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Pac-12 top 25 for 2011: No. 12

8/11/2011

Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.

12. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

2010 numbers: McDonald had 89 tackles, with three coming for a loss, including a sack, three interceptions, four pass breakups and a blocked punt.

2010 ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for McDonald: Sorting out the safety position in the Pac-12 this season won't be easy; there are so many good ones. McDonald, according to most folks who would know, is the best. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior is a likely first-day NFL draft pick if he opts to leave after this season. Despite missing the UCLA game -- and much of the Notre Dame game -- with a shoulder injury, he led USC in tackles. He made the All-Pac-10 second team as picked by the coaches, but a number of other sources named him first-team, including Scout.com and Phil Steele. He's also been named to a number of preseason All-American teams, including ESPN.com. He is one of 37 players selected to the watch list for the Thorpe Award, which is given annually to the nation's best defensive back. Further, McDonald has great bloodlines. His father, Tim, was a two-time All-American at USC and a longtime NFL standout. Finally, it doesn't hurt that the guy clearly has his, er, stuff together. He's smart, a good leader and is reputed to be obsessive about watching film.

13. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington

14. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

15. Delano Howell, S, Stanford

16. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California

17. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado

18. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington

19. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

20. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State

21. Robert Woods, WR, USC

22. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

23. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State