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2016 Pac-12 most-improved players: watch out for these players to take the next step

These players could make major strides in 2016.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2015 was the year of improvement to me in the Pac-12. Stanford went from eight wins to winning a Rose Bowl because Kevin Hogan, Christian McCaffrey, Joshua Garnett, Aziz Shittu and Blake Martinez improved tenfold. Other players around the conference like Gabe Marks, Jared Norris and Zach Banner had similar improvements which shaped the conference.

Here is a player for each Pac-12 team I think could make that crucial leap of improvement in 2016.

Arizona - Anu Solomon Jr. QB - I think Rich Rodriguez putting Solomon's job up for grabs might inspire him in the best way possible. I think he could go back to freshman form, have a Kevin Hogan season of sorts and become the system-perfect quarterback we all thought he could be for the Wildcats early in his career.

Arizona State - Evan Goodman Sr. T - Coming out of Florida, Goodman was one of the highest-rated offensive line recruits signed by the Sun Devils in recent history. He has been a nice starter for them, but I think this is the year he steps it up and becomes the All-Pac-12 player he can be.

Cal - DeVante Wilson Sr. DE - Wilson was one of the nation's top JC recruits coming into last season as a 6'5 265 pass rusher and was solid starter, but I think this season, after a year of adjusting to Pac-12 play, could be when he explodes. He has excellent size and pass rushing skills which he could use to rack up more than the just one sack he had last season.

Colorado - Shay Fields Jr. WR - Fields had a breakout season in 2015 with nearly 600 yards and four touchdowns, but he was injured for the second half and a number two to Nelson Spruce. Coming back hopefully healthy and as the number one target, the speedy Fields could step up as the Buffs' next 1,000-yard receiver.

Oregon - Tyrell Crosby Jr. T - I thought Crosby was on his way to being the next Jake Fisher or Tyler Johnstone going into 2015 but things never seemed to click. I think he is ready to get over the sophomore slump and get back towards being an All-Pac-12 player in 2015.

Oregon State - Treston DeCoud Sr. CB - The 6'3 205 DeCoud suffered a scary neck injury last October but is ready to go all out in 2016 in his second season after transferring from a JC. A year of Pac-12 under his belt, I think he is ready to use his size and become a standout cornerback.

Stanford - Casey Tucker Jr. T - Tucker was arguably the top offensive line recruit in his class and he excelled in his first year starting last year but I think this is is the year he turns it up and becomes a star. It just seems like All-American linemen grow on trees at Stanford now.

UCLA - Sosa Jamabo So. RB - He ran for 404 yards and four touchdowns in 2015 and with Paul Perkins off to the NFL, he looks poised to explode well past those numbers. At 6'3 210, he is much more physically imposing than Perkins and doesn't lose any speed either.

USC - Rasheem Green So. DT - The five-star recruit started to come into his own at the end of 2015, highlighted by a fumble return for a TD against UCLA. He is 6'5 280 pounds and has the skills to be the next Leonard Williams.

Utah - Joe Williams Sr. RB - Williams stepped up nicely when Devontae Booker went down with an injury late in 2015, running for 477 and three scores. Running behind a really good, veteran offensive line full-time in 2016, I think Williams has a great chance at becoming a 1,000-yard rusher.

Washington - Darrell Daniels Sr. TE - Daniels came out of high school as a receiver who ran a 4.4 so Husky fans were drooling when they heard he moved to tight end with that speed and a 240-pound frame. He has flashed some of that explosiveness, but now that all-conference tight end Joshua Perkins is no longer in front of him, I think he has a big year in 2016.

Washington State - Cole Madison Jr. T - Joe Dahl was regarded as the nation's best pass protector by many last season and now Madison has to fill his huge shoes. I think the longer, more athletic Madison has a great chance to do just that though.