Oregon lost out on the Terrelle Pryor Sweepstakes -- Pryor picked Ohio State over Michigan on Wednesday -- but the Ducks even earning a spot at the table for the nation's No. 1 prospect provided a nice boost to their profile.
Moreover, replacing dynamic quarterback Dennis Dixon appears far less daunting after sophomore Justin Roper
picked apart South Florida for four touchdown passes in a 56-21 Sun Bowl blowout that partially redeemed an embarrassing late-season slide after Dixon went down with a knee injury.
But Roper won't automatically walk into the starting job when spring practices start April 4. He'll first be challenged by sophomore Cody Kempt; but watch out for sophomore Nathan Costa, who was ahead of those two before blowing out his knee last season. Costa will be limited in spring but figures to enter the race in the fall.
Beyond that, a touted pair of freshmen, Darron Thomas
and Chris Harper
, reported early and will participate in spring drills. Thomas already has picked up a fan club on the popular Ducks blog, "Addicted to Quack ."
Bolt From Berkeley
Cal pushed back the start of spring practices from March 17 to March 31 in the hopes injured players would benefit from a couple more weeks of rest. But at least one projected starter used the time to decide to transfer: sophomore running back James Montgomery
, the most experienced tailback heading into spring. Montgomery rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns last season while playing behind senior Justin Forsett
and fellow freshman Jahvid Best
. With Montgomery gone, Shane Vereen
, Tracy Slocum
and Covaughn DeBoskie
move up the depth chart. The flashy Best will be out until the fall nursing a hip injury.
It appears that UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan
is ahead of schedule rehabilitating his injured knee and will be available when spring practices begin April 3, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. At that point, he will renew his seemingly never-ending competition with Ben Olson
, the favorite to eventually win the job. Cowan a senior, has started 13 games over the past two seasons, but only five in 2007 because of multiple injuries. Olson is also coming off a knee injury.
Good News/Bad News
Oregon State got some great news and some not so great news in the past week. First, receiver Sammie Stroughter
received a hardship waiver and another year of eligibility, which means the Beavers get one of the conference's best receivers and return men back for another year. On the down side, Pernnell Booth, expected to start at defensive tackle, will miss spring while rehabbing a high-ankle sprain. The senior is the Beavers only experienced tackle.
USC senior defensive tackle Fili Moala will not be charged after his March 2 arrest in connection with a bar fight in Newport Beach, Calif. Moala didn't participate in the fight but was arrested after he didn't follow police instructions to leave the bar, according to reports. Moala is the Trojans' most experienced defensive lineman and an All-American candidate.
Arizona practiced four times before spring break and will reconvene March 24. The early word on the junior college transfers participating this spring -- linebackers Sterling Lewis and Vuna Tuihalamaka, and offensive linemen Herman Hall, Mike Diaz and Phillip Garcia -- was positive. Lewis and Tuihalamaka could be in the mix to fill two vacancies at linebacker. Junior Xavier Kelley and senior Adrian McCovy also are in the running.