ESPN.com writer chooses his All-Pac-12 football dark horse candidates

Jun 6, 2016, 7:04 PM
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For the Pac-12 teams in Arizona to compete with the likes of Oregon and Stanford, they are going to need more than just their key players to contribute in the upcoming football season.

Ted Miller, ESPN.com writer, chose his All-Pac-12 dark horse candidates that featured one player from every Pac-12 South school.

Interestingly enough, the two players he picked from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University came from the defensive side of the ball.

Arizona: The Wildcats have a new, super-secret defensive scheme under first-year coordinator Marcel Yates, but scheme won’t mean anything without playmakers. A candidate to be just that is linebacker DeAndre’ Miller, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound junior with the athletic skills to rush the passer and play in space. He had eight tackles for loss and two sacks last year, and those totals should go up as the Wildcats try to replace the production of Scooby Wright.

Miller, from Buckeye and junior at UA, totaled 50 tackles last season in 11 games with a season-high seven in the season opener against University of Texas at San Antonio.

Cody Ippolito, a junior linebacker, is the only returning linebacker who made more tackles with 51.

Miller added two sacks to his stat sheet with one against University of Washington and one against in-state rival ASU, while also making eight tackles for negative yards for the Wildcats.

On the other side of the state, Ted Miller chose a player that is in the trenches of the line of scrimmage.

Arizona State: While accumulating A-list defensive linemen is often a challenge for Pac-12 teams, that is not an issue at present for Arizona State. The best of the lot may be true sophomore JoJo Wicker, who at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds can rush the passer and stand up to a power run game. He had four sacks last year and should increase that total this fall.

Wicker, from Long Beach, California, put together 21 tackles in the 11 games he played in his freshman season for the Devils.

Of the returning linemen, Wicker led the way for the Sun Devils with four sacks last season against University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, Washington State University and rival UA.

The two will face off against each other in the regular-season finale, Friday, Nov. 25, when the teams meet in Tuscon for the annual Territory Cup battle.

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