These are our annual Pac-12 triplet rankings. We’ve selected a trio of skill players from each team in the conference.
The rules: Each player comes from a different position group, so the offensive version of this series features a quarterback, a running back and a wide receiver. Each program’s troika is ranked against the others in the Pac-12, and we’ll be unveiling and writing about each in reverse order. Remember that this is not an all-inclusive offensive ranking, but rather just each team's triplets.
Note: For teams that haven't selected a starting quarterback, we've kept things open-ended regarding who's competing for the job.
Next up on the offensive end: No. 5 Arizona State.
QB Blake Barnett/Manny Wilkins: Wilkins is the incumbent starter, but Barnett is a former five-star recruit who transferred from Alabama. New ASU offensive coordinator Billy Napier is the Crimson Tide's former wide receivers coach, so he's more familiar with Barnett -- who started Alabama's 2016 opener -- than anyone on the Sun Devils' roster. Regardless, Arizona State likes both of its options here. Wilkins brings better scrambling ability to the table -- he rushed for 246 yards and five touchdowns even after sacks were counted last season -- while Barnett may be more suited for a pro-style offense. Napier has gravitated toward heavier sets in the past, and he'll likely mix that influence into the Sun Devils' scheme.
RB Kalen Ballage: Between Demario Richard and Ballage, ASU will have a pair of capable seniors in the backfield. The two split carries and combined for more than 1,100 rushing yards in 2016, but Ballage was the one who grabbed headlines with his uncanny nose for the end zone. Ballage scored an NCAA single-game record eight touchdowns in the Sun Devils' early win over Texas Tech -- and he then invited his offensive linemen to the podium. Among Pac-12 players in 2016, only Colorado's Phillip Lindsay found the end zone on running plays more often than Ballage, who rushed for 14 scores on the season. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound truck combines diesel with legitimate speed, and he can catch, too: Last season, Ballage grabbed 44 passes for 469 yards to rank third on the ASU squad in both of those categories.
WR N'Keal Harry: During his true freshman campaign in 2016, Harry showed why he was one of the nation's most coveted targets on the recruiting trail. The 6-foot-4 receiver hauled in a team-best 58 passes for five scores. He also made the Utah defense look like a collection of falling dominoes when he turned a botched play into a wild 31-yard score. Harry has the full package for a receiver: size, hands and electric movement in space. The Sun Devils lose speedster Tim White, so Harry is the lead playmaker in the receiver room now. Expect massive numbers from him this season.
Verdict: Assuming the offensive coaching transition goes smoothly here, Arizona State could see eye-popping production from this trio. Though the quarterback situation isn't technically settled yet, both Barnett and Wilkins are capable options while Ballage and Harry have already demonstrated their star potential. This is a strong group that should be able to go toe-to-toe with any of its Pac-12 counterparts.