It seems a growing trend in the Pac-12 is players who were having just steady careers in the first few years of their career, blowing up as seniors. Here are some players I think could have breakout years in their last season of college football.
Arizona - Cam Denson WR
It seemed like yesterday the Tucson local signed as one of the biggest recruits of the RichRod era. He has bounced between corner and receiver and could use his major talent to break out this season for the Wildcats, who are in dire need of a big play receiver.
Arizona State - A.J. McCollum C
The Sun Devils haven’t seemed to produce many star offensive linemen in recent years so they are due for a player like McCollum who has skills and experience to breakout as the anchor of their offensive which will block for two really good running backs in Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage.
Cal - James Looney DT
The former Wake Forest transfer started to come on as a junior, but should really turn things up as a senior under a defense-focused new head coach. He has major NFL potential and could turn into a legit first-team All-Pac-12 player in 2017.
Colorado - Afolabi Laguda S
Colorado fans know all about Laguda, but he was overshadowed by his upperclassmen secondary mates in 2016 outside of Boulder. That won’t be the case in 2017 as he takes center stage and makes a run at first-team All-Pac-12.
Oregon - Henry Mondeaux DE
Oregon’s entire defense was asleep in 2016, but Mondeaux seems like the kind of player who could break back out with a new coaching staff coming aboard. He has 10.5 tackles for-loss and five sacks the past two seasons and could easily produce those numbers in one season in 2017.
Oregon State - Brandon Arnold S
Arnold is one of the highest-rated recruits signed by Oregon State in recent seasons, but he has been overshadowed by other veteran standouts the past couple of years. I think he emerges as the leader and possibly best player in the Beaver secondary as a senior.
Stanford - Casey Tucker T
Tucker was one of the highest-rated offensive line prospects ever signed by Stanford and he has been a nice starter for them, but hasn’t turned into the All-American stud they are used to having at tackle in Palo Alto. I think Tucker could have a Josh Garnett-type senior turnaround and turn into an all-conference player.
UCLA - Jacob Tuioti-Mariner DE
The Bruins have a mass exodus of experienced talent on the defensive line with Takkarist McKinley, Eli Ankou and Eddie Vanderdoes leaving Westwood. Tuioti-Mariner is the next in line to be Jim Mora’s terror off the edge.
USC - Kenny Bigelow DT
Bigelow came into USC expected to be their next great defensive tackle, but he has barely seen the field due to consistent injuries. I think he could have a breakout season if he can finally get healthy.
Utah - Sunia Tauteoli LB
The Utes are still stacked in their front four, but their back seven lacks returning stars in 2017. Tauteoli emerged in 2016 as a good starting linebacker, but he has all the tools the Utes need for him to turn into a major difference maker at inside linebacker in 2017.
Washington Ezekiel Turner SThe Huskies don’t have very many players coming into 2017 as seniors who haven’t broken out already, but Turner does fall into that category. He played behind Budda Baker and freshman sensation Taylor Rapp last year, but should see a lot more time with Baker off to the NFL and could become a highlight reel player as the Huskies biggest hitter.
Washington State - Robert Lewis WR
The Cougars lose a ton of yardage and receptions with Gabe Marks and River Cracraft graduated and the small, but quick Lewis should step up and fill some of the production gaps left by Marks and Cracraft. He should be a nice complicated to the longer Tavares Martin Jr. and could become Luke Falk’s number two target.