Pac-12 Pre-Season Position Group Rankings: Backfields

Stephen Dunn

Oregon once again has a backfield that is the envy of the rest of the conference.

1. Oregon (QB Marcus Mariota, RB De'Anthony Thomas, RB Byron Marshall, RB Thomas Tyner)

The Ducks have a deadly arsenal that revolves around point man Mariota who might be the most dangerous quarterback in the conference with his blazing speed and accuracy. Thomas is the most dangerous player in the conference period and can do so many things that he is basically like having an All-Pac-12 running back and receiver in the backfield. Marshall only saw limited action in 2012, but was effective and is expected to fill Kenjon Barner's role of running between the tackles and handling the bulk of the carries. Tyner is kind of the cherry on top as he was arguably the top running back coming out of high school in the Class of 2013, has world class track speed and the size to contribute right away.

2. Arizona State (QB Taylor Kelly, RB Marion Grice, RB D.J. Foster, RB Deantre Lewis)

The Sun Devils have a deep and balanced backfield that is led by Kelly who is a quick quarterback who can beat you with both his arms and legs and is probably the best QB in the conference after Mariota and Hundley. Grice and Foster are two of the best receiving backs in the country who can also rack up yards on the ground and Lewis was effective as a freshman and could be serviceable if either get injured.

3. Stanford (QB Kevin Hogan, RB Anthony Wilkerson, RB Tyler Gaffney, RB Kelsey Young, FB Ryan Hewitt)

Hogan is one of the best emerging quarterbacks in the country and has as much potential as any quarterback in the conference. Together, Wilkerson and Gaffney should be able to fill the void left by Stepfan Taylor. Young adds a little bit of a faster option and Hewitt is far and away the best fullback in the conference.

4. Oregon State (QB Sean Mannion, QB Cody Vaz, RB Storm Woods, RB Terron Ward)

The Beavers may have an issue in the fact that they have a quarterback controversy, but the good news for them is that both Mannion and Vaz are proven and effective. Woods is the best running back in the conference after Thomas, Carey and Sankey and Ward is a very strong backup.

5. Washington (QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey, RB Jesse Callier)

Price had a rocky 2012, but is the most experienced quarterback in the conference and has the ability to bounce back. Sankey is one of the best running backs in the country and can carry the bell more than 30 times a game if he needs to. The only question here is depth as there are limited options after Sankey as Callier missed basically all of 2012 with a torn ACL and all other backs are completely unproven.

6. Arizona (QB B.J. Denker, QB Jesse Scroggins, RB Ka'Deem Carey, RB Daniel Jenkins)

Okay, it's very, very thin here other than Carey, but when you have the nation's leading rusher returning it goes a long way. Denker and Scroggins are largely unproven, but both are dual threat guys who could excel in Rich Rodriguez' system. Getting back Daniel Jenkins after it appeared that he was transferring to Washington State is also a major boon for this group.

7. UCLA (QB Brett Hundley, RB Damien Thigpen, RB Jordon James, RB Steven Manfro, RB Malcolm Jones)

Hundley could easily be the most talented player at any position in the conference, and though none is a star and have big shoes to fill, the Bruins have a few backs who had decent production in 2012. Thigpen, James and Manfro could combine to form the deepest overall backfield in the conference.

8. USC (QB Cody Kessler, QB Max Wittek, QB Max Browne, RB Silas Redd, RB Justin Davis, RB Ty Isaacs)

A lot of uncertainty at quarterback here, but either Kessler or Wittek should at least be solid options. Redd is a grinder that can carry a lot of carries when healthy and one of the two heralded freshmen in Davis or Isaacs should be able to spell him and be more explosive.

9. Colorado (QB Connor Wood, QB Shane Dillon, RB Christian Powell, RB Tony Jones)

Wood and Dillon aren't standouts, but Powell and Jones team together to form an underrated and sneakily dynamic duo at running back. Powell can run over guys and get the tough yards at 240 pounds while Jones is more of a shifty guy with speed.

10. Cal (QB Zach Kline, RB Brendan Bigelow, RB Daniel Lasco)

It's not completely over, but it sounds like Kline is the quarterback of the future in Berkeley and that could be good news for the Bears as he was one of the top rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school. Bigelow is the best big play back in the conference, but also the most hard to figure out as he simply hasn't been able to stay on the field due to fumbles and consistency and Lasco is rather unproven, but was solid in spurts in 2012.

11. Utah (QB Travis Wilson, RB Kelvin York, RB Lucky Radley)

Wilson is one of the least dangerous starting quarterbacks in the conference and York is a big back that has potential, but hasn't proven much.

12. Washington State (QB Connor Halliday, RB Teondray Caldwell)

Halliday is erratic, but when he is on he can fill it up and is one of the more prolific quarterbacks in the conference. Losing out on having Jenkins not transfer from Arizona was a huge blow to the Cougars and moves them down even further than they would have been.

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