Pac-12 top 25 for 2012: No. 16

Our countdown of the Pac-12's top 25 players in 2012 continues.

You can see our preseason top 25 here.

No. 16: Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford

2012 numbers: Murphy had 56 total tackles and led Stanford in both tackles for a loss (18) and sacks (10). He also had an interception, forced fumble, five pass defenses and a team-high six QB hurries.

Preseason ranking: Unranked.

Making the case for Murphy: If you want to know why Stanford had one of the nation's elite defenses last year, it was because of its front seven, led by the physical presences of Murphy and Chase Thomas at outside linebacker. The Pac-12 blog believes the best member of that front seven in 2012 was Murphy, who earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors along with Thomas. Thomas was more celebrated, and it's possible -- perhaps likely -- that Murphy's numbers were elevated by teams avoiding Thomas. But Murphy's production on a very good defense was exceptional; see him earning third-team All-American honors from the Associated Press. It will be interesting to see who ends up having a better NFL career. Murphy, a 6-foot-6, 261-pounder who opted to return for his senior season, was the most productive player for a defense that led the conference in scoring (17.2 points per game), total and rushing defense. As Kevin pointed out on Friday when ranking Thomas 17th, every other team in the Pac-12 yielded more than 100 rushing yards per game . Stanford allowed just 97 yards on the ground per game. Utah was the second closest with 128.2.

No. 17: Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford

No. 18: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

No. 19: David Yankey, OL, Stanford

No. 20: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

No. 21: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

No. 22: Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford

No. 23: Michael Clay, LB, Oregon

No. 24: Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State

No. 25: Reggie Dunn, KR, Utah