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Rob Weintraub's Pac-12 Alumni Trophies

Gardner Minshew
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Eight is a very lucky number in China, where I was fortunate enough to live for a couple of years. I certainly feel lucky to be able to present my eighth annual Alumni Awards -- my selections for every season's best NFL player from each of the Power Five college programs. It's a great way to gauge the health of the collegiate teams, an indicator of the volatility of the pro game, and, most of all, a fun argument-starter.

Today we cover the Pacific-12 Conference.

ARIZONA (7 total pros on rosters in 2019 per ESPN.com)

2012: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2013: Nick Foles, QB, PHI
2014: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2015: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2016: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2017: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2018: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
2019: Reggie Gilbert, LB, TEN

With Gronk retired and Foles shelved, there wasn't much to choose from down in the desert.

ARIZONA STATE (13)

2012: Vontaze Burfict, LB, CIN
2013: Terrell Suggs, DE, BAL
2014: Terrell Suggs, DE, BAL
2015: Vontaze Burfict, LB, CIN
2016: Vontaze Burfict, LB, CIN
2017: Terrell Suggs, DE, BAL
2018: Terrell Suggs, DE, BAL
2019: Lawrence Guy, DE, NE

A former Raven wins the Sun Devil Award -- but it wasn't T-Sizzle. A current Patriot won it -- but it wasn't N'Keal Harry. The unheralded Guy's tremendous year allowed Arizona State alums to forget the year-long suspension of Burfict.

CAL (26)

2012: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
2013: Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA
2014: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
2015: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
2016: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
2017: Cameron Jordan, DE, NO
2018: Jared Goff, QB, LAR
2019: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB

I really, really wanted to give the Oso de Oro Award to Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who had a stellar season protecting Patrick Mahomes. But the Golden Bears' Golden Boy, Rodgers, plays too important a position, and his team was a No. 2 seed, after all (if a soft one). Give A-Rod his fifth Alumni Award over the usual group of strong pros from Berkeley.

COLORADO (15)

2012: Nate Solder, OT, NE
2013: Mason Crosby, K, GB
2014: Nate Solder, OT, NE
2015: David Bakhtiari, OT, GB
2016: David Bakhtiari, OT, GB
2017: David Bakhtiari, OT, GB
2018: David Bakhtiari, OT, GB
2019: David Bakhtiari, OT, GB

Solder, Broncos back Phillip Lindsay, and Cowboys corner Chidobe Awuzie had fine campaigns, but none were within shouting distance of Bakhtiari, who heads Bakh to the Award ceremony for his fifth-straight Buffalo.

OREGON (22)

2012: Jarius Byrd, S, BUF
2013: Haloti Ngata, DT, BAL
2014: Max Unger, C, SEA
2015: Max Unger, C, NO
2016: Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN
2017: Marcus Mariota, QB, TEN
2018: Max Unger, C, NO
2019: DeForest Buckner, DT, SF

A pair of San Francisco Ducks chased the trophy all season, with Buck using his longer bill to out-touch Arik Armstead for the Mallard.

OREGON STATE (16)

2012: Brandon Browner, CB, SEA
2013: Keenan Lewis, CB, NO
2014: Keenan Lewis, CB, NO
2015: Brandin Cooks, WR, NO
2016: Brandin Cooks, WR, NO
2017: Johnny Hekker, P, LAR
2018: Steven Nelson, CB, KC
2019: Jordan Poyer, S, BUF

Nelson played well in his new uniform (Pittsburgh) and both Cooks and Hekker were in the chase, but Poyer's yeoman's work in the Bills secondary was a key element to their strong season. Give him the Beav!

STANFORD (33)

2012: Andrew Luck, QB, IND
2013: Richard Sherman, CB, SEA
2014: Andrew Luck, QB, IND
2015: Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA
2016: Richard Sherman, CB, SEA
2017: David DeCastro, G, PIT
2018: Andrew Luck, QB, IND
2019: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR

Even with Andrew Luck's sudden retirement the Cardinal colors flow through the pros. Corner Richard Sherman of the 49ers, Bills end Trent Murphy, and tight ends Zach Ertz (Philly) and Austin Hooper (Atlanta) were all solid or better, but none could really compare with CMC's incredible year.

UCLA (31)

2012: Akeem Ayers, LB, TEN
2013: Datone Jones, DE, GB
2014: Anthony Barr, LB, MIN
2015: Anthony Barr, LB, MIN
2016: Eric Kendricks, LB, MIN
2017: Anthony Barr, LB, MIN
2018: Myles Jack, LB, JAX
2019: Eric Kendricks, LB, MIN

Linebacker U West. The Bruin Award revolves back to Eric Kendricks after spending time on the mantle of Anthony Barr and Myles Jack. Neither of those two were close to Kendricks in 2019, however; nor was Tennessee's Jayon Brown. Perhaps next season Kenny Clark of the Packers or someone else at a different position can at last break the linebacker stranglehold.

USC (40)

2012: Clay Matthews, LB, GB
2013: Ryan Kalil, C, CAR
2014: Tyron Smith, OT, DAL
2015: Carson Palmer, QB, ARI
2016: Tyron Smith, OT, DAL
2017: Everson Griffen, DE, MIN
2018: Jurrell Casey, DT, TEN
2019: Tyron Smith, OT, DAL

It's a quiet 40 Trojans in the pros, with Smith touching out Griffen, Casey, and Rams wideout Robert Woods for his third trophy. Sam Darnold, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Leonard Williams were among the disappointing Men of Troy this season.

UTAH (22)

2012: Paul Kruger, LB, BAL
2013: Alex Smith, QB, KC
2014: Star Lotulelei, DT, CAR
2015: Eric Weddle, S, SD
2016: Eric Weddle, S, BAL
2017: Alex Smith, QB, KC
2018: Eric Weddle, S, BAL
2019: Star Lotulelei, DT, BUF

Personally, I never travel far without a little Big Star, which is sound advice for any defensive coordinator. Lotulelei comfortably won his second Ute Award with as many teams, with Broncos tackle Garrett Boles, Weddle, and Saints safety Marcus Williams well behind.

WASHINGTON (36)

2012: Dashon Goldson, S, SF
2013: Mason Foster, LB, TB
2014: Desmond Trufant, CB, ATL
2015: Desmond Trufant, CB, ATL
2016: Marcus Peters, CB, KC
2017: Budda Baker, S, ARI
2018: Cory Littleton, LB, LAR
2019: Marcus Peters, CB, LAR/BAL

For a while, Peters appeared to have little chance of snagging his second Husky pelt. But his midseason trade to Baltimore revitalized both Peters and the Ravens pass defense. Any thought of character issues, which plagued Peters in both Kansas City and Los Angeles, were ignored in Baltimore, as the Ravens immediately moved to give their new corner a new contract.

WASHINGTON STATE (10)

2012: Brandon Gibson, WR, STL
2013: Ryan Lindell, K, TB
2014: Deone Bucannon, S, ARI
2015: Deone Bucannon, LB, ARI
2016: Deone Bucannon, LB, ARI
2017: Deone Bucannon, LB, ARI
2018: Deone Bucannon, LB, ARI
2019: Gardner MInshew, QB, JAX

The Cougs tossed a pair of intriguing rookies into the pros in 2019, with Minshew outdoing Eagles tackle Andre Dillard, who showed flashes while in a mostly reserve role. Minshew, by contrast, became a folk hero in North Florida for a month or so before reality set in. Still, he put up a very similar season to the first overall pick, Kyler Murray, and was far better than other rookie quarterbacks like Daniel Jones.

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