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Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 3

8/28/2012

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.

3. De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon

2011 numbers: Rushed for 595 yards and seven TDs, averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He caught 46 passes for 605 yards and nine TDs. He averaged 27.3 yards per kick return with two TDs.

2011 postseason ranking: 12th (tied with Oregon QB Darron Thomas!)

Making the case for Thomas: Thomas was very good last year as a true freshman -- you saw the Rose Bowl, right? -- but this high ranking here is more a projection forward. If Thomas doesn't get invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony this winter, he should in 2013. Simply, Thomas is the most explosive player in the conference, perhaps the nation. If you asked a defensive coordinator who you'd least like to see in open space, it would be Thomas. In that Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, he probably previewed things to come with a team-high 314 all-purpose yards, carrying the ball twice for 155 yards and two TDs, including an are-you-kidding-me? 91 yard bolt. He was the Pac-12 co-offensive freshman of the year and earned first team All-Conference honors as a kick returner. He was the only player in the nation with at least 400 yards rushing, receiving and kick returning. He ranked 11th nationally in all-purpose yards with 147.8 ypg. He earned numerous freshman All-American honors. The expectation here is he will take a big step forward in 2012. Heck, he might even move up this list.

No. 4: Robert Woods, WR, USC

No. 5: Keith Price, QB, Washington

No. 6: Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

No. 7: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

No. 8: Keenan Allen, WR, California

No. 9: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

No. 10: T.J. McDonald, S, USC

No. 11: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon

No. 12: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford

No. 13: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

No. 14: Nickell Robey, CB, USC

No. 15: John White IV, RB, Utah

No. 16: John Boyett, S, Oregon

No. 17: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

No. 18: Khaled Holmes, C, USC

No. 19: Cameron Marshall, RB, Arizona State

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