College Football's New Look

You know all about senior Ty Montgomery, whose All-American work as a kick returner last season overshadowed his 61 catches for 958 yards and 10 touchdowns. Montgomery stretches the field as if it were Silly Putty.

It's the other three, and the way they complement Montgomery, who make Shaw giddy. Devon Cajuste is a 6-foot-4, 228-pound junior (28-642-5 in 2013) who can block and take off down the seam. Redshirt sophomore Michael Rector averaged nearly 31 yards per catch last season (14-431-3), and should be comfortable with a greater role this fall.

Senior Jordan Pratt is the possession guy (12-148-0). The precision with which Pratt operates is a reflection of his background. Pratt is 29, married, and majoring in atmosphere and energy engineering.

"Most of the time, the guys in the locker room are completely mature and I forget that I'm 10 years older," Pratt said. "And I'll make a comment, 'Yeah, I remember Sept. 11, 2001. Got called out of my high school class "...' They'll say, 'High school? I don't even remember that!"

Pratt spent eight seasons pitching in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, where his coaches constantly told him he was thinking too much. On the football field, Pratt doesn't have to think.

"I can still spend the time in the film room," Pratt said, "talking to coaches and people who understand the game a lot better than I do and applying my analytical strengths and my thinking like an engineer to the game. Once I get out there, I can let it go."

The biggest sign of the depth of talent is that junior Kodi Whitfield (16-170-1) moved across the line into the secondary.

"He's a natural safety," Shaw said. "I'm excited for him."

When it comes to his receivers, Shaw is just plain excited.

LOS ANGELES -- And now, for an encore, UCLA sophomore Myles Jack will play on both sides of the ball, kick field goals, do sidelines for the Bruins' radio broadcasts, and serve as lead architect for the new $50 million performance center.

OK, maybe we exaggerated just a bit there. Jack, the 6-1, 230-pound linebacker, only seemed as if he could do everything in his freshman season. Jack made 75 tackles, seven behind the line, and also averaged 7.0 yards on 38 carries as a stopgap, bust-up-the-gap tailback.

That's why Jack won the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year Award and the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year Award. That's a first, and so what if the league has been giving out the awards only since 2008? You would have to go back to the World War II era to find a two-way player that talented who was allowed to play varsity (freshmen remained ineligible from the postwar era into the early '70s). Head coach Jim Mora sprung Jack on the world as an offensive talent in the ninth game of the season. Jack rushed for 120 yards against Arizona, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of a narrow 31-26 victory by the Bruins.

So let's read the fine print in that performance. Jack benefitted by the way that offenses had to focus on the Bruins' defensive star, the linebacker and future first-round draft pick Anthony Barr.

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