We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.
Note: Because we are 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. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
2010 numbers: Burfict led the Sun Devils -- and was ninth in the Pac-10 -- with 90 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss. He also forced two fumbles.
Preseason ranking: No. 17
Making the case for Burfict: At his best, Burfict is dominating. He's a NFL first-round talent who plays fast and hard and as physically as any linebacker in the nation. He also can get so emotional, he gets unhinged, and the resulting penalties -- see here and here, for example -- often cost the Sun Devils. Part of that is maturity, and Burfict hinted that he was making gains in that area late in the season. Burfict only earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors this past season even though he got plenty of All-American attention from national outlets because coaches around the league have a wide range of opinions on him. If he puts it all together, in 2011, he'll leave no doubt. Heck, he could win the Butkus Award.
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California