The Pac 12 has a lot of talent coming back in 2014 and a l of new talent coming in. It was tough picking only 12 guys for the list.
1. Marcus Mariota- Oregon QB. I am almost tired of talking about the talents of Mariota. He might even surprise us all with stealing the Heisman Trophy this season if Jameis Winston keeps up his theatrics off the field. Johnny Manziel actually had a better season as a sophomore than he did as a freshman, but Winston having a huge year and the media finally found out about the character of Manziel probably costing him a repeat with the Heisman.
Mariota was injured part of last season and should be healthy in 2014 and put up huge numbers. If a comparison must be made, Mariota reminds much of San Francisco 49er QB Colin Kaepernick. Mariota ran a 4.48 40 at one point in his career and can definitely take it all the way if he breaks open. Plus, he does have that arm. Needs to lead his team past Stanford if he has any hope of winning the Pac 12 and winning the elusive Heisman Trophy.
2. Brett Hundley- UCLA QB. Hundley is not only a great player that has put up some nice number in recent seasons. He is a leader and a talented athlete that would definitely be the guy in the Pac 12 in any other season. If you have read my blog at all, you will know that I am a huge fan of the history of college football. Looks like we could be heading for days like the 1967 Game of the Century between USC and UCLA. Hundley and coach Jim Mora are a huge part of the recent improvements at UCLA and USC is also gaining momentum. That could make for another Game of the Century in our futures regarding UCLA and USC. Hundley, like Mariota, can make plays with his feet or his arms and he is equally good with both. Should give UCLA opponents fits this season.
Also like Mariota, expect 2014 to be his last season and for both to be high NFL drafts.
3. Leonard Williams- USC DT. Leonard Williams is one of the top Defensive Tackles in the country, no doubt about it. Williams is 6-5, 290 and from Daytona Beach, Florida. He had a very productive sophomore season with 73 total tackles. He also had 12.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. Williams seemed unblock-able at times also getting quite a few QB hurries and a forced fumble.
Also, a blocked kick to his credit. Leonard Williams is just a big, tall, athletic defensive lineman that is hard for offensive linemen to handle. Look for Williams, like so many others, to declare for the NFL after this season and take his talents to the next level. Expect him to go fairly early in the 2015 NFL draft.
4. Taylor Kelly- Arizona State QB. Jake the Snake Plummer all over again. No, not really, but he is a similar type talent and from the same part of the world in Idaho. Just a natural comparison between the two and both are winners. Kelly is back for his senior season after putting up big numbers in
2013. Kelly threw for 3,635 yards and 28 TDs in 2013 and he ran for 608 yards and 9 TDs. There’s a really good chance that the one time nobody, the pride of Eagle, Idaho, could wind up throwing for 10,000 career yards as a Sun Devil QB. He is somewhat smaller than Mariota and Hundley so he won’t be as popular with NFL scouts, but he can definitely get it done at the college level. Taylor Kelly is definitely a fun player to watch.
5. Myles Jack- UCLA LB/RB Myles Jack was the Pac 12 Freshman of the Year in 2013 on both sides of the ball. A rare talent that excelled at both Running Back and Linebacker. He only had 267 yards but he was the UCLA short yardage back and scored 7 TDs. In spite of being the short yardage specialist he managed to average 7.03 yards per carry which is pretty impressive. At LB, Jack had 76 tackles with 7 of those being for losses. He broke up a very impressive 11 passes, and even
intercepted 2 of them and ran one of those back for a TD.
Myles Jack is a very impressive player and it will be interesting to see where the Bruins play him this season. It’s not likely he will continue as a 2 way player.
6. Ty Montgomery- Stanford WR. A big Wide Receiver with speed, at 6-2, 215. Excellent big play deep threat kind of guy and also a threat to go all the way on any given Kick Off return. Montgomery had 61 catches good for 10 TDs in 2013. He also had 13 rushing attempts for 159 yards and 2 TDs.
Montgomery is not only one of the very best WRs in the entire country, but he’s also one of the top Return men. In 2013 he had 36 returns good for over 30 yards per return and another 2 TDs. When Montgomery was a freshman, he took a pretty good beating but now he is the one inflicting the hurt generally on the DBs. He is a special talent from Dallas, Texas.
7. Andrus Peat- Stanford OT. One of the best Offensive tackles in the nation and Stanford has had one of the top Offensive Lines in the nation for a while. If this list was based on where they would be picked in the next NFL draft, then Peat would have been at the top of this list or near the top. Mariota may go before Peat, but I would guess Peat would be next out of the Pac 12 picked. When asked what tackle was toughest that he went up against last season a Stanford defender headed to the NFL
pointed at his teammate Andrus Peat. A former 5 star recruit out of Chandler, Arizona. 6-7,315 monster and hard to get around at Left Tackle.
Inglewood, California. In 2013 Pullard led the Trojans in tackles with 94. He also had in interception, 5.5 tackles for losses and 6 passes broken up. Hayes Pullard is the leader of a surprisingly good Trojan defense. Although, they may have their work cut out for them with the tough schedule that they have. Pullard should be on some All-American teams at the end of the year and at least all conference.
incredible 1,364 yards and 11 TDs. Hill is a big guy at 6-3, 210 and because of that he is an excellent blocker at WR. He is also really gifted WR with great hands, speed and athletic ability. He can make the catch in a crowd and he can come up with the big play when his team needs it. Potential problem for Hill in 2014 could be the QB situation at Arizona. They have plenty of potential QBs but nobody has stepped forward and taken the job. Also, the loss of one of the nation’s great RBs could hurt their passing game a little as well. Either way, Austin Hill is a big time player and could be ranked much higher.
10. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Oregon CB Excellent Corner for the Ducks, just not so sure how to say his name. He had 84 tackles for the Ducks in 2013 with 5 of those being for losses. He also came up with 3 Interceptions. Probably not a good idea to throw a pass in his direction because then you would
have to say his name. The senior out of Chino Hills, California is not the tallest of Corners in this day when everyone is after a tall Cornerback. But, he is big enough at 5-10, 185.
11. Hau’oli Kikaha- Washington DE. Kikaha is sometimes unblockable. The 6-3, 250 wrecker from Laie, Hawaii totaled 70 tackles in 2013 with 15.5 of those being for losses. Kikaha also had a very impressive 13 sacks and 3 passes broken up plus 3 fumbles broken up. He missed all of 2012 and had had 2 major reconstructive surgeries on his knee. Seems to be completely healed now.
He is relentless in his pursuit of the QB. He is something of a tweener for the next level and may have to play some OLB in the NFL. Hau’oli Kikaha is an excellent student.
12. Sean Mannion- Oregon State QB. The Pac 12 is absolutely loaded at the QB position this season with Mariota, Hundley, Kelly, Mannion and Halliday. Could throw in a few more and this conference will be fun to watch in 2014.
Mannion’s statistics are hard to ignore. He completed an astounding 400 passes for 4,662 yards and 37 TDs. Mannion is 6-5,220 and looks like he could fill out a little bit. He’s not overly athletic, but has the arm that is dangerous. On the negative side, Mannion is losing his top WR. But, he should have plenty of weapons to choose from.