The Pac-12 Conference will have a whole new look next football season.
Not only did quarterback Andrew Luck complete his eligibility after a sensational career at Stanford, but several other of the league’s top stars will be departing for the NFL Draft in April — and others could join them.
Offensive guard Matt Kalil of USC, record-setting running back Chris Polk of Washington, and temperamental linebacker Vontaze Burfict of Arizona State all have declared that they’re giving up potential senior seasons next year in order to turn pro. Running back LaMichael James of Oregon is reportedly considering doing the same, as is quarterback Brock Osweiler of Arizona State.
Quarterback Matt Barkley is perhaps the biggest star to buck the trend, announcing that he will return for his senior season with the Trojans.
Kalil leads a group of offensive linemen who are highly regarded, with guard David DeCastro and tackle Jonathan Martin of Stanford expected to join him in the first round of the draft. Analysts at ESPN have Kalil ranked as the second-best prospect in the draft, behind Luck.
Quarterback Nick Foles and receiver Juron Criner of Arizona are among the league’s top departing seniors, along with tight end Coby Fleener of Stanford, receiver Marvin Jones of Cal, running back Rodney Stewart of Colorado, and offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom of Utah. Washington’s Jermaine Kearse and Alameda Ta’amu - a tight end and a defensive tackle, respectively - also are departing seniors.
The deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft is Jan. 15.