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Thursday, February 24, 2011
Pac-10 top 25 from 2010: No. 18

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).

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles
Junior Nick Foles racked up 3,191 yards and 20 touchdowns despite missing two games because of a knee injury.
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

2010 numbers: Foles led the Pac-10 with 290 yards passing per game. He ranked fourth in passing efficiency -- 34th in the nation -- completing 67 percent of his passes with with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Preseason ranking: No. 16

Making the case for Foles: Arizona's disappointing late-season slide wasn't Foles' fault, though he probably would be the first to admit his year was far from perfect -- see a season-high three interceptions in the Wildcats dreadful performance against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl (he didn't throw more than one pick in any other game). Foles led clutch fourth-quarter drives to beat both Iowa and California, and it appeared he had done the same to beat arch-rival Arizona State before Alex Zendejas' PAT was blocked with 27 seconds left in regulation. Foles also showed toughness when he quickly returned -- two missed starts -- after dislocating his knee cap on Oct. 16 at Washington State. He clearly wasn't sharp in his first game, a disastrous team performance at Stanford that was the first of five consecutive defeats to end the season. Foles was in a difficult situation while his offensive line struggled. The Wildcats could neither run the ball well nor protect the passer, so it often seemed like it was "Foles against the world." And, notably, in the final three regular season games, he threw nine touchdown passes with just one interception, while passing for 353, 448 and 262 yards.

No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
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