Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 begins!
Most of this looks back but, of course, there also is a good dose of projecting forward. A lot of good players, as it happens every year, won't make the preseason list. It is in their hands to make the postseason list.
You can review our 2011 postseason top 25 here.
25. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State
2011 numbers: Tuel only played in three games due to injury in 2011. He completed 29-of-45 throws for 276 yards with a TD and no interceptions.
2011 postseason ranking: Unranked.
Making the case for Tuel: It's possible that some have forgotten how good Tuel is. Last year was pretty much a disaster for him due to injuries. He fractured his collarbone on his first series of the season -- he was ill and didn't even start the game -- then came back to start twice but was knocked out of the Oregon State game at halftime (he was 11-for-13 for 127 yards and one 20-yard touchdown pass and a rushing TD at the time). But in 2010 he played well for a really bad team and entered the 2011 season ranked 20th in this countdown. Our expectation is Tuel, a 6-foot-3, 219-pound senior, will thrive in new Cougars coach Mike Leach's pass-happy attack. He very well could throw for 4,000 yards. An NFL prospect, Tuel is a good passer, good athlete and a tough guy. In 2010, he was sacked 51 times. Fifty-one! He actually rushed for 459 yards, but he had to give 255 back due to sacks. Leach's offense is predicated on a quick release, so that shouldn't happen this fall. Further, in 2010, Tuel ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in passing yards per game at 231.7, less than one yard behind a fellow by the name of "Matt Barkley." He also was sixth in passing efficiency, well ahead of Washington's Jake Locker. (Yes, we are regurgitating what we wrote about Tuel before the 2011 season). It also should help that Tuel has a good cast of receivers, including one who very likely will also appear on this list.