- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Our countdown of the top 25 players in the 2012 season continues.
No. 7: Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
2012 numbers: Rushed for 1,734 yards on 282 carries (6.1 average), 123.9 yards per game and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 33 balls for 323 yards and two touchdowns.
Preseason ranking: Unranked.
Making the case for Franklin: A young quarterback's best friend is a veteran running back. And Franklin added stability and leadership to UCLA squad that was young at quarterback and young on the offensive line. He also showed explosiveness, elusiveness and top-end speed that rivaled the best in the country. A finalist for the Doak Walker Award, he leaves the Bruins as the school's all-time leading rusher. Twice in 2012 he topped 200 yards on the ground (doing it in consecutive weeks in Weeks 1 and 2), six times he rushed for at least 160 yards and nine times he topped 100 yards. Perhaps the finest game of his career was a 194-yard performance on 19 carries (10.2 average) with two touchdowns in a losing effort in the Pac-12 championship game against a potent Stanford running defense. Bound for the NFL combine, Franklin leaves the league as one of its most accomplished backs -- finishing his career fifth on the Pac-12 all-time rushing list with 4,403 yards.
No. 8: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
No. 9: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
No. 10: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
No. 11: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
No. 12: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
No. 13: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
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