Huskies' Butler leads improved linebacker depth

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Here were my preseason All-Pac-10 picks at linebacker.

  • Keaton Kristick, Oregon State

  • Reggie Carter, UCLA

  • Mike Nixon, Arizona State

I felt that was a solid list, though some California fans groused about Mike Mohamed's absence. And all three have played well thus far.

Based on what I've seen after three games, it will be much harder to make a first-team list when the season ends.

For one, Washington's Donald Butler would be first-team if I made the list today. His performance against USC earned him Pac-10 and national player of the week honors, and was one of the best I've seen from an inside linebacker.

Moreover, an argument could be made for Mohamed (two interceptions, four tackles for a loss), USC's Chris Galippo (an interception, a forced fumble, four tackles for a loss), California's Mychal Kendricks (10.3 tackles per game, tied for No. 1 in the Pac-10 with Oregon's Casey Matthews) and UCLA's Akeem Ayers (two sacks).

In the preseason, it seemed most difficult to pick the two cornerbacks among UCLA's Alterraun Verner, Cal's Syd'Quan Thompson, Oregon's Walter Thurmond and Arizona's Devin Ross (not to mention USC's Josh Pinkard now plays the position). But linebacker may end up being just as difficult.