The Pac-12 is full of playmakers at every position, and some of these players are capable of putting up incredible numbers. Even though the Pac-12 may not have a dominant team entering into the season, many of these players will have a say on how the season goes down out west.
Note: Quarterbacks are not included on this list.
Washington – Myles Gaskin
2015: Rushing: 227 attempts, 1302 yards, 14 TDs.
The freshman running came on strong at the end of last season and should be a big piece in UW’s offense. Fellow Husky quarterback Jake Browning is talented, but for the Huskies to live up to the hype this year Gaskin will have to be the focal point of their offense.
Washington State – Gabe Marks
2015: Receiving: 104 receptions, 1192 yards, 15 TDs.
Entering his redshirt senior year, Marks is one of the veteran leaders for WSU. While he isn’t the biggest or the fastest, he should improve on his numbers from last season and be the number one target for Luke Falk. Marks has been through the wars at WSU and should once again benefit in the Air Raid offense.
Oregon – Royce Freeman
2015: Rushing: 283 attempts, 1836 yards, 17 TDs. Receiving: 26 receptions, 348 yards, 2 TDs.
I’m shocked by the lack of Heisman attention Freeman has been getting in the offseason. His rushing numbers stack up with anybody and his receiving stats are decent for a running back. And let’s remember that he split carries with now-retired running back Thomas Tyner. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey may get all the attention coming into the season, but watch for Freeman and his powerful running style.
Oregon State – Jordan Villamin
2015: Receiving: 43 receptions, 660 yards, 5 TDs.
Jordan Villamin’s stats certainly do not jump off the page, but that isn’t entirely his fault. The Beavers were the worst team in the Pac-12 last year, and their quarterback situation did no favors to Villamin. But considering those factors, Villamin did the best he could and should see an uptick in his production with Utah State transfer Darell Garretson starting at quarterback.
Stanford – Christian McCaffrey
2015: Rushing: 337 attempts, 2019 yards, 8 TDs. Receiving: 45 receptions, 645 yards, 5 TDs.
At this point, there really is not much more to say about Christian McCaffrey. This guy can do it all and should have won the Heisman last season. McCaffrey is the biggest offensive threat in the Pac-12 and will continue to torch defenses. The only issue for McCaffrey is that he may not be able to replicate last year, not because he got any worse, but simply because the numbers he put up last season were so crazy, therefore tougher to repeat. Although McCaffrey’s 2015 stats might be impossible to double, don’t except his quality of play to suffer.
Cal – Khalfani Muhammad
2015: Rushing: 87 attempts, 586 yards, 1 TD. Receiving: 17 receptions, 189 yards, 2 TDs.
Jared Goff was not the only player to leave Cal after last season, as the Golden Bears lost their five top receivers to the NFL along with running back Daniel Lasco. However Muhammad is still on the team and is a great dual-threat option for Cal. If Muhammad can improve on scoring touchdowns, he should be a big boost for Cal.
USC – JuJu Smith-Schuster
2015: Receiving: 89 receptions, 1454 yards, 10 TDs.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is the definition of the prototypical game breaker wide receiver. With fantastic speed and good hands he was a great weapon for the Trojans. Unfortunately, the quarterback situation is a bit murky at USC so his numbers could fall off a bit but that would be due to the inexperience at quarterback.
UCLA – Soso Jamabo
2015: Rushing: 66 attempts, 403 yards, 4 TDs.
UCLA is in the same situation as Cal, since both schools lost tons of offensive talent to the NFL. Last season, Jamabo put up decent numbers while serving as a backup behind Paul Perkins and seems to be ready to take on the starting role. Even as a backup, Jamabo managed to average an impressive 6.1 yards per rush last season.
Arizona State – Demario Richard
2015: Rushing: 209 attempts, 1098 yards, 7 TDs. Receiving: 32 receptions, 309 yards, 3 TDs.
The Sun Devils had a disappointing season last year but Demario Richard was not the reason. Richard was one of the constants in last year’s offense and should lead the Sun Devils’ rushing attack in 2016. The junior running back might be relied on more this season with a decision still coming in the quarterback competition.
Arizona – Nick Wilson
2015: Rushing: 133 attempts, 725 yards, 8 TDs.
Wilson’s production dropped a bit last season but he still is the main running back for the Wildcats. If Wilson can avoid injuries better than he did last year, then expect him to put up numbers more similar to his freshman year where he ran for over 1,300 yards.
Colorado – Shay Fields
2015: Receiving: 42 receptions, 598 yards, 4 TDs.
Shay Fields was a decent player last season but was also pretty inconsistent. He would show flashes with 100 yard games and also have stinkers with games where he didn’t even reach 50 yards receiving. With Nelson Spruce off to the NFL, Fields should get some more looks and hopefully some more production for the Buffaloes.
Utah – Harrison Handley
2015: Receiving: 21 receptions, 286 yards, 4 TDs.
With Devontae Booker in the NFL and Britain Covey missing the 2016 season due to a mission trip, the Utes best option could be tight end Harrison Handley. The tight end probably won’t lead the Utes in yardage, but his 6 foot 5 inch frame should be useful for the Utes in the red zone.