Pac-12 players to watch in 2016
Luke Falk, Washington State QB
While Cal’s Jared Goff dominated the headlines, Falk quietly had one of the best statistical seasons in the Pac-12. In his sophomore year, he threw for 4,561 yards with 38 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Falk led the Cougars to a 9–4 record, including a win over Miami in the Sun Bowl.
Royce Freeman, Oregon RB
Freeman broke LaMichael James’s single-season school record after racking up 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns in his sophomore year. He topped 150 yards in five games, including a 246-yard, two-touchdown performance against Washington State. The junior will be the go-to guy once again this fall as Oregon reloads after a 9-4 season.
Adoree' Jackson, USC CB
One of the most dynamic players in the Pac-12, Jackson shined in all three phases of the game in 2015. He was the Trojans' primary return man, returning two punts for touchdowns. He also was a starting cornerback, intercepting one pass and returning it 46 yards for a touchdown. He spent time at wide receiver, too, and caught 27 passes for 414 yards with two touchdowns while adding seven rushes for 36 yards on the ground.
Sidney Jones, Washington CB
After totaling four interceptions (good for fourth in the Pac-12) in 2015, Jones was named first-team All-Pac-12. He's just one part of a loaded Washington secondary that boasts fellow first-team All-Pac-12 junior Budda Baker.
Lowell Lotulelei, Utah DT
The younger brother to former Utah standout and current Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotuleilei, Lowell Lotuleilei followed up on his Freshman All-America 2014 season with a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a sophomore. He has appeared in every game his first two years, amassing 59 tackles and five sacks in his career. Last year, Utah’s rush defense allowed the sixth-fewest yards in the country.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford RB
McCaffrey had one of the best seasons in the history of college football in 2015, finishing with a record 3,864 all-purpose yards, including over 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 return yards. He finished second in Heisman voting last year, giving him some unfinished business for 2016.
Kareem Orr, Arizona State DB
Orr led the Sun Devils at free safety as a freshman, finishing the 2015 season with a Pac-12-best six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He added 38 tackles and earned him a first-team Freshman All-America selection by USA Today.
Josh Rosen, UCLA QB
UCLA’s first true freshman to start the season at quarterback, Rosen led UCLA to an 8–5 record and a bowl appearance en route to a Freshman All-America selection by USA Today. The Associated Press also named him the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year.
Cameron Smith, USC LB
In his first year at USC, the inside linebacker was second on the team with 78 tackles despite missing the Trojans' final four games with a torn ACL. Smith added three interceptions (all coming in a pivotal win over Utah), one sack and one fumble recovery. With Su'a Cravens off to the NFL, Smith's role in USC's defense only becomes more pivotal in 2016.
Marcus Williams, Utah S
Utah’s free safety started all 12 games as a sophomore, recording five interceptions (including one against Oregon that he returned 52 yards for a touchdown) and 66 tackles. His 2015 season earned him a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.