2015 All-Pac-12 team: Best players at every position
With the regular season and championship games in the rearview, we’re taking a look at each conference to identify which players stood out the most at their position in 2015.
Quarterback: Jared Goff, Cal (+43.5)
At the beginning of the season this looked like it would be a one-horse race. While Luke Falk and Kevin Hogan in particular improved to run it close, Goff was the clear leader of the conference.
2nd team: Kevin Hogan, Stanford (+25.0)
Running back: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (+43.4)
McCaffrey has been a do-it-all player for Stanford this season and is the highest-graded runner in the nation. He broke the all-time single-season all-purpose yardage record set by Barry Sanders that has stood since 1988 and leads the nation in yards from scrimmage.
2nd team: Royce Freeman, Oregon (+30.9)
Fullback: Daniel Marx, Stanford (+12.1)
This spot goes almost by default to Marx, with only two FBs in the conference receiving more than 100 snaps this season, but he has blocked very well.
2nd team: Jahleel Pinner, USC (-2.5)
Tight end: Darrell Daniels, Washington (+8.1)
Our second-highest graded TE in the conference, but with the highest receiving grade, Washington’s second TE has been more efficient than Perkins in front of him when he has had the chance. Daniels caught 85.7 percent of the targets sent his way.
2nd team: Austin Hooper, Stanford (+5.8)
Wide receivers: Jordan Payton, UCLA (+23.1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC (+16.8)
One of the strengths of the conference, the Pac-12 is loaded with playmakers at wide out. Despite less gaudy statistics, Payton has been the highest-graded of them all, even chipping in with solid blocking. Smith-Schuster has been able to maintain impressive performances despite Cody Kessler’s drop in play.
2nd team: Nelson Spruce, Colorado (+16.5) and Devin Lucien, Arizona State (+12.7)
Tackles: Kyle Murphy, Stanford (+20.5) and Zach Banner, USC (+21.5)
It hasn’t been a vintage year for tackle play in the conference, but Banner has had an impressive season, surrendering just one sack all year for USC. Kyle Murphy has been a powerful run blocker on Stanford’s impressive line.
2nd team: Joe Dahl, Washington State (+16.9) and Tyrell Crosby, Oregon (+23.5)
Guards: Joshua Garnett, Stanford (+39.5) and Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State (+29.8)
Garnett has been on another level to any other guard this year with crushing performances against the run and solid pass protection. Despite a late-season cameo at LT, Seumalo was an impressive performer at guard for the Beavers, allowing just four total pressures all season.
2nd team: Isaac Asiata, Utah (+21.5) and Eduardo Middleton, Washington State (+25.0)
Center: Josh Mitchell, Oregon State (+19.4)
Allowing just one sack and six total pressures all season, Mitchell has been as good as any center in the conference in pass protection and a dominant run blocker to go with it.
2nd team: Graham Shuler, Stanford (+18.8)
At PFF, we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles), and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive interior – ends: DeForest Buckner, Oregon (+67.7) and Viliseni Fauonuko, Utah (+29.1)
Buckner has been arguably the best player in the nation on the defensive side of the ball, destroying Stanford’s Joshua Garnett, the nation’s best guard, when the two went head-to-head. Faunuko has been a production machine despite playing fewer snaps than other higher-profile players.
2nd team: Kenny Clark, UCLA (+28.3)
Defensive interior – nose: Solomon Thomas, Stanford (+26.3)
Between the draft and injury, Stanford lost an entire D-line heading into this year, but Thomas has been one of their standout players moving all across the interior. He trails only Buckner in run grade within the conference.
2nd team: Alex Balducci, Oregon (+16.4)
Edge rushers: Antonio Longino, Arizona State (+28.3) and Corey Littleton, Washington (+17.6)
This pair just barely get the nod over several worthy candidates. Longino has the highest pass-rush grade in the conference among edge defenders, with nine sacks and 53 total pressures over the year. Littleton has impressive grades in all facets of the game.
2nd team: Jason Fanaika, Utah (+14.8) and Kylie Fitts, Utah (+12.6)
Linebackers: Sua Cravens, USC (+22.9) and Tyson Coleman, Oregon (+19.8)
At the risk of getting into a Tyrann Mathieu whirlpool of categorization, we’re listing Cravens as a linebacker, but the truth is he lines up everywhere for the Trojans. Wherever he is he makes plays on a regular basis and has been the standout player on that defense. Tyson Coleman for Oregon is listed as a 3-4 outside linebacker (edge defender), but spends more of his time in coverage and has done so well.
2nd team: Salamo Fiso, Arizona State (+15.8) and Gionni Paul, Utah (+10.2)
Cornerbacks: Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado (+19.2) and Sidney Jones, Washington (+13.2)
Awuzie has been the shutdown standout in the conference, allowing just 7.7 yards per reception and hasn’t given up a pass longer than 32 yards. Jones is allowing just 44.3 percent of targets into his coverage to be caught.
2nd team: Ronnie Harris, Stanford (+9.2) and Darrien Molton, Washington State (+8.0)
Safeties: Will Parks, Arizona (+12.8) and Stefan McClure, Cal (+11.3)
Like Cravens, Parks plays all over the defense, but has been a force in the box against the run for the Wildcats this season. McClure has also been impressive as a run defender, but has made some plays in coverage from his safety spot too.
2nd team: Marcus Williams, Utah (+9.0) and Randall Goforth, UCLA (+6.0)
Kicker: Conrad Ukropina, Stanford (+4.3 FG grade)
Ukropina has hit on 17-of-19 this season, including 6-of-7 from 40 or more yards.
2nd team: Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA (+2.9 FG grade)
Punter: Tom Hackett, Utah (+2.7)
Hackett has 25 punts end inside the 20 and has a long of 76on the year.
2nd team: Jake Bailey, Stanford (+1.4)
Returner: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford (+13.5)
His kick returns aren’t merely a way to accumulate all-purpose yardage — McCaffrey has changed games with his plays on special teams.
2nd team: Adoree’ Jackson, USC (+9.0)