As teams begin their spring practices, here are 10 players to watch who will be big names in the Pac-12 in 2015.
March 05, 2015
1 of 10Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Cody Kessler, USC QB
Kessler is tasked with continuing the legacy of great USC quarterbacks, and he seemed more than ready for the job last season. Kessler threw for 39 touchdowns with only five interceptions, completing about 70 percent of his passes. He has the kind of arm that could return the Trojans to national contender status and possibly inject himself in the Heisman conversation in the process.
2 of 10John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated
Royce Freeman, Oregon RB
Freeman was a five-star recruit who saw playing time as a true freshman for the Pac-12 champion Ducks in 2014. He brings a power-running element to Oregon's backfield, and he bowled over linebackers last season on his way to over 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns.
3 of 10Icon Sportswire via AP
Scooby Wright III, Arizona LB
Wright was one of the most dominant players on either side of the ball in college football last season. He amassed an incredible 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles for the Wildcats. Pac-12 quarterbacks are already looking forward to when Wright leaves for the NFL.
4 of 10John Biever for Sports Illustrated
D.J. Foster, Arizona State RB/WR
Foster was given his most responsibility in three seasons for the Sun Devils in 2014, and he responded by becoming one of the conference's most explosive rushing and receiving weapons. He ran the ball for more than five yards per carry on his way to 1,081 yards and also caught 62 passes for three touchdowns. With the emergence of Demario Richard in the backfield, Foster should spend more time in the slot in '15.
5 of 10Cal Sport Media via AP
Su'a Cravens, USC S
Cravens is the latest in a line of uber-athletic USC defenders. The hybrid safety-linebacker is a menace all over the field, recording five sacks and three interceptions last season. With star defensive end Leonard Williams off to the NFL, Cravens is the clear leader of the Trojans defense.
6 of 10Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Nick Wilson, Arizona RB
Wilson made his own case for the best running back in the state of Arizona, rushing for 1,375 yards in 2014 despite missing a game. The 5'10" rising sophomore weighs less than 200 pounds, but he proved he's capable of being a workhorse back for the Wildcats.
7 of 10Icon Sportswire via AP
Myles Jack, UCLA LB
Jack is a tackle machine for the Bruins, and also spends some time evading tacklers on the other side of the ball. The former four-star recruit played both linebacker and running back in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, and he continues to be a true dual threat. With All-America linebacker Eric Kendricks gone, Jack's defensive responsibilities only increase.
8 of 10Icon Sportswire via AP
Devontae Booker, Utah RB
Booker is another one of the conference's dual threats coming out of the backfield. The American River College transfer ran for over 1,500 yards and caught 43 passes in his first season at Utah.
9 of 10Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
DeForest Buckner, Oregon DE
Buckner is back for his senior season as he tries to help Oregon return to the national championship game. He's a leader along the Ducks' defensive line, racking up tackles and pressuring the passer to the tune of four sacks in 2014. Fellow defensive end Arik Armstead's decision to leave early for the draft means the Ducks will need a monster season from Buckner.
10 of 10John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated
Paul Perkins, UCLA RB
Perkins is—you guessed it—a running back who can also threaten defenses with his ability as a receiver. The rising junior averaged over six yards per carry and over seven yards per catch in 2014. His 1,575 yards on the ground last season were good for the second-highest single-season mark in UCLA history.
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