Looking at 2011's best Pac-12 freshmen

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
10:00
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We love freshmen who contribute. They are the present, but perhaps even more important is that they are the future.

The theory is that if a freshman plays well today, he's going to be a star tomorrow.

So who were the standout freshmen -- true and redshirt -- this year? Read on.

True freshmen of the year

Offense: Oregon's versatile De'Anthony Thomas rushed 53 times for 440 yards with five touchdowns. He led the Ducks with 42 receptions for 571 yards and nine touchdowns. He ranked 13th in the nation in kick returns, returning two for touchdowns. That's 16 total touchdowns. He ranked 17th in the nation in all-purpose yards.

Defense: Utah safety Eric Rowe, a 12-game starter, recorded nine pass breakups and 10 passes defended, which both rank in the top 10 in the conference. He was Utah's fourth-leading tackler with 66 stops and also had 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception.

Offense

QB: None.

RB: Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey was the Wildcats' second-leading rusher with 449 yards. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and led the team with six rushing touchdowns.

WR: USC's Marqise Lee caught 73 passes for 1,142 yards with 11 touchdowns. In USC's final two games, Lee caught 21 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns, outplaying sophomore All-American Robert Woods. Lee also had an 88-yard kick return for a TD.

OL: USC's Marcus Martin, a 340-pounder, started 10 games for the Trojans at left guard.

TE: Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught 36 passes for 479 yards with six touchdowns. He averaged 13.3 yards per reception.

Defense

LB: California's Chris McCain, a 6-foot-6, 233-pounder, had 26 tackles, including five for loss and 1.5 sacks, for the Bears in five starts. His numbers would have been better if not for a concussion that knocked him out of the final three games. McCain, by the way, is a grayshirt as a member of the 2010 recruiting class, but he's still a true freshman.

DB: Arizona's Tra'Mayne Bondurant started six games and recorded 45 tackles for the Wildcats, including 3.5 for a loss and a sack. He also had an interception and six pass breakups.

DL: Oregon State DE Dylan Wynn recorded 44 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and a stunning five fumble recoveries.

Redshirt freshmen of the year

Offense: Oregon State QB Sean Mannion completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 3,332 yards with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His 277 yards passing per game ranked fourth in the conference. His numbers suffered because he got no support from the Beavers' running game, which ranked last in the Pac-12.

Defense: Oregon State DE Scott Crichton ranked second in the conference with 14.5 tackles for loss. He ranked fourth on his team with 74 tackles, six of which were sacks. He also forced six fumbles.

Offense

QB: Washington State's Connor Halliday started only one game -- a tough loss to Utah -- but the game before against Arizona State, he threw for a Pac-12 freshman-record 494 yards and four touchdowns in the upset victory. He missed the Apple Cup against Washington thanks to a lacerated liver suffered against the Utes.

RB: Washington State's Rickey Galvin was the Cougars' leading rusher with 619 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

WR: Utah's Dres Anderson ranked second on the Utes with 23 catches for 355 yards with three touchdowns. He averaged 15.4 yards per reception.

OL: Stanford OG David Yankey was a starter for the conference's most consistent line, one that averaged 208 yards rushing and gave up just nine sacks. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.

TE: USC's Randall Telfer caught 26 passes for 273 yards with five touchdowns. He was the Trojans' third-leading receiver and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12.

Defense

LB: USC's Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard were both so good this year, they share the honors at the position. They tied for the team lead with 81 tackles. Pullard had 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Bailey had two sacks and two interceptions.

DB: UCLA safety Tevin McDonald ranked fourth on the Bruins with 52 tackles. He also had 2.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups and a forced fumble.

DL: Washington DE Josh Shirley had nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks -- both numbers led the team -- to go with 23 total tackles. He also forced two fumbles.

Ted Miller | email

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