Pac-12 Football: Nick Foles and 5 Dark Horses for Pac-12 Player of the Year

Maiah HollanderContributor IIIAugust 11, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Nick Foles and 5 Dark Horses for Pac-12 Player of the Year

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    It's no big secret who the frontrunners for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award are, but there are a few dark horses that are still flying under the radar. 

    These players may not be the flashiest ones on the field, or even on the best team, but they are ready to prove that they are worthy of the Pac-12's recognition.

1. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

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    If you look at Nick Foles' career you can see why he could be the one to snag the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

    Passing for 3,191 yards with a 67.1 completion percentage in 2010, Foles is a dangerous man on the gridiron.

    A consistent and dependable QB, Foles still manages to fly under the radar of many fans but it's easy to see his hard work paying off in 2011.  

    With the return of star receiver Juron Criner, look for Foles to have a monster season in the desert.

2. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

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    Vontaze Burfict could very well scare up the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award not because he has been slowly been gaining the reputation as the “meanest man in college football,” but because of his frightening statistics.

    Unafraid of a challenge, Burfict stacked up tackles against teams like USC, Northern Arizona and Oregon for a total of 89 tackles in 2010.

    With outrageous tactics such as pushing an official into the opposing team’s line of scrimmage to buy time, Burfict has gained an ominous reputation among officials and the love of ASU football fans.

    Oh yeah and the guy hits like a battering ram…

3. Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado

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    Being the new kid on the block is never an easy thing, but RB Rodney Stewart has the ability to make a mark early on in his new home in the Pac-12.

    The diminutive Stewart (5'6") rushed for an impressive 1,318 yards with 10 touchdowns last season and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

    If this 2011 season is anything like his performance last season, Stewart could very well be in the running for Colorado’s first Pac-12 award.

4. Jordan Wynn, QB, Utah

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    Rodney Stewart isn't the only new face to the Pac-12 this season—Jordan Wynn is vying for Pac-12 glory as well.

    With Wynn on the field in the past two seasons, Utah is 52-of-56 (93 percent) in the red zone, an impressive statistic that will give defenses something to worry about in 2011.

    He passed for 2,334 yards last season and improved immensely with 17 touchdowns, compared to his eight the year before.

    With a similar uptick in the 2011 season, the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award is not that far of a stretch.

5. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

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    Shayne Skov's middle name is Miller…but it should be Sacks.

    Last season Skov had an astounding 7.5 sacks, three of which were in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech where he led the Cardinal to an overpowering victory.

    This powerhouse tackler and fiery leader seems to be everywhere at once, and might be the real key (Andrew Luck notwithstanding) to Stanford making it back to a BCS game.

6. James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State

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    Paired with his brother Jacquizz, James has been a nightmare for opposing defenses to contend with over the last few seasons.

    Unfortunately, he injured his knee last season and required surgery.

    If he makes a complete recovery, there isn't a more versatile nor dangerous player in the league.

    As a receiver, punt returner and kick returner, Rodgers is a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field.

    Here’s to your health, Mr. Rodgers.

Conclusion

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    It doesn't take the best team to have some of the best players and these athletes prove that. 

    Each with their own strengths, these players are the ones to watch in the race for the Pac-12 Player of the Year.