On The Trail Show (Mon., noon ET)

February, 1, 2015
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With only days until national signing day, there's a lot of recruiting news. Join RecruitingNation's panel of experts Monday at noon ET to break down the weekend's top news and what to expect for signing day.

Best of the visits: Pac-12

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The final weekend for official visits before signing day saw some big trips taken to Pac-12 programs and a few important commitments, while one program got started in earnest on 2016 recruiting.

Beavers bag two

Oregon State coaches have rallied their class after taking over in early December. With several top prospects following former head coach Mike Riley to Nebraska and others leaving or being nudged out of the class, Gary Andersen and staff have done a nice job rebounding and filling their 2015 class. The top five commits have all made their pledges since Jan. 17, and two of those came this weekend in running back Deltron Sands and linebacker Christian Folau.


Folau is a former Stanford commit who also looked hard at Oklahoma State, Utah and Wisconsin. He is now the top-ranked prospect in Oregon State's class, while Sands continues the Beavers' reach into Florida. He is the fifth Sunshine State prospect in this class and the fourth to commit to Andersen.

UCLA's final push

The Bruins had several of their committed prospects on campus for official visits this weekend, including cornerback Colin Samuel, who received a strong late push from Michigan in an attempt to bring him out on an official visit. Samuel instead opted to firm up his commitment to the Bruins. He visited UCLA this weekend along with two significant Bruins targets in ESPN 300 cornerback DeChaun Holiday and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Joseph Wicker, both pictured alongside Samuel in this tweet.


Holiday is scheduled to announce his commitment later Sunday, and it would be a huge surprise if the standout defensive back lands anywhere other than UCLA. Wicker will announce on signing day and is down to Arizona State, Texas Tech and UCLA -- but again, he is likely to wind up with the Bruins.

Oregon's other visitors

Plenty of attention was paid late last week to Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, who could very likely become an Oregon quarterback in the near future. Adams took a visit to Oregon this weekend and has an opportunity, should he choose to take it, to transfer schools without having to sit out a year as a graduate student.

But the Ducks are also looking to finish out the 2015 class at the linebacker position and have their sights set on Washington State commitment Jonah Moi.


This Ducks jumped on Moi in a big way after missing on a few other targets throughout the process and should have a good shot at flipping the junior college defender.

Oregon also got a visit this weekend from a standout 2016 talent in ESPN Junior 300 athlete Taylor Rapp, who already holds offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Northwestern, Oregon, Washington and Washington State.

USC's junior day

USC held its first junior day for 2016 recruits on Saturday, and many of the top prospects in the West region were in attendance. News and photos seemingly came from every recruit in attendance. All told, at least five prospects received offers from USC, including linebackers Curtis Robinson and Krys Barnes, defensive backs Jordan Parker and Shurrod Thompson and wide receiver N'Keal Harry.

Gardena (Calif.) Serra was well represented, with Oluwole Betiku, Brandon Burton, Blake Walls and Khalil Tate in this photo. Betiku, Burton, Tate and fellow 2016 Cavalier C.J. Pollard already held USC offers before the visit.


Burton is the nation's No. 76 overall 2016 prospect and part of what is going to be an absolutely loaded class of wide receivers in California.


ESPN Junior 300 defensive backs Treyjohn Butler and D.J. Morgan were also in attendance, with both waiting on offers from USC.


The state of Arizona was also well represented, with ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Byron Murphy joining Harry, along with former Arizona and current San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills quarterback Dakota Miller.

Happy Friday. Hope your Super Bowl party is a most righteous affair.

Follow me on Twitter. Please.

To the notes!

David from Calgary, Alberta writes: By now, most Oregon fans will have heard the fact that UO has offered a scholarship to Vernon Adams from EWU. To me, this doesn't look like the coaching staff at UO has a lot of confidence in the QBs that are currently there and have been in the system. Lockie and Alie have taken snaps with the UO offense, and Mahalak and Griffen have red shirted and been in the system. If Adams does end up going to UO, he has stated that he won't join the team until after a summer internship is up in August. Why would anyone want to take a 1 year "place-holder" who will have essentially 3 weeks to learn the play book and jell with the offense before the season opener, when you have guys who have been in the system for at least a year, and don't have as far to go?

Ted Miller: I would encourage Oregon fans to not overthink this, as it's pretty simple.

Marcus Mariota is off to the NFL. The Ducks' quarterback spot is open for competition in 2015.

Mark Helfrich and Scott Frost are going to play the quarterback who gives the Ducks their best chance to win next year. If they have an available scholarship for a quarterback who might be that guy, then it behooves them to invite him to become a Duck, whether that's Adams, Ohio State's Braxton Miller or Kal-El, a raw, underrated prospect from Smallville High School who can really fly.

This is an interesting opportunity for Adams to step out from obscurity and perhaps show the nation just how good he is. This is an interesting opportunity for Oregon to get a guy who fits the Ducks' offense and has experience carving up Pac-12 defenses. It also would allow the Ducks another year to develop its crew of promising but young quarterbacks.

(Quick Adams note, per ESPN Stats & Information: In two starts against Pac-12 foes, he’s been responsible for 13 touchdowns and no interceptions with a 97.2 Total QBR. In 2013, he led Eastern Washington to an upset over No. 25 Oregon State, and last season he threw for seven touchdowns against Washington, the most the Huskies have ever allowed in a game).

You might wonder how the rest of the Ducks quarterbacks might react. That's easy. Their reaction should be, "Good. This makes us better. Another quality guy in the competition will help me leave no doubt with my teammates and coaches when I win the starting job and make this my offense. I want my backup to be the best available guy."

Nothing is guaranteed. Adams getting a scholarship doesn't make him the starter. He still has to win the job.

As for that internship, I'm skeptical. If Adams becomes a Duck, my money is on him showing up in Eugene as soon as possible. I'm guessing whoever enlisted Adams for an internship would understand.


Donovan from St. George, Utah writes: Why can't Utah keep an offensive coordinator for more than one season?

Ted Miller: You mean eight offensive coordinators in eight seasons is unusual?

Every departure has its own nuances. Andy Ludwig, who spent four seasons with the Utes, left for California after the 2008 season, and Norm Chow became Hawaii's head coach in 2012. You could say those departures were because of promotions.

The transition from Dave Schramm (2009) to Schramm and Aaron Roderick (2010) was head coach Kyle Whittingham trying to promote from within, and bringing in Chow in 2011 was getting a big name from without. Promoting Brian Johnson in 2012 also was an inside move that seemed both risky and inspired because of Johnson's lack of experience, and bringing in Dennis Erickson in 2013 felt a lot like the call to Chow -- a vacillation back toward a big-name veteran after an inside promotion.

Replacing Erickson with Dave Christensen last season felt like Whittingham jumping on an opportunity to get a respected offensive coach he also knew personally. At the time, it merited a raised eyebrow, but it also seemed like Whittingham might have gotten his man -- finally! -- a guy who knows the type of spread offense Whittingham wanted.

Nope. I think Kurt Kragthorpe reasonably reads the tea leaves here:
Christensen is eager enough to move that he's disregarding his 25-year friendship with Whittingham and abandoning Kendal Thompson and Jason Thompson, the quarterbacks whom he persuaded to transfer to Utah. His decision supports the theory that Christensen and Whittingham couldn't agree about the QB staffing this season. Travis Wilson twice was benched in favor of Kendal Thompson, who then missed the last four games with a knee injury.

As a reporter, Whittingham has always been great to work with -- accessible, insightful, straight-forward -- but there is pretty significant evidence that he's not always easy to work for. By the way, a lot of good coaches are difficult bosses. That whole accountability and demanding the best all the time thing.

What's clear is that Whittingham isn't afraid of change, and even in a year when the Utes broke through in the Pac-12, he's not satisfied. He would probably be a lot easier to work for if his offense averaged 35 points -- or more! -- a game.

It will be interesting to see who Whittingham hires. Despite Utah posting a quality season after two down years, there seems to be plenty of soap opera going on in Salt Lake between Whittingham and AD Chris Hill. Taking another step forward on all fronts in 2015, including retaining an offensive coordinator for more than one season, would certainly help settle things down.


Marcus from Canaan, Connecticut, writes: It's become increasingly clear to me that the ducks will never win a national title until they start landing 5 star recruits on a regular basis. Being that they have been the preeminent program on the west coast for the last decade or so, why are they still losing the majority of those battles to schools like USC?

Ted Miller: Got $1 that says Marcus wasn't an Oregon fan in the 1980s.

Oregon is never going to win the majority of its battles for 5-star prospects over USC/UCLA. Never. So get over it.

Why? Primarily, it's an issue of location. The vast majority of 5-star prospects on the West Coast play high school football near USC/UCLA. Further, the Trojans have the huge advantage of being perhaps the preeminent college football program in the nation, winning 11 national titles while producing the most NFL first-round draft picks and NFL Hall of Famers.

Oregon lost the 2010 national title game to Auburn on a last-second field goal. It whipped unbeaten defending national champion Florida State by 39 points in the first College Football Playoff semifinal. It beat Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl and Kansas State in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. Oregon has won at least 10 games and finished ranked in the top-11 for seven consecutive years. It has finished ranked in the top five in four of the past five years.

Oregon just needs to keep doing what it's been doing for the past six or seven years, which is trying to ... well ... win the freaking day. That probably includes a steady, but incremental, improvement in the quality of recruits.

But becoming obsessed with 5-star recruits is the worst thing the Ducks could do. It is the path to failure.


Thomas from Charleston, North Carolina, writes: It seems very strange that Colorado has been without a Defensive Coordinator for nearly a month. Some speculation has been that head coach MacIntyre may take over these duties for the 2015 season. Do you think that is a possibility? Has that ever been handled this way at other programs before? Love to get your thoughts on the situation.

Ted Miller: Even if MacIntyre takes over the defensive play-calling, he's going to hire a defensive coordinator. His doing so, of course, would reduce the number of interested A-list candidates because most coordinators want that control.

And, yes, I understand your frustration and impatience. If MacIntyre could have quickly engineered a high-impact hire, it might have given recruiting a bump, not to mentioned energized fans.

Word is MacIntyre made runs at a couple of guys but couldn't close the deal. With signing day closing in, he might have decided to regroup and refocus, which would explain a dearth of rumors on the post. He also might be waiting for a few more NFL dominoes to fall after the Super Bowl.

The good news is that the next coordinator is probably going to be better than the undistinguished Kent Baer, who has led more mediocre-to-bad defenses than good ones. His departure to UNLV, one suspects, didn't evoke tears from MacIntyre. The Buffs took a step back defensively this fall, despite better, more mature talent. With nine returning starters, Colorado has a chance to be much better in 2015, whoever the coordinator is.


Brian from Denver writes: An under-recognized reason for Stanford's disappointing season, in my opinion, was the tough road schedule. In 2015, though, we get UCLA, Arizona, Notre Dame, Cal and Oregon at home. Does the improved home-away balance outweigh 2015's brutal strength of schedule? I love that we play 9 conference games, insist on playing both LA schools every year, and play 3 legitimate nonconference foes -- there are no dud games this year! -- but should the schedule make me more optimistic or pessimistic overall?

Ted Miller: Well, Stanford's schedule will be among the nation's toughest in 2015, period. It plays three quality nonconference foes -- at Northwestern, UCF and Notre Dame -- which is even an uptick from past years. Though it helps to get Oregon at home, the Cardinal also is at USC in Week 3.

That said, it certainly is an advantage to play seven home games and do a 5-4 home-road split in Pac-12 play. Last season, the schedule was 6-6 home-road and 4-5 in conference play.

So be optimistic.


Tom from Seattle writes: [This is funny].

Ted Miller: Yes. That is funny.

A.A. Ron Rodgers!

Two-star Scoobs: UCLA

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We all know that recruiting is an inexact science, and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright proves the point on his Twitter handle TwoStarScoob.

The true sophomore unanimous All-American became the nation's most decorated defensive player, winning the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik awards.

That is the focus of this series. We'll run through each Pac-12 team and highlight a player who was low on star rating when he arrived on campus but became a critical guy.

Up next: UCLA

Two-Star Scoob: CB Fabian Moreau

Recruiting ratings: ESPN.com: Two stars; Rivals.com: Three stars; Scout.com: Three stars.

Recruiting analysis: Moreau, who hails from Sunrise, Florida received his only SEC offer from Vanderbilt. A good student, he was pursued by a number of academically elite FBS schools, such as Northwestern, Wake Forest and Boston College. An indication that more than a few folks with a good eye for hidden talent recognized his ability was an offer from Kansas State. Listed as a RB or WR by most recruiting services. Lettered two seasons as a RB and WR at Western High. As a senior, he ran 149 times for 889 yards and 11 touchdowns. Also caught 21 passes for 416 yards and seven touchdowns. From ESPN.com: "Does a lot of things well, nothing great at this stage but we still feel that Moreau is falling under the radar with his versatility and is a solid prospect likely suited for the mid-major level."

On campus? The key was finding the right spot for Moreau, and Jim Mora did that by moving him to cornerback, at which point Mora almost immediately announced that Moreau had first-round NFL ability. He saw significant action as a true freshman in the secondary and on special teams and has been a full-time starter the past two years, earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2013 and second-team honors this past season. He finished with 53 tackles, three tackles for a loss, an interception and nine pass breakups. He and Ishmael Adams -- first-team All-Pac-12 -- will give the Bruins the best CB tandem in the Pac-12 in 2015 and one of the best in the nation.
Bryce Love has become the fourth ESPN 300 prospect to select Stanford since late December. Continue reading to see what Love and his 4.3 speed can do for the Cardinal's offense:

Recruit breakdown: CB Iman Marshall 

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What he brings: The versatile Iman Marshall is the complete package at the corner position. He brings size, ball skills and athleticism that could project at different positions throughout the secondary. He possesses great transitional quickness for a perimeter defender with his frame and closing speed to shut down receivers in man coverage. He also has the big frame and physicality, range and ball-hawking skills to add value at safety. We expect this competitive and instinctive athlete to compete for early playing time at the next level.

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Two-star Scoobs: Stanford

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We all know that recruiting is an inexact science, and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright proves the point on his Twitter handle TwoStarScoob.

The true sophomore unanimous All-American became the nation's most decorated defensive player, winning the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik awards. However, when he was known as "Philip" Wright as a high school senior, he was rated just two stars by Rivals.com and Scout.com. ESPN.com gave him three stars.

Funny thing is, for every player who is celebrated at every level all the way to NFL super-stardom, there are more cases of guys coming from nowhere to become stars. Or at least key contributors.

That is the purpose of this series. We'll run through each Pac-12 team and highlight a player who was low on star rating when he arrived on campus but became a critical guy.

Next: Stanford

Two-Star Scoob: WR Devon Cajuste

[+] EnlargeDevon Cajuste
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsDevon Cajuste has more than proven his worth as a wide receiver at Stanford.
Recruiting ratings: ESPN.com: three stars, No. 75 TE; Rivals.com: three stars, unranked WR; Scout.com: three stars, No. 36 TE in the country

Recruiting analysis: From ESPN.com: "Cajuste is a real intriguing prospect to evaluate as he is a true wide receiver at this level and a guy that is clearly a cut above the competition he is facing. However, he is going to end up as an H-back/TE at the next level and will be an athletic one." Cajuste heard from a lot of schools that wanted him to play tight end, but Stanford recruited him to play receiver and that factored into his decision to play for the Cardinal.

On campus? Stanford stuck to its word and kept Cajuste at receiver, where he has proven to be one of the team's best offensive threats over the past two seasons. His size (6-4, 229 pounds) creates mismatches against corners and he's fast enough to have an advantage in the rare occasions he's covered by a linebacker. He briefly considered a move to the NFL but announced after the season he would remain at Stanford for his final season. He has 63 catches for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons.
We continue our look at what positions groups need to improve between now and next season.

Position to improve: secondary

Why it was a problem: In 12 games, 10 players (including six freshmen) combined to form seven different starting combinations in the secondary. With a serious lack of continuity and a lack of experience, the results were predictable: WSU allowed 296.6 passing yards per game, which ranked as the second most in FBS behind Cal (367.2). Teondray Caldwell, who converted from running back to safety before falling out of favor at a second position, elected to transfer in September, while cornerback Daquawn Brown, the team's top corner, was dismissed after the season. Freshman cornerback Kevin Griffin also left the team after the season.

How it can be fixed: After a lengthy search, coach Mike Leach hired Missouri safeties coach Alex Grinch as the team's new defensive coordinator, replacing Mike Breske. If it works out the way Leach hopes, the change will be pivotal in allowing the unit to improve, but considering how bad things were, it'll take more than that ... starting with recruiting. The Cougars have five defensive backs committed for a class that will become official next week.

Early 2015 outlook: A lot depends on the incoming guys, especially junior-college transfers safety Shalom Luani and corner Treshon Broughton, both of whom should be expected to contribute right way. Corners Pat Porter, Charleston White and Marcellus Pippins all started at least one game last year as freshmen and rising senior Taylor Taliulu started 10 games at safety. Sebastian LaRue, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas A&M, will be an interesting name to keep an eye on, too. A four-star receiver prospect in the Class of 2013, he converted to cornerback last spring.
Twitter went into a late Thursday night frenzy. The reason: No. 1-ranked quarterback Kyler Murray announced on twitter and through ESPN that he was in fact sticking with his commitment to Texas A&M after visiting Texas 10 days ago. And with a 25 character tweet, Murray set off a twitter reaction rarely seen by a football recruit's decision.

@HamiltonESPN: With this quote by five-star and No. 1-ranked quarterback Murray, a worried Texas A&M fan base let out a collective sigh of relief. The final decision by Murray to sign with Texas A&M also provides Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin with a shot in the arm in the final days headed to national signing day.


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We finish our final Pac-12 blog Quarterback Power Ranking of the season with, perhaps, the most unsurprising No. 1 ever imagined.

Yes, figure this, if you win the Heisman, Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and are voted first team All-Pac-12, there's a decent chance you'll also sit atop our power rankings at year's end. Congrats, Marcus Mariota.

No. 1: Oregon redshirt junior Marcus Mariota

Statistics: 304-of-445 (68.3 percent), 4,454 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, 4 interceptions | 135 carries, 770 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns

Why he's here: Because he deserves it.

Mariota wasn't just the best quarterback in the Pac-12 or the best quarterback in the nation, he was the best college player to step foot on a field this year. He managed to throw passes into windows that no one else could hit and eluded some of the nation's best defensive backs with running back-like speed. He led the Ducks to the inaugural College Football Playoff and though they ultimately fell short of the national title, he cemented his legacy in not only Oregon football history, but also college football history.

His touchdown to interception ratio (10.5) led the country as did his adjusted QBR (90.8). Mariota's passer efficiency rating of 181.7 was far and away the nation's best and he managed to accomplish all of this behind an offensive line that saw more lineup changes than most Broadway productions see during a season. He was sacked 31 times during the season -- putting Oregon's quarterback protection on par with Northwestern, Arkansas State and Oklahoma State.

Though we will certainly write more and more about Mariota on this blog, it seems very drawn out to need to explain why Mariota deserved this No. 1 spot in 300 words. So, let's close with very true and simple reasoning: He was the best. We're not going to see quarterback play like this -- anywhere in college football -- in a long time.
Washington will be losing a significant load of defensive star power in 2015, so it'll be even more imperative for the Huskies' offense to develop a more ferocious punch. Here's a look at a key position to address moving forward.

Position to improve: The marquee spot: quarterback.

Why it was a problem: Cyler Miles didn't turn the ball over much (well, except for when he fumbled), but Washington truly struggled to threaten with consistent explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. Only Utah featured a less productive aerial attack than the Huskies, who managed only 200.1 passing yards per game. Washington rarely mustered over seven yards per pass attempt against decent defenses -- heck, the Huskies even finished at a measly 3.3 yards per attempt against the best defense on their schedule (Stanford) -- and this obviously became a major source of frustration in Seattle.

How it can be fixed: On the stat sheet, Miles generated some improvement over the numbers he posted in limited action as Keith Price's backup in 2013. His completion percentage rose from 60.7 to 66.6, and he averaged 7.3 yards per attempt in 2014 compared to 6.9 in 2013. But the big picture still suggested that the Huskies' offense lacked the vitality necessary to be a serious contender in the Pac-12 North. That's why there are rumblings that freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels, who redshirted this past season, has a shot to start in 2015.

Early 2015 outlook: We'll diligently monitor the quarterback competition in Seattle this offseason. The Huskies return top rushing threat Dwayne Washington, so next year's starter should be able to operate with the benefit of a credible rushing attack. Outside of that, it's wait-and-see time for Chris Petersen's program as he enters his second year at the helm, and the quarterback position looks to be the most essential piece of the puzzle moving forward.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

January, 30, 2015
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It's the final weekend for official visits before signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and Pac-12 programs are looking to make that final in-person push as they close in on finishing out their classes. We take a look at the top three visit weekends in the conference.


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Pac-12 morning links

January, 30, 2015
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Happy Friday.

Leading off:

Money, money, money, money .... Mon-ayyyyyy.

Yep, that's right. We're starting off Friday with conversations about dollars. It's one of the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table, which means we'll absolutely discuss it on the Pac-12 Blog.

On Thursday, John Wilner looked into the salaries of each Pac-12 coach and compared the South coaches against the North coaches and came to a very interesting conclusion -- the South coaches are paid, on average, much better. He calculated that the North coaches' salaries came out to $13.95 million while the South coaches' salaries came out to $16.85 million.
One factor clearly is the artificially low compensation for two North coaches who were promoted from within. Mark Helfrich isn’t paid like a national finalists -- he’s a screamin’ deal -- and David Shaw would command more on the open market than he’s currently making with two of the past three league titles.

Then add Riley’s relatively low compensation, the result of being in one place for so many years, and the situation starts to make sense.

It's an interesting piece that's definitely worth your time. Note: The Stanford and USC dollar figures used are estimates, just keep that in mind.

Notes/team reports/recruiting updates:

Two-star Scoobs: Oregon State

January, 29, 2015
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We all know that recruiting is an inexact science, and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright proves the point on his Twitter handle TwoStarScoob.

The true sophomore unanimous All-American became the nation's most decorated defensive player, winning the Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik awards. However, when he was known as "Philip" Wright as a high school senior, he was rated just two stars by Rivals.com and Scout.com. ESPN.com gave him three stars.

Funny thing is, for every player who is celebrated at every level all the way to NFL super-stardom, there are more cases of guys coming from nowhere to become stars. Or at least key contributors.

That is the purpose of this series. We'll run through each Pac-12 team and highlight a player who was low on star rating when he arrived on campus but became a critical guy.

Next: Oregon State.

Two-Star Scoob: TE Connor Hamlett

Recruiting ratings: ESPN.com: two stars; Rivals.com: two stars; Scout.com: No. 99 TE in the country

Recruiting analysis: Hamlett generated very little recruiting interest outside the Pacific Northwest and was a bit a tweener prospect because of his 6-foot-7 frame. From the ESPN.com analysis: "While tackle may seem like the best long term fit, he has good enough hands that you could see him staying at tight end."

On campus? He remained at tight end and carved out one of the best careers for a tight end in school history. He started 29 games and finished with 104 catches, which ranks third among tight ends in school history. His 1,109 career receiving yards ranks fifth all-time among Beavers tight ends. As a senior in 2014, Hamlett began the season on the Mackey Award watch list (nation's best tight end), started all 12 games and finished third on the team with 32 catches for 342 yards and two touchdown receptions.

Top performances: Luke Falk

January, 29, 2015
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We continue our series looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2014. If you feel a little nostalgic, you can check out the top performances from 2013.

Up next: Falk goes on Halliday

Who and against whom: Washington State redshirt freshman backup quarterback Luke Falk made his first start for an injured Connor Halliday and led the Cougars to a 39-32 comeback victory at Oregon State.

The numbers: Falk completed 44 of 61 passes for 471 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

A closer look: Falk, a former walk-on, replaced Halliday in the Cougars' loss to USC the previous weekend and handled himself well, but a first career start on the road is an entirely different matter, particularly with Washington State riding a four-game losing streak. But Falk was poised from the start, throwing for 251 yards and three TDs in the first half. Going into the game, the Beavers had allowed just seven touchdown receptions and their pass defense ranked second in the conference behind Stanford. Yet Falk completed passes to nine receivers, with five of them catching TDs. After the Cougars fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, Falk led the offense on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, one of four 70-plus-yard touchdown drives he led that day. His 471 yards passing are the most by a Cougar in his first start.

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