Watch for this Pac-12 players to grow from contributors into stars in 2017.
Arizona - J.J. Taylor Fr. RB - Taylor is one of the Pac-12’s best players returning from injury. He barely saw action in 2016, before getting injured, but he made the most of it. The 5’6 170 back is incredibly slippery and he had Washington’s vaunted defense on its heels before he was injured, putting up 97 yards and a touchdown on the Huskies before he went down with a season-ending injury.
Arizona State - N’Keal Harry So. WR - Harry is about to become the Pac-12’s next great big receiver. The 6’4 220 monster has excellent speed, body control and hands for his size and caught fire late in 2016 with two-straight 100-yard plus games against Utah and Washington and 23 catches in his final three games.
Cal - Melquise Stovall So. WR - Sophomore receiver Demetris Robertson is underrated enough to be considered for this honor, but I would argue he is already a borderline star. The next Bear receiver in line ready to take his game to the next level is Stovall, a 5’9 190 speedster who put up nice numbers in 2016 (42 rec. 416 yards and 3 TDs), but should fill up the stat sheet even more with Chad Hansen off the NFL early and the kind of skill set where he can stretch the field and test corners with consistent shorter routes as well.
Colorado - Steven Montez So. QB - Montez was a quiet revalation in 2016 when he stepped in early in his first season of college football for Sefo Liufau when he got injured. He led Colorado to wins over Oregon and Oregon State in his first two starts and played very well in Colorado’s near upset of USC on the road. He should turn into a star as a full-time starter in 2017.
Oregon - Jacob Breeland So. TE - The Ducks churn out productive tight ends and the rangy Breeland looks to be the next as Pharaoh Brown, Johnny Mundt and Evan Baylis all graduate. Breeland only had six catches for 123 yards in 2016, but he should see a lot more targets with the aforementioned trio gone and with the way he finished having his biggest game in The Civil War.
Oregon State - Andrzej Hughes-Murray So. LB - Hughes-Murray is the kind of athletic defensive player the Mike Riley Beaver teams relied on when they were at their best. He’s a big player (6’2 237) who really came on later in the season with 21 tackles in the last three games he played in.
Stanford - Trenton Irwin So. WR - The Cardinal have been in major need of a playmaker at receiver since the Ty Montgomery days. Irwin should start turning into not just a star for the Cardinal, but the perfect receiver for their system, a smooth and polished player who runs great routes and doesn’t drop the ball.
UCLA - Caleb Wilson So. TE - The Bruins have done a great job of developing hybrid receiver/tight end types and Wilson looks to be the next in line with Nate Iese graduated. He should be a great target for a healthy Josh Rosen.
USC - Chuma Edoga Jr. T - Edoga has had some off-the-field troubles, but looks to be sticking it out and should take over one of the spots left by Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner. He has just as much talent (if not more) than Wheeler and Banner and should start fulfilling his potential in 2017.
Utah - Jackson Barton Jr. T - Garett Bolles and Sam Tevi held it down at tackle for the Utes last year, but the time is now for former blue chip recruit Barton to step in. Barton has a skill set like Bolles and could quickly turn into an All-Pac-12 player and draft pick in 2017.
Washington - Jordan Miller Jr. CB - The Huskies just lost two six foot plus, All-American cornerbacks to the NFL, but the 6’1 Miller looks like he could be next one. He is like Sidney Jones as a 6’1 175 pounder with range who also recently tested with a 4.3 40.
Washington State - Isaiah Johnson-Mack So. WR - The Cougars need new receivers to step up with Gabe Marks and River Cracraft graduated and the big and powerful Johnson-Mack has the talent to form a fantastic duo with Tavares Martin Jr. next year.