HEAD COACH: Mike Riley, 81-67 (12 years) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Danny Langsdorf |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Mark Banker
Coach Mike Riley plans to pick a starting quarterback — either Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz — the week before the first game. It’s going to be a difficult decision, but Riley believes he can’t make a bad choice because both possess the know-how and ability to run the offense and win games.
Mannion took over as the starter two games into his redshirt freshman season in 2011. He showed a ton of upside and was named a Freshman All-American after passing for 3,328 yards and 16 touchdowns. Mannion’s sophomore season began even better as the Beavers jumped out to a 4–0 record, but a minor knee injury that required surgery forced him out of two games and began the quarterback competition when Vaz won both of his starts.
The quarterback, whether it’s Mannion or Vaz, will have many targets in the receiving corps. Brandin Cooks is the big-play threat. He had 1,151 receiving yards and is elusive after the catch. Kevin Cummings and tight end Connor Hamlett started to emerge as reliable options at the end of last season.
Running back Storm Woods should improve in his second season as a starter. He nearly topped 1,000 yards despite a lingering bruised knee. He’s healthy now and showed improved speed during spring practice. He will have the luxury of running behind a veteran offensive line that returns four starters.
The Beavers typically move the ball with ease; it’s just a matter of scoring.
The Beavers rebuilt the defensive line with junior college transfers. Siale Hautau and Edwin Delva transferred midyear to learn the tackle position in spring practice. They’ll take up blockers, which will allow aggressive defensive ends Scott Crichton, who had nine sacks, and Dylan Wynn to get after the quarterback. More junior college defensive linemen arrive in the fall. The Beavers plan to rotate up to eight players on the line.
Both starting outside linebackers return. Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander are hard-hitting and quick. They made plays in space and covered backs out of the backfield. A middle linebacker needs to emerge, and sophomore Joel Skotte will be given a shot. If he doesn’t stick, Josh Williams is an option.
The secondary returns two safeties and a cornerback. Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman are back as safeties. Both like to support the run but also are effective in coverage. Rashaad Reynolds is the cornerback opponents avoid. He intercepted three passes and broke up 13 last season. Sean Martin and junior college transfer Steven Nelson are in competition for the other corner position. Both will play significantly now that the Beavers use nickel and dime packages on a regular basis.
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Brandin Cooks, WR - Gained 1,151 yards as the second receiver by being elusive and gaining yards after the catch.
Rashaad Reynolds, CB - Teams went after him, and he responded with three interceptions and 13 pass breakups.
Michael Doctor, LB - The athletic, hard-hitter led the team in tackles last year with 83. He intercepted a pass and broke up four others.
Kicker Trevor Romaine addressed the inconsistencies that plagued him as a freshman in 2011. He returned to hit 16-of-18 field goals. Punter Keith Kostol secured his position with an average of 41.9 yards on 59 attempts. Oregon State’s return game needs a boost. Jordan Poyer, the punt returner, is gone, and the Beavers’ kickoff return unit was the worst in the Pac-12 at 18.3 yards per return.
The Beavers started strong and reached the Alamo Bowl last season. One year removed from a 3–9 season, Oregon State finished in the top 25 for the first time since 2008. Riley went young two years ago, and most of those players are now upperclassmen.
Oregon and Stanford are the class the Pac-12, but Oregon State is near the top of the next tier. Contending for a league title will be tough — especially since the Beavers play in the North — but Oregon State has the talent and experience to flirt with the 10-win mark.
HEAD COACH: Pat Fitzgerald, 50-39 (7 years) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Mick McCall |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Mike Hankwitz
After transitioning to a run-based attack in 2012, Northwestern could feature one of the Big Ten’s best offenses if its line comes together. The Wildcats return almost all of their top skill players, including senior running back Venric Mark, an All-Big Ten selection who racked up 1,366 rushing yards in 2012. Mark and quarterback Kain Colter spark a zone-read run game that at times is unstoppable, particularly in the red zone.
The Wildcats will continue using a two-quarterback system of Colter and junior Trevor Siemian that proved effective for much of 2012. Although Colter is a true dual-threat while Siemian boasts a big-time arm, both must show greater consistency with the high-percentage passes that fuel the spread offense. Northwestern once again looks extremely deep at receiver and tight end but needs more production from a group that had no player eclipse 35 receptions last fall.
The offense will hinge on a line that must replace three starters and had several key players out in spring practice. Center Brandon Vitabile is an excellent cornerstone, but Northwestern needs to fill out the other four spots and maintain the physical mentality that emerged in 2012.
The defense took a step forward last season and could take another as a new emphasis on speed in recruiting is paying off. Northwestern features playmakers at all three levels and saw its takeaways (29) and sacks (28) soar in 2012.
Senior end Tyler Scott anchors the defensive line after leading the team in sacks (nine), tackles for a loss (12.5) and forced fumbles (three) in 2012. He’ll provide the power, while Dean Lowry, Deonte Gibson and Ifeadi Odenigbo bring tremendous speed as edge-rushers. The Wildcats are thin at defensive tackle and need young players to emerge.
Northwestern returns two starters at linebacker in veteran Damien Proby in the middle and Chi Chi Ariguzo, who had a role in six turnovers last season and brings a ball-hawking mentality to either outside spot. Collin Ellis and Drew Smith both will see field time.
No unit has benefited from the speed-based recruiting efforts more than the secondary, which finally boasts enough Big Ten-caliber players. Productive safety Ibraheim Campbell enters his third season as a starter, and dynamic cornerback Nick VanHoose also returns. Coach Pat Fitzgerald is excited about the depth at cornerback. Hard-hitting sophomore Traveon Henry could fill the starting safety spot opposite Campbell.
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Venric Mark, RB - Became Northwestern’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 and earned All-America honors as a punt returner.
Kain Colter, QB - Racked up 1,935 yards of total offense (894 rush, 872 pass, 169 receiving) and 20 touchdowns last season.
Tyler Scott, DE - Had breakout junior season, leading the Wildcats in sacks (nine), tackles for a loss (12.5) and forced fumbles (three).
A liability for years, Northwestern’s kicking game is suddenly a strength. The Wildcats return the Big Ten’s top kicker in Jeff Budzien, who made 19-of-20 field-goal attempts in 2012, and the league’s top return threat in Mark, who earned All-America honors as a punt returner after recording two touchdowns and averaging 18.7 yards per runback. Veteran punter Brandon Williams enters his fourth year as the starter.
Northwestern finally put its bowl bugaboo in the rear-view mirror, and with most of its core pieces back from a 10-win team, the next step is to compete for a Big Ten championship. Although Fitzgerald has elevated the program in seven years, he’s still looking for his first league title as a coach. The offense should be explosive if the line comes together in the preseason, as Mark provides the run threat Northwestern lacked for years. The defense boasts more speed, athleticism and playmakers like Scott, Ariguzo, VanHoose and Campbell. Special teams once again should be very strong.
“Now that we’ve set a benchmark for ourselves,” Siemian says, “we know that it’s unacceptable not to make it to the Big Ten championship or the Rose Bowl.”
HEAD COACH: Todd Graham, 8-5 (1 year) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Mike Norvell |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Paul Randolph, Chris Ball
If Arizona State can find some wide receivers who can get open and catch the ball, its offense could be as explosive as any in the Pac-12. Quarterback Taylor Kelly doesn’t have the strongest arm in the conference, but he’s a superb leader, and he has a knack for being able to make big plays at the biggest moments. His ability to throw on the run and make plays with his feet has reminded some of former ASU great Jake Plummer.
The Sun Devils also return two terrific running backs in senior Marion Grice and sophomore D.J. Foster. Both players have breakaway speed, can run between the tackles and are terrific pass-catchers out of the backfield. As much as coach Todd Graham likes to run the ball, both Grice and Foster could surpass 1,000 yards rushing. Grice is the leading returning rusher with 679 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. “I ask (Grice) every day after practice ‘Did you practice today like the Heisman Trophy winner?’ and he tells me yes or no,” Graham says. “He’s had quite a few practices (this spring) where he’s said yes, so I feel good about that.”
The offensive line should be solid, despite the loss of two starters, and tight end Chris Coyle is an effective weapon both down the field and on third downs. If just one of the five receivers Graham signed can contribute immediately — junior college transfer Jaelen Strong is the most likely candidate — the offense will be extremely difficult to stop.
The secondary is the concern here — it’s not overly talented or especially deep — but that may not matter given how good the front seven should be.
Tackle Will Sutton (13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss) is arguably the best defensive lineman in the country, and he’s surrounded by a deep and particularly athletic front that benefits from the attacking style Graham employs. Linebacker Carl Bradford had 11.5 sacks last year, and it’s conceivable that he and Sutton could combine for 30 sacks this year.
Throw in nose tackle Jaxon Hood, a Freshman All-American in 2012, and ends Junior Onyeali and Davon Coleman, and it’s no wonder that Graham believes this could be one of the best defenses he’s ever had.
ASU must replace two starters in the secondary, but the pass coverage doesn’t have to be great given how little time opposing quarterbacks should have to throw the ball.
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Taylor Kelly, QB – Set a school record by completing 67.1 percent of his passes and accounted for more than 3,500 yards of total offense.
Will Sutton, DT – Consensus All-American in 2012 after racking up 23.5 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks, the fourth-highest total in school history.
Marion Grice, RB – Led the team with 679 rushing yards, had three TDs against Arizona and was named Offensive MVP of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Special teams often get overlooked by fans, but this is huge concern for Graham. The Sun Devils have to replace standout punter Josh Hubner, who averaged 47.1 yards per kick, but more important, they have to find a reliable placekicker. Neither Alex Garoutte nor Jon Mora was the final answer last year, and Graham was so concerned he added Zane Gonzalez as a late signee to his 2013 recruiting class.
The Sun Devils have all the ingredients to make a run at the Pac-12 South title and an appearance in the Rose Bowl. Their defense — led by the reigning Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year in Sutton — should be dominant. They return their quarterback, top two running backs and three starters on the O-line.
Do they have concerns? Sure. They need to find a couple of quality receivers, and they don’t have much depth in the secondary, particularly at cornerback. But there’s not a dominant team in the South, and the schedule is favorable: The Sun Devils don’t play Oregon, they get USC at home and two of their final three games are at Sun Devil Stadium. A nine-win season and date in the Pac-12 Championship Game are not beyond their reach.
HEAD COACH: Tim DeRuyter , 9-4 (1 year) |
OFF. COORDINATOR: Dave Schramm |
DEF. COORDINATOR: Nick Toth
When Derek Carr announced that he was returning for his senior year, Fresno coach Tim DeRuyter must’ve let out a deep sigh of relief. The 2012 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year ranked eighth nationally with 4,104 passing yards and possessed a sparkling 37-to-7 TD-to-interception ratio. And Carr did it playing through a sports hernia that required offseason surgery. He returned for spring practice.
Carr has his entire weapons arsenal back. Davante Adams exploded on the scene as a freshman to lead the Mountain West in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Adams is a dangerous deep threat, while Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper man the slot positions. You’d have to look long and hard to find a deeper receiving corps.
The Bulldogs have work to do at running back to replace Robbie Rouse, their all-time leading rusher. BYU transfer Josh Quezada and Marteze Waller battled for the job in the spring, along with converted fullback Malique Micenheimer. Waller can really turn on the jets, but Quezada is better at pass protection and receiving.
Aside from All-Mountain West left tackle Austin Wentworth and right guard Cody Wichmann, the line won’t be settled until fall camp. To bolster what was a glaring weakness in the Hawaii Bowl, DeRuyter signed four junior college transfers, something Fresno State hasn’t often done.
Anyone who doubts what a difference coaching and scheme can make should compare Fresno State game films from 2012 to those of the past. DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth brought in an attacking 3-4 scheme that gave the Bulldogs a new identity, and there’s no reason the defense won’t be just as good or better despite the loss of All-America safety Phillip Thomas.
It starts up front, where All-MWC nose guard Tyeler Davison headlines a unit that returns all three starters and a key reserve and welcomes two junior college transfers expected to hit the ground running.
There’s depth at linebacker, too, even though pass-rusher Donavon Lewis might be the only returner who keeps his starting job. Kyrie Wilson, moving inside to take over Travis Brown’s old weak-side position, will take on the most new responsibilities.
All-Mountain West free safety Derron Smith, who had six interceptions last season and was the team’s second-leading tackler, heads a secondary that also returns both starting corners. Charles Washington, the backup free safety, converted to strong safety during spring practice and made such a strong impression that the job looks to be his.
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Derek Carr, QB – Threw for 4,104 yards and 37 scores last season. Carr is on the radar for the NFL in 2014 and is the Mountain West’s No. 1 quarterback.
Davante Adams, WR – Emerged as Derek Carr’s No. 1 receiver as a redshirt freshman in 2012, catching 102 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Derron Smith, S – With safety Phillip Thomas departing, Smith will anchor a secondary that finished second nationally against the pass in 2012.
It’s been a couple years since the Bulldogs had a scholarship placekicker. Freshman Colin McGuire will take over as soon as he gets his dorm key. Garrett Swanson, who handled kickoff duties last fall, is the new punter. Fresno State ranked in the bottom half of the league in both punt and kickoff returns — something that shouldn’t happen with its array of talent at the skill positions.
What a difference a year makes. DeRuyter came in and turned things around so quickly that there were whispers he might already be headed to greener pastures. Those rumors are sure to crop up again if this team fulfills its potential.
Fresno State should have a lethal passing attack — provided the revamped line can keep Carr upright — and a formidable defense. The schedule is favorable, too. The Bulldogs open at home against Rutgers, play a winnable non-conference slate and get nemesis Boise State at home during Mountain West play. Anything short of another league title would be a disappointment.
Can Kain Colter lead Northwestern to a Legends Division title?
With Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern each deserving of consideration for the No. 1 spot, the Big Ten Legends Division should be one of the most competitive conference title races in college football.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker from Chicago (Ill.) St. Patrick graduated from Northwestern as the NCAA's all-time leading tackler with 545 stops. He started 40 games for the Wildcats, including the last 34 consecutively. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten recognition in 2003 before earning consensus All-Big Ten honors as a junior and senior. The relentless linebacker was a seventh-round pick by the Rams in the 2006 NFL Draft.
From Euclid, Ohio, Adamle was an All-American and the Big Ten MVP in 1970 for the Wildcats. Adamle was one of Northwestern’s career leaders in numerous rushing, touchdown and scoring categories when his career ended. He went on to be drafted in the fourth round of the 1971 draft by the Chiefs and eventually played six seasons in the NFL. His 316 yards against Wisconsin in 1969 remains a single-game school record. Many know the former running back for his work on "American Gladiators," ESPN, the XFL and WWE.
The defensive end from Covina, Calif., is arguably the most successful pass-rusher in Northwestern school history. He owns the single-season school record with 12.0 sacks in 1997 and the all-time sacks mark with 28.0. He also owns the all-time mark for tackles for loss for a career (53.0) and a season (26.0). He was a fifth-round pick by the Jets in the 1998 NFL Draft.
A four-year starter from Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator, Basanez set every major passing and total offense record in school history during his time in Evanston. When he left school, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder owned 32 school records and is second all-time in Big Ten history (behind Drew Brees mostly) in completions (913), attempts (1,584), yards (10,580) and total offense (11,576). He started 46 games, including the final 40 in a row. His career culminated in Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2005.
The talented wide receiver made the long trip north to Evanston from Aiken, South Carolina. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder lead the team in receiving as a freshman and helped propel the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl in 1995 — where he piled up 145 yards against USC. He backed that up with a huge sophomore season, in which he set NU receiving records for yards (1,196) and touchdowns (12). After missing all of 1997 with a broken leg, Bates came back to break his own records with 83 catches and 1,245 yards as a senior. His 210 catches, 3,370 yards and 26 touchdowns are all school records.
The Wilmington (Ill.) High finished his Northwestern career as the sixth all-time rusher in Big Ten history, leading the school in rushing yards, all-purpose yards (5,261), rushing touchdowns (38) and 200-yard games (4). He also set the school record with 2,063 yards and 23 touchdowns during his consensus All-American 2000 season. The 5-foot-11, 218-pound workhorse finished fifth in the Heisman voting that season and eventually went undrafted in the 2002 NFL Draft.
There are two names linked indelibly to the historic 1995 run at the Rose Bowl and Autry is one of them. The 5-foot-10, 210-pound prospect was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, before moving back to the states and attending Northwestern. He was a Heisman and Doak Walker finalist while helping the Wildcats to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1995 and '96. He left the school as the all-time leading rusher (since broken) with 3,793 yards and the all-time leading scorer with 222 points. Autry was an All-American and two-time All-Big Ten selection before getting drafted by the Bears in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft
The massive 6-foot-7, 335-pound blocker from Milford (Ohio) High was one of the most gifted players to ever suit up for Northwestern. He started 40 games and was the first Wildcats offensive lineman in 22 years to earn All-American honors. He earned All-Big Ten honors of some fashion three times during his four-year career. A seventh-round pick by New Orleans in 2006, this season will be his seventh with the Saints.
The four-year letterman from Chicago, Ill., was arguably the most talented offensive lineman in school history. His stellar career in Evanston was capped by first-team All-American honors in 1982. His excellent college career led to Hinton becoming the highest drafted player in school history. He was taken fourth overall by the Denver Broncos in the 1983 NFL Draft, playing 13 seasons and making six Pro Bowls.
One player stands above all others for the Northwestern Wildcats and he is the man currently standing on the sidelines in Evanston. His excellent coaching record aside, Fitzgerald is the most decorated player in school history. He led the Wildcats to the historic 10-1 season that culminated with the 1996 Rose Bowl. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year twice and won the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards twice each. He was a consensus All-American during both Big Ten championship seasons. He took over as the head coach in 2006 and has been arguably the most successful coach in program history as well.
Hailing from Warren, Ore., Green played three seasons for the Sun Devils. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of those campaigns and finished with 40 total touchdowns. Green claimed consensus All-American honors in both 1972 and '73, finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting in his final year. Green was drafted in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Compton, Calif., native was one of only three players in school history to earn consensus All-American honors in two separate seasons. He left school third all-time in solo tackles (192) and is the school’s all-time leader with 18 career interceptions. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft. Richardson won a Super Bowl with the Bears and also played for the 49ers during his seven-year NFL career.
One of two elite tight ends (Todd Heap) in school history, Miller is the most decorated Sun Devil at this position . He was a consensus All-American and John Mackey Award finalist in 2006. The dangerous 6-foot-5, 255-pound weapon finished with 144 receptions, 1,512 yards and 14 touchdowns before being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
Known for his big hits, “Fo-Rock” was one of the three two-time consensus All-Americans to play at Arizona State. He earned AA honors as a sophomore and junior in 1984 and '85. He was drafted in the third round by the Bengals and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl.
A walk-on from in-state power Chandler High School, Archuleta played in every game of his redshirt freshman season and started for three full seasons. He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors as both a junior and senior and capped his outstanding career with the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award in 2000. Archuleta totaled 127 stops and 93 solo stops (second-best all-time in ASU history) that year. He finished sixth all-time in school history with 53.0 tackles for loss. He was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Rams and played in the Super Bowl as a rookie.
Hailing from Boise, Idaho, Jake “The Snake” made a quick name for himself in the college ranks at Arizona State by starting nine games as a freshman. He then threw for three straight 2,000-yard seasons en route to a magical senior season in 1996. He led the Sun Devils to an unbeaten regular season and the Pac-10 Championship with 2,575 yards and 23 TDs. Plummer was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American and finished third in the Heisman voting. His ability to make something of nothing and lead his team to improbable victories will go down in ASU history. Plummer was taken with the 42nd overall pick in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the home-state Arizona Cardinals.
Since Athlon Sports' inception in 1967, only two Sun Devils uniforms have been retired and White's is one of them. The Mesa, Ariz., prep star went 33-4 as a starter at Arizona State, winning three Fiesta Bowls in the process. He set numerous NCAA and school passing records during his time in Tempe and was named an All-American in 1973 when he threw for 2,609 yards and 23 TDs — which led to a ninth-place finish in the Heisman voting. White went to the Memphis Southmen before leading the Dallas Cowboys to victory in Super Bowl XII. He also was an excellent punter during his time on campus. White was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
The massive blocker has the distinguished honor of being the only NFL Hall of Famer born in the state of Arizona. McDaniel helped lead the Sun Devils to the school’s first-ever Rose Bowl in 1987 as the Pac-10’s Morris Trophy winner. He was eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. One of the game’s greatest blockers, McDaniel went to 12 Pro Bowls while playing for the Vikings and Bucs during his 14-year NFL career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
In just three years, this talented pass-rusher from famed Chandler (Ariz.) High rewrote the record books in Tempe. Suggs owns the school record for career sacks (44), forced fumbles (14) and tackles for loss (65.5). He also set an NCAA record with 24.0 sacks in 2002, earning the star defensive end the Morris, Nagurski and Bill Willis Trophies as well as the Hendricks and Lombardi Awards. The unanimous All-American finished his career with 163 tackles and was drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He helped lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl-winning season in 2012.
Tillman may not be the most talented or productive player in the history of Arizona State football, but there is little doubt that he isn’t the greatest player to ever wear the Sun Devils uniform. The undersized tackler from San Jose (Calif.) Leland worked his way into the starting lineup and helped lead the Sun Devils to an unbeaten conference crown as a junior. The following year, Tillman earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors and collected his second Academic All-American honor. After being drafted in the seventh round of the 1998 NFL Draft, Tillman earned a multimillion dollar extension following the 2001 season. Yet, Tillman, motivated by the attack on the World Trade Center, turned down the money to enlist in the U.S. Army. He would lose his life fighting for his country at age 27 in Afghanistan. His jersey is one of only two to be retired by Arizona State since the 1950s. The the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award was renamed the Pat Tillman Award in 2004 and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
The defensive end from Salem (Ore.) Sprague had three elite seasons in Corvallis. He capped his Oregon State career off in 2004 when he became the first Beavers player to be named conference (then Pac-10) Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year, dating back to the award’s inception in 1975. He also claimed the Morris Trophy, given to the league’s top defensive lineman as voted on by the Pac-10’s offensive linemen. Swancutt is Oregon State’s all-time sack master by a wide margin with 37.0 career QB sacks, including three consecutive seasons with 11.5 sacks. He also leads OSU with 59.5 tackles for a loss. He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
The Woodland (Calif.) High product had one of the best three-year careers in Corvallis. As a star center, Didion led the Beavers to three AP Top 20 finishes in all three years and was a leading member of the famed “Giant Killers.” He was a two-time All-American, garnering unanimous first-team honors in 1968. The seventh-round pick played linebacker in the NFL for six seasons in Washington and New Orleans. He is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame voting in 2013.
Hailing from Richmond (Texas) Lamar, Rodgers was one of the most dynamic and productive players in school history. He owns the OSU school record for career all-purpose yards with 6,377 — his 2,578 receiving yards are fifth all-time. He added 1,410 yards rushing and 2,385 return yards and scored 30 total touchdowns. His 222 career receptions were first all-time in school history when he departed (since broken) and his 91 catches in 2009 is still tied for the single-season school record. Rodgers is considered by many to be one of the most influential Beavers of all-time both on and off the field.
If there is a tackle record in the Oregon State books then Brown’s name is there leading the way. He owns the single-game record with 22 tackles (tied) against Stanford in 1972. He owns the single-season record with 186 stops in 1972. And he is the school’s all-time leading tackler with 415 stops — in just three seasons. He never played in the NFL.
The star tailback from Pittsburg (Calif.) High made his mark immediately at Oregon State. He rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, culminating in the Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame during the historic 11-1 2000 campaign. His 1,559 yards that year were tops in school history at the time and his 1,486-yard sophomore season was No. 2. He is still the school’s career leading rusher with 5,044 yards and his 366 points (59 TDs) are still No. 1 all-time for a non-kicker (Alexis Serna). Simonton deserves credit for not only leading Oregon State to a share of the conference title in 2000, but beginning the elite running back tradition in Corvallis.
The younger brother of OSU great James Rodgers (No. 8 on this list), “Quizz” exploded onto the scene as a 5-foot-6 freshman. He rushed for 1,253 yards as a freshman, 1,440 as a sophomore and 1,184 as a junior while scoring 51 total touchdowns. The Richmond (Texas) Lamar product was a three-time all-conference selection and earned Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. His 3,877 rushing yards are second all-time, and, had he stuck around for his senior year, he could have broken the all-time record. He was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Portland (Ore.) Jesuit High School walk-on receiver might be the most decorated Beavers player in history. After one season on special teams, Hass became the first Pac-10 player to produce three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, which are three of the 10 such seasons in school history. His 1,532 yards in 2005 set an Oregon State record, breaking his own mark set the previous season (1,379), and led the nation by a wide margin. Hass also was honored with the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver that season. In 2004, he set OSU single-game records for receptions (14) and yards (293) in separate games.
The Dallas (Ore.) native was a three-sport athlete at Astoria High School and is one of the greatest players to set foot in Corvallis. He stared in baseball, basketball and football at Astoria and was talented enough to be drafted by the Florida Marlins. He instead went to Oregon State and played in all 13 games as a freshman. Three seasons and 153 tackles, 13 interceptions, 36 passes deflected, 3.0 sacks, 2,032 return yards and four total touchdowns later, the consensus All-American departed OSU as one of the most versatile and talented players in school history.
The big defensive tackle came to Oregon State from Auckland, New Zealand by way of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. In three years in Corvallis, Paea posted 129 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 14.0 sacks and nine forced fumbles from his nose tackle position. One of the strongest Beavers to ever play, Paea was a consensus All-American, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and Morris Trophy winner — given to the league’s top defensive lineman as voted on by the offensive lineman — in 2010 and was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bears in April 2011.
Many in Corvallis believe that Jackson is the most physically dominating athlete to ever suit up for the Beavers. And at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, they are right. After a promising freshman season behind Ken Simonton (390 yards, 5 TD), Jackson took over as the starter in 2001 and set the single-season rushing record in his first year (1,690 yards). He carried the ball 669 times for 3,235 yards and 34 touchdowns while catching 61 passes for 635 yards and five more touchdowns in just two seasons as the starter. His 2,015 all-purpose yards in 2003 were No. 2 all-time in school history and his 132 points set a school record as well. His 4,545 all-purpose yards — in just three seasons — was No. 2 all-time when he left (No. 5 now). The No. 24 overall pick by St. Louis in the 2004 NFL Draft, Jackson has already added his name to the record books with eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Rams (2005-12).
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback from Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian followed in his brother’s, David, footsteps by excelling as one of Fresno State’s greatest players. With one year left to go, the younger Carr should easily rewrite the FSU passing record book. Carr earned Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year honors after posting a conference-record 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns a year ago. He is the highest-rated passer in school history (150.6) and is a modest 2,863 yards and 21 touchdowns from claiming the school’s all-time marks in those categories.
Hailing from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Pope was a hard-hitting safety for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was a three-time All-Big West first-team selection and two-time conference defensive co-MVP. He was drafted with the 33rd overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft by San Diego, and put together a 10-year pro career.
From a statistical standpoint, few Bulldogs have been as productive as the San Diego (Calif.) Madison running back. The diminutive 5-foot-7 tailback consistently overachieved, rushing for a school-record 4,647 yards and finishing No. 2 all-time with 37 touchdowns. His 110 catches were 13th all-time in school history as well. The talented runner posted three straight 1,100-yard seasons and posted 1,008 career offensive touches during his illustrious Bulldogs career.
After a stellar senior season in 2012, the Bakersfield (Calif.) High safety became the first player in Fresno State history to be a unanimous All-American. He led the nation and set a new Mountain West record with eight interceptions in 2012 — three of which he returned for touchdowns. He finished with 178 total tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions, six forced fumbles and 4.0 sacks during his four-year, 39-game Bulldog career.
Yet another star prospect from Bakersfield, Calif., to play at Fresno State, Mathews was one of the most talented players to ever suit up for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is third all-time with 3,280 yards rushing and has the school record for rushing touchdowns with 37. His 1,808 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2009 were single-season school records and, had he stayed around for his senior season, Mathews likely would have been the school's all-time leading rusher despite Robbie Rouse’s prestigious career. He was the 12th overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
A big-time prospect from Aptos, Calif., Dilfer became a starter for the Bulldogs as a redshrit freshman. He went on to win at least a share of three conference championships and started in two bowl games. As a junior, Dilfer earned WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors and set an NCAA record for consecutive passes without an interception (271) that lasted until 2007. He left school with single-season record for yards and touchdowns (later broken). He set a record for most yards in a bowl game (523) and led Fresno to a historic win over USC in the Freedom Bowl. Dilfer was a first-round pick by the Bucs, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and has already had his number retired at Fresno.
The nasty blocker from Catheys Valley (Calif.) Mariposa started all 14 games as a redshirt freshman, blocking for David Carr and allowing just two sacks. He was a freshman All-American and started all 14 games as a sophomore before tearing his ACL as a junior. He returned as a senior and started all 14 games in 2004 and didn’t allow a sack. He was first-team All-WAC and was the first offensive lineman in school history to win the team MVP honors. The five-time Pro Bowler has played in two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots after being selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
One of the greatest blocking fullbacks in NFL history began his football career as a running back for Fresno State. His 2,405 yards were second all-time when he left (sixth now). The Hanford, Calif., native was a two-time All-Big West selection and actually placed seventh nationally as a heavyweight NCAA wrestler. The 5-foot-11, 250-pounder was a fourth-round pick by the Saints in 1993. Neal went to four Pro Bowls and played 16 seasons at one of the toughest positions for seven different NFL teams. He is one of the most underrated players of his generation.
A track star from Fresno, Calif., Ellard starred at his hometown school for four seasons. The undersized wideout — 5-foot-11, 170 pounds — set an NCAA record with 1,510 yards as a senior and left school as the all-time leading receiver in every major category. His 2,947 yards are now third all-time while his 25 touchdowns are still tied for the school record. He averaged an absurd 21.4 yards per catch during his time at FSU. The three-time Pro Bowler was drafted in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played 16 seasons in the NFL, finishing with 814 receptions for nearly 14,000 yards and 65 touchdowns.
A Bakersfield (Calif.) Stockdale prospect, the older Carr brother started for just two seasons at Fresno State (2000-01). He led the team to an 18-8 mark, a top-10 AP ranking and consistently defeated bigger, more powerful programs. He threw for a ridiculous and nation-leading 4,299 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2001, earning the Johnny Unitas and Sammy Baugh Awards as well as WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. He finished fifth in the Heisman voting and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. While he has developed into a pro star, he is still active and has thrown for 14,452 yards and 65 touchdowns in the pros.