Jake Locker Senior – Washington
It's the great debate. Who's the better NFL prospect? Give me Andrew Luck of Stanford, but at the college level, Locker is the pick as demonstrated by his 172 points responsible in 2009. After two years being asked to carry the Huskies, Locker finally got some help in the form of new coach Steve Sarkisian, running back Chris Polk and an emerging crop of receivers led by Jermaine Kearse. With that support system in place, his senior season should be his best yet, especially if he can get his completion percentage over 60.
Well, at least Toby Gerhart is gone, opening up a spot for the two Beaver State tailbacks on the first team. Gerhart's prolific season meant leaving either James (1,546 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns) or Rodgers (1,440 yards, 21 touchdowns) in the cold last year. They are different backs in terms of style - James with the explosive speed and big plays, Rodgers the steady grinder – but are undeniably among the elite in the game. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Rose Bowl on the line again in the Civil War, with a trip to New York City also at stake.
Long the master of the fly sweep, Rodgers posted his first 1,000-yard season on a school-record 91 receptions. His skills to make plays in the open field will be critical as Oregon State breaks in a new but talented quarterback in Ryan Katz. For RoJo, 2009 was a lost season due to a broken collarbone, but did post eight touchdowns in the previous campaign. With his deep speed and an offensive approach better suited to utilize it, Johnson could post double-digit scores, something no receiver managed last season.
Joe Halahuni Junior – Oregon State
Outside of corner, no position in the conference suffered as much of a talent drain as tight end, losing Ed Dickson, Anthony McCoy and Rob Gronkowski to graduation and the draft. Halahuni was second in the Pac-10 at his position in receptions (35) and yardage (486), posting 255 yards on 15 grabs against USC and Cal. He'll be a fine safety value for Katz. There was strong temptation to slide USC fullback Stanley Havili in.
Given the presence of two of the top centers in college football, I had to go with the best five regardless of position. Thran and Philipp are proven tackles, despite widly divergent offensive philosophies. Despite missing five games due to injury, Summers-Gavin was the bright spot on a Golden Bears line that often underperformed. Cal averaged 22 more points per game with Summers-Gavin in the lineup.
The easiest call on this list, Forbath has hit 37 straight field goals inside of 50 yards and is 9 of 12 from long range in his career.
Chris Owusu Junior – Stanford
With three kickoff returns for touchdowns and averaging 31.5 yards per return – fifth-best in the nation – Owusu exploded onto the Pac-10 landscape last season.
Dan reveals his Preseason All-Pac-10 Defense on Friday.
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