Publish date:

Pac-12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Player Rankings for 2015

Cody Kessler

Cody Kessler

The 2015 Pac-12 season is shaping up to be another year filled of intrigue in both division races. Oregon is the favorite in the North, but the Ducks have question marks on both sides of the ball. And the expected replacement for quarterback Marcus Mariota – Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams – won’t arrive until this summer. In the South Division, five out of the six teams have a strong case to be picked No. 1 in the league this year. Colorado is improving, but the Buffaloes are probably a year away from getting back into bowl contention.

With spring practice underway, it’s never too early to take a look at the top returning players in the Pac-12 for 2015.

Here’s a quick primer on the top 15 players in the Pac-12 for next season, as well as a few names to watch. 

Pac-12's Pre-Spring Top 15 Players for 2015

1. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 163 tackles, 29 TFL, 14 sacks, 6 FF

Wright was the best defensive player in college football last season and a big reason why Arizona won the South Division and played for the Pac-12 Championship. 

2. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 88 tackles, 8 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PBU

Jack didn’t see much time on offense last season – only 28 carries – but he continued to provide plenty of punch for the UCLA defense. Jack was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection and is now the leader for the linebacking corps after Eric Kendricks expired his eligibility.

3. Cody Kessler, QB, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 3,826 yards, 39 TDs, 5 INTs

Kessler loses standout receiver Nelson Agholor, but he opens spring practice as the Pac-12’s top quarterback after tossing 39 touchdowns to just five interceptions in 2014.

4. Su’a Cravens, LB/S, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 68 tackles, 17 TFL, 5 sacks, 3 INT, 9 PBU

Cravens is one of the most versatile defenders in college football. The California native plays a hybrid safety/linebacker role for coordinator Justin Wilcox and has seven interceptions and 18.5 tackles for a loss in two years with the Trojans.

5. Max Tuerk, C, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

Image placeholder title

Tuerk anchors a young and improving USC offensive line entering 2015. The California native enters spring practice with 33 career starts and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2014.

6. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

2014 Stats: 81 tackles, 13 TFL, 4 sacks, 4 PBU, 1 FF

Buckner turned down the NFL for one more season in Eugene. With Arik Armstead off to the next level, it’s up to Buckner to shoulder more of the workload in the trenches this year. There’s no doubt Buckner is up to the task.

7. Jared Goff, QB, California

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

2014 Stats: 3,973 yards, 35 TDs, 7 INTs

Goff is one of the nation’s rising stars at quarterback and is only going to get better with another offseason in coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. Goff led all Pac-12 quarterbacks (conference-only games) by averaging 341.1 yards per contest last year.

8. Kyle Murphy, OT, Stanford

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

Image placeholder title

Stanford has placed a lineman on the Pac-12’s first-team unit for seven consecutive years. It’s a safe bet to pick Murphy to extend that streak to eight in 2015.

9. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

2014 Stats: 1,365 yards, 18 TDs, 16 rec., 158 yards, 1 TD

Freeman might not lead the Pac-12 in rushing due to a healthy Thomas Tyner as his backfield mate, but the sophomore might have the most overall talent of any running back in the conference.

10. Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 1,512 yards, 10 TDs, 43 rec., 306 yards, 2 TDs

Booker might be one of the nation’s most underrated players. Despite a struggling Utah passing offense last season, Booker ranked second in the Pac-12 with 1,512 yards and 10 scores. He should be the catalyst for Utah’s offense once again this year.

11. Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA

2015 Year of Eligibility: Junior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 1,575 yards, 9 TDs, 26 rec., 201 yards, 2 TDs

Recommended Articles

Perkins quietly led all Pac-12 rushers with 1,575 yards last season, which included 190 against Oregon, 194 against Kansas State and 137 over Arizona. With quarterback Brett Hundley off to the NFL, Perkins may have to shoulder even more of the workload in 2015.

12.  Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 49 tackles, 4 TFL, 10 PBU, 10 receptions, 138 yards, 3 TDs

Jackson is a name that could easily climb this list by the end of the 2015 season. Coach Steve Sarkisian hopes to get him a handful of snaps on offense after catching three of his 10 passes for scores in 2015. However, Jackson will be tough to remove on defense, as he broke up 10 passes and made 49 stops in 13 games last season.

13. Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 3,793 passing yards, 28 TDs, 9 INTs, 291 rush yards, 2 TDs


Solomon had his share of ups and downs in 2014 but still finished with 28 touchdowns to nine interceptions in his first year as the starter. Getting Solomon back to 100 percent after a late-season ankle injury should help the sophomore take a step forward this offseason.

14. Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona

2015 Year of Eligibility: Sophomore

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 1,375 yards, 16 TDs, 12 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD

Wilson was the other standout freshman performer for coach Rich Rodriguez in 2014. In 13 contests, Wilson rushed for 1,375 yards and contributed 16 rushing scores. His numbers should only climb in 2015.

15. Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado

2015 Year of Eligibility: Senior

Image placeholder title

2014 Stats: 106 catches, 1,198 yards, 12 TDs

Spruce made sure Colorado’s passing game didn’t miss a beat without Paul Richardson at receiver. The California native tied Washington State’s Vince Mayle for the Pac-12 crown in receptions (106), while Spruce tied two other players for first in touchdown receptions.

Players to Watch

Ishmael Adams, DB, UCLA

Adams was on the cusp of making our pre-spring top 15 players. The first-team All-Pac-12 defensive back could crack the list with a strong 2015 season.

Image placeholder title

Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

Eastern Washington transfer won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Where does Adams fall in the pecking order of Pac-12 quarterbacks?

Budda Baker, S, Washington

Baker was a standout freshman for coach Chris Petersen and is only going to improve with another offseason in Seattle.

Image placeholder title

D.J. Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State

With the emergence of Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, Arizona State plans to shift Foster into a hybrid running back/receiver role in 2015.

Image placeholder title

Peter Kalambayi, LB, Stanford

Should play a bigger role in the defense after recording 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2014.

Image placeholder title

Gabe Marks, WR, Washington State

Marks is back in the mix for Washington State after a redshirt year in 2014. He caught 74 passes in 2013 and could push for the team lead in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2015.

Image placeholder title

Gionni Paul, LB, Utah

Miami transfer had his 2014 season cut short by injury. However, Paul (when healthy) is an impact defender for coach Kyle Whittingham’s defense.

Image placeholder title

JuJu Smith, WR, USC

Smith is the likely replacement for Nelson Agholor after catching 54 passes for 724 yards and five scores in 2014.

Image placeholder title

Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State

Woods closed out 2014 by rushing for 128 yards against Oregon. Will he be a bigger part of the new offense under coach Gary Andersen?