All-conference players don't guarantee wins, but they are vital to the winning formula. Slightly halfway through the season, Arizona State boasts numerous players that deserve Pac-12 recognition.
Marion Grice leads the nation in touchdowns with 18. Jaelen Strong has become one of the most lethal threats at wide receiver. Left tackle Evan Finkenberg rarely makes mistakes and provides elite leadership. There are no shortage of viable candidates on the ASU roster.
Feel free to compare my picks with CBS's Phil Steele.
First Team Pac-12
Marion Grice: The first team always gets two running backs, but even if the number got trimmed to one, Grice may stand alone over Bishop Sankey. Grice and Sankey went mono-a-mono on Saturday and Grice dominated the matchup. Despite the 18 trips to pay dirt, Grice hasn't become a household name across the country, thanks to the East Coast bias. Still, Ka'Deem Carey is putting up great numbers at Arizona and he's receiving some notoriety, so it's fair to say Grice deserves his fair share.
People are surprised by Grice having only 553 rushing yards, yet the 5.0 average per carry should stand out more. The biggest difference between Grice in 2012 to 2013 can be seen via his improved strength. Individual defenders are struggling to bring him down without gang tackles.
Grice also burns opponents with his incredible versatility. My dad recently asked me, could Grice play wide receiver? The answer was yes. For example, how about that one-handed touchdown grab that somehow missed ESPN's top 10 plays? When Grice isn't running the ball down your throat, he stays active in the passing game.
As of now, Grice deserves to be on the first team unanimously.
Jaelen Strong: The hype coming in was hard to live up to. People like myself were predicting 1,100 yards, which is very demanding. Strong has validated the praise by backing it up on the field.
Strong has accumulated 45 catches, 685 yards and four touchdowns. It's hard to believe but the best is still yet to come. Taylor Kelly and Strong already possess incredible chemistry, despite playing together for less than six months.
The top criteria for wide recievers are speed and size. Normally the targets on the outside are better at one facet than the other. Strong posses top-notch grades with both his speed and size. The former junior college product stands in at 6-foot-4, while displaying 4.4 (high) speed. The blend of speed and size causes him to be nearly unstoppable.
Chris Coyle: With the new wide receivers and the emergence of De'Marieya Nelson, Chris Coyle isn't the focal point of the recieivng game. Regardless of the talent around him and slightly lowered numbers, he still ranks atop the Pac-12 tight ends.
The 18 receptions are surprisingly low. Meanwhile, 303 yards and three touchdowns for Coyle are eerily similar to his 2012 numbers at the midway point. Coyle and Strong complement each other well, as Coyle occupies the heart of the defense and Strong works outside the hash marks.
Coyle will get more touches in the latter half with teams prioritizing toward Strong.
Osahon Irabor: The MVP and the savior of ASU's defense, Osahon Irabor. The pass rush hasn't panned out as well as expected, but Irabor's coverage at the cornerback position balances it out.
Irabor embraces the role of shutdown corner, demanding to guard the best weapons on each team. In order to blitz often, like Paul Randolph does, playing one-on-one coverage becomes routine. Doing so wouldn't pan out without Irabor going step for step with almost anyone.
Second Team All Pac-12
Evan Finkenberg: Finkenberg barely missed the first team cut. The ASU offensive line sports two new starters, and their growing pains aren't as evident because of Finkenberg.
It's tough to start for three straight season, but Finkenberg is the exception. Finkenberg has gone against some tough defensive lines in Notre Dame, Stanford and more, and he holds up his end of the bargain.
Protecting the blinside of the quarterback is one of the most important jobs on a football team. Finkenberg flies under the radar, but without him, the ASU offense would average less than 45.4 points per game.
Jamil Douglas: Athleticism was never the problem. It was only a matter of time before Douglas tuned into a beast. Once he landed at guard and stayed there, the light bulb went off.
Douglas imposes his will on defense with brute strength. The running backs tend to go toward the left side, mainly because of Douglas clearing real estate. Douglas's emergence allows the extra protection help to go to the right side because of their difficulties.
Will Sutton: The pedestrian statistics aren't indicative of his impact. No. 90 gets double teamed nearly every snap, and he is finally figuring out how to overcome those situations.
Sutton is still blowing up a lot of plays. The difference being, he isn't making the tackles or sacks but grants his teammates with easy opportunities. 13 sacks as a defensive tackle were nearly impossible to replicate.
If you watch the film, you can see Sutton hasn't regressed. It'd be a safe bet to assume Sutton ends up on the first team, despite being on the second team to date.
Bradford was shooting for over 22.5 sacks and that won't happen. On a realistic note, 4.5 sacks through seven games isn't too shabby at all. Whether Braford lines up at linebacker or defensive line, he consistently finds his way to the football.
Chris Young: The routine tackles don't make the highlight reels, therefore Chris Young doesn't get the proper kudos.
Young leads ASU with 44 tackles. One of the defenses weaknesses is fundamental tackling, but the coaches don't need to worry about Young in that department.
In order for Young to hold down second team honors, his sack numbers need to rise. One sack in seven games won't cut it. In all fairness, Young isn't being asked to blitz as much as last year.
Third Team All-Pac 12
Taylor Kelly: I'm in the vast minority here, but Taylor Kelly deserves to be placed on the third team over Brett Hundley (assuming Mariota and Mannion go 1-2). The numbers back my opinion up.
Kelly owns 2,489 total yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Hundley owns 1,948 total yards, 16 total touchdowns and six interceptions. Before agreeing with me too quickly, let's remember Hundley has played one less game.
If we factor in Hundley's averages over another game, his totals rise to: 2,272 total yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Break it down, Kelly would still have more yards, touchdowns and the same amount of interceptions.
Hundley would be the common pick over Kelly, but the comparison shows the two are eerily similar.