Friday, July 9, 2010
Pac-10's three-headed monsters on defense
By ESPN.com staff
We ranked the three-headed monsters on offense Thursday, but it seemed unfair that the skill guys get to have all the fun. What about the defensive guys?
So this is a ranking of the top-five troikas of defensive players at all three levels: line, linebacker and secondary.
5. Arizona: DE Ricky Elmore, LB Jake Fisher, CB Trevin Wade
This was a difficult one, but Elmore and Wade carried the Wildcats into the top five, even though Fisher only had seven tackles last year. Elmore had 10.5 sacks, while Wade grabbed five interceptions, with both numbers ranking second in the Pac-10 in 2009. Elmore was No. 12 and Wade 10th on our list of the conference's top-25 players.
4. Arizona State: DT Lawrence Guy, LB Vontaze Burfict, CB Omar Bolden
Guy ranked 20th in our top-25 and Burfict 17th. Both are All-American candidates, particularly Burfict. Bolden, a former freshman All-American, missed most of the 2009 season with a knee injury but he played well during spring practices.
3. Oregon: DE Kenny Rowe, LB Casey Matthews, S John Boyett
Rowe led the conference with 11.5 sacks and ranked 13th on our top-25 list. Matthews earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2009 and ranked 24th on our list. Boyett was the first freshman to lead the Ducks in tackles since they started keeping defensive statistics in 1969.
2. California: DE Cameron Jordan, LB Mike Mohamed, S Sean Cattouse
Jordan ranked 15th on our top-25 list, while Mohamed ranked ninth. Jordan had six sacks in 2009, and Mohamed ,who earned first-team All Pac-10 honors, led the conference with 112 tackles. Cattouse earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
1. UCLA: DE Datone Jones, LB Akeem Ayers, FS Rahim Moore
Moore and Ayers ranked seventh and eighth respectively on our top-25 list and are the best players at their positions in the conference. Ayers had 14.5 tackles for a loss with four interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Moore, who will be a consensus first-team preseason All-American, led the nation with 10 interceptions. In other words, those two combined to create 20 turnovers. Jones had 11 tackles for a loss as a sophomore starter and was dominant at times this spring.