Who are the top players in the Pac-12?
Eleven beat writers from around the conference tried to answer that question, submitting their top-25 lists based on whatever criteria they thought appropriate. The No. 1 player received 25 points, the No. 2 player received 24, and so on. (Credit to the OC Register’s Ryan Kartje for starting the project and tallying up all the votes.)
The results will be released in groups of five. On Saturday, I’ll post my own ballot and compare it to the combined results.
Here we go …
25. Silas Redd, USC
Redd rushed for 905 yards and nine touchdowns in his first season at USC, but the Penn State transfer couldn’t keep his team from losing five of its last six games. The 5-foot-10 back has been compared to former Doak Walker finalist Javon Ringer; he’ll likely be required to seize a greater backfield role given the departure of quarterback Matt Barkley.
24. Brendan Bigelow, Cal
Not yet an established star, Bigelow is still the most dynamic weapon on a Cal team full of question marks. He only rushed for 431 yards as he shared touches with two other backs, but had nearly a fifth of those on a single run. If knee injuries don’t crop up, he should be one of the conference’s biggest breakout players.
23. Shaq Thompson, Washington
No longer pursuing a side career in baseball, the safety-turned-linebacker should be in line for a big season. A touted five-star recruit in 2012, Thompson finished his freshman season fifth on the team in tackles (74), third in tackles for loss (8.5) and tied for first in interceptions (3). Already an all-conference mention, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has tremendous physical tools.
22. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
Kelly is about to become the first ASU quarterback to start back-to-back season openers since Rudy Carpenter in 2008. After passing for 3,039 yards as a sophomore and finishing with the conference’s second-highest quarterback rating, he’s a major reason the Sun Devils are expected to compete for the Pac-12 South. He also drag races in the offseason.
21. Hayes Pullard, USC
Pullard tied for the team lead in tackles as a freshman and has been a stable presence on USC’s front seven ever since. The 6-foot-1 linebacker can move quickly from sideline to sideline and drop back into coverage. He’s expected to become the team’s vocal leader after the loss of T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey.
Voters: Ryan Abraham (USC Football), Christian Caple (Spokesman-Review), Bryan Fischer (Pac-12), Rich Hammond (OC Register), Ryan Kartje (OC Register), Edward Lewis (Bruin Sports Report), Grant Marek (Golden Bear Report), Tracy McDannald (GOAZCATS), Dan Sorensen (UteZone), Jack Wang (LA Daily News), Daniel Weber (USC Football)