Four Pac-10 teams break top 25 in preseason
With the upcoming college football season just one week away, the Pacific 10 Conference is once again right in the thick of things, boasting four top 25 teams including two in the top 10 and two potential Heisman trophy candidates.
UCLA (No. 7), Arizona State (No. 8), Washington (No. 18) and Arizona (No. 24) will all be vying for that trip to the Rose Bowl this year as the battle for the top spot in the Pac-10 should be a heated race. UCLA returns seven offensive starters, including Heisman hopeful Cade McNown, as well as three defensive starters. Larry Atkins will replace the New York Giants' No. 1 draft pick Shaun Williams as the leader in the defensive backfield. The Sun Devils will be backed by eight returning offensive starters including the other Heisman hopeful in the conference, running back J.R. Redmond. They also return four defensive starters from last year's 9-3 club including free safety Mitchell Freedman. Washington brings back five offensive starters lead by quarterback Brock Huard along with six defensive starters from last season's 8-4 team.
With McNown and Redmond, the Pac-10 hopes to end the longest drought by any major division one conference and have its first Heisman trophy winner since former USC star running back Marcus Allen won it in 1981. The Bruins' McNown was 143 of 235 for 2,459 yards and 22 touchdowns during UCLA's season-ending 10 game winning streak. He finished third team All-American as well as eighth in the Heisman voting. He holds school records for most completions (487), most yards passing (7,238), most yards total offense (7,633) and needs only eight touchdown passes to hold that mark as well. Redmond, who may also play defensive back this season as well as his normal position, was named a first team Pac-10 all purpose player and honorable mention all Pac-10 running back in 1997. He gained 865 yards on 142 carries averaging 6.1 yards per carry with seven touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown.
Oregon Duck David Sanchez was released from jail after posting $1,500 bail for being arraigned on two counts of attempted coercion in Lane County Circuit Court. He was arrested after threatening to bring a bomb into a state office because a clerk refused to void his parking fines. Sanchez, who was arrested while attending a football orientation meeting, was suspended by head coach Mike Bellotti for violation of team rules.
Former Stanford Cardinal quarterback Chad Hutchinson will remain a Cardinal, just in a different uniform playing a different sport. The would-be junior decided to pursue his baseball career after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Hutchinson signed with St. Louis for $3.25 million to pitch in June. While Hutchinson's replacement has not yet been decided, head coach Tyrone Willingham is leaning toward redshirt sophomore Todd Husak for the starting job in the opening game against San Diego State on Sept. 5. Redshirt freshmen Randy Fasani and Joe Borchard are also in the mix. Husak is the only one who has seen action at the collegiate level, completing 37 of 78 passes for 582 yards last year in relief.