We kicked off our PAC 12 football Q & A sessions yesterday by talking about the teams that could contend with preseason favorites USC in the South Division and Oregon in the North Division. Today we will take a look at some of the unknown players in the league who could become stars this season.
Joining us once again to discuss PAC 12 football will be Jack Follman of Pacific Takes. Kyle Kensing from Saturday Blitz & Arizona Desert Swarm. Mark Sandritter of the WAZZU blog Coug Center will also join us, as does Stuart Whitehair of the Colorado blog CU At The Game.
Question # 2: PAC 12 Football: Name me a few unknown players that could become stars this season.
Jack Follman – Pacific Takes: Tough question because I think I really only follow a few teams enough to know much about their truly unknown players but there are a few guys I could see having breakout seasons.
Kasen Williams – Not a completely unknown player, but I think he will blow up now being Keith Price’s #1 target in the Huskies offense.
Marcus Mariota – The Ducks offense never seems to skip a beat no matter who they lose and plug in and it looked like Mariota was their next QB after Spring.
Kadeem Carey – There are a ton of great RB’s in the conference this year and Arizona will actually have a good offensive line and Carey started to come on towards the end of last year.
Kyle Kensing – Saturday Blitz & Arizona Desert Swarm: John White is known to the Pac-12, but I think lacks national recognition. He’s an outstanding rusher and should emerge on the radar throughout the year.
Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson are an excellent 1-2 punch at Washington State, and in Mike Leach’s offense should really excel.
Arizona State has some questions, but Cameron Marshall is one of the top backs in a really deep group at that position throughout the conference.
Oregon’s defense is going to be impressive this season, and Dion Jordan is the star. Long and fast, great pursuit off the line.
Mark Sandritter – Coug Center: The Pac-12 is loaded with elite wide receivers, but one relatively unknown guy who is in line for a breakout season is Washington State’s Bobby Ratliff. Overshadowed by Marquess Wilson, Ratliff was solid as a redshirt freshman last season. With Mike Leach now in the fold and Ratliff stepping into the No. 2 WR role, he should more than double his 28 catch, 348 yard performance last season.
Like Ratliff, Cal’s Brendan Bigelow will start 2012 behind a more heralded player, but he should burst onto the scene. He only had seven offensive touches as a freshman last season, but he’s extremely talented. He could end up playing a similar role to what De’Anthony Thomas did for Oregon last season.
Everyone knows about all of the players Stanford lost last season. No more Andrew Luck, no more Griff Whalen, Coby Fleener or Chris Owusu. The Cardinal do still have Ty Montgomery and he has a good chance to breakout as a sophomore. Montgomery excelled in a limited role as a freshman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post a 1,000-yard receiving season in 2012.
Stuart Whitehair – CU At The Game: If you are talking Colorado, I would pen the names of running back Tony Jones and linebacker Douglas Rippy. Jones is a sophomore who filled in ably for Rodney Stewart last fall when the Buffs’ leading rusher was injured. With the quarterback situation still unresolved, and star wide receiver Paul Richardson likely out for the season with a knee injury, it will fall upon the Buffs’ decent offensive line to make Jones the focus of the offense.
On defense, Douglas Rippy was leading the team in tackles when he was injured against Washington in game seven. He is back 100%, and will need to be a force for Colorado to be successful.
If you are looking for players outside of Boulder, I would say the tandem of quarterback Jeff Tuel and wide receiver Marques Wilson. Tuel was a decent starter before he was injured, and Wilson would be a legitimate Heisman candidate if played somewhere other than Pullman. WIth the Mad Scientist Mike Leach taking over the offense, the Cougars could be very entertaining, and the Tuel/Wilson duo could put up some impressive numbers.
The Saturday Edge: Washington State’s Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson are definitely on my list of 2012 breakout stars. I expand on Jeff Tuell here.
I also believe that ASU’s Cameron Marshall and Jamal Miles will be good fits for Todd Graham’s version of the spread and go into more detail here.
Who are some unknown PAC 12 football players you believe could have breakout seasons this year? Please tell us in the comments section below. Thanks – Pez.