Reviewing the Pac-12 preseason previews

Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict

Every year, the ability for college football fans across the country to endure the summer months is made a little easier thanks to multiple preseason preview magazines. In this feature, Devils Digest analyzes the major publications to compare and contrast how the Pac-12 Conference's teams and players stack up according to the experts.

The publications analyzed in this article are: Athlon Sports College Football 2011 National Edition, Lindy's Sports College Football 2011 Preview, Phil Steele's 2011 College Football Preview and Sporting News College Football 2011.

All-Americans

Arizona State

LB Vontaze Burfict (Lindy's First-Team; Phil Steele Second-Team; Sporting News First Team; Athlon Second-Team)

Arizona

WR Juron Criner (Phil Steele Second-Team; Sporting News Second-Team; Athlon Third-Team)

California

P Bryan Anger (Phil Steele Third-Team), S Sean Cattouse (Sporting News Third-Team)

Colorado

OL Ryan Miller (Phil Steele First-Team; Athlon Third-Team; Sporting News Third-Team)

Oregon

S John Boyett (Athlon Second-Team)

CB/PR Cliff Harris (Athlon First-Team cornerback, Athlon First-Team punt returner; Lindy's First-Team cornerback; Phil Steele First-Team cornerback, Phil Steele First-Team punt returner; Sporting News First-Team cornerback)

RB LaMichael James (Athlon First-Team; Lindy's First-Team, Phil Steele First-Team; Sporting News First-Team)

Oregon State

S Lance Mitchell (Sporting News Second-Team)

Stanford

OL David DeCastro (Lindy's Second-Team; Phil Steele Second-Team)

S Delano Howell (Phil Steele Second-Team; Sporting News Second-Team)

QB Andrew Luck (Athlon First-Team; Lindy's First-Team; Sporting News First-Team; Phil Steele Second-Team)

OL Jonathan Martin (Athlon Second-Team; Lindy's Second-Team)

LB Shayne Skov (Athlon Third-Team; Phil Steele Fourth-Team)

UCLA

P Jeff Locke (Phil Steele Fourth-Team)

USC

S T.J. McDonald (Athlon Second-Team; Phil Steele Third-Team)

WR/KR Robert Woods (Athlon Second-Team all-purpose; Phil Steele Third-Team wide receiver)

Washington

WR Jermaine Kearse (Sporting News Third-Team; Phil Steele Fourth-Team)

RB Chris Polk (Athlon Third-Team; Phil Steele Fourth-Team)

Recap

To no surprise, Stanford and Oregon posted the most All-Americans with the Cardinal claiming five and the Ducks registering three. In total, 10 of 12 conference teams were represented in the four magazines' All-America teams, with only Utah and Washington State not included.

Oregon's Cliff Harris and LaMichael James are the only players included in every first-team, while ASU's Vontaze Burfict and Stanford's Andrew Luck earned first-team recognition in three of the four publications.

Oddly, USC offensive lineman Matt Kalil was not included in any of the four All-America teams despite earning Playboy All-America honors.

Oregon State's James Rodgers also earned Playboy All-America recognition, but his physical uncertainty for 2011 likely left him off the magazines' All-America lists.

Pac-12 All-Conference Teams

All-Pac-12 First-Teams

All-Pac-12 Second-Teams

Phil Steele's All-Pac-12 Third and Fourth-Teams

Recap

A total of 12 players are "unanimous" First-Team All-Pac-12 members, including QB Andrew Luck, RB LaMichael James, RB Chris Polk, WR Juron Criner, OL David DeCastro, OL Jonathan Martin, DL Junior Onyeali, LB Vontaze Burfict, LB Shayne Skov, DB Cliff Harris and P Bryan Anger. Harris also earned First-Team recognition by the two publications that listed return men on their all-conference lists.

Among the four magazines, Washington State is the only school to not have a First-Team All-Pac-12 member. Utah has only one selection (LB Chaz Walker by Sporting News) and Oregon State has two (OL Michael Philipp by Lindy's and S Lance Mitchell by Sporting News).

Team Rankings

Recap

Two publications provided a Pac-12 Championship game prediction, both with Oregon prevailing over a South Division foe. Phil Steele expects the Ducks to defeat Arizona State, while Lindy's surprising didn't have the foresight to expect USC's postseason ban to be upheld, as the magazine placed the Trojans in the championship game versus Oregon.

As far as divisional expectations, Phil Steele predicts the North to finish with Oregon as the champion, followed by Stanford, Oregon State, Washington, California and Washington State. Steele has the South wrapping up with USC as the division winner (but unable to advance to the postseason), followed by ASU, UCLA, Utah, Arizona and Colorado.

Sporting News' division rankings are listed as Stanford atop the North, with Oregon second and Oregon State, Washington, California and Washington state rounding out the division. Utah is selected to lead the South, with ASU behind them and USC, Arizona, Colorado and UCLA completing the group.

Phil Steele's bowl game projections include: Oregon vs. Nebraska (Rose Bowl), Stanford vs. Oklahoma State (Alamo Bowl), ASU vs. Texas Tech (Holiday Bowl), Miami (Fla.) vs. UCLA (Sun Bowl), California vs. Northwestern (Fight Hunger Bowl), Oregon State vs. TCU (Las Vegas Bowl) and Washington vs. Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl).

Sporting News also listed bowl game expectations with five Pac-12 candidates: Stanford vs. Ohio State (Rose Bowl), Oregon vs. Notre Dame (Fiesta Bowl), Utah vs. Missouri (Holiday Bowl), ASU vs. Texas A&M (Alamo Bowl) and Oregon State vs. Clemson (Sun Bowl).

In terms of individual matchups, Oregon's season-opening meeting with LSU at the Cowboys Stadium is regarded as nation's top game between non-conference teams, while ASU's second-week clash with Missouri is rated 12th on that list. Oregon's road matchup at Stanford is regarded as the third-best game in the nation among conference meetings.

Team Position Unit Rankings

Arizona State

#5 LB Unit (Athlon); #5 Linebackers (Lindy's); #7 LB Unit (Phil Steele); #23 DL Unit (Phil Steele); #31 OL Unit (Phil Steele)

Arizona

#5 Wide Receivers (Lindy's); #5 WR Unit (Phil Steele); #6 WR/TE Unit (Athlon); #9 QB Unit (Athlon); #15 QB Unit (Phil Steele); #20 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #38 LB Unit (Phil Steele)

California

#20 LB Unit (Phil Steele); #28 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #29 DL Unit (Phil Steele); #33 Special Teams Unit (Phil Steele)

Colorado

#36 OL Unit (Phil Steele)

Oregon

#1 RB Unit (Athlon); #1 RB Unit (Phil Steele); #2 Backfield (Lindy's); #2 Defensive Backs (Lindy's); #3 Special Teams Unit (Phil Steele); #6 DB Unit (Athlon); #7 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #13 OL Unit (Phil Steele)

Oregon State

#15 Special Teams Unit (Phil Steele); #37 LB Unit (Phil Steele)

Stanford

#1 Backfield (Lindy's); #1 QB Unit (Athlon); #1 QB Unit (Phil Steele); #6 Offensive Line (Lindy's); #17 LB Unit (Phil Steele); #35 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #38 OL Unit (Phil Steele)

UCLA

#10 Special Teams Unit (Phil Steele); #17 RB Unit (Phil Steele); #18 WR Unit (Phil Steele); #24 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #27 LB Unit (Phil Steele); #28 DL Unit (Phil Steele)

USC

#5 QB Unit (Phil Steele); #7 Defensive Line (Lindy's); #9 WR Unit (Phil Steele); #10 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #11 RB Unit (Phil Steele); #13 DL Unit (Phil Steele); #15 OL Unit (Phil Steele); #16 LB Unit (Phil Steele)

Utah

#25 LB Unit (Phil Steele)

Washington

#13 RB Unit (Phil Steele); #13 WR Unit (Phil Steele); #21 DB Unit (Phil Steele); #35 DL Unit (Phil Steele)

Washington State

#36 WR Unit (Phil Steele)

Recap

Whether because of a consistent oversight or a lack of confidence in new starting quarterback Brock Osweiler, ASU's wide receivers got very little love from magazine contributors and editors. Despite the Sun Devils ranking 15th in the nation in passing last season, ASU's wide receivers unit was nowhere to be seen among those earning preseason recognition, made even more mind-boggling by UCLA's wide receivers being rated 18th in the country despite the Bruins finishing dead last in the Pac-10 and 116th of 120 teams nationally in passing in 2010.

ASU returns five players at the wide receiver position to this year's roster that caught at least 25 passes in 2010, a feat that no other Pac-12 team can claim. Even though senior T.J. Simpson may be unavailable in 2011, Mike Willie, Gerell Robinson and company certainly deserves recognition.

It is surprising that Arizona's linebackers earned notoriety by Phil Steele, considering the publication recognizes would-be starter Jake Fischer's season-compromising ACL injury and the Wildcats bring only two healthy returning scholarship 'backers into fall camp.

Though Colorado has little proven depth at running back, one would have thought the Buffaloes would have gotten more publicity for the efforts of Rodney Stewart, whose 1,318 rushing yards make him the third-leading returning rusher in the Pac-12 behind national leader LaMichael James and preseason All-American Chris Polk.

Clearly, the magazines place tremendous stock in USC's use of newcomers, especially at wide receiver and on the offensive line. Behind returning star receiver Robert Woods, only tight end Rhett Ellison (21 receptions, 239 yards) and wide receiver Brandon Carswell (16 receptions, 205 yards) caught 10 or more passes on the year in 2010, though the Trojans' unit is rated ninth by Phil Steele.

USC will feature many highly-touted youngsters such as Markeith Ambles, Victor Blackwell, George Farmer, Marqise Lee and Kyle Prater at wide receiver and Xavier Grimble, Junior Pomee and Randall Telfer at tight end, but a top-10 national position group rating seems fairly presumptuous at this point.

Up front, USC has to replace three offensive line starters –with as many as two spots that will possibly be assumed by true freshmen—and has no experienced depth, yet Steele rated the group 15th in the country.

Other Individual Accolades

Arizona State CB Omar Bolden: #28 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele); #42 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

LB Vontaze Burfict: Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year (Lindy's); #1 Inside Linebacker (Lindy's); #1 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele); Preseason Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year (Lindy's); #8 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

OL Garth Gerhart: #10 Draft Eligible C (Phil Steele)

DE Jamaar Jarrett: #53 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

LB Brandon Magee #55 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

RB Cameron Marshall: #58 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele)

OL Brice Schwab: #49 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele)

Arizona

WR Juron Criner: #5 Wide Receiver (Lindy's); #7 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

LB Derek Earls: #48 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

QB Nick Foles: #4 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele); #12 Quarterback (Lindy's); #41 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

DB Robert Golden: #45 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

QB Matt Scott: #44 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele)

FB Taimi Tutogi: #18 Draft Eligible FB (Phil Steele)

LB Paul Vassallo: #48 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

CB Trevin Wade: #27 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

DT Justin Washington: #41 Draft Eligible DT (Phil Steele)

California

P Bryan Anger: #3 Punter (Lindy's); #3 Draft Eligible P (Phil Steele)

CB Marc Anthony: #34 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

S Sean Cattouse: #5 Draft Eligible SS (Phil Steele)

LB D.J. Holt: #15 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

WR Marvin Jones: #39 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

LB Mychal Kendricks: #9 Outside Linebacker (Lindy's); #30 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

TE Anthony Miller: #20 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

OL Mitchell Schwartz: #24 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele)

Colorado

OL Ethan Adkins: #59 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

LB Jon Major: #56 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

DL Will Pericak: #37 Draft Eligible DT (Phil Steele)

RB Rodney Stewart: #19 Running Back (Lindy's); #35 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele)

Oregon

OL Mark Asper: #27 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele)

S John Boyett: #12 Draft Eligible FS (Phil Steele)

CB/PR Cliff Harris: #1 Cornerback (Lindy's); #1 Draft Eligible PR (Phil Steele); #2 All-Purpose Player (Lindy's); #4 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele); #23 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

RB LaMichael James: #1 Running Back (Lindy's); #1 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele); #2 Heisman Watch (Athlon); #4 Heisman Watch (Lindy's); Preseason Pac-12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year (Lindy's); #38 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

LB Josh Kaddu: #71 Draft Eligible OLB

TE David Paulson: #4 Tight End (Lindy's); #4 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

S Eddie Pleasant: #28 Draft Eligible SS (Phil Steele)

QB Darron Thomas: #8 Quarterback; #13 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele)

OL Carson York: #39 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

Oregon State

TE Joe Halahuni: #7 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

CB Brandon Hardin: #40 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

QB Ryan Katz: #34 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele)

S Lance Mitchell: #7 Draft Eligible FS (Phil Steele)

OL Michael Philipp: #14 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

CB/KR Jordan Poyer: #18 Draft Eligible KR (Phil Steele); #68 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

OL Mike Remmers: #25 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele)

WR James Rodgers: #44 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

Stanford

OL David DeCastro: #2 Offensive Guard (Lindy's); #3 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

TE Coby Fleener: #8 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

S Delano Howell: #2 Draft Eligible SS (Phil Steele)

QB Andrew Luck: #1 Heisman Watch (Athlon); #1 Heisman Watch (Lindy's); #1 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's); Preseason National Offensive Player of the Year (Lindy's); #1 Quarterback (Lindy's); #1 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele); Preseason Pac-12 Conference Most Valuable Player (Lindy's)

OL Jonathan Martin: #3 Draft Eligible Player; #3 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele); #4 Offensive Tackle (Lindy's)

WR/KR Chris Owusu: #7 Draft Eligible KR (Phil Steele); #8 All-Purpose Player (Lindy's); #18 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

LB Shayne Skov: #7 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele); #12 Inside Linebacker (Lindy's)

RB Stepfan Taylor: #17 Running Back (Lindy's); #27 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele)

WR/PR Drew Terrell: #12 Draft Eligible PR (Phil Steele)

LB Chase Thomas: #10 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

UCLA

RB Derrick Coleman: #9 Draft Eligible FB (Phil Steele)

S Tony Dye: #4 Draft Eligible SS (Phil Steele)

CB Aaron Hester: #38 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

DE Datone Jones: #46 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

P Jeff Locke: #1 Draft Eligible P (Phil Steele); #4 Punter (Lindy's)

RB Johnathan Franklin: #26 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele)

TE Cory Harkey: #36 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

LB Patrick Larimore: #28 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

CB Sheldon Price: #41 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

LB Sean Westgate: #46 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

USC

DL Armond Armstead: #27 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

QB Matt Barkley: #3 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele); #7 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's); #11 Quarterback (Lindy's)

TE Rhett Ellison: #11 Draft Eligible TE (Phil Steele)

LB Chris Galippo: #9 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

DT DaJohn Harris: #45 Draft Eligible DT (Phil Steele)

OL Khaled Holmes: #10 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

DE Wes Horton: #20 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

OL Matt Kalil: #1 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele); #5 Draft Eligible Player (Lindy's)

DE/LB Devon Kennard: #14 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

S T.J. McDonald: #3 Draft Eligible FS (Phil Steele); #5 Safety (Lindy's)

DE Nick Perry: #11 Defensive End (Lindy's); #19 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

RB Marc Tyler: #18 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele)

WR/KR Robert Woods: #3 Draft Eligible KR (Phil Steele); #7 All-Purpose Player (Lindy's)

Utah

QB Jordan Wynn: #44 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele)

WR DeVante Christopher: #53 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

LB Chaz Walker: #49 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

Washington

LB Cort Dennison: #26 Draft Eligible ILB (Phil Steele)

S Nate Fellner: #35 Draft Eligible FS (Phil Steele)

WR Jermaine Kearse: #8 Wide Receiver (Lindy's); #13 Draft Eligible WR (Phil Steele)

OL Senio Kelemete: #56 Draft Eligible OT (Phil Steele)

RB Chris Polk: #4 Draft Eligible RB (Phil Steele); #9 Running Back (Lindy's)

OL Drew Schaefer: #30 Draft Eligible C (Phil Steele)

DT Alameda Ta'amu: #11 Draft Eligible DT (Phil Steele)

CB Desmond Trufant: #19 Draft Eligible CB (Phil Steele)

WR Kasen Williams: Preseason Pac-12 Conference Newcomer of the Year (Lindy's)

Washington State

OL B.J. Guerra: #33 Draft Eligible OG (Phil Steele)

LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis: #63 Draft Eligible OLB (Phil Steele)

DE Travis Long: #29 Draft Eligible DE (Phil Steele)

WR Marquess Wilson #13 Wide Receiver (Lindy's)

QB Jeff Tuel: #38 Draft Eligible QB (Phil Steele)

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