- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 begins. As you can imagine -- it was brutally difficult to narrow the field down to 25. Tough calls had to be made. Yes, we're aware you are going to hate us. Yes, we can live with that.
You can see our preseason top 25 here.
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah
2012 numbers: Dunn boasted a beyond-impressive 51.3-yard kickoff return average, which would have easily led the nation had it met the NCAA minimum of 1.2 returns per game. He set the NCAA record with four 100-yard kickoff returns in a season, the top return average in a game at 74 yards and the career mark with five 100-yard returns. He also matched the NCAA record with two kick return touchdowns in a game from any distance.
Preseason ranking: Unranked
Making the case for Dunn: This might be the first time in the history of the Pac-12 blog that a kick returner has made the top 25 (either pre or postseason). But Dunn was so prolific in setting new NCAA standards that he simply couldn't be ignored. He earned first-team all-conference and first-team All-America status for his efforts. He was the best player in the country at his job -- and you can only say that about a couple of other guys in the league. His offensive impact was less significant -- just 12 catches for 74 yards. And because of that there are those who will argue his place on this list. But the fact that he set three NCAA records and matched a fourth in one season can't go unmarked. There's a reason he only saw 10 kicks this season -- because he altered how opposing teams attacked Utah on kickoffs. Most of the time, teams threw up the white flag rather than deal with him. The rest of the time, they learned the hard way.