Arizona - Shawn Poindexter WR - The Wildcats are lucky enough to not lose much talent or experience from 2018, but they will be without the services of their best receiver in Poindexter. The big receiver quietly had more than 750 yards receiving and 11 TDs in 2018 and was deadly down the stretch.
Poindexter is especially hard to replace because the Wildcats also lose their second and third-most productive receivers from last season. The Wildcats will likely look for more production out of senior receiver Cedric Peterson, who caught four TDs in 2018.
Arizona State - N’Keal Harry WR - Only programs like Alabama and Clemson can replace a guy like Harry on the fly right now. He was such a star for them that he was a receiver that was more valuable than a quarterback or running back and the Sun Devils might never have another receiver with his talent level.
The Sun Devils will lean heavy on three returning standouts in Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Williams and Frank Darby to try and fill Harry’s massive void as a group.
Cal - Patrick Laird RB - The Bears lose a better player on defense in Jordan Kunaczyk, but Laird will be harder to replace as he was such a big part of an offense that could barely do anything in 2018. The hardest part is that Laird was an asset in both the run game and the pass game as a receiver.
6’1 220-pound sophomore Christopher Brown Jr. will be turned to for a lot more carries in 2019. 2019 backups Marcel Dancy and Biaggio Ali-Walsh will also look to replace Laird by committee.
Colorado - Rick Gamboa LB - The senior standout wrapped up a great career in Boulder in 2018 and leaves a hole in his place compounded by also losing senior standout Drew Lewis.
The Buffs still have junior star in the making Nate Landman at linebacker, but will need new playmakers to emerge to step in for Gamboa, and Lewis. Senior Davion Taylor quietly emerged as a very good linebacker in his first season at Boulder and should step into a leadership role in 2019.
Oregon - Dillon Mitchell WR - Mitchell might actually be the hardest player to replace in the conference this year given how important he was to Oregon, who is a preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 in 2019, last year. A massive chunk of Justin Herbert’s production came on jump ball and one-on-one plays made by Mitchell where the receiver did the heavy lifting in the play. He also made a lot of Oregon’s biggest plays when they really needed them.
The Ducks hope Jaylon Redd or Johnny Johnson III can step up the way Mitchell did as a junior and become a go-to playmaker. Blue chip True freshman Mycah Pittman might be an option if he comes in ready to play.
Oregon State - Sumner Houston C - The Beavers don’t have much to replace off of their team last year, but a starting center for a line that paved the way for a lot of yards for Jermar Jefferson won’t be easy.
The Beavers get a great replacement for Houston though in Arizona transfer Nate Eldridge, who took home All-Pac-12 honors as a sophomore.
Stanford - JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR - Very tough call here between Bryce Love and JJAW, but I go JJAW because Love was so bad in 2018. There’s almost no way JJAW’s production and threat can be replaced in 2018 and the loss of Kaden Smith and Trenton Irwin with him stings hard.
6’8 tight end nightmare Colby Parkinson should see even more jumpballs in 2019, but also watch for 6’2 receivers Osiris St. Brown and Michael Wilson to progress as Stanford’s number one and number two receivers for K.J. Costello.
UCLA - Andre James T - The Bruins lose a lot of players of similar value, but James is probably the toughest because he left early, the Bruins are thin on the offensive line, and it was a strong OL that usually made Chip Kelly’s offenses so hard to stop.
I would think the Bruins might slide 2018 right tackle starter Jake Burton over to left tackle. The depth below either way is scary thin for Kelly and the Bruins.
USC - Cameron Smith LB - Smith was been a rock for the Trojan defenses for four years, but he’s finally out of eligibility and Clay Helton will have to find a new linebacker in the middle that can hold their defense together.
Starter John Houston Jr. should be back at inside linebacker, but who should have Trojan fans even more excited is former blue chip recruit Palaie Gaoteote who has just as much potential as any linebacker in the country and could easily be the next Rey Maualuga at USC.
Utah - Chase Hansen LB - The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is a talent that simply cannot be replaced. Especially because he was so skilled at making big plays as a defender and snuffing out plays in the backfield.
BYU transfer Francis Bernard came on strong at the end of 2018 and should only be better in 2019 with a more prominent role in place of the graduated Hansen.
Washington - Myles Gaskin RB - Gaskin was everything for the Huskies for the past four seasons and his graduation means they’ll likely be starting over on the offensive side of the ball. One thing that will be incredibly hard to replace with Gaskin is the fact that he has the strength to run between the tackles and pick up tough yards, but also kept defenses on their toes with big play ability.
The Huskies will likely replace Gaskin with tailback by the committee they way they did when he was hurt in 2018. Speedster Salvon Ahmed, tough runner Kamari Pleasant and the super small/shifty Sean McGrew will try to fill his massive shoes.
Washington State - Gardner Minshew QB - Minshew didn’t even join the Cougs until last year’s Fall camp, but he became a Pullman legend in just a few short months and now WSU is back at square one as far as quarterback is concerned.
Record-breaking Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud is expected to be the favorite to win the battle to replace Minshew, but he’ll have to beat out a deep stable of QBs already on the roster to do so.