Top 25 returning Pac-12 players in 2017

We gave you the top 25 players of the season in the Pac-12 about a month ago, but today we take a look forward and rank the top 25 players who will return next season.

Also be sure the check out Adam Rittenberg's list of the top 50 players returning nationallyInsider.

1. Sam Darnold, QB, USC: After turning in one of the best performances in Rose Bowl history, Darnold will begin 2017 as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

2. Azeem Victor, LB, Washington: An injury ended Victor’s season prematurely, but he should be fine come the fall and considered a potential All-American.

3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington: After finishing sixth in the Heisman voting, what does Browning have in store for his third year as the starter?

4. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State: Falk would have been an intriguing NFL prospect, but he elected to finish out his eligibility with the Cougars.

5. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: Injuries slowed his 2016 campaign, but when healthy Freeman is among the best running backs in the country.

6. Cody O’Connell, G, Washington State: He was a unanimous All-American in 2016 and a big reason the Cougars ran the ball so effectively.

7. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington: Gaskin ranks N0. 12 in the country in rushing over the past two seasons.

8. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Don’t let the Bruins’ offensive struggles fool you, Rosen remains an elite NFL prospect with All-America potential.

9. Trey Adams, OL, Washington: A first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a sophomore, Adams was also a second-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America.

10. Vita Vea, DL, Washington: It was an important win for the Huskies when Vea, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, decided to put his NFL dreams on hold and return for his redshirt junior season.

11. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC: In his first two years, Jones ran for 2,069 yards while splitting time with Justin Davis, and now is primed to break out as the clear No. 1.

12. Hercules Mata’afa, DL, Washington State: A second-team All-Pac-12 pick as a sophomore in 2016, Mata’afa finished the year with 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

13. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado: Lindsay’s 1,579 yards from scrimmage ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 in 2016 and his return is a big reason why the Buffaloes should be improved offensively next year.

14. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington: With John Ross off to the NFL, Pettis’ production figures to improve from the 53 catches for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns he had last season.

15. Lowell Lotulelei, DL, Utah: A first-team All-Pac-12 pick in 2015, Lotulelei was slowed a bit by injury this past season but should be among the conference’s best defenders again in 2017.

16. Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA: The Bruins didn’t get good line play, but coaches saw enough from Quessenberry to vote him first-team All-Pac-12.

17. Coleman Shelton, C, Washington: More proof that Washington, despite all it loses, will be a strong contender again next year. Shelton was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick.

18. Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: The Ray Guy Award winner will look to bring the award back to Salt Lake City for a fourth straight season.

19. Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford: Meeks might end up as the top cover corner in the conference next year.

20. Shay Fields, WR, Colorado: Fields’ 883 receiving yards last season are the most among returning receivers in the conference.

21. Cam Smith, LB, USC: After registering 161 tackles in his first two seasons, Smith likely will be a fixture on the preseason All-Pac-12 teams.

22. Koron Crump, DL, Arizona State: Crump’s nine sacks are the most among returning players next season.

23. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington: The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2016 will be even more important without Budda Baker in the secondary.

24. Troy Dye, LB, Oregon: As a freshman, Dye ranked second in the Pac-12 in tackles per game (8.3) and seventh in sacks.

25. Iman Marshall, CB, USC: He won’t impact the game in as many ways as Adoree’ Jackson, but he might end up as a better overall defender.