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. 11. Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
2010 numbers: Bolden, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection, ranked sixth on the Sun Devils with 52 tackles, including three for a loss. He also had three interceptions -- he returned one 66 yards for a TD against USC -- seven pass breakups and one forced fumble.
Preseason ranking: Unranked (Bolden missed most of the 2009 season with an injury).
Making the case for Bolden: Well, for one, Bolden was one of only four unanimous selections for first-team All-Pac-10 as selected by the league's coaches, so it appears 10 coaches think highly of him. That's fairly meaningful, eh? Bolden's had an interesting career. He earned a starting job and looked like a sure-thing as a true freshman. Then Georgia's A.J. Green pushed him around early in the 2008 season, and Bolden seemed to lose his confidence and take a step back as a sophomore. He started 2009 strong but then blew out his knee. Those ups and downs, however, may have helped him become more grounded (he told me as much last August). He put it all together in 2010, growing up as a player and leader. He's opted to return for his senior season, so you can just about pencil in Bolden and Oregon's Cliff Harris as the first-team All-Pac-10 corners in 2011. Both are preseason All-American candidates.
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