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Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 18

8/8/2012

Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

Most of this looks back, but, of course, there also is a good dose of projecting forward. A lot of good players, as it happens every year, won't make the preseason list. It is in their hands to make the postseason list.

You can review our 2011 postseason top 25 here.

18. Khaled Holmes, C, USC

2011 numbers: Holmes was the center for a line that surrendered just eight sacks, with its 0.67 sacks per game ranking second in the nation. The Trojans also averaged 4.98 yards per rush, which ranked third in the conference.

2011 postseason ranking: Unranked

Making the case for Holmes: Holmes, a three-year starter who earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2011, might be the nation's best center. Phil Steele ranked him No. 2 behind Alabama's Barrett Jones, the defending Outland Trophy winner. He could be the first center taken in the 2013 NFL draft, where he could end up a first-round selection. He certainly enters the 2012 preseason as the No. 1 offensive lineman in the Pac-12. A 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior, Holmes moved to center last year after starting at guard in 2010, when he earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. Recently named to the watch list for the Rimington Award, which is given annually to the nation's top center, he also an Academic All-American candidate -- he was second-team All-Academic Pac-12 in 2011 with a 3.31 GPA. He's already received his bachelor's degree in communications and is working on his master's. Centers, who make most of the calls at the line of scrimmage, tend to be smart and squat. Holmes is smart and physically imposing.

No. 19. Cameron Marshall, RB, ASU

No. 20: Dion Bailey, LB, USC

No. 21: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

No. 22: Curtis McNeal, RB, USC

No. 23: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington

No. 24: Isi Sofele, RB, California

No. 25: Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State