Defensive MVP honors.
The senior offensive guard’s status heading into the fall might be the biggest story other than the quarterback battle the entire summer up in Eugene. The Ducks need the stud blocker to recover from his shredded knee, which he suffered in the Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The injury was so vicious, however, that he may not be ready to roll until mid-season. York, when he returns to full strength, gives Oregon a tremendous baseball-style mid-season addition.
The junior nose guard started all 14 games along the defensive line a year ago and is one of the most dependable players in the conference. The 6-foot-6, 289-pounder registered 44 total tackles and 2.5 sacks en route to an honorable mention All-Pac-12 a year ago. He is fundamentally sound and never takes a snap off. His toughness and leadership makes him one of the most underrated players in the conference.
The career backup enters his final season in Eugene with a shot at being the primary ball carrier in one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. Doak Walker winner LaMichael James missed three games over the last two years and Barner proved he could be more than capable. Try 58 carries, three receptions, 433 yards rushing, 102 yards receiving and eight total touchdowns in those three starts. In 36 career games, 33 as a backup, the Riverside, Calif., runner averaged over 60 yards from scrimmage. The only thing that will keep Barner from a massive 2012 campaign will be, either De’Anthony Thomas or nagging injuries. Because it certainly won’t be Pac-12 defenses.
John Boyett certainly deserves plenty of praise for his ability to lead this defense and protect the back end, but Clay is the heart and soul of the front seven. The “cat-quick, cerebral player” lines-up at the most important position on the field with 36 games of collegiate experience. The San Jose, Calif., native is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 219 pounds but is also incredibly productive. He finished 2011 with 102 total tackles, including 13 against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. Look for another steady, dependable, leadership-laden season from the senior linebacker.
Few players in the nation at any position have as much raw physical talent as Jordan. The converted tight end is listed at 6-foot-7 and 241 pounds, was a first-team All-Pac-12 performer last year after leading the team with 7.5 sacks and possesses the range and length NFL scouts crave at the end position. The Chandler, Ariz., star plays the hybrid end/linebacker “drop end” position that lends itself to big plays, sacks and overall disruption of the offense. Jordan finished with 42 total tackles in 14 games, and, with improved consistency, could find himself on several All-American teams by the year's end.
There may not be a more dependable free safety in the nation than the 5-foot-10, 202 pound Napa, Calif., product. Boyett has protected the back-end of the Oregon defense for 39 career games — missing only one game in his career (Missouri State, 2011). He led the team in tackles a year ago with 108 total stops while adding six pass breakups and one key interception of Matt Barkley. He was honored with a second-team All-Pac-12 award by the coaches and will be a unanimous first-team all-league selection this summer. He has 276 total tackles, nine interceptions and 20 pass breakups over the course of his three-year Ducks’ career.
There may not be a more versatile, more explosive player in the nation than The Black Mamba. He proved his big-time play-making ability as only a freshman by earning first-team All-Pac-12 recognition as a kick returner and Co-Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award. He finished with 2,235 all-purpose yards and 18 total touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 173-pounder averaged nearly 11 yards per carry on 55 attempts (595 yards) and caught 46 passes for 605 yards. His highlight reel talents were on full display in the 45-38 Rose Bowl win over the Badgers in which he touched the ball six times on offense for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas is listed as a wideout and running back and fans can bet Chip Kelly is much more confident in his open-field dynamo. Expect a heavy increase in touches in 2012 — and keep eyes on his return home to the City of Lights when Oregon visits USC.
Will the Ducks miss LaMichael James or Darron Thomas more in 2012?
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 4 Oregon. The Ducks have to replace quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, but remain one of college football's top-five teams for 2012.
LaMichael James or Darron Thomas: Which is Oregon Football's Bigger Loss?
1917: Oregon showed the country just what Western football was about by whipping mighty Pennsylvania, 14-0, in the Rose Bowl. All-America Shy Huntington ran for a touchdown, passed for another and picked off three passes in a tremendous individual display. (There weren't a lot of cameras in 1917, so here's a video of Oregon's archivist discussing the importance of this game.)
Trailing 40-21, with under 5:00 to play, Oregon stages a remarkable comeback to overcome UCLA. QB Dan Fouts, who had been benched earlier in the game, leads the comeback and secures the 41-40 win by throwing a 15-yard TD pass to Greg Specht with 0:21 to play.
Oregon races to a 24-6 lead and holds off Michigan in a 31-27 thriller at Autzen Stadium. The Wolverines entered the game leading the nation in rushing (307.3 ypg) but were held to minus-three yards on the ground on 19 carries.
The second-ranked Ducks used 350 passing yards from Joey Harrington and three interceptions by Steve Smith to throttle number-three Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, 38-16. Little over a month earlier, the Buffaloes had trampled Nebraska, 62-36, but were no match for Oregon.
#1. The Ducks Secure Their Run To The 1994 Rose Bowl
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With less than a minute left, Pac-10 bully Washington had the ball on the Oregon eight, down 24-20. Many expected the Huskies to extend their league primacy with a touchdown, but Kenny Wheaton picked off a Damon Huard pass and went 97 yards for TD that clinched a 31-20 win and keyed the Ducks’ run to the Rose Bowl.
Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 best coaches in college football for 2012.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
Will the SEC's streak of national championships end in 2012?
Spring practice is wrapping up around the nation, which means the 2012 college football season is just around the corner. Athlon’s top 25 for 2012 kicks off on May 1 and ends in early June with our pick to win the national title. The SEC has won six championships in a row, but will that streak end in 2012? The early odds favor a SEC repeat, but there are some threats looming for a seventh consecutive title.