Pac-12: Tyron Smith

Pac-12 leads all-under-25 NFL team

February, 18, 2014
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Elliot Harrison of NFL.com wanted to make a list of up-and-coming NFL players, so he tapped an all-under-25 NFL team, and nine of his 26 selections played in the Pac-12.

Not only that, the conference, stereotyped as offense-first, had just as many defensive players -- four -- as offense. And his omission of Star Lotulelei, the former Utah defense tackle now starring for the Carolina Panthers, is notable because he finished fourth in the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year vote.

Further, these nine guys came from seven conference teams, so this isn't just about USC's pipeline of five-star recruits to the NFL.

Here's the Pac-12 players on his team.

Offense
QB Andrew Luck (Stanford), Indianapolis Colts
WR Keenan Allen (California), San Diego Chargers
OT Tyron Smith (USC), Dallas Cowboys
OG David DeCastro (Stanford), Pittsburgh Steelers

Defense
DT Jurrell Casey (USC), Tennessee Titans
LB Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State), Cincinnati Bengals
LB Kiko Alonso (Oregon), Buffalo Bills
CB Desmond Trufant (Washington), Atlanta Falcons

Special teams
P Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), St. Louis Rams

Of these players, only Burfict and Allen received high recruiting rankings from ESPN.com. Burfict was the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker and Allen was the nation's No. 5 "athlete." ESPN.com ranked Luck the nation's seventh-best quarterback in 2008.

Casey, DeCastro, Trufant and Alonso rated as solid to off-the-radar prospects in most recruiting rankings.

So, again, the best response when Pac-12 teams don't rate highly in recruiting rankings to shrug and move on with your day.

USC wants to avoid power shift to Irish

October, 19, 2011
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Some games you want to win because you want to win every game. Others games feature highly ranked teams and therefore generate national interest. Some are rivalry games. But Notre Dame-USC is something else entirely, even if the 83rd game of the storied intersectional contest on Saturday features two unranked teams for just the 10th -- and second consecutive -- time in the series.

The battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh is a showdown of national programs. Top recruits across the country who don't feel pinned down to a home-state school or region watch it to test their allegiances. Most of the elite players who are recruited by USC are recruited by Notre Dame and vice versa.

And if you're looking for a marker for which direction either program is going, it's this game. Lou Holtz went 9-1-1 against USC. Pete Carroll went 8-1 against Notre Dame. Where do their tenures rank among their program's histories?

So that's why USC's 20-16 defeat last year resonates, particularly considering how it went down. Start with the obvious: Two rookie coaches who'd both been burned by off-field controversies, trying to make their marks during uncertain times for their programs.

[+] EnlargeRonald Johnson
AP Photo/Jae C. HongRonald Johnson missed a touchdown catch that could have made the difference for USC in last season's loss to Notre Dame.
And then Trojans receiver Ronald Johnson dropped a sure touchdown pass with 1:17 remaining, and Notre Dame ended an eight-game losing streak in the series. Brian Kelly became 1-0 against USC. And Lane Kiffin fell to 0-1 against Notre Dame.

"It was a horrible feeling because of the streak and how long it was and how much work goes into that," Kiffin said. "And there it is right there, one fluke play and all those years are over with."

"Fluke" plays can lead to sea changes. In Holtz's first game against USC in 1986, Notre Dame overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun USC 38-37. The Fighting Irish went from a losing season in 1985 to a national title in 1988. In 2001, Carroll lost by 11 at Notre Dame. The next season, his Trojans handed the Irish a historically bad 44-13 whipping, outgaining them 610 yards to 109. And away USC went.

And then there's last year's game, which ended a run of 19 consecutive nonconference victories for USC.

"We knew that if a talented receiver like that was going to drop a ball like that in a situation like that, it's definitely our night," Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said after the 2010 game. "Things like that don't happen without a reason. It's a huge night for this program and in our lives."

Te'o, of course, is the player that broke USC's hearts on national signing day in 2009. Long considered the next in a long line of elite Trojans linebackers, the top-rated player switched to Notre Dame seemingly out of nowhere.

When considering last year's game, USC takes heart from knowing that it lost in the waning moments without two key injured players: offensive tackle Tyron Smith and quarterback Matt Barkley. While Smith was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft and now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, Barkley is back and healthy and playing well. He and receiver Robert Woods are one of the nation's best pass-catch combinations.

And another streak is on the line: USC has won 13 consecutive nonconference road games. That, by the way, is the last of many winning streaks established during the Carroll era.

The Trojans this year have been mostly about Barkley and Woods and a notably mediocre defense. But it was the defense that stepped up in the Trojans' 30-9 win over California on Oct. 13, while Barkley and Woods struggled to find their rhythm.

"We needed a game that our defense won for us," Kiffin said.

That defense will need to step up again because Notre Dame won't be easy to move the ball against. Other than an implosion against Michigan, the Irish have played well on defense, surrendering just 21 points per game.

USC went 8-5 in Kiffin's first season, which was mostly given passing grades because of the circumstances. If Johnson had caught that pass, however, most would have viewed the season as a success.

Going forward, Kiffin's Trojans will be saddled with severe scholarship reductions -- each of their next three recruiting classes can only include 15 signees instead of 25 -- which almost certainly will reduce the number of wins the program produces.

But on Saturday, there won't be any real excuses. This game is a national measuring stick, and the Trojans don't want to fall short again and see power and esteem in the storied intersectional rivalry shift back to the Midwest.

Said Kiffin, "We've got to go back and start a new streak this year."

Pac-12 top 25 for 2011: No. 14

August, 10, 2011
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Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players continues.

You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.

14. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

2010 numbers: Kalil started all 13 games at left offensive tackle as a sophomore. Oh, and he blocked a PAT against Notre Dame.

2010 ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for Kalil: Kalil is an interesting case. Not only did he not earn first- or second-team All-Pac-10 honors last year, he didn't even receive honorable mention. Yet it was he who was tapped -- as a redshirt sophomore -- to protect Matt Barkley's blindside, not first-team All-Conference pick -- and the No. 9 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft -- Tyron Smith. Last year, USC ranked third in the conference in rushing (190 yards per game) and gave up the third fewest sacks (18), so while the Trojans O-line was maligned as underachieving and is a big question in 2011, there was some measurable success. Further, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Kalil is projected by just about everyone to be a first-round draft pick this spring -- perhaps even top-five. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper rates him No. 3 overall on his "Big Board," writing, "Another NFL-ready offensive lineman at Southern Cal. Kalil has the size, athleticism, footwork and bloodlines. He projects as a blindside tackle." His brother Ryan is a former USC All-American and is presently one of the NFL's best centers, while father Frank also played in the NFL, ergo the bloodlines. Our top-25 rankings don't always prioritize NFL draft projections, but Kalil's are so bright that he gets elevated here.

15. Delano Howell, S, Stanford
16. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
17. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado
18. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
19.
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
20. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
21. Robert Woods, WR, USC
22. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
23. David Paulson, TE, Oregon
24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

Who's stacked with NFL prospects?

July, 29, 2011
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ESPN.com's Chris Sprow looks at the college football teams with the most NFL prospects, and two Pac-12 teams make his top-10.

And it's a sign of the changing times in the conference who's ahead of the other, a program which stocks NFL rosters annually.

Here's what he's got to say about NFL draft powerhouse -- Stanford -- which ranks just behind No. 1 Alabama.
2. Stanford Cardinal
Don't scoff, SEC fans. They could be No. 1. Last week, an NFC director of scouting told me, "All you need to know about Andrew Luck is if he'd come out last year, he'd have been No. 1, no question." Well, sure. That's not a bold assessment. "And maybe the year before, too," he said. So there's Luck, perhaps the best QB prospect in a generation. But check his blindside. Jonathan Martin would go in the top 10 if the draft were tomorrow. That's two Cardinal (singular) off the board early, which means they are easily 1A. Throw in wideout Chris Owusu, tight end Coby Fleener, top junior guard David DeCastro and outside linebacker Chase Thomas. And if football doesn't work out, they can all work in food service Congress.

And then there's USC at No. 5
5. USC Trojans
Top-heavy, but elite. (Don't worry SC fans, the underclasses are loaded up again.) Matt Barkley has a Clausenesque vibe that may frighten some scouts, but he has all the tools, and the intangibles. If you want experience, after his junior year he'll have well over 30 starts. But he's not even as highly-ranked as junior OT Matt Kalil, who could be the first tackle taken in April if he comes out. Keep an eye on junior safety T.J. McDonald.

It's going to be interesting to see who gets drafted first, Martin or Kalil. Kalil is touted for his upside and obvious has good bloodlines -- he's the younger brother of Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil. But Martin has been more productive in college. The Cardinal offensive line certainly was better than the Trojans last season, even though Kalil was the tackle opposite Tyron Smith, who was picked ninth overall by Dallas.

Final Pac-12 NFL draft tally

May, 1, 2011
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The Pac-12 provided 37 players to the NFL draft over the weekend, one fewer than the SEC, which led all conferences.

If the six combined picks from Colorado and Utah are taken away from the conference, the old Pac-10 provided NFL teams 3.1 draft picks per team, also just behind the SEC at 3.17.

Here's where the Pac-12 players went:

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanford: Carolina

Fourth round
5. Jordan Cameron, TE, USC: Cleveland
19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon: Philadelphia
21. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado: Kansas City
27. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford: Cleveland

Fifth round
8. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah: Minnesota
9. Gabe Miller, DE, Oregon State: Kansas City
14. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State: Atlanta
23. Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford: Seattle

Sixth round
2. Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford: Cincinnati
14. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah: Green Bay
17. Ronald Johnson, WR, USC: San Francisco
19. David Carter, DT, UCLA: Arizona
22. Allen Bradford, RB, USC: Tampa Bay
24. Mike Mohamed, LB, California: Denver
32. Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: Green Bay
38. Zach Williams, C, Washington State: Carolina

Seventh round
12. D'Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona: Minnesota
24. Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado: New York Jets
30. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: Green Bay
37. Stanley Havili, FB, USC: Philadelphia
38. David Ausberry, WR, USC: Oakland
39. Malcolm Smith, LB, USC: Seattle

By Pac-12 school:
Arizona (3)
Arizona State (1)
California (4)
Colorado (4)
Oregon (1)
Oregon State (3)
Stanford (4)
UCLA (3)
USC (9)
Utah (2)
Washington (2)
Washington State (1)

The final tally by automatic qualifying conferences:
SEC... 38
Pac-12... 37
Big Ten... 36
ACC... 35
Big East 22
Big 12...19

Nebraska was a big swing to the Big Ten from the Big 12 with seven picks. With Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 provided 30 selections.

This was the tally through three rounds:
SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Updating Pac-12 in NFL draft

April, 30, 2011
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Here's where things stand for the Pac-12 through three rounds of the NFL draft.

First round
No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Second round
7. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA: Tennessee
10. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Houston
13. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: Denver
21. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State: Chicago
24. Shane Vereen, RB, California: New England

Third round
13. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC: Tennessee
20. Mason Foster, LB, Washington: Tampa Bay
25. Shareece Wright, CB, USC: San Diego
29. Christopher Conte, S, California: Chicago
33. Sione Fua, DT, Stanforrd: Carolina

Through three rounds by conference (with Nebraska in the Big Ten and Colorado and Utah in the Pac-12):

SEC: 20
ACC: 19
Pac-12: 15
Big Ten: 13
Big 12: 9
Big East: 4

Note: The old Pac-10 has 13 without two first-round picks from Colorado. Big Ten has 12 without Nebraska. Big 12 has 12 if Colorado and Nebraska are included.

A Pac-12 review of NFL draft's first round

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
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Five Pac-12 players were picked in the first round, with Jake Locker going higher than some projected and Cameron Jordan going lower.

Here's the draft order:

No. 8 Jake Locker, QB, Washington: Tennessee
No. 9 Tyron Smith., OT, USC: Dallas
No. 17 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: New England
No. 24 Cameron Jordan, DE, California: New Orleans
No. 27 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Baltimore

Here's analysis by Mel Kiper. And here's more on the first round.

Kiper also projects the second round, which starts Friday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN (3 p.m. PT).

Kiper has Arizona DE Brooks Reed going first in the second round -- 33rd overall -- to New England. Other Pac-12 players in his second round: UCLA safety Rahim Moore to Houston at No. 42, Oregon State DT Stephen Paea to Oakland at No. 48 and Utah CB Brandon Burton to Philadelphia at No. 54.

Who is missing? Well what about UCLA LB Akeem Ayers, who was once considered a sure first-round pick.

Todd McShay also projects the second round, and he has Reed going first and Ayers going second, to the Buffalo Bills.

The rest of McShay's second round: Paea to Denver at No. 36, Moore to Minnesota at No. 43, Washington LB Mason Foster to Denver at 46 and USC DT Jurrell Casey to Seattle at No. 57.

Some draft links:

Smith goes, well, where everyone thought

April, 28, 2011
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More than a few folks projected USC OT Tyron Smith going to the Dallas Cowboys with the No. 9 pick. And they are smiling right now.

The Trojans lineman, who is all about upside, was picked by Dallas with the No. 9 pick.

Smith was the second top-10 pick from the Pac-12, following No. 8 Jake Locker, who went to the Tennessee Titans.

Locker 12th pick in Kiper's final mock

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
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ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has released his final mock draft, and it's a bit different than his final 'Big Board," in large part because former Washington quarterback jumps from 25th on the Big Board to 12th in the mock draft.

Here's how Kiper rates Pac-12 players on draft day.

No. 8 Cameron Jordan, DE, California (Dallas)

No. 12 Jake Locker, QB, Washington (Minnesota)

No. 13 Tyron Smith, OT, USC (Detroit)

No. 22 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado (Indianapolis)

No. 23 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (Philadelphia)

No. 26. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA (St. Louis)

We shall see. Round one is today, starting at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN.

Kiper's final 'Big Board' before NFL draft

April, 27, 2011
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ESPN draft guru has released his final 'Big Board' before the NFL draft begins Thursday.

So where did your favorite former Pac-12 players end up? Well, truth be told, all the conference players listed ended up in the same place they were on the last Big Board.

Here's where they rank and what Kiper has to say about each.

No. 13 Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Analysis
: Frame and skills capable of handling 3-4 or 4-3 defensive end duty. Has top athleticism, smarts and speed for defensive end position.

No. 16 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Analysis
: Excellent size and speed combination, Smith quietly shut down receivers all season. Character issue overstated in eyes of many personnel folks.

No. 17 Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Analysis
: A future blindside tackle. Fallen some after a quick rise. Good frame, athleticism and quickness. Has added bulk.

No. 22 Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Analysis
: A physical specimen, has great length and has added bulk to his long frame. Could be moved along offensive line to provide help early in NFL career.

No. 25 Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Analysis
: In eyes of evaluators, rebounded some with good workouts, interviews after combine. Arm, attitude, athleticism all there. Accuracy the question.

In Todd McShay's latest mock draft from April 20, he projected six Pac-12 players being picked in the first round, but not Locker.

Here's how he ordered the players and where he sees them going.

No. 9 Tyron Smith (Dallas)

No. 12 Jordan (Minnesota)

No. 21 Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona (Kansas City)

No. 22 Solder (Indianapolis)

No. 23 Jimmy Smith (Philadelphia)

No. 32. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA (Green Bay)

Four Pac-12 players in NY for NFL draft

April, 26, 2011
4/26/11
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The NFL draft will go on, despite the league uncertainty.

The NFL announced this week that 25 players will attend the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night at Radio Music City Hall in New York City. That list includes four Pac-12 players: UCLA LB Akeem Ayers, California DE Cameron Jordan, UCLA safety Rahim Moore and USC OT Tyron Smith.

Here's the entire list.

Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn
Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb
Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus
Auburn DT Nick Fairley
Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert
Georgia receiver A.J. Green
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich
Alabama running back Mark Ingram
California defensive end Cameron Jordan
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan
Illinois DT Corey Liuget
Texas A&M LB Von Miller
UCLA safety Rahim Moore
Auburn QB Cam Newton
LSU CB Patrick Peterson
Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey
Missouri DE Aldon Smith
USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith
Baylor DT Phil Taylor
Baylor guard Danny Watkins
Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt
Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams

Some Pac-12 draft notes

April, 26, 2011
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ESPN draft guru Todd McShay took a measure of specific qualities of offensive of players expected to be selected in this week's NFL draft, which starts Thursday, and a number of Pac-12 players fall into interesting spots.

Here are some notes.

Quarterbacks Insider
McShay ranked Washington's Jake Locker No. 3 overall among the QBs, behind Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton.

He ranks Locker No. 2 in toughness/leadership.

Running backs Insider
McShay ranks Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers and Stanford's Owen Marecic No. 1 among the RBs and FBs in competitiveness. Marecic is No. 2 among FBs in pass blocking.

He ranks California's Shane Vereen No. 3 in vision/patience, No. 2 in receiving skills and No. 3 in pass blocking.

USC's Stanley Havili No. 1 among FBs in vision/patience, agility/acceleration and receiving skills.

McShay has Vereen ranked ninth overall and Rodgers 10th among running backs. Marecic is No. 4 among FBs and Havili is No. 6.

Tight ends Insider
McShay ranks USC's Jordan Cameron third in both ball skills and big-play ability.

He ranks Cameron sixth overall among TEs.

Offensive line Insider
He ranks USC's Tyron Smith No. 1 in pass protection among OTs. He ranks Colorado's Nate Solder No. 2 in run blocking among OTs.

Among centers, USC's Kristofer O'Dowd ranks No. 3 in awareness.

McShay ranks Smith No. 1 overall among offensive line prospects. Solder is fifth.

New Pac-12 draft projections

April, 6, 2011
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ESPN NFL draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have posted new mock drafts that include the first three rounds.

You can see Kiper's here Insider and McShay's here Insider.

Here are the Pac-12 players in Kiper's draft (he has the conference being shut out in the third round).

Round one
9. OT Tyron Smith, USC: Dallas
17. DE Cameron Jordan, California: New England
21. OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: Kansas City
25. QB Jake Locker, Washington: Seattle
26. CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Baltimore
29. OT Nate Solder, Colorado: Chicago

Round 2
36. FS Rahim Moore, UCLA: Denver
38. DE Brooks Reed, Arizona: Arizona
43. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State: Minnesota
54. CB Brandon Burton, Utah: Philadelphia

And here are the conference players in McShay's draft.

Round one
9. OT Tyron Smith, USC: Dallas
12. DE Cameron Jordan, California: Minnesota
22. OT Nate Solder, Colorado: Indianapolis
25. QB Jake Locker, Washington: Seattle
27. DE Brooks Reed, Arizona, Atlanta

Second round
37. DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State: Cleveland
38. OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: Arizona
46. FS Rahim Moore, UCLA: Denver
48. CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Oakland
49. LB Mason Foster, Washington: Jacksonville
56. DT Jurrell Casey, USC: New Orleans

Third rond
84. RB Shane Vereen, California: Tampa Bay

Some interesting differences and similarity, including both having Tyron Smith going to Dallas at No. 9 overall Jake Locker going to the hometown Seahawks at No. 25.

Jimmy Smith lasting to the 48th pick in McShay's draft surprises me. McShay also has Mason Foster and Jurrell Casey going in the second round, while Kiper doesn't even have them picked at the end of his third round.

We shall see.

Who's back from the top 25?

March, 22, 2011
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This will be my final post on our 2010 top 25 players rankings. It's also a line between looking back at the Pac-10 and looking forward to the Pac-12.

This post projects ahead: These players are the leading candidates for a preseason top 25.

First, here's who's back in 2011 -- 11 players -- from our top-25.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
4. Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
13. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington

And here's who's back -- nine players -- from our "left-out list."

Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
John Boyett, FS, Oregon
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
Delano Howell, SS, Stanford

So that's 20 front-runners for the next list we'll put together this summer. Also, don't forget that competition will be more intense with the inclusion of Utah and Colorado for the next list.

Or will the Utes and/or Buffaloes get shutout? Neither welcomes back a first-team all-conference player from the Mountain West or Big 12, respectively (Colorado doesn't have a second-team player coming back, either).

Should be pretty interesting.

Who just missed the top-25? And why

March, 22, 2011
3/22/11
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Welcome to the "How the heck could you be so stupid, Pac-12 blog!" post.

Our ranking of the top-25 Pac-10 -- not Pac-12 yet -- players is over. Here is our final tally.

Sure each of you has some sort of gripe with the list, and I would hope you would. The cool kids hang out here, and cool kids don't agree on everything because then they wouldn't be cool.

The most popular harrumph was the omission of Stanford's two-way player, Owen Marecic. I completely understand that. I likely would have ranked him 26th, but even then I would have paused. I will tell you why in a moment.

The angry mobilization by typically "read but don't comment" Stanford fans was great, though. I anticipated both the irritation with Marecic's absence and the general frustration with the lack of Stanford players on the list. Both reactions were perfectly reasonable, and the zealousness was fun. There were plenty of "What about Stanford?" moments for me while I toiled over the final list.

So now I will take on the unenviable task of briefly explaining why players didn't make the list. I'm guessing I will want to take a shower afterwards because the "left-out list" includes many outstanding players, many of whom will be high draft choices this year and in years to come.

But Marecic gets special treatment; he goes first. Here's my reasoning.

Yes, Marecic is a great story. Two-way player. Good on both sides of the ball. Tough guy. Quiet. Cool hair. Cult hero. Really, really smart. Tenth in the Heisman Trophy vote. Jim Harbaugh struggled each week to top the previous week's praise of a guy he repeatedly called "his favorite player."

But here's the problem: 1. He was the second best fullback in the conference (USC's Stanley Havili was the best; he didn't make the list); 2. He was Stanford's fourth-best linebacker -- see the numbers here.

And then he had the Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas, Sione Fua, Delano Howell, Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro problem. If you were picking a team for a high-stakes game, you'd pick those guys -- all Cardinal teammates -- before Marecic. And none of those guys made the list.

Yes, you would. Trust me. If, say, you were playing for $10 million, you'd pick one of them. Why? Because a good fullback and solid-to-middling linebacker isn't as valuable as an outstanding one-way player.

Nor would you pick Marecic over Shane Vereen, No. 25 on our list. Before you scream at your computer screen, let your mind drift back to this unhappy memory, Stanford fans.

Now, Stanford fans, take heart. This summer, we will begin an top-25 preseason list, and at this point you figure to get as many as six guys on that list, including No. 1 overall.

Also, it might help to look at the list below. Not exactly chopped liver.

This list is roughly in the order of consideration.

Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA: He's a cool dude. He's going to be off the NFL draft board before the end of the second round. But he didn't put up great numbers for a bad defense.
Brandon Bair, DT, Oregon: Bair's production went down over the second half of the season. He got beaten up a bit, and offensive coordinators starting paying him more attention. Further, I was already uncomfortable with seven players from one team on the list.
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford: Love his game. Got better as year went on. Just missed the cut. He, Vontaze Burfict and Mychal Kendricks are your first-team All-Pac-12 LBs in 2011.
Ricky Elmore, DE, Arizona: 21.5 sacks over the past two seasons, including a conference-leading 11 in 2010. But Brooks Reed was a better player, and Elmore had a couple of off games. At one point, he was fighting to retain his starting job over D'Aundre Reed.
Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford: A close second to Skov as the most productive player on the Stanford defense.
Sione Fua, NT, Stanford: Fua might have been the conference's most underrated player. So why stop now?
Mychal Kendricks, LB, California: 15 tackles for a loss. Highly productive. Highly talented. But he didn't fully arrive in 2010.
Jake Locker, QB, Washington: He may still end up a first-round draft choice but his numbers just weren't good enough this fall.
John Boyett, FS, Oregon: Got caught in the shuffle of Ducks. Further, the coaches didn't pick him first- or second-team All-Pac-10, rating him behind Cal's Chris Conte, UCLA's Rahim Moore, USC's T.J. McDonald and Washington's Nate Williams, none of whom made the top-25.
Mike Mohamed, LB, California: A very good player who perhaps slipped a little in 2010.
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: The top-25 was hard on O-linemen.
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: See above.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State: No true freshman made the list, not Wilson, not USC's Robert Woods. But Coug fans: You will have your first top-25 player this preseason. Maybe more than one.
Colin Baxter, C, Arizona: Baxter dropped because the Wildcats offensive line underachieved.
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State: A good QB. Folks will see that this year. Still, only ranked sixth in the conference in passing efficiency.
Chris Conte, S, California: First-team All-Pac-10. Safeties didn't fare well on the list.
Delano Howell, SS, Stanford: Second-team All-Pac-10. See above.
Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State: A solid tackle who was eclipsed by better players.

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