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Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 6

8/26/2012

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.

6. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

2011 numbers: Posted 52 tackles (33 solo) including a conference best 17.5 tackles for a loss. He also had 8.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and was second in the conference in forced fumbles.

2011 postseason ranking: No. 5

Making the case for Thomas: It's time to break the stranglehold wide receivers have had on this list for the past three days and look to defense. Thomas is the best outside linebacker in the conference and many would argue in the country. He opted to return for another season to improve his consistency and up his draft status. And both should see significant improvement. Last year Stanford's run defense was tops in the conference, allowing less than 85 yards per game and it was the only team to hold opponents to an average of less than 100 yards per contest. Thomas was a big reason for that number. Expect him to be even better this year with the return of Shayne Skov at inside linebacker. When Skov went down, defenses were keying in on Thomas, which makes his production last year that much more impressive. With six of last year's front seven returning -- plus the return of Skov and young playmakers like James Vaughters and Noor Davis -- Thomas headlines a run-stopping unit that should once again challenge for best in the conference.

No. 7: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State

No. 8: Keenan Allen, WR, California

No. 9: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

No. 10: T.J. McDonald, S, USC

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