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Monday, August 20, 2012
Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 10

By Kevin Gemmell

Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

Most of this looks back, but, of course, there also is a good dose of projecting forward. A lot of good players, as it happens every year, won't make the preseason list. It is in their hands to make the postseason list.

You can review our 2011 postseason top 25 here.

10. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

2011 numbers: Recorded 67 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and also had a team-high three interceptions while deflecting two passes. He also recovered a fumble and had one punt block.

2011 postseason ranking: No. 19

Making the case for McDonald: Returning first-team all-conference, returning All-American, tapped as the best returning safety in the country by Mel Kiper: there isn't much more of a case that needs to be made. The 6-3, 205-pound safety is one of the most feared hitters in the league. And while the debate will rage all season whether McDonald or Oregon's John Boyett (No. 16 on the 2012 preseason rankings) is the top safety in the league, it's probably a safe bet that both will appear on the all-conference first team at the end of the season. Now in his third season as a starter, McDonald is on the Thorpe Award and Lott Trophy watch lists. He has six career interceptions, so the ball instincts are there. He understands the rules you have to play by, but makes no apologies for his aggressive style. And that's why many NFL draft projections have him going in the first round in 2013.

No. 11: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
No. 12: Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
No. 13: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
No. 13: Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
No 14: Nickell Robey, CB, USC
No. 15: John White IV, RB, Utah
No. 16: John Boyett, S, Oregon
No. 17: Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State
No. 18: Khaled Holmes, C, USC
No. 19: Cameron Marshall, RB, Arizona State
No. 20: Dion Bailey, LB, USC
No. 21: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
No. 22: Curtis McNeal, RB, USC
No. 23: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
No. 24: Isi Sofele, RB, California
No. 25: Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State