PAC 12 preseason All-Conference team
August 16, 2012 by 1 Comment
QB: Matt Barkley, USC
The fourth-year starter replaces Andrew Luck as 2012′s mega-hyped All-Everything quarterback. Like Luck, he has the goods to back it up. He’s third on USC’s career passing and total offense lists, behind Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. He threw for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns, with just two interceptions, in 2011 and just missed out on a trip to New York. Look for him to be there this year.
De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Thomas had a phenomenal year in 2011. As a true freshman, he was the only player in the nation to have over 400 yards rushing, receiving, and returning. With LaMichael James gone, Thomas will have even more chances to show off his speed.
John White IV, Utah
White ran under the national radar in 2011 – but he ran for more than 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns. A JUCO transfer who was third-string at the beginning of fall camp, the durable White became the Utes’ workhorse, breaking a 29-year school rushing record and earned a second-team All-Pac-12 nod.
Robert Woods, USC
The junior has been one of the premier wideouts in the nation since his debut as a true freshman. He was the then-Pac-10 Rookie of the Year in 2010 and was the only unanimous first-team All Pac-12 selection a season ago. Woods was also one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best wide receiver, with 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added more than 500 yards on kickoff and punt returns – and he accomplished all of this while hampered with a nagging ankle injury. Woods is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, but as he proved in 2011, he’s one of the best in the nation even when he’s not at full strength.
Marqise Lee, USC
His coach once said Lee might end up as one of the best receivers to ever play for the Trojans, and he certainly got his career off to a promising start last year. He had 73 catches for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman and shared Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors with Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas. After starring for the USC track team in the offseason, he’s back for an even bigger sophomore season. Lee & Woods might be the most dangerous duo in the country, but don’t be surprised if Lee steals the spotlight from his teammate, particularly if Woods’ ankle continues to be an issue.
Marquess Wilson, WSU
Playing in Pullman, Wash., Wilson hasn’t gotten the same media coverage as his USC counterparts, but it’s certainly not because they’re more talented. Wilson led the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game (115.7) and had five of his 12 touchdowns went for 50 yards or more. He set Cougars’ single-season records with 82 catches and 1,388 yards last year, but like Woods and Lee, he’s been a factor his entire career. He had more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, making him just the second receiver in school history to have back-to-back 1,000 seasons. With new head coach Mike Leach leading the team, look for the passing game to get even stronger, and for Wilson to finally start drawing the attention he deserves.
Keenan Allen, Cal
Cal’s junior receiver is the Matt Barkley of Pac-12 wide receivers – a preseason nominee for just about every award available. A first-team Pac-12 selection in 2011, Allen was second in the conference in receptions behind WSU’s Wilson; after USC’s Woods and Lee, he has the highest per-game averages in receptions and receiving yards from last season among returners. The numbers could be even better this season now that he has a quarterback who’s even more comfortable with the offense – Zach Maynard, Allen’s brother, was a first-year starter for the Bears in 2011 after transferring from Buffalo and should be more solid in 2012. Allen, like his fellow first-teamer Robert Woods, is recovering from an ankle injury, but if he’s healthy, look for his senior season to be his best yet.
TE: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington
Sefarian-Jenkins had 41 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman last year, averaging more than 13 yards per reception. His 538 yards rank third for UW tight ends in a single season. He’s tall, athletic and has great hands – not only was he a playmaker for the football team, he also played 17 games for the Huskies’ Pac-12 Champion basketball team.
David Bakhtiari, Colorado
An All Pac-12 second-teamer in 2011, the versatile junior will provide stability and leadership on the O-line while protecting the Buffs’ new (to-be-determined) quarterback’s blindside.
Khaled Holmes, USC
After just one year at the position, Holmes has become one of the top centers in the nation. The Rimington Award nominee, who played high school ball at Mater Dei with QB Matt Barkley, will be a key piece of the Trojans’ offense again this season.
John Fullington, Cal
The junior is one of the most experienced players on the line after breaking into the lineup as a true freshman. The left guard has played at a consistently high level throughout his career – he made the All-Freshman Pac-10 team and was All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2011 – and should be even better after a full season as a starter.
Cameron Fleming, Stanford
As a redshirt freshman, Fleming was one of three first-year starters on Stanford’s stellar O-line. He started 11 games before injuring his ankle and was named to Yahoo! Sports’ freshman All-America team. The Cardinal is fortunate to have him as a staple on the line for a few more seasons.
David Yankey, Stanford
Yankey earned All-Pac 12 honorable mention last season as a first-year starter. Still only a sophomore, he already has 13 starts under his belt, experience that should benefit the new Cardinal quarterback as he steps into Andrew Luck’s shoes.
Dion Jordan, Oregon
The former tight end was a 2011 All Pac-12 first-teamer and is up for just about every defensive award in 2012. He recorded 42 tackles in 14 games and led the Ducks with 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei has started every game during his career with the Utes (the senior transferred to Utah in 2010) and received the 2011 Morris Trophy for best defensive lineman in the Pac-12, as voted by the conference’s offensive linemen. The senior is coming off a season in which he had 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass breakup, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Ben Gardner, Stanford
Gardner played sparingly as a redshirt freshman but made his presence known the field last year, earning the team’s award for most valuable sophomore. He started 12 of 13 games at defensive end and finished the season with 35 tackles (10 for loss) and 3.5 sacks.
Travis Long, Washington State
Long was fifth in the Pac-12 last season with 12 tackles for loss. He had 42 total tackles and four sacks, along with a blocked field goal and forced fumble. Mike Leach’s defenses aren’t known for shutting opponents down, but a few more players like Long would take a lot of pressure off the Cougars’ aerial attack.
Chase Thomas, Stanford
Thomas is already working his way towards the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he needs to have another strong season at Stanford first. He had 52 tackles as a junior, with 17.5 for loss and 9 sacks, and he was 10th nationally with five forced fumbles. He roamed all over the field last season, and wherever he showed up, he made big plays.
Hayes Pullard, USC
USC’s weakside linebacker hasn’t gotten as much attention as Dion Bailey, the starter on the strongside, but he certainly deserves it. Pullard and Bailey co-led the team with 81 tackles last season, making them one of the most dangerous duos in the conference, if not the nation.
Shayne Skov, Stanford
Skov was the team’s top tackler as a sophomore but he suffered a season-ending injury and missed most of the 2011 season. He’ll sit out the first game of 2012 to serve a suspension for a DUI, but after being off the field for almost a year, look for the senior to make huge plays and hard hits when he finally returns.
T.J. McDonald, USC
Like Matt Barkley, McDonald could’ve jumped to the NFL after last season, and like Barkley, he chose to stay in school and play his senior season at USC. The All-American safety, in his third year as a starter, is a hard-hitting leader in a backfield that has improved tremendously in the last few seasons.
John Boyett, Oregon
Free safety Boyett is another player who had the talent to consider leaving for the NFL early. Thankfully for the Ducks, he didn’t. The physical defensive back led the team with 108 tackles last season and had 7 pass break-ups and 2 blocked kicks. He’s already one of the top DBs in the conference; with another strong year, he could gain recognition as one of the better safeties in the nation.
Nickell Robey, USC
Robey has been a starter since game one of his freshman year; as a true freshman, he led the team with four interceptions. He’s developed from a talented but untested rookie to one of the leaders of the defense. Only 5’8″, the speedster (he also competes on the track team) has continued to work hard, get better, and prove he can cover some of the best receivers in the nation.
Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Poyer is currently second on Mel Kiper’s list of the top defensive backs in this draft class. He caught four interceptions last season and has scored three touchdowns in his career – two from interceptions and one on a punt return. Poyer has been a stellar punt and kickoff returner for the Beavers, but this year he’ll be most valuable as the leader of a young OSU secondary.
Andre Heidari, USC
Heidari was the top freshman kicker in the nation in 2011. He was third nationally in field goal percentage (88.2%), making 15 of 17 attempts. He hit all 50 PAT attempts and recorded 4 tackles. He was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award after his freshman season and will again be a contender for the honor.
Jackson Rice, Oregon
One of three finalists for the 2011 Ray Guy Award, Rice is back for his senior season as the Ducks’ punter. Oregon ranked first nationally in net punting yards with 41.45, largely on the strength of Rice’s leg. He had at least one punt of 50 yards or more in 12 of 14 games last season and is currently third on UO’s career punting list.