Ranking the Pac-10's top 25: No. 23

Our countdown of the Pac-10's top 25 players continues.

No. 23: Senior Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC

2009 numbers: O'Dowd was first-team All-Pac-10 as a sophomore and a preseason All-American heading into 2009. Injuries -- he dislocated his right knee cap during fall camp -- limited him to only eight games last fall.

Most recent ranking: O'Dowd wasn't ranked in our final Pac-10 top-30 list last year, in large part due to injuries. He was No. 5 in the preseason top 30.

Making the case for O'Dowd: O'Dowd was widely considered the nation's best center heading into 2009 -- even a potential early-round NFL draft pick -- but injuries derailed his season. He played in eight games, starting seven, and wasn't himself. He also didn't impress the Trojans' new coaching staff early in the spring. But he surged late and seemed to be regaining his mojo. And O'Dowd with mojo is a guy you want in the middle of your line. He is bright and an athletic, powerful blocker. He started three games as a true freshman, becoming the first USC true freshman to start at center as well as only the third Trojan true freshman to start a post-World War II opener on the offensive line. He would have played more if he hadn't dislocated his right kneecap and missed four games. He enters 2010 as a potential All-American -- Phil Steele already named him to his first team -- and is one of six Pac-10 players on the Rimington Trophy watch list.

No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon

No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA