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Top 12 2016 Pac-12 linebackers: Salamo Fiso and Deon Hollins conference's best

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Ranking the best linebackers in the Pac-12 going into 2016.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

1. Salamo Fiso Sr. Arizona State - A hard hitter who led the conference in tackles for-loss in 2015. No linebacker is better at attacking the line of scrimmage and his ability to make plays in the backfield makes him a rare game changer on defense.

2. Deon Hollins Sr. UCLA - Hollins became UCLA's best linebacker when Myles Jack went down last year. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2015 and one of the best pure tacklers in the conference.

3. Azeem Victor Jr. Washington -Victor might be the nastiest player in the conference and has a reputation for big hits and intimidating opposing offenses. He had almost 100 tackles in 2015 and nearly 10 tackles for-loss while also being a factor in pass defense.

4. Cameron Smith So. USC - Smith blew up as a true freshman and almost won the Utah game himself for the Trojans with three interceptions (one for a touchdown). He had nearly 80 tackles despite missing time late due to injury and at 6'2 245, is one of the biggest linebackers in the conference.

5. Peyton Pelleur Jr. Washington State - An unsung hero in the conference, like most Washington State defensive players. A tackling machine, Pelleur racked up more than 100 tackles and more than 10 tackles for-loss.

6. D.J. Calhoun Jr. Arizona State - Just another attacking Sun Devil linebacker who is great in Todd Graham's system. He is poised for a huge season after flashing star potential as a freshman and sophomore.

7. Keishawn Bierria Jr. Washington - A speedy, smaller linebacker who can make plays in the backfield. Bierria finished 2015 with nearly 80 tackles, 7.5 tackles for-loss and 3.5 sacks.

8. Jayon Brown Sr. UCLA - Led the Bruins in tackles in 2015 and returns as a senior leader on what should be a very good defense. The most steady, consistent presence in the UCLA linebacker group.

9. Kenny Young Jr. UCLA - The biggest of an excellent group of UCLA linebackers who is right there with Hollins and Brown as a reliable tackler and also factor in pass defense. A big hitter who can make plays in the backfield.

10. Peter Kalambayi Sr. Stanford - The last remaining big (6'3 245) monster on the Stanford defense, he is an excellent pass rusher and backfield attacker. He has double-digit tackles for-loss and sacks over the past two seasons.

11. Christian Sam Jr. Arizona State - A 6'1 240 athlete who can play the entire field from side to side and make plays in the backfield. Had more than 50 tackles in 2015, with a good number of them happening behind the line of scrimmage.

12. Jake Matthews Sr. Arizona - Matthews was overshadowed by Scooby Wright, but is an excellent linebacker in his own right. He got taken out late in 2015 due to a lisfranc injury, but he could make the Wildcat defense a lot better if he comes back healthy.