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Jack Follman’s Breakout Pac-12 Football Stars for 2023

An up-and-coming player for each team who is likely to exceed expectations next season

Posted on April 3, 2023

  By Jack Follman, SuperWest Sports

Between the transfer portal, the level of recruiting coverage, and how quickly players are ready for the next level now, breakout stars aren’t what they used to be in college football.

I tried to avoid transfers and stick to players already on rosters, but couldn’t completely stick to it with some teams.

Here are players for each Pac-12 team I think will make star turns in 2023.

ArizonaJonah Savaiinaea, Sophomore Guard
Jonah Savaiinaea | Arizona Athletics
He was a mainstay of all-conference freshman honors last year and should be one of the best interior offensive linemen in the conference in 2023.

Expect him to be much better known by the end of the season around the Pac.

Arizona StateGiovanni Sanders, Senior Wide Receiver
Giovanni Sanders | Patrick Breen/The Republic
ASU doesn’t have anyone who screams breakout star to me.

I think Kenny Dillingham is going to get their offense cooking, though, the way he did Oregon’s last year and Sanders is poised to really ramp up his production as a veteran receiver.

CalCraig Woodson, Junior Safety
Craig Woodson | Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports
The Bears have been killing it at developing star DBs under Justin Wilcox.

Woodson looks next in line with Daniel Scott off to the NFL. Look for him to challenge for All-Pac-12 honors after just being a good DB so far in his career.

ColoradoCormani McClain, Freshman Cornerback
Cormani McClain | Colorado Athletics
McClain is a top recruit in the country at any position-level recruit and should come in right away and make a huge impact in Boulder.

Expect him to especially look good teamed with a former top recruit in the country and incoming Jackson State transfer Travis Hunter at the other corner spot.

OregonJosh Conerly Jr., Sophomore Tackle
Josh Conerly Jr. | Mark J. Rebilas/247Sports
He was a five-star recruit and got reps last year behind Oregon’s stellar veteran offensive line.

It feels like he could slide in at left tackle next year and quickly become a star for the Ducks.

Oregon StateOluwaseyi Omotosho, Junior Defensive End
Oluwaseyi Omotosho | BeaversEdge
I tried to avoid transfers here, but just can’t pass up Omotosho, whom I think instantly becomes a good pass rusher for the Beavers after transferring from Wyoming.

He feels like he could immediately add a huge needed wrinkle to the Beavers’ defense.

StanfordDavid Bailey, Sophomore Defensive End
David Bailey | Ashley Landis/AP
Former blue-chip recruit who was good in 2022 and looks ready to take the next step. He could be one of the Pac-12’s best pass rushers in 2023.

UCLATJ Harden, Sophomore Running Back
TJ Harden | UCLA Athletics
I really like Ball State transfer Carson Steele coming in at running back and I like Harden as well.

Harden flashed with a huge Sun Bowl and I think will have a really good 2023, even if he’s splitting time with Steele.

USCMario Williams, Junior Wide Receiver
Mario Williams | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The big-time Oklahoma transfer was solid in 2022. I think he steps up in 2023 though with Jordan Addison off to the NFL.

He’ll be a bigger target for Caleb Williams.

UtahLander Barton, Sophomore Linebacker
Lander Barton | Scott Stevens/247Sports
The Utes are actually loaded with young defensive players who could break out.

Barton was great as a freshman and looks like the kind of guy who could be one of their next defensive studs.

Also watch for Van Fillinger, Simote Pepa, and JaTravis Broughton.

Washington Roger Rosengarten, Sophomore Tackle
Roger Rosengarten | Kim Grinolds/Dawgman
He protected Michael Penix Jr’s blind side as a freshman and was really good.

I think this year he jumps up from big time freshman to All-Pac-12 player.

Washington StateJaden Hicks, Sophomore Safety
Jaden Hicks | Whitney Thornton/
Savvy Pac-12 fans know well about Hicks already as he was a mainstay of the Freshman of the Week honors last year.

This year he should star as one of the Pac-12’s best DBs.

—More from Jack Follman—