Pac-12 top 25 for 2011: No. 3

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

You can see the final post-2010 top 25 here. It doesn't, however, include players from Colorado or Utah.

3. Darron Thomas, QB, Oregon

2010 numbers: Thomas completed 61.5 percent of his throws for 2,881 yards with 30 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 486 yards and five scores. He ranked second in the Pac-10 and 17th in the nation in passing efficiency.

2010 ranking: No. 4

Making the case for Thomas: Thomas, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior, wasn't supposed to be Oregon's starter last year, and we're not just talking about incumbent QB Jeremiah Masoli getting suspended and then kicked off the team. He was supposed to get beaten out for the starting job by savvy senior Nate Costa. But Thomas won the job, led the Ducks to an unbeaten regular season and second-consecutive Pac-10 championship and turned in a gutty performance in the national title game, overcoming two early interceptions to pass for 363 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Auburn. But Thomas isn't ranked this high just because his team did well in 2010. No, he earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors -- behind Stanford's Andrew Luck -- because he accounted for 35 total touchdowns last season, while skillfully leading the Ducks spread-option offense. He showed uncanny poise as a sophomore, playing on an increasingly big stage each weekend. And it's notable the offense became more reliant on him as running back LaMichael James showed signs of wear-and-tear. So what's the encore? The Ducks might not run as well as they did in 2010 with a rebuilt offensive line, but there also are questions at receiver. More will fall on Thomas this year. If he comes through and improves on his performance from 2010, however, he could end up an All-American and see a happy ending in the final game of the season.

4. Chris Polk, RB, Washington

5. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC

7. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

8. Juron Criner, WR, Arizona

9. Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon

10. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

11. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

12. T.J. McDonald, S, USC

13. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington

14. Matt Kalil, OT, USC

15. Delano Howell, S, Stanford

16. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California

17. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado

18. Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington

19. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford

20. Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State

21. Robert Woods, WR, USC

22. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

23. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

24. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

25. Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State