- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the top 25 players in 2012 continues.
No. 13: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
2012 numbers: Caught 69 balls for 898 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 64.1 receiving yards per game.
Preseason ranking: Unranked.
Making the case for Ertz: The unanimous All-American didn't win the Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end. We who follow the Pac-12 closely know better. Ertz was dominant at the position both in the receiving game and for his efforts helping the Cardinal average 174.3 rushing yards per game. Without a consistent wide-receiver target, Stanford's quarterbacks leaned heavily on Ertz and his 69 receptions led the Cardinal by a wide margin. Running back Stepfan Taylor was second with 41 catches and wide receiver Drew Terrell was third with 33. Ertz came up with clutch catches throughout the season -- including the go-ahead touchdown against Oregon State and the crucial game-tying touchdown against Oregon. He was selected to the first-team all-conference squad by the coaches. And it's worth noting that Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins has comparable stats and was also a dominant tight end (and also a Mackey finalist). But Ertz gets the edge for the All-American and All-Pac-12 honors. And yes, expect Seferian-Jenkins to be placed favorably in the preseason top 25. (He was one of the players Ted and I debated at great length).
No. 14: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
No. 16: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
No. 17: Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford
No. 18: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
No. 19: David Yankey, OL, Stanford
No. 20: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
No. 21: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
No. 22: Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon
No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah