Biggest Shoes to Fill
Arizona - Paul Magloire Jr. LB
The veteran was one of the bright spots on an Arizona defense that had a rough 2016. He led the team in tackles with 81 and was big in run support and making plays in the backfield with 5.5 tackles for-loss and 2.5 sacks.
Who will replace him? Brandon Rutt Jr. LB - The Wildcats have to completely reload at starting linebacker so a number of players will be replacing Magloire, really, but Rutt might fall into his exact position. He saw substantial action in 2016 and is closer to a traditional linebacker than the LB/S Magloire.
Arizona State - Laiu Moeakiola LB
The Sun Devil defense really struggled in 2016 so losing a veteran linebacker who has been around for a long time like Moeakiola won’t be easy. He had more than 50 tackles and an interception for a touchdown in 2016 and had nearly 200 tackles in his career while serving as a leader in his upper class years.
Who will replace him? Alani Latu Sr. LB - There is still another Latu on the Sun Devils and he is a massive 6’2 255 senior linebacker who could slide next to the incredible senior talents of D.J. Calhoun, Koron Crump and Christian Sam and fill the void left by Moeakiola.
Cal - Davis Webb QB
The Bears patched their Jared Goff-sized hole with a grad transfer from Texas and he did a very good job, but the problem is he is already gone and now Justin Wilcox and company will have to find someone to step in as a fresh starter for the second-straight season.
Who will replace him? Ross Bowers So. QB - Tough call here as one of the reasons the Bears plucked Webb away from Colorado was because they couldn’t find a starter in their group which included Bowers, but Bowers was listed as the back-up, so it seems he will start at the top of the competition this spring.
Colorado - Chidobe Awuzie CB
The Buffs lose more talent and experience than anyone in the conference so there are a lot of options, but their purely “best” player who will be the hardest to fill in for is Awuzie. He shut down one side of the field and was a huge part of why the Buffs improved so much in 2016. His loss is compounded by the Buffs losing their other starting cornerback in Ahkello Witherspoon.
Who will replace him? Isaiah Oliver Jr. CB - The good news is the Buffs have a budding star to replace Awuzie. Oliver saw tons of time in 2016, had 25 tackles and 13 pass break ups with an interception. At 6’1190, he also has the size to fill in for Awuzie and Witherspoon.
Oregon - Pharoah Brown TE
The Ducks got Brown after missing all of 2015 with a horrific leg injury and he went right back to being the best tight end in the conference. He led the conference in receiving by a tight end and, to make replacing him even harder, the Ducks also lose their number two and number three tight ends in Johnny Mundt and Evan Baylis.
Who will replace him? Jacob Breeland So. TE - Breeland is another long, athletic pass catcher for the Ducks who also has the speed to stretch the field. He came on late in the season with three catches in The Civil War.
Oregon State - Sean Harlow T
The Beavers really improved their run game and pass protection in 2016 and a big part of that was because of the improvement of senior tackle Harlow, who ended up being an all-conference selection.
Who will replace him? Blake Brandel So. T - The 6’7 295 Brandel has the size of a franchise left tackle and I think is ready to slide over from right tackle and maybe even become a better player than Harlow was because of his physical tools.
Stanford - Christian McCaffrey RB
McCaffrey will be one of the hardest players to replace in recent Pac-12 history because of how great he was and his versatility as a player who could be an elite running back, receiver and returner. He simply might be impossible to truly replace.
Who will replace him? Bryce Love Jr. RB - Love isn’t quite as electric as McCaffrey (but who is?), but filled in for him very nicely in the Sun Bowl with 115 yards rushing and a 49-yard touchdown catch. He also made the most of his carries throughout the season as he averaged seven yards per-carry on the year.
UCLA - Jayon Brown LB
Led the Pac-12 in 2016 with a whopping 125 tackles. His consistency and tackling ability will be incredibly hard to replace.
Who will replace him? Mique Juarez Fr. LB - The former five-star recruit already looks like an NFL linebacker at 6’2 250, but he missed all of 2016 due to personal reasons. It sounds like he plans to rejoin the team in 2017 though and, if he does, he could actually soon be a physical upgrade at the position.
USC - Chad Wheeler T
Tough call between senior tackles here as right tackle Zach Banner will be sorely missed, but Wheeler is harder to replace as I think he was a slightly better player and plays left tackle.
Who will replace him? Chuma Edoga Jr. T - Edoga has all of the talent in the world, but had a difficult 2016 as he had some personal fouls, appeared to be disciplined internally a couple of times and was rumored to be transferring. It sounds like he could be sticking around in 2017 though, and he could be their next talented left tackle if he does.
Utah - Joe Williams RB
Williams came back to the Utes after a brief in-season hiatus and punished Pac-12 defenses for an incredible 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns in just six conference games. He had a rare combination of size and speed that simply will be very hard to replicated.
Who will replace him? Armand Shyne Jr. RB - Shyne looked like Joe William as a 215-pound back with speed who was tearing up the Pac-12 before he went down with a leg injury. If he can come back healthy, he could be Utah’s next punishing running back with big play potential.
Washington - Sidney Jones CB
The Huskies lose a lot of stars and I think receiver John Ross might be the hardest to replace, but I will go with Jones instead, because the Huskies have another star receiver to fill the void left by Ross in Dante Pettis coming back, but lose their other starting cornerback in Kevin King.
Who will replace him? Jordan Miller Jr. CB - Lanky cornerbacks seem to grow on trees at Washington now as the 6’1 175 Miller looks to be the next top corner for the Huskies. He played extensively in 2016 and has the range and length to be a great cover corner.
Washington State - Gabe Marks WR
Marks has been Luke Falk’s rock for the past two years and the Cougars are really going to miss his reliability, consistency and experience in their system. He is the kind of veteran star who you just don’t see that often in college football these days.
Who will replace him? Tavares Martin Jr. Jr. WR - Martin broke out as an excellent number two receiver for the Cougars in 2016 as he put up huge numbers. He’s a rangy player who is good in the red zone who should slide into Marks’ role as the top receiver in Pullman