Some players can take over games. Some players practically will their team to success. They are the impact players who are out front, making a team substantially better.
There's a long list of players returning in the Pac-12 in 2011 who could have a huge impact -- on both sides of the ball. But we're going to focus on offense because, hey, this is the Pac-12.
Quarterbacks, naturally, lead the way, but at least one running back could determine whether his team is a factor in the conference's North Division.
Andrew Luck, as the Heisman Trophy runner-up, is the best returning player in the nation, but Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas put up numbers last fall that were nearly as good. And Thomas might be asked to throw more this fall because of a rebuilding offensive line.
Washington's season transformed in 2010 when it started leaning on running back Chris Polk instead of QB Jake Locker. He rushed for 1,415 yards last year and could go much higher in 2011.
Speaking of big numbers, two other veteran QBs -- USC's Matt Barkley and Arizona's Nick Foles -- should put up big numbers. Both will be throwing to deep, athletic crews of receivers. Further, both will be playing behind offensive lines that may struggle to run block. It's possible one or both could eclipse the 4,00o-yard benchmark passing, though Foles is far more likely to do so in a spread offense versus Barkley's pro-style scheme.