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August 24, 2006

Pac-10 notes: USC freshmen pushing for RB job

A quick look at the latest news out of the Pac 10 from around the Rivals.com Network:

Pac-10 Practice Reports
Arizona: The Arizona receivers have emerged as the strength of the Mike Stoops offense this fall. Sophomore Mike Thomas is turning into one of the better receivers in the Pac-10. Syndric Steptoe looks ready for a breakout senior season. Juniors Anthony Johnson and B.J. Dennard have risen to the challenge of the incoming freshmen and give the Wildcats a very talented group for quarterback Willie Tuitama.
Arizona State: Not talked about in the pending transfer of Sam Keller is the growing concern over depth at quarterback. Behind starter Rudy Carpenter, the Sun Devils have just one quarterback on scholarship -- true freshman Danny Sullivan. Behind Sullivan are a pair of walk-ons, sophomore Brett Boone and freshman Dax Crum.
Cal: Sophomore Nate Longshore looked good playing with the first-team offense this week. His passes have been crisp, tight and accurate. Backup Joe Ayoob has not had the same success. Ayoob's passes have been wobbly and off-target, opening the door for a new backup to step up.
Oregon: Defensive end Nick Reed and safeties Jairus Byrd and Kwame Agyeman all had standout days on defense during the team's scrimmage this week. Second-string running back Jeremiah Johnson also had a good scrimmage, returning a punt for a touchdown.
Oregon State: Freshman tight end Howard Croom has looked good in camp this fall. His push to crack the tight end rotation may cause coaches to move sophomore Daniel Weis to fullback following his return from injury. Starting cornerback Keenan Lewis was in pads for today's workout and participated in position drills but sat out most of the seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. Junior wide receiver Brandon Powers continues to shine and could start the opener.
Stanford: Four players are still battling for the fourth wideout spot. Sophomore Charlie Hazlehurst, junior Kelton Lynn, senior Michael Miller and junior Nate Wilcox-Fogel are all in the mix.
UCLA: Starting linebacker John Hale and reserve running back Derrick Williams have both been limited this week due to tweaked hamstrings. Freshman running back Jeremy McGee continues to practice at cornerback. Another true freshman, Alterraun Verner solidified his role as the team's nickel back while junior Michael Norris was out with a knee injury.
USC: Despite the play of USC's four talented freshman tailbacks, junior Chauncey Washington still leads the pack. He has the best combination of size and speed and is far-and-away the best pass blocker of the group. Each of the freshmen, however, brings something different to the tailback committee. Stafon Johnson provides the best speed in relief of Washington. C.J. Gable has shown the best vision and ability to find the holes. Emmanuel Moody appears the most likely of the group to redshirt this season. That was before his 128-yard, two touchdown performance in Saturday's scrimmage. Moody has a great ability to make people miss and could be used as a returner. Allen Bradford has made a very successful transition from safety and is the most likely of the group to unseat Washington.
Washington: Tyrone Willingham and the Huskies picked up a big transfer Monday. Sophomore running back Michael Houston announced he would leave Texas to join Washington. The 6-3, 230-pound back will sit out this season, but should be a big help next year. The team got some more good news Monday. Standout defensive end Greyson Gunheim, who suffered a knee injury during Saturday's scrimmage, will not need surgery and should be back in about three weeks.
Washington State: Backup tight end Jed Collins joined the list of injured Cougars on Monday. Saturday, the team's starting right tackle, Charles Harris, sprained his right elbow and has been held out of practice. The team is also without probable starting right guard Andy Roof -- sidelined by a broken thumb. Sophomore Dan Rowlands has moved over from his backup left guard spot in place of Roof.

(Compiled by Brandon Castel, Rivals.com)

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