The Pac-12 looks like an early winner of the NFL draft early entrant pool, with fewer than a dozen underclassmen declaring. The retention of several talented, draft-eligible players offers hope that the conference will bounce back from a pedestrian 2018.
USC Football: 3 Reasons for Optimism about the Trojans in 2019
USC endured a painful year in 2018, going 5-7 and missing out on a bowl game for the first time in six seasons, but the Trojans were relying upon a true freshman quarterback and an offensive coordinator that didn’t last the entire season at his job. Though the man they hired to replace him, Kliff Kingsbury, was poached by the Arizona Cardinals before he could ever coach a game, the Trojans prove with his hire that Los Angeles is a premier destination for the nation’s best and brightest minds.
The Pac-12 probably embraced the start of a new year. The 2018 season was not especially kind to the conference, which got pummelled on the PR front before it even started for its 1-8 bowl record to conclude the '17 campaign. An officiating controversy marred a great USC-Washington State game (that just missed the cut for this countdown), and a second straight season with the conference's championship excluded from the College Football Playoff gives fodder to naysayers.
The definition of a breakout player in college football varies from each analyst or fanbase, but one thing is certain when looking ahead at the 2019 season and the players returning: regardless of the position, breakout players will have a huge role in shaping the national championship and playoff picture.
The NFL's early entry deadline for the 2019 draft officially passed on Monday evening and more than 120 players declared for the next level. All four of the playoff teams from the 2018 season lost a key player early. Alabama has to replace two All-Americans in the trenches with Jonah Williams (LT) and Quinnen Williams (DT) headed to the NFL. Clemson is losing a couple of defensive standouts, including end Clelin Ferrell and tackle Dexter Lawrence. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray declared for the draft but is still deciding between baseball and the NFL.
Clemson’s 2018 national title run was exceptional, but where do the Tigers rank with other college football champions? Every national championship team was great, but I have attempted to rank every title-winning squad over the past 50 years by asking the following questions:
Yeah, yeah, we know. The confetti angels are still fresh on the Levi’s Stadium field. The Tigers are probably still wearing their national championship hats. Hell, some Clemson fans and Alabama fans are still hung over, for vastly different reasons of course.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal and can be contacted by other teams and coaches in regards to a transfer for next season. Hurts has one season of eligibility remaining and is expected to be pursued by several teams looking for a quarterback for 2019.
The Pac-12 hasn’t had a playoff team in each of the last two seasons and has been relatively quiet on a national level, but there’s no shortage of intrigue for this conference going into 2019. Oregon heads into spring practice as the early Pac-12 football favorite, but Washington and Washington State aren’t far behind in the early predictions in the North. Utah headlines the race to win the South Division once again, with USC and Arizona bringing up the next tier of early Pac-12 projections for 2019.