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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 19

By staff

We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.

Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.

Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).

No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

Casey Matthews
Casey Matthews forced Cam Newton to fumble in the fourth quarter of the BCS title game.
2010 numbers: Matthews led the Ducks' defense with 79 tackles. He also had nine tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, six pass defenses, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble that some of you may remember.

Preseason ranking: No. 24

Making the case for Matthews: Of course, everyone knows the forced fumble on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton late in the BCS championship game, which set up the Ducks' game-tying touchdown. Doesn't it seem as if certain guys just make plays like that? Matthews (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) isn't going to blow you away with his measurables. But what he did do over the course of 33 consecutive starts is produce -- consistently and at a high level. The first-team All-Pac-10 selection -- he was second-team in 2009 -- was the leader of the Ducks' defense, which ranked among the best in the nation. The Ducks are going to miss him.

No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California