Gold: The Preseason Pac-12 All-Snub Team
When the Pac-12 announced its preseason all-conference team on Tuesday, some feelings were bound to be hurt. There’s not room for everyone, of course, and this league is filled with talent. A lot of that talent is brand new, and a host of would-be all-conference picks were either knocked down a peg or dismissed altogether.
Here’s a look at the preseason Pac-12 All-Snub Team:
Jeffrey Bassa, Oregon LB
A former safety for the Ducks, Bassa converted to linebacker as a true freshman and proved he belonged. An honorable mention selection for Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year, Bassa only got better with time, picking up a career-high 9 tackles (5 solo) against Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.
The Ducks’ linebacker room is a little too full of talent, tough, with Noah Sewell getting a first-team nomination and Justin Flowe snagging a second-team spot. Should Bassa continue to put up nine tackles a game, he’s going to push his teammates for a nod.
Kyon Barrs, Arizona DL
Maybe this is more of a reflection of Van Fillinger’s snub last season than Barrs’ snub this year. Rarely does a player follow up a season with no Pac-12 honors and automatically jump up to the preseason first team. But Utah’s Fillinger had a terrific rookie season last year, leading all Pac-12 freshmen with 5.5 sacks while adding 41 tackles and 9.5 tackles-for-loss.
Barrs, a second-team all-conference selection with five sacks, would’ve been a more obvious choice for the preseason first-team.
Calen Bullock, USC DB
Bullock made the 2021 FWAA Freshman All-American and Pro Football Focus True Freshman All-American First Team last year after starting six games. He was an impact player all over the Trojans’ defensive secondary, playing free safety, nickelback, and cornerback.
Bullock made a quick splash, becoming the first USC true freshman to start an opener at safety since Su’a Cravens in 2013 against Hawaii. All he did was finish that game with eight tackles.
Caught behind a veteran and talented crop among the first- and second-team defensive backs, Bullock’s time will come.
Jack Colletto, OSU AP/ST
As if a second-team honor at running back wasn’t enough, USC running back Travis Dye—who came to the Trojans from Oregon—also claims the first-team all-purpose/special teams nod.
Only problem is that relegates Oregon State’s Jack Colletto to the second team. Colletto was all over the field for the Beavers last season, rushing for 144 yards and eight touchdowns, catching a touchdown pass, and tallying eight tackles on defense. That helped him earn a post-season second-team AP nod.
A true Swiss Army Knife in an era of specialists, Colletto could bump ahead of Dye when all is said and done. Dye is a terrific offensive threat, but Colletto’s impact in all three facets of the game can’t be ignored.
Jacob Cowing, Arizona WR
Cowing was one of the Group of Five’s top performers in 2021, catching 69 passes for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns. His arrival in Tucson along with former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura will make an immediate and noted impact with the Wildcats.
But he finds himself with a second-team selection as the Trojans claim both first-team wideout slots with Pitt transfer Jordan Addison—an obvious pick as the returning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner—and Oklahoma transfer Mario Williams.
Here’s the question, is Williams on the list because of his 2021 production or because he was ESPN’s No. 17 prospect overall and the No. 1 receiver in 2021? He had just 35 receptions, 380 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games.
There’s also just one ball to go around at USC. Five months from now, Cowing might come out on top.
Lu-Magia Hearns III, California DB
Hearns was one of the league’s feistiest defenders a year ago, as his 10 pass break-ups ranked second in the league and his 11 total passes defended ranked third. One of the country’s best freshman defensive backs, Hearns earned all-conference honorable mention honors a season ago.
With teammate Daniel Scott named to the preseason First Team after missing out on any Pac-12 postseason honors last year—an absurdity, considering he was Pro Football Focus’ second-highest rated safety in the conference – Hearns was given to honorable mention honors once more.
Cameron Rising, Utah QB
When Caleb Williams announced to the world that he was Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future, taking over for the Sooners down 35-17 to Texas and leading OU to a 55-48 victory, Sooner Nation was swooning. Then he joined Lincoln Riley on a chuck wagon out west, and Sooner Nation was left heartbroken.
They weren’t the only ones.
With Williams arrival in Hollywood, Utah’s Rising was bumped down to second-team preseason all-conference, one year after finishing as the top vote-getter in the league. Rising ranked sixth in the country—and led the Pac-12—in ESPN’s QBR Rating after passing for 2,493 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’ll have to massively improve those numbers if he’s going to out-duel Williams—not to mention UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson—for postseason first-team honors.
Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford TE
Maybe it’s not accurate to call Yurosek a snub, considering Utah’s Brant Kuithe, the media’s pick for first-team tight end, has been a second-team selection for three years running.
But Yurosek had more yards than Kuithe last year, even though Kuithe was arguably a bigger part of Utah’s offense than Yurosek was for Stanford.
Yurosek is going to have to prove it on the field to join an illustrious group of former Stanford tight ends in the annals of Pac-12 history.