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December 5, 2007

Locker gives Washington reason for hope

Washington and USC have been programs going in different directions. That didn't stop both schools from fielding two program-changing freshmen this year.

Huskies quarterback Jake Locker injected life into the program with his combination of passing and running. Whether it means a return to glory for the Huskies remains to be seen.

Unlike Washington, USC didn't need rescuing, but it fielded a freshman projected to be one of the school's greats. Joe McKnight wasn't quite the next Reggie Bush as a freshman but turned in his share of game-turning plays.

Locker is the Rivals.com Pac-10 offensive freshman of the year, and USC defensive end Everson Griffen is the defensive freshman of the year.

Rivals.com Freshman All-Pac 10 Team
QB Jake Locker, Washington (RS), 6-2/225
HIGH SCHOOL: Ferndale (Wash.)
BUZZ: The so-called "Tim Tebow of the West" finished the season with 2,062 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while running for 986 yards and 13 scores.
RB Joe McKnight, USC, 6-0/180
HIGH SCHOOL: River Ridge (La.) John Curtis
BUZZ: McKnight took a while to get his footing at USC but finished with 415 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go with 158 receiving yards and a score.
RB Nicolas Grigsby, Arizona, 5-10/187
HIGH SCHOOL: Whittier (Calif.) California
BUZZ: Grigsby gave the Wildcats a bona-fide running threat with 704 rushing yards and two touchdowns; that's a school single-season record for a freshman.
WR Delashaun Dean, Arizona (RS), 6-4/190
HIGH SCHOOL: Fairfield (Calif.) High
BUZZ: Dean gave Willie Tuitama another big weapon in Arizona's new spread offense. He finished with 37 catches for 418 yards and a touchdown.
WR James Rodgers, Oregon State, 5-7/171
HIGH SCHOOL: Richmond (Texas) Lamar Consolidated
BUZZ: A versatile weapon in the Beavers' offense, Rodgers caught 14 passes for 168 yards but did more damage as a runner with 40 carries for 471 yards and two scores.
TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona, 6-6/250
HIGH SCHOOL: Pittsburgh Woodland Hills
BUZZ: He became more involved in the offense toward the end of the season. A big target in the passing game, Gronkowski had 28 catches for 525 yards and six touchdowns.
OT Micah Hannam, Washington State (RS), 6-4/279
HIGH SCHOOL: Gig Harbor (Wash.) Peninsula
BUZZ: Hannam started every game for a team that allowed the third-fewest sacks in the Pac-10 and led the league in pass offense.
OT Butch Lewis, USC (RS), 6-5/280
HIGH SCHOOL: Denver Regis Jesuit
BUZZ: Lewis got a crash course in playing tackle for the Trojans when he started three games in place of an injured Sam Baker.
G Ryan Tolar, Washington (RS), 6-5/310
HIGH SCHOOL: Pasco (Wash.) High
BUZZ: Tolar started 12 games this season at left guard, paving the way for the two-headed rushing attack of Jake Locker (986 yards, 13 TDs) and Louis Rankin (1,294 yards, six TDs).
G Colin Baxter, Arizona (RS), 6-4/295
HIGH SCHOOL: Rolling Hills Estates (Calif.) Palos Verdes Peninsula
BUZZ: Baxter started the final 11 games of the season in a pass-happy offense that improved its ground game as the year wore on.
C Kristofer O'Dowd, USC, 6-5/300
HIGH SCHOOL: Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe Christian
BUZZ: McKenzie claimed the starting center job in the third game of the season and kept it for the rest of the year.
DE Everson Griffen, USC, 6-3/265
HIGH SCHOOL: Avondale (Ariz.) Agua Fria
BUZZ: The sixth-ranked recruit in the 2007 class did most of his damage late in the season. Of his 5.5 sacks, all but one came against Oregon State and Arizona State in November.
DE Kenny Rowe, Oregon, 6-3/215
HIGH SCHOOL: Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
BUZZ: Nick Reed's backup had four sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss, including two sacks against Michigan.
DT Brian Price, UCLA, 6-1/295
HIGH SCHOOL: Los Angeles Crenshaw
BUZZ: The Bruins' veteran defense didn't miss a step when Price entered the lineup because of injury. He finished with five tackles for loss.
DT Jon Hargis, Arizona State (RS), 6-4/310
HIGH SCHOOL: Mesa (Ariz.) Red Mountain
BUZZ: Hargis started two games, finishing with 19 tackles with four tackles for loss.
LB Chike Amajoyi, Stanford, 6-0/233
HIGH SCHOOL: San Bernardino (Calif.) Aquinas
BUZZ: Amajoyi had six starts at outside linebacker. He finished the season with 47 tackles, with 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
LB Mike Mohamed, California (RS), 6-4/220
HIGH SCHOOL: Brawley (Calif.) High
BUZZ: The backup outside linebacker finished with 41 tackles and three pass breakups.
LB Mason Foster, Washington, 6-1/219
HIGH SCHOOL: Seaside (Calif.) High
BUZZ: A three-game starter, he made the most of his time with 25 tackles and five tackles for loss.
CB Omar Bolden, Arizona State, 5-11/200
HIGH SCHOOL: Ontario (Calif.) Colony
BUZZ: Bolden had six pass breakups and an interception for a unit than ranked 11th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
CB Chima Nwachukwu, Washington State (RS), 5-11/189
HIGH SCHOOL: Allen (Texas) High
BUZZ: Nwachukwu started every game for the Cougars this season, recording 73 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception.
FS Taylor Skaufel, Stanford, 6-0/195
HIGH SCHOOL: The Woodlands (Texas) High
BUZZ: Backing up the conference's second-leading tackler, Bo McNally, Skaufel finished with 35 tackles, including double-digit efforts against Oregon and Washington State.
NOTE: No freshman strong safety merited consideration.
K Thomas Weber, Arizona State (RS), 6-1/202
HIGH SCHOOL: Los Angeles Loyola

BUZZ: A Lou Groza Award finalist, Weber started his career by converting his first 17 attempts. He was 6-of-6 on attempts of longer than 40 yards, including a long of 53.
P Keenyn Crier, Arizona (RS), 6-1/200
HIGH SCHOOL: Spring (Texas) Westfield
BUZZ: Crier led the Pac-10 in punting with an average of 43.7 yards per kick.
KR Jahvid Best, California, 5-11/182
HIGH SCHOOL: Vallejo (Calif.) Salesian
BUZZ: Before a season-ending hip injury, the speedy Best was Cal's secret weapon. He was most effective on kickoff returns averaging 27 yards on 15 attempts.
PR Joe McKnight, USC, 6-0/180
HIGH SCHOOL: River Ridge (La.) John Curtis
BUZZ: McKnight averaged 7.8 yards per punt return, including a 45-yarder that turned the tide in a 20-14 win over Arizona.
ALL-PURPOSE Stanley Havili, USC (RS), 6-1/225
HIGH SCHOOL: Salt Lake City Cottonwood
BUZZ: Havili returned from injury to become a top-notch lead blocker while adding 30 catches for 185 yards and five touchdowns and 129 rushing yards and two scores.

More All-Freshman Teams: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | SEC

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