Happy Returns – Part II

Washington will enter a new era in 2011 when the Pac-12 begins its inaugural season. The Huskies will see two new teams but will still recognize plenty of faces from the rest of the former Pac-10, as the talent returning in the conference is abundant.

The post-season performances from Oregon, Stanford, and Washington bode extremely well for the conference. Oregon missed out on a national championship, losing to Auburn on the final play of the game. Stanford won big over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, and Washington dominated Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Only Arizona looked bad in getting clown-stomped by Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

Last installment we looked at some of the top offensive performers that were returning to the conference. Here's a link to that story - Happy Returns: Part 1. This time, we take a look at the other side of the ball.

DL Justin Washington – Arizona (So) - Washington had 46 stops from his defensive tackle position last year for the Wildcats, including six quarterback sacks. The freshman from Texas is set for a huge season for Mike Stoops' defense.
DE Jamaar Jarrett – ASU (Jr) - Jarrett had a big sophomore season, racking up 41 tackles and five quarterback sacks. He played in the shadow of Lawrence Guy, who has since declared for the NFL draft and will not be back. Jarrett will be the headline guy in Tempe's defense in 2011.
DL Travis LongWashington State (Jr) - Long, a Spokane native, had an outstanding sophomore season, collecting 50 tackles and five sacks. He also forced a fumble. He is the most difficult Cougar to keep blocked on any one play.
DL Alameda Ta'amu – Washington (Sr) - Ta'amu finished 2010 with a flurry, and his play over the last four games and Holiday Bowl have Husky fans excited for 2011. Ta'amu racked up 39 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and won the Husky Lineman of the Year award in 2010.
DE Junior Onyeali – ASU (So) - The Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 2010, Onyeali served notice by posting 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He only had 18 total tackles but his ability to destroy pass rush defense was evident. Despite only being 5-11 and 235 pounds, Onyeali was one of the most difficult defensive linemen to block in the conference.

LB Chris GalippoUSC (Sr) - Galippo might seem like an odd pick, as he only had 29 tackles in his junior season, but he forced three fumbles. Galippo is a 250-pound hitting machine who is as punishing as they come. Now with a year of the new USC defense under his belt, expect a big senior season from him.
LB Vontaze Burfict – ASU (Jr) - 89 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a mean streak a mile wide make Burfict perhaps the most intimidating defender in the conference. He isn't afraid to cross the line when it comes to late hits and cheap shots, but make no mistake: He is one of the conference's best linebackers.
LB Mychal KendricksCalifornia (Sr) - Kendricks is short as far as linebackers go but 62 tackles, an interception, and 9 sacks in 2010 tell you all you need to know. He's tall enough to make your life a living Hell if you don't block him.
LB Shayne Skov – Stanford (Jr) - Skov is big and a thunderous hitter. He racked up 83 tackles, including 10 behind the line of scrimmage last year. He also sacked the quarterback seven times, making him a threat against both the pass and the run.
LB Cort Dennison – Washington (Sr) - Dennison isn't big, isn't fast, and isn't a weightroom monster. All he does is make plays, and make more plays. He had 92 tackles in 2010, good for fourth in the conference, and also had two sacks and two interceptions despite missing some action. He is rarely out of position and played last year in Mason Foster's rather large shadow. He will be the featured performer in the Husky defense in 2011.

DB Chase Thomas – Stanford (Sr) - Thomas makes the 3-4 Stanford defense go from his outside linebacker position. He racked up 7.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 70 total stops on the season. His speed on the outside is outstanding.
DB Tony DyeUCLA (Sr) - A super active safety, Dye had 96 tackles for the Bruins in 2011 and had an interception. He always flies to the ball, picking up 37 assists on tackles last year. He is a very sure tackler and had 9 passes defended to go with an interception. He will anchor the Bruin secondary.
DB Omar Bolden – ASU (Sr) - Bolden is perhaps the best cornerback in the Pac-12 next year. He had 52 tackles, three interceptions (one for a touchdown), and 7 passes defended in 2011. He is fast, a great leaper, and a good tackler. Bolden returned from injury and only got better last year.
DB Cliff Harris – Oregon (Jr) - Harris made 30 tackles and had six interceptions from his cornerback position. One of his picks went for 76 yards and a touchdown. He led the conference in passes broken up with 15. He is fast, confident, and extremely willing to challenge wide outs one-on-one. Loves to take risks but has paid off so far.
DB TJ McDonald – USC (Jr) - A big safety, McDonald racked up 89 tackles and a sack in his sophomore season last year. He is the leader of the Trojan secondary and can be very intimidating with his hitting ability.

P Bryan Anger – California (Sr) - Anger posted a 45.6 yard per punt average and had a long of 71 yards. He was outstanding at pinning teams deep in their own end of the field.
P Jeff Locke – UCLA (Jr) - Locke averaged 45.8 yards per boot and had a long of 63 yards.
PK Alex Zendejas – Arizona (Sr) - Zendejas was very accurate, connecting on 13 of 16 attempts with a long of 47 yards. Oddly, he did miss on five extra points, but his 12 touchbacks are a good testament to his leg strength.
PK Erik Folk – Washington (Sr) - Folk connected on 12 of 17 field goal attempts in 2010 and was perfect inside of 40 yards. He doesn't have the leg strength to give the Huskies touchbacks but he does get good height on his kickoffs.

KOR Robert Woods – USC (So) - Woods racked up nearly 1,000 yards in returns last year, averaging 26 yards per return, which included a 97-yard touchdown. He is a threat to take it to the house anytime you decide to kick to him.
KOR Jesse Callier – Washington (So) - Although Callier wasn't able to bring one back to the house, he did average 24 yards per return and didn't put the ball on the ground. He is elusive and shifty in the open field.
PR Cliff Harris – Oregon (Jr) - If you choose to punt to Harris, you'd better be ready to live with the consequences. He scored FOUR touchdowns on punt returns with a long of 79 yards. He averaged 19.5 yards every time he returned a punt.
PR Drew Terrell – Stanford (Jr) - On 14 attempts last year, Terrell averaged over 13 yards per return. His long went for 34 yards.

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