- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the Pac-12's top-25 players continues.
No. 17. Nick Perry, DE, USC
2011 numbers: Perry led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5 -- including nine solo. He was fourth in tackles for a loss with 13, 12 solo. For the season, he totaled 54 tackles, broke up three passes, forced three fumbles and recovered one.
Preseason ranking: Unranked.
Making the case for Perry: Once you start digesting the numbers, it's pretty easy to see why the coaches named him to the first-team all-conference squad. There were a lot of good defensive ends in the conference this season, and Perry was the best. He stepped up big with two sacks and five tackles in USC's win at Oregon, and logged a 10-tackle performance in a one-touchdown win against Arizona. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he's built to be a speed pass rusher in the NFL, and with some improvement in his run-stopping, he could be a dominant presence for a long time. ESPN's Todd McShay slots him as a potential first-round pick with a projected move to outside linebacker.