Pac-12 Football

Pac-12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players of 2013

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 14, 2014

Pac-12 Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players of 2013

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    The Pac-12 took a step up toward challenging the SEC as college football's best conference in 2013—and much of that was thanks to the star power of the league.

    The conference boasted several consensus All-Americans, major award finalists and winners, including two of the nation's top running backs: Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Washington's Bishop Sankey.

    The league was stacked with talented players on both sides of the ball and at all positions, including star defenders Trent Murphy from Stanford and UCLA's Anthony Barr and Myles Jack.

    Here is a look at the 10 players who had the best 2013 seasons on the West Coast.

     

    Note: All-Pac-12 teams and year-end awards via Pac-12.com release. Stats via CFBStats.com and various official team websites.

10. LB/RB Myles Jack, UCLA

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    To start the season, true freshman linebacker Myles Jack was just a linebacker.

    He was having an excellent first year on the UCLA defense, but didn't truly burst onto the scene until the Bruins tried him out at running back.

    Simply out of necessity, UCLA tried Jack out in its banged up backfield in a close game on the road against Arizona. Jack, who played running back in high school, exploded for 120 yards and a touchdown on just six carries.

    He finished the year with 267 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, second only to quarterback Brett Hundley's 11 scores.

    He also tallied 75 tackles, including seven for a loss and a sack. To that he added two interceptions, 11 pass breakups, a hurry, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick.

    The Bellevue, Wash., native was named the Pac-12 offensive and defensive freshman of the year. He was also named second-team All-Pac-12 at linebacker.

9. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    It was a bit of a surprise when Will Sutton was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, even despite seeing a decline in production from his DPOY season a year ago.

    In 2012, Sutton tallied an incredible 23.5 tackles for a loss but finished with 13.5 in 2013. And after notching 12 sacks last year, he managed just four this season.

    He also added an interception and three pass breakups.

    While it was another great season for the 6'1", 308-pound defender, several other Pac-12 defenders were more productive. 

8. RB Marion Grice, Arizona State

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    Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

    Marion Grice didn't even make the All-Pac-12 first team, but that doesn't detract from his fantastic season.

    The senior led the Pac-12 in all-purpose yardage, averaging 176.5 yards per game.

    His individual season, as well as the Sun Devils' season as a whole, would've been better if he hadn't missed time late in the year with an injury.

    Even though he played just 11 games, he still amassed nearly 1,000 yards rushing, 507 yards on kick returns and just shy of 500 receiving yards. He also led the league, averaging 10.9 points per contest with 20 touchdowns on the year.

    At 6', 207 pounds, Grice will be an intriguing NFL draft prospect with his versatility.

7. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    The Biletnikoff Award winner, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, had an incredible junior season.

    He led the nation with an average of 133.1 receiving yards per game. In 13 games, he totaled 1,730 receiving yards and 128 receptions—both Pac-12 records, per his OSU bio. He took 16 of those catches for touchdowns.

    His season would've been even better if the Beavers offense hadn't faltered late in the year.

    The junior from Stockton, Calif., will now head to the pros after being named first-team All-Pac-12 and a consensus All-American.

6. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    If it wasn't for an MCL injury, Marcus Mariota might have had Oregon playing for a national title—and he might have been the Heisman Trophy winner.

    He was running away with the award early in the season, making opposing defenses look like fools with his lethal blend of running and throwing ability.

    However, the redshirt sophomore suffered an MCL sprain right in the thick of Oregon's schedule in a win over UCLA. As a result, he wasn't the same for the remainder of the season as the Ducks fell to Stanford and Arizona down the stretch.

    Still, Mariota finished third in the Pac-12 in total offense, accounting for 336.9 yards per game, enough to earn him first-team All-Pac-12 honors.

    He'll be back next season with those Heisman and national title hopes back on the table.

5. S Deone Bucannon, Washington State

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The Pac-12 defensive player of the year race was an interesting one.

    While Arizona State's Will Sutton won the award, there were probably three more deserving players: UCLA's Anthony Barr, Stanford's Trent Murphy and Washington State's Deone Bucannon.

    Barr and Murphy received the most accolades, but there might not have been a single defensive player who meant more to his team than Bucannon.

    He led all Pac-12 defenders with 114 total tackles and tied for the conference lead with six interceptions. The senior also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

    As a result, he was named first-team All-Pac-12 and was an AP first-team All-American.

4. LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    One of the best linebackers in college football, Anthony Barr will ride an outstanding senior season to a likely top 10, and perhaps even top five, pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

    Just in his second year at linebacker after moving from a hybrid tight end/fullback role, Barr tallied 65 tackles, including 20 for a loss (second in the league) and 10 sacks (third in the league).

    He led the conference with six forced fumbles and recovered four on the season.

    Not surprisingly, he was named first-team All-Pac-12, but that was just the start of a ridiculous list of accolades for the San Pedro, Calif., native.

    Barr won the Lott Impact Award and was a finalist for three other major honors: the Bednarik, Butkus and Lombardi awards. With that, Barr was a consensus All-American, named to nine All-American first teams.

3. OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

    Playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker role on the vaunted Stanford defense, Trent Murphy made his home in the opposition's backfield in 2013.

    He led the league with 23.5 tackles for a loss and led the nation with 15 sacks. He also pulled down one interception and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown against Washington State.

    The Mesa, Ariz., native added two forced fumbles, seven hurries, six pass breakups and even blocked a kick.

    He was a consensus All-American, a two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the week and probably should've been Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

2. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Bishop Sankey entered 2013 with high expectations after nearly hitting 1,500 yards on the ground with 16 touchdowns in 2012.

    He knocked those expectations out of the park, jaunting for 1,870 yards (No. 4 in the nation) and 10 touchdowns (No. 6 in the nation) off 327 carries (No. 4 in the nation).

    Teaming up with quarterback Keith Price, he made one of the most lethal backfield duos in college football.

    He was an easy choice for the All-Pac-12 first team, even though the league was stacked with prolific runners. He also made numerous All-American teams and broke several school records.

    After a remarkable junior season, he'll be a coveted prospect in the NFL draft.

1. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Ka'Deem Carey led the nation in rushing last year, finishing just shy of 2,000 yards with 1,929 and 23 touchdowns.

    He didn't reach that total this time around, but his rushing average actually went up from 148.4 to 157.1 yards per game in 2013, since he sat out the season opener.

    The junior ran for more than 100 yards in all 12 games, eclipsing 150 yards six times, while notching five multi-touchdown games.

    He was beaten out by Boston College's Andre Williams (2,177 yards, 18 TD) for the Doak Walker award, but exacted revenge by leading Arizona to a bowl win over the Eagles to close the season.

    Arizona released a "fact sheet" for the two-time consensus All-American which has to be seen to be believed.

    After declaring for the NFL draft, Carey could be off the board in the first round of the upcoming draft.

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