But there are compensations, including a sophomore end with the implausible name of Fair Hooker, who caught 11 passes in the annual spring intra-squad game and is one of the finest football prospects in the West. To throw to him, Kush has two seniors, John Goodman and Chuck Hunt. Goodman tossed nine touchdown passes last year. Arizona State's running game will be weaker with Hawkins gone, but 201-pound Travis Williams, the leading rusher from scrimmage, returns. He will be abetted by two strong fullbacks, senior Jim Bramlet and sophomore John Helton.
Halfback John Pitts (6 feet 5, 198 pounds), who went both ways last year, will be hard put to make the defensive secondary look good until experience sets in at the other positions. The defensive line, though, should be tough. Five starters are back, headed by Tackle Larry Hendershot, and two sophomore linebackers, Ron Pritchard and Tim Buchanan, are considered by Kush to be potentially the best he has ever had. Arizona State should be very bad news by the second half of the season.
Junior Dick Hall, who has not played football since the seventh grade, may be the key to a successful season for AIR FORCE. He came out of the intramural ranks and amazed Coach Ben Martin by booting field goals from midfield in a tryout. In the spring game he made four of five extra-point attempts (one was blocked) and kicked a 48-yard field goal into the wind. His presence means the Falcons have three-point potential every time they get inside the enemy's 40-yard line. With Hall and ace Punter Jim Hogarty, Air Force should have one of the best kicking games in the country.
Quarterback Paul Stein, holder of seven academy records, has graduated and will be replaced by Sonny Litz, a strong passer but a poor runner (the team's running game last year depended on Stein's scrambling). Litz will have six of the top eight receivers back as his targets, so perhaps he will not have to run. The rest of the backfield is not awe-inspiring, although Tailback Larry Cook is fast and good in the open field. The fullback spot is open and may be filled by sophomore Dennis Ryll from St. Louis. The offensive line is only adequate, and much depends on the development of Tackle Ken Hamlin, a 230-pound sophomore.
Every defensive starter is back, but the standout is junior Corner Back Ncal Starkey from Dallas. Bobby Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs says Starkey could start for some AFL teams right now. Tackle Larry Cole (6 feet 4, 233 pounds) from Granite Falls, Minn, is a bit of granite himself.
Washington State rates as the dark horse in the AAWU, even though it has all but nine lettermen back from a 7-3 team. The Cougars would be among the definite favorites except that the missing include Quarterback Tom Roth, All-America Tackle Wayne Foster, Safety Man Willie Gaskins and Fullback Larry Eilmes, WSU's alltime leading rusher. Still, Coach Bert Clark rates his team highly, if others do not.
One reason is Tight End Rich Sheron (6 feet 5, 230 pounds), a fine blocker and receiver who went both ways as a sophomore. Others are Mike Cadigan, who figures to be the quarterback (although he was at halfback in 1964) and Halfback Amnion McWashington, who led the team in punt and kickoff returns and was second in rushing.
The strong defensive line helped hold opponents to only 103 points last season and all but Foster return, so Clark has few worries there. He cannot say the same of his defensive secondary, which seemed O.K. in the spring but lacks experience. The offensive line, too, looks just so-so, except for Guard Dave Middendorf (6 feet 3, 240 pounds). Kicking will be a big plus with Fullback Ted Gerela, a soccer-style field-goal specialist. "Any time we're stopped inside the 45-yard line," said Coach Clark, "Ted will be kicking."
Not since 1958 has CALIFORNIA had a winning season, but Coach Ray Willsey has let it be known that "the price to play football at California has gone up." If the Bears are to improve their record, Quarterback Dan Berry (a fifth-round future draft choice by the Philadelphia Eagles) must develop into as good a passer as he is a runner. It should help him to be throwing to Split End Jerry Bradley (only 5 feet 11, 155 pounds), a 9.5 sprinter who can catch. Another important man is sophomore Halfback Rick Bennett, who missed freshman and spring football because of a letter of intent violation. Scouts think he has the potential to be another Hugh McElhenny, but he may be a year away.