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Pac-12 redshirt freshmen to watch in 2017: Byron Murphy and Tyler Vaughns set for big seasons

Watch out for these redshirt freshmen in 2017.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Redshirting hasn’t yet become a rarity in college football, but players with major expectations redshirting in college football is pretty much a rarity at this point. However, there are still plenty of players around the Pac-12 who redshirted last year who are poised for big seasons in 2017.

Here is one for each team:

Arizona - J.J. Taylor RB - I’ve already talked about Taylor as a general breakout star in 2017 in other articles and am excited to see what the very small speed back can do in the freshman year he got back after getting injured very early in 2016.

Arizona State - Chase Lucas CB - The Sun Devils had issues in their secondary last year, but will get some help from the rangy and athletic Lucas after a redshirt year. He was one of their best recruits from the Class of 2016 and should make an impact in 2017.

Cal - Max Gilliam QB - The Bears have started a wide open quarterback competition and Gilliam is right in the thick of it. Some thought he might have been the starter, or at least played, last year had Davis Webb not transferred to Berkeley, so he has a great chance to play in 2017.

Colorado - Ronnie Blackmon CB - The Buffs just lost three seniors in their secondary who are about to be nice draft picks for the NFL so they are going to need to reload at defensive back. The ultra-talented Blackmon, who was one of their best recruits in the Class of 2016 is ready to step up after redshirting a year.

Oregon - Cam McCormick TE - The Ducks have to replace three senior tight ends, including All-Pac-12er Pharoah Brown so a nice recruit who redshirted in McCormick has a great chance to see a lot of action in 2017. He could be a favorite of target of Justin Herbert since they are in the same class.

Oregon State - Christian Wallace CB - The Beavers have major skills coming back at cornerback in Xavier Crawford, but they still need help after losing Treston DeCoud. Blue chip recruit Wallace, who redshirted last year, has a great chance to help fill that void.

Stanford - K.J. Costello QB - Costello has a great chance to take the lead in the quarterback race in Palo Alto this spring with Keller Chryst out. He is a former blue chip recruit with just as much potential as any quarterback on the Stanford roster.

UCLA - Mique Juarez LB - Five-star recruit Juarez was supposed to be last year’s impact freshman for the Bruins, but a cluster of issues resulted in him redshirting. It sounds like Juarez is ready to contribute this year though and could quickly turn into an All-Pac-12 player.

USC - Tyler Vaughns WR - Vaughns was a rare five-star recruit who redshirted, but that’s USC I guess. He has the tool set to quickly help the Trojans fill the void left by JuJu Smith-Schuster as a receiver who combines great size with great athleticism.

Utah - Maxs Tupai DE - Talented defensive linemen seem to grow on trees in Salt Lake City and Tupai could be the next to jump in the fray for the Utes. He is a shorter edge player who can get after the quarterback who could be their next Pita Taumoepenu.

Washington - Byron Murphy CB - The Huskies were so loaded with three potential first round picks in their secondary last year, that they were able to redshirt a blue chip recruit like Murphy last year.

Washington State - Grant Porter S - The Cougars will be looking for more playmakers at safety with Shalom Luani graduated. Porter was one of their top recruits from 2016 and should be ready to get into the action after a redshirt season.