Pac-12: Ed Reyonlds

Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 18

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
12:00
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Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

You can see our preseason top 25 here.

No. 18: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

2012 numbers: Ekpre-Olomu was fourth on the Ducks with 63 tackles. He also tied for seventh in the Pac-12 with four interceptions and tied for first with six forced fumbles.

Preseason ranking: Unranked

Making the case for Ekpre-Olomu: Teams tested Ekpre-Olomu this year. He passed. The first-team All-Pac-12 corner led the conference with 20 pass breakups, as teams tried to attack the unproven sophomore lining up opposite Terrance Mitchell, and he proved up to the task. He was the most productive member of a secondary that ranked second in the conference and 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Foes averaged just 5.79 yard per attempt. But the bottom line for Ekpre-Olomu is the turnovers. He forced 10 this season, an incredible number. He and Mitchell will give the Ducks perhaps the best tandem of CBs in the nation next fall.

No. 19: David Yankey, OL, Stanford
No. 20: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
No. 21
: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
No. 22: Ed Reyonlds, S, Stanford
No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon
No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah

Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 19

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
12:00
PM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

You can see our preseason top 25 here.

No. 19: David Yankey, OL, Stanford

2012 numbers: Yankey was part of an offensive line that helped running back Stepfan Taylor rush for 1,530 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Cardinal also finished ranked fourth in the conference in sacks allowed, yielding 20 in 14 games.

Preseason ranking: Unranked

Making the case for Yankey: Finding statistical justification for offensive linemen is always difficult -- as the position itself doesn't easily lend itself to statistical analysis. And it was a down year across the board for the Pac-12 in terms of offensive linemen. Still, that takes nothing away from the accomplishments of Yankey, who stepped up and led the line following the departures of David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin to the NFL. Shuffling between guard and tackle the entire season, Yankey earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors, was a consensus All-American and he was honored by the conference with the Morris Trophy -- given to the league's most outstanding lineman. In total, he played four different positions on Stanford's line this year and allowed just one sack in 14 games. Watch the highlight video from the 6-5, 301-pounder and you'll notice on almost every Taylor touchdown, it's Yankey leading the way. He was clearly the most dominating offensive lineman in the league.

No. 20: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
No. 21
: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
No. 22: Ed Reyonlds, S, Stanford
No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon
No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah

Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 20

January, 29, 2013
1/29/13
9:00
AM ET
Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

No. 20: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

2012 numbers: Jordan recorded 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He also forced three fumbles.

Preseason ranking: No. 11

Making the case for Jordan: Jordan battled through some injuries to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors for a second consecutive season, playing for a defense that ranked 25th in the nation in scoring (21.62 points per game). The long, lean 6-foot-7, 243 pounder was the most dangerous member of a deep and talented defensive line, the first guy opposing offensive coordinators had to account for on every play. He is expected to be a first-round NFL draft pick this spring, perhaps even getting picked in the top-half of the first round. ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper ranks him 16th overall -- Kiper has him going 10th to the Tennessee Titans in his latest mock draft -- while Scouts Inc., rates him 14th.

No. 21: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
No. 22: Ed Reyonlds, S, Stanford
No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon
No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah

Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 21

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
12:00
PM ET
Out countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

You can see our preseason top 25 here.

No. 21: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

2012 numbers: Crichton posted 44 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss of 76 yards and nine sacks for a loss of 49 yards. He also forced a fumble, recovered two more, blocked a kick and swatted down three passes.

Preseason ranking: Unranked

Making the case for Crichton: It's 14 hours before this post is set to publish, and your Pac-12 bloggers are still on the phone vigorously debating this spot between Crichton and Arizona State's Carl Bradford. Compelling arguments are made for both. Bradford -- a hybrid DE/LB -- has the numbers. But Crichton played on a defense that was much better against the run and he did it against a tougher schedule. Ultimately we deferred to the Pac-12 coaches, who picked Crichton as a first-team all-league performer, to settle the standoff. Crichton was also picked as a mid-season All-American by "Sports Illustrated" in helping the Beavers turn a disastrous 3-9 season in 2011 into a 9-4 campaign in 2012. The Beavers were third in the conference against the run and second only to Stanford in scoring defense. Crichton was a huge part of that. Often double-teamed -- or simply avoided by opposing offensive coordinators -- he was one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the Pac-12 and is one of several players we expect to be in the hunt for the Pac-12's defensive player of the year next season.

No. 22: Ed Reyonlds, S, Stanford
No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon
No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah
Matt BarkleyEzra Shaw/Getty ImagesStanford's defense pressured Matt Barkley all game and never allowed him to get in sync.
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Whenever Stanford head coach David Shaw opens a news conference with: “As you know, I’m not one for making opening statements, but …” you know he wants to get something out there.

Shaw couldn’t say enough about his defense’s performance in Saturday’s 21-14 win over then No. 2 USC that propelled the Cardinal back into the top 10 and sent shockwaves through the college football landscape.

“[Defensive coordinator] Derek Mason and our defensive staff were phenomenal,” Shaw said. “We were playing a great team and those guys made some plays. We tried to make them one dimensional and throw the ball.”

Hold up ... you wanted to make them throw the ball? Matt Barkley. Robert Woods. Marqise Lee. You wanted to make those guys beat you? This all smacks of Rocky standing up to Clubber Lang shouting "You ain't so bad, you ain't so bad."All that's missing is some hackneyed movie dialogue: “It’s crazy, crazy enough that it just might work.”

Well, Shaw isn’t crazy. Mason isn’t crazy. Turns out we were the crazy ones for thinking that USC’s troika was unflappable. But Barkley, who turned in one of the worst performances of his career, was flapped. He completed 21 of 40 passes for 254 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Only twice in his career has he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and both came in 2009.

Lee, the master of yards after the catch, never really broke free, despite eight catches for 100 yards. Woods was a non-factor with four catches for 38 yards. And though both of USC's touchdowns came on the ground, the Trojans were limited to 26 yards rushing because the Cardinal had nine tackles for a loss. USC had just two plays that went for more than 25 yards.

Stanford might have disguised some coverages and blitzes, but the Cardinal never disguised their intentions.

"That's one of the best front sevens in the country and they showed it [Saturday]," said USC coach Lane Kiffin. "You go back to last year an almost all of them coming back. I know [with Shayne Skov] returning in there, they're even better than last year."

Stanford’s front seven has a little saying. They like to throw a “party in the backfield.” Saturday night was a swinging soiree with Barkley as the unfortunate guest of honor. Stanford sacked Barkley four times and kept him under duress most of the game.

“We heard the talk all week about Barkley and Woods, and rightfully so,” said Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner, who had five tackles including a sack and two tackles for a loss. “They’re a talented bunch. But we were really confident about playing them all week. We felt good about what we had and the way that guys were practicing. We knew that if we came out there with a lot of energy, played our hardest at every snap, good things would happen. "

Certainly, some of Stanford's success can be attributed to the fact that USC was without center Khaled Holmes, an All-American candidate and a favorite for the Rimington Award.

"If there was a game on the schedule you'd pick that you wouldn't want to be missing your senior center, this is it," Kiffin said. "One, because their nose [guard] is really good. Two, because of all the different fronts and all the calls that have to be made up there. I don't care who the backup was. You're going to miss it when you play this game."

But it wasn't just the pressure up front that was so devastatingly effective. It was also a banner game for Stanford safeties Jordan Richards and Ed Reynolds. Perceived as a preseason question mark for Stanford, which had to replace veterans leaders in Michael Thomas and Delano Howell, the secondary played physical and fearless. Richards had two interceptions -- on consecutive Barkley passes -- to go with four pass breakups. Two of the breakups came on third down, where the Trojans were an paltry 1-of-13.

Q&A: Stanford's Ed Reynolds

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
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After missing all of last year with a knee injury, Stanford safety Ed Reynolds has come on strong with three interceptions in the first two weeks of the season and is tied for the FBS lead. The No. 21 Cardinal face No. 2 USC on Saturday and Reynolds took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog.

An obvious question to start, how frustrating was it to sit out the entire year?

Ed Reynolds: It was definitely frustrating just because I put in a lot of work in the spring and felt like I made a lot of gains when it came to knowing the playbook and knowing what we wanted to do when it came to techniques and play calls. But injuries happen. That's the game we play. I put all of my effort into rehabbing. Just to be back now with my brothers and to play on this defense is a great feeling.

I don't need to tell you what you're up against this week. If I promise not to tell anyone, what's the plan for stopping Marqise Lee and Robert Woods?

[+] EnlargeStanford's Ed Reynolds
Ed Szczepanski/US PRESSWIREStanford's Ed Reynolds has three interceptions through two games.
ER: It's going to be a full team effort. We don't feel like it's any type of one-on-one battle. We don't feel like it's our corners versus their wide receivers or our defensive backfield versus their passing game. We feel like we just have to play within our system, execute what our game plan is and swarm to the ball. That's the best wide receiver combo in the nation. Matt Barkley does a good job within their system, getting those guys the ball in space and letting them do their thing. We've been preaching getting 11 hats to the ball. That's how we play team defense. We won't leave a man out on an island by himself to make a one-on-one tackle in space. We want 11 guys to swarm and slow those guys down.

Nothing will ever top the Cal-Stanford rivalry. But in the past few years, this rivalry has blown up. Are the Trojans your secondary rival?

ER: It's just another great game. You always have great athletes on both sides. I've only been a part of it for a couple of years. But the first two games were amazing. It could come down to the wire. It's a game I recommend tuning in to.

Last year, only seven interceptions for the season. You already have three by yourself and the team has four. What's the difference?

ER: We put a lot of emphasis in the offseason on creating turnovers. You look at all the great defenses in the league and in college football, they cause turnovers. They put their offense in great field position and they give their offense extra possessions. We put an emphasis on being able to do that. Our front seven makes it easy on the back end for us by getting the quarterback a little frazzled and make sure he knows he's not playing seven-on-seven. We spent a lot of time catching balls. We told ourselves coming into this season we need interceptions and it's been going great so far.

One of the things coach David Shaw said before the season was that he wasn't sure what this team's identity was going to be. Have you guys found it yet?

ER: As a defensive player, we spent the offseason saying we need to be dominant and get the offense in good position. Swarm to the ball. Team defense. The offense is coming along, but when you have young guys filling spots and trying to get comfortable, it's going to take some time. But I don't think the offense has strayed from what we are. We're a power running game. The identity hasn't changed just because our personnel has. We're just growing as a team.

You're one of several Stanford players who had an NFL dad. Is it tough being an NFL legacy, or are there some perks?

ER: I never looked at it as being tough. There are more perks. My dad's career was over early on in my childhood. I don't remember a lot of it. But just being able to talk to him and get some of his football wisdom is amazing. I attribute a lot of my football IQ to him because he's helped me through a lot of my football growth since I started playing in the early middle school days. Just having someone you can talk to about the game who has been in similar situations is definitely a perk.

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