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Six who just missed the top 25

Surely every fan who took a look at our top-25 players in the Pac-10 had someone pop into mind as a horrible and inexcusable omission.

Which means I shared a reaction with you. Let me reveal some of my frustrated thinking. Here's the bottom three:

No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC

No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA

My original version had Washington receiver Jermaine Kearse at No. 23. The junior led the conference with 17.3 yards per reception and his eight TD receptions tied for second. While his overall receiving numbers weren't spectacular -- he ranked fourth in the conference in receiving yards per game -- he earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors. Not including him would mean he was the only returning member of the All-Pac-10 teams who wasn't in the top 25.

Then I thought: I can't leave O'Dowd out. Sure, he was hurt and didn't play to his high standards last year, but he may be the best center in the nation and he earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2008.

Matthews? He, too, earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and it seemed ridiculous that no member of the Ducks defense would be on the list.

And Forbath is the best kicker in the nation.

So, as good as Kearse is, he got demoted. Fact is: The only two elite receivers in the conference last year were Oregon State's James Rodgers and USC's Damian Williams. Arizona State's Chris McGaha also was second-team All-Pac-10 and he wouldn't have made the top 25 if he was returning this season.

Yes, you have to rationalize. Go ahead and make your own top 25 and see how hard it is.

So, in the interest of getting some more guys into the mix, here are the Six Who Just Missed.

  1. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: See above.

  2. Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Polk and California's Shane Vereen pushed each other out of the list. Both had good but not great numbers. How could you include one and not the other?

  3. Shane Vereen, RB, California: See Polk. Obviously, with Jahvid Best gone, Vereen will have his chance to shine.

  4. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Havili has made so many big plays in his career. But if you were picking up a team, would you pick him before Stanford's Owen Marecic? No you wouldn't, Borges.

  5. Spencer Paysinger, LB, Oregon: His numbers are as good as Matthews. Maybe better. Felt like I flipped a coin between them.

  6. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: He had eight sacks as a sophomore in 2008, but a sprained ankle ruined his 2009 season. Fell short of the "O'Dowd Rationale."

Tomorrow morning we'll look at six players who are good bets to earn spots on the post-season list.