Tag:Pac-12
Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Senior Bowl invites Washington "junior" RB Polk

Lost amid the clutter of the NFL's release that a record 65 underclassmen were granted special eligibility for the 2012 draft was the announcement from the Senior Bowl that ten Pac-12 players were invited to participate in the preeminent senior all-star game in the land.

Among the ten was a surprise -- University of Washington running back Chris Polk, who had been characterized by the Huskies and the NCAA as a whole to this point as a junior.

It had been presumed that Polk, who missed all but the first two games of the 2008 season due to injury, had taken a medical redshirt. As it turns out, Polk did not apply for a redshirt and thus, exhausted his eligibility once the Huskies lost to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.
"We made sure that we followed proper protocol before we invited Chris and that entailed getting everything cleared through the NFL and Coach Sarkisian at the University of Washington," Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said.  "Once it was determined that Chris had exhausted his eligibility at Washington there was no question we wanted him on our roster.  He is an excellent player and has a bright future in the National Football League."

Polk was not among the 65 underclassmen granted special eligibility by the NFL for the 2012 draft.

Polk's addition to the Senior Bowl roster is a significant one. Ranked as the No. 4 running back in the 2012 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com, Polk leaves Washington having rushed for 4,049 yards -- the second most in school history behind Napoleon Kaufman, a first round pick by the Raiders in 1995.

Listed by Washington at 5-11, 222 pounds Polk is a surprisingly physical back for his size. Though he lacks elite breakaway speed, his vision, burst and determined running made him the MVP for the Huskies in 2010 over quarterback Jake Locker, drafted No. 8 overall by the Titans in April. Polk finished second behind former Washington running back Corey Dillon for the single-season record with 1,415 rushing yards in 2010. He earned First Team All Pac-12 accolades in 2011 after rushing for even more yardage (1,488), including posting 147 yards and a score against Baylor.

Polk is one of three Washington players to be invited to Mobile for the 2012 Senior Bowl. Joining him will be offensive lineman Senio Kelemete and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

The remaining seven Pac-12 prospects invited to the Senior Bowl are Arizona quarterback Nick Foles and wide receiver Juron Criner, Arizona State offensive lineman Garth Gerhart and wide receiver Gerell Robinson, California linebacker Mychal Kendricks and offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.

Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:40 pm
 

Updated: ASU ILB Burfict declares early for NFL

As expected the past few days have seen a lot of underclassmen news. NFL scouts have to be pleased that virtually every position on the football field has been enhanced with junior talent.

According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers.

Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page.

The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level."

Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads:

“After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.  I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU.  I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program.  I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field.”

Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it.  

While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons.

For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year.

Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level.

However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus.

As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects.

Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Kalil, Lotulelei win Pac-12's Morris Trophy

One of the earliest lessons I learned as an NFL scout was to ask players for their opinions of their peers. They know, perhaps better than anyone else, who can really play and who is being overrated.

The Pac-12 is unique in that it is the only conference in BCS football that appears to agree with this rationale. As such, they give the conference's offensive lineman an opportunity to vote for the league's most dominant defensive lineman. The Pac-12's defensive linemen get the same treatment. Their opinions are the only ones that matter in recognizing the conference's elite offensive lineman. The top vote-getter is rewarded with the Morris Trophy.

Though the Pac-12 hasn't officially announced the winners yet for this season, NFLDraftScout.com has learned their identities.

The winners this year couldn't be much different.

To no one surprise, the Pac-12's defensive linemen voted Southern California junior left tackle Matt Kalil as the dominant offensive lineman in the conference. While overshadowed by USC's talent at the skill positions, savvy followers of the program know that the 6-6, 295 pound Kalil played a critical role in the Trojans' averaging an eye-popping 35.8 points per contest. That number may pale in comparison to many of the spread schemes proliferating the country, but for a ball-control offense playing against the caliber of competition USC faced this season, the production is very impressive. The younger brother of former USC standout (and current Carolina Panthers' Pro Bowler) Ryan Kalil, Matt could elect to leave after his junior season and be a likely a top ten pick. Kalil currently ranks No. 4 on my Big Board and is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated offensive tackle potentially available for the 2012 draft.

The defensive winner, on the other hand, is a name that few outside of the Pac-12 will recognize. In fact, many inside of the conference likely don't know much about Utah junior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. The conference's offensive linemen, however, obviously think quite highly of the 6-3, 325 pound defensive tackle.

Lotulelei signed with Utah from Snow Junior College just last year but emerged as a starter by season's end. This season, he's been virtually unstoppable despite the fact that he's often double-teamed. Lotulelei, who was named a First Team all-conference pick by the league's coaches, registered 38 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss on the season. His combination of size and power could make him a highly valued commodity -- especially for NFL teams looking for a potential nose guard. As such, Lotulelei is quickly rising up NFL draft boards. He is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated defensive tackle in the class of 2013.

Just as they likely are doing with Kalil, Pac-12 opponents can only hope the NFL proves so enticing that Lotulelei -- who is married and has a little girl -- elects to leave school early. 
 
 
 
 
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