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Pac-12 Media Days Live: Orchard dreams of playing offense, too

First Published Jul 23 2014 09:56 am • Last Updated Jul 24 2014 05:41 pm

Los Angeles • Stay right here for updates Wednesday and Thursday from Tribune Utah beat writers Kyle Goon and Matthew Piper.

At a glance

Pac-12 media poll

First-place votes in parentheses.

North Division

1. Oregon (37)

2. Stanford (2)

3. Washington

4. Oregon State

5. Washington State

6. California

South Division

1. UCLA (37)

2. USC (1)

3. Arizona State (1)

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

Pac-12 Title Game champion: Oregon (24 of 39 votes). UCLA 13, Stanford and USC with one.

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Last season, Myles Jack sparked the imagination of college football fans by excelling as both a linebacker and running back.

It sparked Nate Orchard’s imagination, too. The senior defensive lineman would love his crack at an offensive role, he told Pac-12 reporters. If only he could talk Kyle Whittingham into letting him play receiver.

"I’d love to," Orchard said. "Catching the football is my favorite thing in the world. Once that ball’s in the air, it’s all mine."

Orchard isn’t just full of hot air: He was an all-state receiver at Highland High, averaging nearly 100 yards per game with 17 receiving touchdowns as the Rams won the 4A state title.

He played along with media queries, talking about his technique for high-pointing passes and using his body to block corners out. Although he might be more of a red zone threat now rather than a deep receiver, Orchard said he would love to bend Whittingham’s ear about letting him play offense somehow.

"I’m trying, I’m trying," he said. "I might have my wife bake him some cookies or something like that. I don’t know."

At 255 pounds, Orchard weighs a generous amount more than he did in high school. But could he go both ways?

Dres Anderson said he could possibly see it. Maybe.


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"He would look good at receiver, I’m not going to lie," he said of Orchard. "I don’t know what his speed would be like. But just going up for it, trying to come down with the ball, with that body — whoa. He’d be like a little Megatron out there. Without the speed."

— Kyle Goon

Anderson not ready to compare QBs

Quarterback Travis Wilson’s health was a hot topic at Pac-12 media day. Unfortunately, the long-haired Californian wasn’t on hand to answer questions himself.

Would you like to ask his publicity agent, receiver Dres Anderson?

On Wilson’s offseason training: "Man-to-man, [Travis] looks like Hercules right now. I thought I saw him when I walked in here and saw that little statue of Hercules over there. But he’s very good, he’s strong, he’s confident. He’s coming back and trying to prove he’s a leader on our team."

On Wilson’s return: "He’s been basically doing all the same things — we just weren’t hitting him. It’s all good. We’ve seen Travis in tackling situations, and he’s a beast."

Utes fans have been wondering if incoming transfer Kendal Thompson from Oklahoma will push the returning starter at quarterback. Anderson gave a positive review of Thompson so far, including his quick release and good feet, but stopped a little short of putting the two head-to-head.

Save it for camp, he said.

"You really don’t know how somebody is until you see them out on the field, you know?" Anderson said. "Even though I’ve seen Kendal throw — and he looks very good — what’s going to happen when he gets a rush? I don’t know those things, and I’ve seen Travis in those positions. I don’t know the difference, really."

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