Our countdown of the Pac-10's top 25 players continues.
No. 17. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
2009 numbers: As a true freshman, Burfict had 69 tackles, which ranked second on the Sun Devils, with seven tackles for a loss, two sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Most recent ranking: Burfict wasn't ranked in our final Pac-10 top-30 list last year.
Making the case for Burfict: Simply put, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Burfict is one of the most talented linebackers in the country. He's athletic and physical. Mean. Feel free to take a moment to check out some of his highlights on YouTube. Clearly, he's a potential first-round NFL draft choice. That said, he needs to show more maturity on the field. He had way to many personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties last year, most of them completely unnecessary. Still, based on his talent, as well as the prospects for a very good Sun Devils defense, it's not hard to imagine that Burfict will end up first-team All-Pac-10 by season's end, which means he'll jump more than a few spots on this list.
No. 18: Colin Baxter, C, Arizona
No. 19: Chase Beeler, C, Stanford
No. 20. Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State
No. 21. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
No. 22. Owen Marecic, LB/FB, Stanford
No. 23. Kristofer O'Dowd, C, USC
No. 24: Casey Matthews, LB, Oregon
No. 25 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA