clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 Pac-12 breakout stars: watch for these Pac-12 players to step up next season

New, 1 comment

Some of these players have flashed their abilities, but are destined for bigger things very soon.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Spring football is in full gear and the Pac-12 players up and down the West Coast are taking their first steps towards stepping up their game in 2016.

Watch out for these players to turn into stars next season.

Arizona - Cam Denson Jr. WR - Denson came to Arizona as one of the highest-rated receivers in his class but has spent the last two season as a quality corner for the Wildcats. Denson has officially moved to receiver this spring and with a lot of experience moving on from the 2015 unit, he could step in right away and become a go-to receiver for Anu Solomon.

Arizona State - Evan Goodman Sr. T - Goodman was one of the top offensive line recruits to ever sign with the Sun Devils and I have a feeling he is ready to fully fulfill his potential as a senior. He has great athleticism for his size and we have seen a ton of players in the conference lately put it all together as seniors.

Cal - Carlos Strickland Fr. WR - Strickland was one of the top receivers to sign to a Pac-12 school last year but redshirted in 2015 instead of getting into the mix of a crowded and experienced Bear receiver group. With almost every proven Bear receiver taking off after the 2015 season, the field is wide open for Strickland to emerge as the Bears' best receiver or at least a key member of the receiver group.

Colorado - Derek McCartney So. DE - McCartney had a number of sacks in 2015 and was a part of why the Colorado defense took a step forward in 2015. He could quickly become the best Buffs defensive linemen in quite a while starting in 2016.

Oregon - Taj Griffin So. RB - The speedster ran for more than 500 yards in 2015, but I think he might crack the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore as the side dish to Royce Freeman. He could start becoming Oregon's best home run hitter since LaMichael James in 2016.

Oregon State - Jonathan Willis So. LB - The Beavers were very short on stars in 2015, but they did have some freshmen, like Willis, who made it clear they are going to help the program turn around soon. Willis is an athletic linebacker with excellent tackling skills who looks like he could become the leader of the Beaver defense in 2016.

Stanford - Dalton Schultz Jr. TE - The former blue chip recruit looks like the next in line after Fleener, Ertz and Hooper as an elite pass-catching tight end in the Cardinal offense. I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes 2016 as the Pac-12's best tight end.

UCLA - Soso Jamabo So. RB - The massive (6'3 210) Texas blue chipper only scratched the surface of what he can do by running for 400 yards as a freshman. He could be the next great Bruin running back after Johnathan Franklin and Paul Perkins and should see a lot more carries with Perkins off the the NFL.

USC - Rasheem Green So. DT - Green was one of the top players at any position in his class and looked the part in 2015 as a backup along a crowded veteran USC defensive line, playing particularly well against UCLA and in the Pac-12 Championship Game. I expect him to make major strides as a sophomore starter and emerge as one of the conference's best defensive linemen very soon.

Utah - Garrett Bolles Jr. T - The nation's top JC recruit in this class has the potential to step in right away and become an All-Pac-12 player. Watch out for him to step in right away this spring and start from day one in September.

Washington - John Ross Jr. WR - Ross is already known as one of the nation's best kick returners in 2014 before  he missed all of 2015 with an ACL tear, but I think he will take the next step as a receiver/playmaker in 2016 with a more accurate quarterback in Jake Browning getting him the ball. He might be the fastest player in the conference as he ran a 4.2 40 this Spring.

Washington State - Cole Madison Jr. T - Madison has been a stud for the Cougars the past two years and I think he is ready to step in for Joe Dahl and become the Cougars' elite pass blocker and first/second-team All-Pac-12 offensive lineman.