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Past, Present and Future: The Pac-12 at each position

Each Power Five conference lost stars to the NFL Draft last month but plenty of talent returns and is on the horizon. We call this Past, Present and Future and it’s self explanatory. We continue with the Pac-12 today.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

MORE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: Big Ten | SEC | ACC

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022: Top 100

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QUARTERBACK

Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert (AP Images)

The past: Justin Herbert, Oregon — Herbert will be very hard to replace for Oregon with his size, mobility and arm talent.

The present: Jake Bentley, Utah — Bentley is a key transfer for Utah and could rise on draft boards with a good year. Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) is solid and Kedon Slovis (USC) is probably the best of the bunch overall after just one season.

The future: Ethan Garbers, Washington — Garbers is an elite prospect with a big arm and should eventually be part of a very interesting quarterback battle at Washington.

RUNNING BACK

EJ Smith
EJ Smith (Rivals.com)

The past: Zack Moss, Utah — Moss was a workhorse and got better as games wore on and the Pac-12 doesn’t have another like him.

The present: CJ Verdell, Oregon — Verdell is an elite runner and one of the top 10 in college football. Max Borghi (Washington State), Demetric Felton (UCLA) and Jermar Jefferson (Oregon State) are excellent returning vets.

The future: EJ Smith, Stanford — The son of the great Emmitt Smith should have a tremendous career at Stanford.

WIDE RECEIVER 

The past: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State — The dynamic receiver at ASU beat people deep and adjusted to the ball so well but there are some nice replacements.

The present: Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC — St. Brown is an elite target who should have a monster season this year. Tyler Vaughns (USC) and Frank Darby (Arizona State) are also elite returning stars.

The future: Gary Bryant, USC — I love Bryant as a big play guy in the USC offense after a year or so.

TIGHT END

Mark Redman
Mark Redman (Rivals.com)

The past: Devin Asiasi, UCLA — Asisasi was a very solid player and he’s being replaced in the conference by similar talents.

The present: Brant Kuithe, Utah — Kuithe is well-rounded and a great checkdown option but he can also stretch the field. Bryce Wolma (Arizona), Cade Otton (Washington) and Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC) also have a chance to be very good this season.

The future: Mark Redman, Washington — Redman is a huge target and will be a part of the Huskies' offense very quickly.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Penei Sewell
Penei Sewell (AP Images)

The past: Austin Jackson, USC — Jackson was up and down at times but had the athletic ability to become a first-round draft pick and is hard to replace.

The present: Penei Sewell, Oregon — Sewell would have been the top offensive lineman in the draft this year had he been eligible. Walker Little (Stanford), Abraham Lucas (Washington State) and Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC) are also high on NFL lists.

The future: Myles Hinton, Stanford — Hinton is a terrific athlete with excellent feet who just needs to improve his mean streak.

DEFENSIVE END

Hamilcar Rashed
Hamilcar Rashed (AP Images)

The past: Bradlee Anae, Utah — Anae was solid in many areas and his steady play was key for Utah.

The present: Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State — Rashed is one of the best natural pass rushers in the country and is fun to watch. Joe Tryon (Washington), Thomas Booker (Stanford) and Mika Tafua (Utah) are solid as well.

The future: Sav'ell Smalls, Washington — Smalls can play linebacker or end at Washington and comes off the edge well.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Omarr Norman-Lott
Omarr Norman-Lott

The past: Leki Fotu, Utah — Fotu was a massive run-stuffer who could also chase plays down.

The present: Jay Tufele, USC — Tufele is a dominant pass rusher as a tackle and could be a first-round selection. Levi Onwuzurike (Washington), Osa Odighizuwa (UCLA) and Tuli Letuligasenoa (Washington) are all returning vets with high ceilings.

The future: Omarr Norman-Lott, Arizona State — The Sun Devils will benefit from the talents of Norman-Lott immediately as he’s ready to contribute.

LINEBACKER

Justin Flowe
Justin Flowe (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The past: Davion Taylor, Colorado — Taylor made a ton of solo tackles in space.

The present: Palaie Gatoteote, USC — Gatoteote is a former five-star ready to break out and dominate. Merlin Robertson (Arizona State), Nate Landman (Colorado) and Kuony Deng (Cal) are all excellent. Colin Schooler (Arizona) could be the best of the group.

The future: Justin Flowe, OregonNoah Sewell, who is also headed to Oregon, should be mentioned as well. They form the best 1-2 punch at any position in the country from the 2020 class.

CORNERBACK

Paulson Adebo
Paulson Adebo (AP Images)

The past: Jaylon Johnson, Utah — Johnson was a big-time commitment for Utah and he lived up to the hype.

The present: Paulson Adebo, Stanford — Adebo is an elite corner who has first round potential while others like Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon), Elijah Molden (Washington) and Cam Bynum (Cal) are also returning with a ton of attention. These guys all have a chance to be elite.

The future: Dontae Manning, Oregon — The rich get richer as Manning is a great pull from the Midwest and has the ability to impact early.

SAFETY

Ashtyn Davis
Ashtyn Davis (AP Images)

The past: Ashtyn Davis, Cal — Davis was a track star out of high school who turned into a great safety and return man. His speed will be hard to replace.

The present: Jevon Holland, Oregon — Holland is an elite ball hawk and one of the best defensive backs in the country. Talanoa Hufanga (USC), Quentin Lake (UCLA) and Brady Breeze (Oregon) will also represent the league well.

The future: Jonathan Vaughns, UCLA — A huge pickup for Chip Kelly in the 2020 class, Vaughns will be a leader early.