- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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This week we’re going to bring you the much-anticipated Pac-12 blog preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the league. Later today we'll get started with Nos. 21-25, and we’ll roll out five more each day through Friday.
This list always is brutal to make because 1) we’re projecting and 2) there are simply so many outstanding players in the conference that trying to narrow it down to just 25 is wildly subjective. This is by no means, a definitive list, rather a collaboration between your Pac-12 bloggers and their consciences.
Of course, there are about a dozen players that have to be on there, no matter what. We all can agree on those, even if we don’t agree on order. It’s the guys who just miss the cut that usually spark the most outrage. Comments like “You left off (insert name of disrespected player), you should be ashamed of yourself” are not uncommon. First off, people who flick matches at three-legged puppies should be ashamed of themselves. We at the Pac-12 blog feel no shame that we’re aware of.
One note, we didn’t include special teams guys (despite my continued objection). It was a group decision and I was the odd man out. The ramifications of the Reggie Dunn placement in 2012 continue to be felt.
So, without further ado, here are the five guys who just missed the cut after much debate. (And this is in alphabetical order, not 26-30.) We have no doubt these five will make us eat our words come January.
Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
Addison is one of those guys who we just weren’t 100 percent sure on because he missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury suffered the previous spring. (For the record, Ducks fans, Ted pushed hard for Addison.) In 2013, Addison caught 61 balls for 890 yards with seven touchdowns. If he’s back to his pre-injury form, there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the top receivers in the conference and firmly on our postseason Top 25 list.
Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
Most of 2014 was tough going for Hogan, who owns a 24-8 record as a starter. Off the field, he lost his father. On the field, he was adjusting to a rebuilt offensive line and the lack of a power run game that had been Stanford’s offensive staple. However, Hogan closed the year with impressive wins against Cal, UCLA and Maryland, prompting head coach David Shaw to call those three games “the best he’s ever played.” If that spills into 2015 -- and the Cardinal offense gets back to form with the multiple tight ends and rising sophomore Christian McCaffrey showing the explosiveness we think he’s capable of -- Hogan should have an outstanding season.
Daniel Lasco, RB, California
Ugh, so many running backs, so few spots. Lasco is often forgotten when talking about the elite running backs in the league (a lot of whom made the top 25 list). He rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns in an offense more known for its passing attack than its ground game. But a lot of people don’t realize the Bears are more balanced than you might think. The league is silly with outstanding running backs this year. Don’t forget about Cal’s.
Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona
Last year it was all about the quarterbacks. That another quarterback -- and a returner at that -- failed to make the cut should give you an indication of just how deep the league is with talented skill and defensive players (hint, there’s a lot of them). This is the one that stuck in my craw. I thought he should have been in the top 25, but I got shot down. Compromises had to be met. While his debut season tapered at the end, he still put up very solid numbers for a redshirt freshman, tossing 28 touchdowns to nine interceptions and throwing for 3,793 yards. The completion percentage (58 percent) needs to be higher. This fifth of the Pac-12 blog is banking on marked improvement in his second year.
Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
Another running back who should probably be in the top 25, but an ankle injury last year opened the door for Royce Freeman (who is definitely on our top 25) and the rest is history. Tyner was limited to 113 carries last year for 573 yards (5.1 average) and five touchdowns. No doubt, he and Freeman will play off of each other nicely. And then you add Addison as a stretch receiver and Byron Marshall as a do-anything option and you have all of the ingredients for another dominant Oregon offense. If all stay healthy, there’s a strong chance we could see a pair of 1,000-yard rushers for the Ducks this season.
44mCraig Haubert and Tom Luginbill
2hCraig Haubert and Tom Luginbill