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.
Mike Stoops is back at Oklahoma - and that's a good thing for the Sooners.
The college football coaching carousel wasn't just busy among head coaches, as the assistant ranks saw plenty of changes as well. Changing coordinators or hiring a key positional coach can have a big impact on any team.
Athlon takes a look at the top coordinator hires for 2012:
Receiver Kasen Williams should be a breakout player in 2012.
The Washington Huskiescheck in at No. 25 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.
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 begins with No. 25 Washington. The Huskies are coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons, but the program appears to be on the right track. Washington's defense is still a question mark, but the offense will be explosive.
There are few sure things in recruiting these days, but the No. 1 defensive back in the nation is as close as it comes. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound do-everything safety prospect originally committed to Cal, but switched when the Huskies lured Lupoi away from Tightwad Hill. Thompson has a Sean Taylor-esque size and speed combination which will allow new coordinator Justin Wilcox to use the uber-frosh in a variety of ways — close to the line in a hybrid outside backer position, a rangy, high point safety or man-up on bigger tight ends on the outside. And if that isn’t enough, there have been hints at potential snaps on offense, where Thompson got plenty of experience as a Wildcat quarterback at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, Calif. Simply put, this is a special football player that will likely haunt Cal fans for the next three years.
The big ugly from famed Celebrity High, Oaks Christian High School, enters his third season on campus as one of the more important offensive pieces to Coach Sark’s puzzle. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder played in 11 games — getting five starts — as a true freshman back in 2010 before starting all 13 games at right tackle last fall. Like Schaefer, Kohler missed some spring football dealing with an off-season staph infection. He worked with the second unit as both a center and guard, but should slide back to his comfortable slot at right tackle come this fall.
The fulcrum of the Washington offensive line for the last two seasons returns as one of the most experienced offensive players on the roster. After working his way into the starting line-up as a redshirt freshman by the end of 2009, the 6-foot-4, 287-pound center then started every game in 2010 and 2011. In fact, he played every snap of the season last fall, helping pave the way for Chris Polk for every game of his career. The in-state product has dealt with a minor knee issue this spring but expects to be right back over the ball where he belongs by fall camp.
The Fontana, Calif., defender has a chance to be one of the most dynamic players in the conference after a troubled and circuitous route — through jail — landed Shirley in Seattle. Originally signing with UCLA, the end/backer combo was dismissed from the Bruins after being arrested on suspicion of stealing a purse early in the summer of 2010. He signed with Washington in July, redshirted that fall, and played in all 13 games last season. As only a freshman, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound hybrid led the team in sacks with 8.5 and finished with 28 total tackles and 12 tackles for a loss. His speed up the field and overall versatility should make him all the more dangerous as a sophomore in 2012.
The big defensive end is looking to rebound in 2012 after a season-ending knee injury early in the Cal game cost him most of the 2011 season. Husky fans are hoping for the 6-foot-3, 256-pound Laie, Hawaii, lineman to return to his freshman form that earned him team Freshman of the Year honors. He posted 49 total tackles, eight tackles for a loss and three sacks back in 2010. He was on pace to top those numbers with 15 total tackles, three tackles for a loss and one sack in the first three games. Look for new defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi to work Jamora back into form following the injury.
It took only a few games early in Trufant's career for him to claim a starting spot on the Husky defense. He earned the Travis Spring Most Outstanding Freshman Award after nine starts and 47 total tackles. The honorable mention All-Pac-10 corner started all 13 games as a sophomore before returning to the all-conference team as a junior in 2011. The Tacoma, Wash., product set career highs in total tackles (64) and pass break-ups (14) as a junior and enters his final season in Seattle with his sights set on first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Hailing from storied Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash., Williams came to Seattle as one of the most decorated prospects in recent memory. As a senior in high school, Williams became the first Evergreen State prospect to earn the Parade All-America National Player of the Year award. He was the No. 8 wide receiver in the nation, and once on campus, he didn’t disappoint. He posted 36 receptions for 427 yards and six trips to pay dirt while also acting as the team’s top punt returner. If the second half of his season is any indication — 24 rec., 330 yards, 4 TDs in the final six games — then the Huskies should have little trouble replacing the production of departed seniors Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.
Parker signed with Washington out of Los Angeles as the No. 6 defensive back prospect in the nation and the No. 16 overall Pac-12 recruit in 2010. Touted as a future leader, he didn’t disappoint as a freshman, playing in nine games before missing the final four due to injury. He entered full-time starting duty as only a sophomore, and after a 91-tackle season, is the leading returning tackler for Washington. He also led the team with four interceptions. Undoubtedly, the new defensive coaches on Steve Sarkisian’s staff will be looking to the Husky Fever 12th Man Award winner for leadership and discipline in 2012.
Husky fans should be able to remember the last time they signed a superstar in-state sure-fire tight end prospect. His name was Kavario Middleton and he turned out to be anything but sure-fire. Seferian-Jenkins inked with Washington as the No. 3 tight end in the nation and the No. 3 overall Pac-12 recruit in 2011. And in one year, the 6-foot-6, 258-pound Fox Island native has proven his recruiting hype was completely justified. He started 10 of his 13 games and finished No. 2 in Washington true freshman history with 538 yards receiving. His efforts, which include 41 receptions and six touchdowns, earned him honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors a year ago and he enters only his sophomore year as a preseason first-team all-conference player.
In only one season as the starter, Price has already begun to cement his legacy as one of the top Husky signal callers in the long and storied history of Washington football. He still has lots of winning (and passing) to do to be compared with historic names like Hobert, Moon or Tuiasosopo, but in one short year, Price set single-season UW records for touchdown passes (33), completion percentage (66.9%) and passer efficiency (161.09). Additionally, his 3,063 yards were No. 2 all-time in school history and his 242 completions were third. After leading Washington to its first winning season since 2002, Price now enters his junior season with sights set much higher than the Alamo Bowl.
Athlon looks at the 10 greatest players since 1967.
A two-time All-Pac-10 lineman, Chorak was one of the top players at the end of Don James’ tenure in Seattle. Chorak holds the school record for career tackles for a loss with 61.5, 10.5 more than anyone else in program history (Ron Holmes). In 1996, Chorak had 22 tackles for a loss and 14.5 sacks, which remains the Huskies’ single-season record.
Kreutz was a consensus All-American and the top blocker in the Pac-10 during his senior in 1997. A three-year starter, Kreutz blocked for Corey Dillon in 1996 when he rushed for a school-record 1,695 yards. He also snapped to prolific quarterbacks Damon and Brock Huard in his career. The Hawaiian lineman was a third round draft pick of the Chicago Bears and went on to a 14-year career as one of the NFL best centers for more than a decade.
Lewis won the first Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, after rushing for a then-school record 1,407 yards in 1990. He started that season on a tear, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the first nine games. He finished up with 128 yards and a touchdown in a 46-34 Rose Bowl win over Iowa in what was then the highest scoring Rose Bowl game in history. It was also Washington’s first Rose Bowl appearance in a decade and first victory in 13 years. Lewis is Washington’s fourth leading career rusher with 2,903 yards.
Another key player during Don James’ legendary tenure at Washington, Holmes started to make his mark as a sophomore in 1982. He was an All-Pac-10 performer in 1983 with a school-record 23 tackles for a loss as a junior. In his senior season, Holmes was a consensus All-American and the Pac-10’s top lineman in 1984 as the Huskies’ reached the Orange Bowl. At 11-1, Washington hoped to make the case for a national title after defeating second-ranked Oklahoma in the bowl game, but BYU ended up with the title. Holmes left Washington with a school-record 28 career sacks in 1984, a record that stood until 2009. Holmes died in October 2011. He was 48.
When N.C. State’s David Amerson intercepted 13 passes in 2011, he was the first player to threaten Worley’s single-season record in roughly 20 years. Worley intercepted 14 passes in 1968, and Amerson was the first FBS player to pick off more than 12 since Worley’s career year. The 14-interceptoin mark will be tough to match, but his per-game performance will be even tougher. Worley accomplished his feat in only 10 games. Worley was something of a one-year wonder, though. He had four career interceptions entering his final season, or the same amount as he would have in a midseason game against Idaho in 1968.
When Washington won a share of the national title in 1991, Kaufman’s career was just getting started. He was the third-leading rusher on the championship-winning team but finished as the Huskies’ career leading runner. He rushed for 1,390 yards in 1994 and 1,299 yards in 1993, helping him to become the first Washington back to cross the 4,000-yard mark for his career. Chris Polk joined him in 2011, but came 57 yards short of Kaufman’s record of 4,106 yards. A quick, little running back Kaufman averaged 5.6 yards per carry in his career. He also holds the Washington record with 34 career rushing touchdowns.
Blocking for quarterbacks Mark Brunell and Billy Joe Hobert and running back Napoleon Kaufman, Kennedy allowed only two sacks in his four seasons at Washington, which were among the best years in school history. In his two seasons as starting tackle, the Huskies went 21-3, including the 1991 national title, two Rose Bowls and a 20-game win streak. Kennedy was twice named the Pac-10 lineman of the year and earned consensus All-America honors in 1992. The Atlanta Falcons selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 1993 draft.
With his Cherokee heritage, his No. 6 jersey and his prolific passing, Sixkiller was a phenomenon at Washington in the early 1970s. He was not close to his cultural background as a child growing up in Oregon, but he became a symbol for athletes of Native American heritage, a lineage which includes former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. On the field, Sixkiller pulled Washington out of a decade of mediocrity when he became the starting quarterback in 1970. The Huskies went 3-5-2 in 1968 and 1-9 in 1969 before going 22-10 in Sixkiller’s three seasons under center. He led the nation in passing as a sophomore at 230.3 yards per game and finished his career with 5,496 yards. He held Washington’s career passing record for 23 years, the single-game passing record (387 yards vs. Purdue in 1971) for 18 years, and the single-season record (2,303 yards in 1970) for 10 years.
Moon started his college career in junior college, but landed at Washington when coach Don James offered him the opportunity to play quarterback when other programs would not. Moon passed for 1,106 yards on a 5-6 team in James’ second season in 1976, but he blossomed as a senior. Moon was the Pac-8 Player of the Year in 1977 as he passed for 1,584 yards with 11 touchdowns. He capped his collegiate career with an MVP performance in the Rose Bowl against Michigan. Moon was 12-of-23 for 188 yards with two touchdowns against the Wolverines in Washington’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 14 years. He started his professional career in the Canadian Football League but became a trailblazer for black quarterbacks in the NFL when he signed with the Houston Oilers in 1984.
A two-time state champion in discus and a basketball player at Cheney High in Eastern Washington, Emtman headed west to Seattle to play for the Huskies, where he became the most decorated player on Washington’s best team. With Emtman anchoring the defensive line in 1991, Washington went 12-0 and won the coaches’ vote for national champion (Miami won the Associated Press title). Emtman was a unanimous All-America that season and won the Lombardi and Outland trophies. In his final two seasons in 1990-91, Washington went 22-2 overall and 15-1 in the Pac-10 while winning two Rose Bowls. In two seasons, Emtman had 134 tackles and 14 sacks before the Indianapolis Colts selected him first overall in the 1992 draft.
Despite ending their 15-game losing streak the week before against Idaho, the Huskies were huge underdogs against number-three USC. But Jake Locker leads a last-minute drive, and Erik Folk kicks a field goal at the gun, giving UW a dramatic 16-13 upset win.
No. 17 Washington bumps off 14th-ranked Washington State in Seattle, 23-10, behind QB Steve Pelluer and kicker Chuck Nelson (three FGs), but the day’s largest cheers come when the Husky Stadium crowd learns USC has upset UCLA, sending the Huskies to the Rose Bowl.
Down 27-14 to Washington State with 3:00 left, Al Burleson returns an interception 93 yards for a touchdown to draw the Huskies within six. After holding the Cougars, Spider Gaines hauls in a tipped pass from Warren Moon and goes 78 yards for a TD and a 28-27 win.
Michael Jackson intercepts Rick Leach’s pass to Stanley Edwards on the UW three-yard line with just over a minute left to quell a furious Michigan comeback and give the Huskies a 27-20 Rose Bowl victory. (Moment at 19:50 on video.)
Washington’s top-ranked defense, led by game MVP Steve Emtman, holds Michigan to 205 total yards and stifles Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard in a 34-14 Rose Bowl victory that gives the Huskies a share of the national title.