We continue our countdown of the Pac-10's 25 best players from 2010.
Note: Because we are ranking players based on this past season, it's Pac-10, not Pac-12.
Here are the preseason rankings (click each name to read the blurb).
No. 4 Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon
2010 numbers: Thomas completed 61.5 percent of his throws for 2,881 yards with 30 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 486 yards and five scores. He ranked second in the Pac-10 -- behind a guy named Andrew Luck -- and 17th in the nation in passing efficiency.
Preseason ranking: Unranked
Making the case for Thomas: Well, when you are the quarterback of record leading a team to the national championship game, making a case isn't too difficult. But Thomas isn't ranked way up here merely because he was the quarterback of record as a first-year starter for the Pac-10 champions. He's here because his numbers earned him this spot. Honestly, you really don't have to go much further than 35 total touchdowns. Not to cause a problem or anything, but do you know how many TDs Washington scored in 2010? That's right: 35. Heck, Oregon State scored 39. Thomas showed consistent improvement all year and uncanny poise for a sophomore. Remember how poorly he played early in the national title game against Auburn? Well, he ended up passing for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Not too shabby. Thomas earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2010 and may well end up there again this fall (that Luck guy). But he also could end up a second-team All-American.
No. 5. Mason Foster, LB, Washington
No. 6. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
No. 7. Chris Polk, RB, Washington
No. 8. Cameron Jordan, DE, California
No. 9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
No. 10. Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
No. 12. Jeff Maehl, WR, Oregon
No. 13 Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
No. 14. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 15. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona
No. 16. Tyron Smith, OT, USC
No. 17. Kenny Rowe, DE, Oregon
No. 18. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
No. 19. Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 20. Talmadge Jackson, CB, Oregon
No. 21. Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
No. 22. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
No. 23. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
No. 24. Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
No. 25. Shane Vereen, RB, California