- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you’re a Pac-12 football fan, it’s your 50 Shades of Awesome!
I’ve already got mine printed out and spiral bound. It’s chock-full of good notes and stats and details about each team -- one of the most important being the “official” returning starters.
Up until now, returning starters have been mostly speculative. Things change over the course of the offseason and spring ball. Until the start of the season, assuming there are no injuries or off-field issues, the chart is the official list that we'll be working with.
Of those many returners, eight are first-team all-league performers from last season. And as you might have heard already (and if you haven't, you'll see it in every preseason Pac-12 publication), the league has quite a bit of quarterback talent coming back -- including a pair of Heisman hopefuls in Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley.
The league lost a lot of it's statistical offensive giants -- including running backs Bishop Sankey and Ka'Deem Carey and wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Paul Richardson and Marqise Lee. But backs Byron Marshall of Oregon, Buck Allen of USC and receivers such as USC's Nelson Agholor, ASU's Jaelen Strong, Stanford's Ty Montgomery and Utah's Dres Anderson should provide the league with plenty of pop.
There are also plenty of defensive headliners coming back, such as defensive linemen Leonard Williams (USC), Henry Anderson (Stanford) and Hau'oli Kikaha; linebackers Eric Kendricks (UCLA), A.J. Tarpley (Stanford) and Hayes Pullard (USC); and defensive backs Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (Oregon), Su'a Cravens (USC) and Jordan Richards (Stanford).
We're not going to name every single player. But you get the idea. For as much as was lost, there's still a lot to be excited about for each team coming back.
2dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller
3dChantel Jennings and Ted Miller