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August 30, 2012

Pac-12: Top prospects who need to step up


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Owamagbe Odighizuwa finished as the second-best weak-side defensive end and No. 8 prospect in the 2010 class with a great opportunity to excel at the next level.

But the former Portland (Ore.) David Douglass standout has not achieved much during his short time at UCLA and there is some concern he is getting lost in the shuffle.

STEP IT UP
Rivals.com takes a conference-by-conference look back at former highly rated prospects from each team who need to start justifying their hype.
DayConference
MondayACC
TuesdayBig 12
WednesdayBig Ten
ThursdayPac-12, SEC
FridayBig East/ND/Others

"He was a little more raw coming out of high school than most pundits thought," BruinSportsReport.com publisher Edward Lewis said.

"His technique and overall feel for the game weren't quite good enough to be dominant at the next level so early. Then, in his second year at UCLA, the Bruins defensive coordinator (Chuck Bullough) and defensive line coach (Todd Howard) were fired, and that clearly messed up his development, as he recorded zero sacks that entire year."

Odighizuwa, the top player in the Oregon postseason rankings and an Army All-American, is listed as the backup to All-Pac-12 defensive end Cassius Marsh in UCLA's 3-4 defense and there has not been much talk about him this preseason.

That could change leading into next year when defensive end Datone Jones graduates but UCLA also has some other quality backups who could challenge Odighizuwa for the starting spot.

Any way the situation is looked upon, Odighizuwa has not yet lived up to expectations coming out of high school.

"His 3-4 defensive end spot isn't really going to be a position where he's going to pile up double-digit sacks or make big plays," Lewis said. "He has the chance to be a legitimate starter for UCLA, especially next year, when starting end Datone Jones graduates, but he doesn't appear to have the ability to be a game-changer for the Bruins anymore.

"Coach Jim Mora hasn't really said much, other than he likes the progress he's made at the end spot so far."

Below is a look at the other former top prospects who need to step up in the Pac-12. (Click player's name for a look at his prospect profile coming out of high school):

ARIZONA
Player: Rob Hankins, linebacker. Ranked as the No. 20 inside linebacker in the 2011 class and had more than 20 offers.
Buzz: Hankins came in as a true freshman middle linebacker and was thrown in immediately under former coach Mike Stoops and that plan backfired. Even Stoops admitted it was a mistake. Hankins started three games and then was placed on special teams for the rest of the season. He had 10 tackles. Hankins was supposed to be the middle linebacker this season but has been bothered by a concussion through fall camp. He has not practiced as the staff waits for him to be cleared.

ARIZONA STATE
Player: Corey Adams, defensive tackle. Rated as the No. 89 prospect in the 2009 class.
Buzz: Adams has dealt with chronic back problems that have largely derailed his career. The former four-star, who was rated second in the Arizona postseason rankings in 2009, is listed as doubtful for the Northern Arizona game and has been unable to participate in most of fall camp. If Adams was healthy he'd have a chance to be second team at either nose tackle or end in the 3-3-5 defense, but it would be a competition.

CAL
Player: Gabe King, defensive end. Ranked as the No. 30 prospect in the 2010 class.
Buzz: King came in as a four-star, borderline five-star, along with the North Carolina crew in a big recruiting coup for Tosh Lupoi, but has yet to see any kind of significant action. He played in just three games off the bench last season and was passed up on the depth chart by Mustafa Jalil. Because he's had such a hard time cracking the defensive end rotation -- redshirt freshman Todd Barr passed him up this fall -- he was moved to nose tackle during fall camp. But he sits behind Kendrick Payne and Viliami Moala and likely Aaron Tipoti, who has moved to end, but will rotate back inside upon occasion.

COLORADO

Player: Nick Kasa, tight end. Ranked No. 42 in the 2009 class at defensive end.
Buzz: Kasa was a blue-chip defensive end recruit who was verbally committed to Florida, but changed to Colorado late in the process because the Gators were talking about moving him to offense. Coincidentally, after failing to live up to the hype as a defensive end his first two-and-a-half seasons in Boulder, Kasa asked coaches to move him to tight end. He is expected to start and apparently has looked good in practice.

OREGON

Player: Ricky Heimuli, defensive tackle. Ranked No. 88 in the 2010 class.
Buzz: Heimuli was ranked as the eighth-best defensive tackle and second-best prospect in the Utah rankings, but has not lived up to expectations in Eugene. Last season, the former Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton standout finished with only 22 tackles in 14 games and had only one quarterback hurry. After coming to Oregon with a chance to stand out along the defensive line, Heimuli has not stepped up yet.

OREGON STATE

Player: Shaydon Akuna, linebacker: Ranked as the top player in the Hawaii state rankings.
Buzz: Akuna was the No. 1 player in the Hawaii state rankings and the No. 16 outside linebacker in the 2010 class. He had offers from major programs across the country, but he has definitely not lived up to expectations. This might be the first season he cracks the two-deep, but it isn't official yet. Last season, Akuna played in only two games, suffered a concussion against BYU and was sidelined for the final six games.

STANFORD

Player: Jamal-Rashad Patterson, wide receiver: Ranked No. 183 in the 2009 class.
Buzz: Patterson was a four-star recruit with offers from essentially the entire SEC, but hasn't made any impact at Stanford despite a very thin wide receiver depth chart. He's a senior this year and there is some hope he finally breaks out, but most people expected more from him three years into his collegiate career.

USC

Player: Marquis Simmons, linebacker: Ranked No. 136 in the 2009 class.
Buzz: Simmons is a redshirt junior who was a part of that Manti Te'o, Vontaze Burfict and Jarvis Jones linebacker class. Many thought Simmons would be starting right along side those guys in college, but he has yet to play anything but special teams for USC. Simmons was ranked as the seventh-best outside linebacker in that class and No. 15 in the California state rankings.

UTAH

Player: Latu Heimuli, offensive guard. Ranked No. 250 in the 2009 class.
Buzz: Heimuli is currently the backup offensive guard and has only two career starts. The former four-star has shown promise but has been hampered with foot injuries since he's arrived on campus and can't stay healthy long enough to cement his spot. Rivals.com ranked him fourth in the Utah state rankings.

WASHINGTON

Player: Deontae Cooper, running back. Ranked No. 154 in the 2010 class.
Buzz: Cooper finished his high school career with 7,450 rushing yards with 107 touchdowns but has been sidelined with numerous knee injuries since his arrival at Washington. He arrived on campus early but injured his knee for the first time in fall camp. Then he missed last season with a knee injury and will miss this year with another knee injury. Cooper still plans to make a comeback.

WASHINGTON STATE

Player: Gino Simone, athlete. Ranked second in the Washington postseason rankings in 2009.
Buzz: Simone was one of the three-star prospects in Washington State's 2009 class and shined on both sides of the ball during his time at Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline. But he has never been that effective for the Cougars. Last season he finished with four catches for 69 yards in 12 games.



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