- Defensive Tackles: Nate Chandler is now listed at 6-5/291, which is about plus 21 from the previous list. That is impressive because we are going to need this size and more importantly athleticism at the DL. Donovan Carter has also gained 24 pounds (I am guessing the most among the entire team) and he is now listed as 6-1/271 DT. Not too shabby at all.
- Defensive Ends: Luta Tepa is at 6-1/244 which is plus 19 from the previous list. Keenan Graham, a DE I am really looking forward to watching next season is at 6-2/243, which represents plus 15 from previous official list.
- Linebackers: Todd Golper at MLB is at 6-0/231, which is at plus 9. Isaiah Bowens at 6-1/240 (gained 8 lbs) which is pretty good size now at OLB. Both of those guys were key redshirts last season as highly recruited blue chippers. It is going to be fun (for those lucky enough to get to Spaulding) to watch these two during spring.
- Defensive Backs: We just took a look at these guys earlier in the week. Definitely some noticeable changes. Marlon Pollard is now at 6-0/174 (plus 16) and Alex Mascarenas is now listed as a 5-10/194 (+18) FS. Those two must have been working their rear ends of last few months. They are not the only two. Brandon Sermon is up 10 at 5-11/193 and Sheldon Price is up 8 at 6-2/171.
- Offensive Line: These guys on paper are starting to look like a Pac-10 OL. Greg Capella (RS Freshman) is now at 6-4/320 (plus 8), Micah Kia is at 6-5/331 (plus 18), and Ryan Taylor is at 6-4/330 (plus 4). On the other end it looks like Eddie Williams has gotten a little leaner at 6-1/327 (minus 4). Stan Hasiak is listed at 6-5/315 (minus 3). Also, good to see Wade Yandall already enrolled in the program. He is listed at 6-4/300.
- Quarterbacks: Richard Brehaut is up 3 at 6-2/225. Nick Crissman is up 5 at 6-3/212 and Kevin Prince is up 10 at 6-2/229. I am actually going to be very interested in reading tibits about Crissman and how he looks this spring. If he can emerge as a viable backup option it will be a huge boost for the program and perhaps give us the luxury to redshirt Brehaut this coming season.
Well the information about weight gain is encouraging. However, that alone doesn't tell us much. They represent one set of data points as we all also need figure out whether our guys have improved in the area of strength, speed, and agility. Guess we are going to find out lot more during spring ball.
If there are other tidbits from the list that stand out to you share them in the comment threads. Also, note the updated depth chart was released yesterday. I put up a separate fanshot on it and if you guys have specific thoughts on the depth chart would love to read about it here. Some more notes after the jump.
uclaaves already fanshotted Ted Miller's write up on Akeem Ayers. Ayers along with Rahim Moore is positioned to be one of the key leaders of next year's defensive unit and one of the best players in the entire conference:
Ayers ranked third on the Bruins in 2009 with 75 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for a loss, which ranked second on the team and fifth in the conference. Playmaking? He recorded six sacks, grabbed four interceptions, forced four fumbles and recovered two.
If you're looking for a defender to rise from mostly unknown to first-team All-Conference in 2010, Ayers might be your man.
For all his instincts and athletic ability, the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Ayers has a tendency to freelance outside of his assignments in the specific defensive scheme, something that used to infuriate Carter.
"If the guy is not near the play or ball, Akeem doesn't always want to be bothered with it," Carter told the LA Times last year. "That's understandable when you're young. As you get older, you realize you have to work in the scheme. He could hurt us one day."
Ayers, who saw Carter as a mentor on and off the field, is as aware of this as anyone. When asked what he needs to do to ascend from young talent to star, he said, "It's not so much physical. It's more the mental aspect, getting the defense down pat."
This is something we actually discussed a lot during early games of last season. Ayers definitely had a tendency to function like a missile without a guidance system. However, I think he did improve as the season went along. I though Chuck Bullough's use of him as a hybrid DE/LB towards the end of the season really helped him and further highlighted his freakish athletic talent.
It is going to be fun to watch him play next season. If he takes another step forward and puts together a polished season from start to finish it is going to be very hard to hold on to him for his red shirt senior season. We will see I guess.
Houston won't have any trouble burning up the scoreboard thanks to the return of Case Keenum, who passed for a nation's best 5,671 yards and 44 scores last season, plus its top four pass-catchers and a dangerous 1-2 punch at running back with Charles Sims and Bryce Beall. It won't matter how many points the Cougars score if the defense can't stop anyone, though. Last year, Houston ranked 111th in total defense and 115th against the run. The schedule includes nonconference games at UCLA and Texas Tech and a home date with Mississippi State.
Keenum will represent a pretty big test for Ayers and co. early in the season. How our defense performs in that game could be telling for rest of the season.
Lastly, we all knew Pauley Pavilion is kind of like a Mecca for NBA superstars during summer time. Who knew Spaulding Field also attracts its share of professional superstars. Apparently Tom Brady has been doing his "off-season training" out in Westwood. I wonder if Prince, Brehaut and Crissman stopped by to get some pointers.