We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.
Note: Because this is ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.
Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
2010 numbers: Harris ranked No. 2 in the nation in punt returns (18.8 yards per return) and his four returns for touchdowns ranked first in the nation. He didn't become a starter at cornerback until midseason, but he led the Pac-10 in interceptions (6) and passes defended (23). He returned one interception for a touchdown. He also had 33 tackles and recovered a fumble.
Preseason ranking: Unranked
Making the case for Harris: Harris is an interesting case. He was a top-10 player much of the time -- when Harris was on, he was often spectacular. And he frequently -- too frequently -- caused his coaches to slap their foreheads in exasperation. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was at his expatiatory best when discussing the good and bad of Harris (and there have been many, many moments of expatiatory brilliance from Aliotti, as you know). But for all the mistakes due to freelancing and not playing within the scheme, Harris is just such a freaking playmaker. Heck, he scored five touchdowns last year! He should have been credited with two interceptions in the national championship game against Auburn. (He got one, while another curiously wasn't given to him even after an official review.) He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors as a punt returner and second-team honors as a cornerback. Many Ducks fans will see this ranking as low. We'll make up for it when we project for the 2011 season, when Harris is likely everybody's All-American.
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25 Shane Vereen, RB, California