College football is almost here! At the beginning of August we compiled our list of the top 50 college football players in the country for 2017. Now it’s time to break things own by conference. Today’s pick is the Pac-12.
For this list we combined our assessment of each player’s pure talent and our expectations for how they will perform this season. So being an NFL prospect is part of the consideration, as are their projected numbers.
Here’s our list of the top 10 college football players in the Pac-12 for 2017:
10. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
A first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a freshman and sophomore, Royce Freeman struggled as a junior in 2016, rushing for just 945 yards and nine touchdowns on 168 carries (5.6 yards per carry). As a sophomore in 2015, he racked up 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns, and that followed a freshman campaign during which he rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 scores. The 5’11” 231-pound rusher could be in line for a bounce-back season as a senior in 2017.
9. Jake Browning, QB, Washington
Overshadowed by Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, Jake Browning will enter his junior season as the most accomplished of the three. He completed 62.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,430 yards and 43 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016.
8. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
With game-breaking speed, Ronald Jones II is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches the ball. The Texas native rushed for 1,082 yards on 177 carries (6.1 ypc) and 12 touchdowns in 2016 and should take on a heavier load as a junior. With so much attention focused on Darnold and USC’s passing game, “RoJo” should have plenty of room to run this season.
7. Vita Vea, DL, Washington
At 6’4″ and 346 pounds, Vita Vea is a load. A second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2016, he’s incredibly quick for his size and is so much fun to watch. A disrupter in the middle of the defensive line, he posted 39 tackles, five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss as a redshirt sophomore last season.
6. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
A first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a sophomore in 2016, Myles Gaskin has put together two straight years of 1,300-plus yards. He’ll almost certainly come in hungry this season after compiling just 74 yards on 15 touches against Alabama in the semifinals of the CFB playoff. \