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Top 25 Pac-12 players of the BCS era are ...

3/18/2014

The offseason usually means lots of lists. The end of eras also mean lists. It’s the offseason. And it’s the end of the BCS era. So Braden Gall at Athlon decided to rank the top 25 Pac-12 players from the BCS era.

Obviously this doesn’t take into account professional careers. His lone stipulation was that the player in question must have played at least one season between 1998 and 2013.

We at the Pac-12 blog are very aware how difficult it is to make a list of 25 players based on one year, let alone 15. So a tip of the cap to Gall and the Athlon folks. After his top 25, he also ranks 10 players who didn’t make the cut. Here’s the top 25:

  1. Matt Leinart, QB, USC

  2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

  3. Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State

  4. Troy Polamalu, S, USC

  5. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon

  6. Reggie Bush, RB, USC

  7. Sam Baker, OT, USC

  8. Carson Palmer, QB, USC

  9. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal

  10. Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

  11. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

  12. Steven Jackson, RB, Oregon State

  13. Mike Williams, WR, USC

  14. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

  15. Marcedes Lewis, TE, UCLA

  16. Alex Mack, C, Cal

  17. Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford

  18. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State

  19. Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon

  20. Ryan Kalil, C, USC

  21. David Yankey, G, Stanford

  22. Marqise Lee, WR, USC

  23. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona

  24. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

  25. Chris Claiborne, LB, USC

Here’s the 10 who just missed the cut:

It's not shocking that four out of the top 10 are quarterbacks. The league had some great ones during that era. It's nice to see a healthy dose of defensive players and linemen as well. All too often the Pac-12 simply gets categorized as an “offensive” conference with little consideration to the guys up front or defensive players.

Interesting that Gall went with David Yankey over, say, David DeCastro. I think a pretty good debate can be made over those two guys.

I also would have liked to see Marcus Mariota somewhere on this list. His interception-free streak at the end of 2012 and going into 2013 was one of the most remarkable records I’ve seen. And I think in his two seasons at the helm of Oregon’s offense, he has carved out enough of a place in history to be mentioned among the top 35 players of the era -- if not the top 20.

But for the most part, I have few complaints about a difficult list to compile.