2021 Preseason SportsPac12 All-California Region Teams

SportsPac12 is pleased to announce its second-annual Preseason Football All-California Region teams for 2021, as well its Coach of the Year and Player of the Year honors for Cal, Stanford, UCLA, and USC, as selected by our Nick Bartlett.

Jack Follman’s All-Northwest Region honors appeared last week, and Dane Miller’s All-Southwest/Mountain Region picks will appear next week.

Our All-SportsPac12 teams will be selected soon after, with Stephen Vilardo and Chris Courtney joining the other three senior football writers in the voting for players and awards across all three regions.

You’ll find a breakdown of All-California Region players by program at the bottom of the page.


  By Nick Bartlett, SportsPac12

As always, deciding between talented players and coaches is a difficult task, especially in the preseason. We’re bound to have more clarity after the season, when we vote on these same teams in December.

Nonetheless, here’s how I see the All-California teams shaping up as of this summer.

The Trojans lead the way with a total of 22 combined First/Second-Team and individual honor selections, followed by the Bruins and Bears, both with 13, and the Cardinal with nine.


Coach of the Year: Clay Helton, USC
Clay Helton | Harry How/Getty Images

Helton may have his doubters, but the 2021 Trojan’s team is loaded with talent and is still the team to beat in the South this season. USC is also the beneficiary of an easy early season schedule, which should give the group time to come together. These combined factors should equal a high win total.


Offensive Player of the Year: Kedon Slovis, Quarterback, USC
Kedon Slovis | John McGillen/USC Athletics

Two Trojans really should be up for this award but we can only pick one. Slovis will benefit immensely from playing with Drake London. When Michael Pittman Jr. left there was a void in the USC offense. Expect London to fulfill that gap, and Slovis’s numbers to skyrocket because of it.


Defensive Player of the Year: Drake Jackson, Defensive End, USC
Drake Jackson | Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Jackson hasn’t reached his full potential yet, which should prove scary for everyone in the Conference. His athleticism, ability to pressure the quarterback, and impact play making ability, could land him a high spot in the upcoming NFL Draft.


Offensive Freshman of the Year: Michael Jackson III, Wide Receiver, USC
Michael Jackson III | USC Athletics

If Jackson doesn’t get time at the wideout position, he’ll likely get touches via special teams. Whether it’s receiving or returning, he should put up some stats.


Defensive Freshman of the Year: Korey Foreman, Defensive Lineman, USC
Foreman | The Athletic

As the No.2 recruit in the nation, Foreman could provide an immediate boost upfront for the Trojans. He should find some time in the rotation and prove to be an immediate impact player upon arrival.


All-California Region First-Team Offense

QB: Kedon Slovis, USC

At this point of his career, Slovis is looking to take the next step forward, and this season could provide that opportunity. When he is on his game, there is arguably no better quarterback in the Pac-12. Even in a down year in 2020, he threw for 17 touchdowns, 1,921 yards, and only seven interceptions. I expect him to bounce back this season and emerge as the undeniable leader of the Trojans.

Jones

RB: Austin Jones, Stanford

In my humble opinion, Jones is a Second-Team talent who will benefit greatly by running behind a re-tooled Stanford offensive line, allowing him to rack up big numbers. He is a good-dual threat back with the ability to finish in the red zone.

RB: Brittain Brown, UCLA

Brown is a running back who was probably over shadowed last year due to the phenomenal play of Demetric Felton. Nevertheless, Brown is a physical runner who could emerge as the breakout star in the Conference this season. In 2020, he quietly rushed for 543 yards and four touchdowns, including a 219-yard outing against Stanford.

WR: Drake London, USC

London is the best receiver in the Pac-12 this year, and it’s not even close. His physical attributes remind me of a combination of Mike Williams and Michael Pittman Jr. He is the type of receiver who, if you just throw the ball in his general direction, he’ll likely make a play. Expect huge numbers.

WR: Kyle Philips, UCLA

If you watch the NFL, Philips is comparable to Adam Thielen, Doug Baldwin, or Julian Edelman. He’s always in the right spot at the right time and will likely make a key catch on third down. Last year he finished with 370 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Dulcich

TE: Greg Dulcich, UCLA

Dulcich could be considered the breakout star of the “Covid Season.” He’s got solid hands for a tight end and is tough to bring down in the open field. In 2020, he finished with 517 yards receiving and five touchdowns, including a blistering 19.9 YPC (Yards per Catch average).

OL: Sean Rhyan, UCLA

Rhyan was the starting left tackle in all seven games for the Bruins last year. He was a key cog in the UCLA rushing attack, which averaged 230.6 YPG in 2020 and ranked second in the Pac-12. He also started 12 games as a freshman in 2019.

OL: Walter Rouse, Stanford

Rouse is another one of those Stanford offensive lineman who has the potential to make the NFL. He started all six games at left tackle for the Cardinal in 2020, and was a critical reason why the Cardinal passing attack averaged 287.3 YPG, good for second-best in the Conference. If he continues to develop, he could be dangerous.

OL: Michael Saffell, Cal

Saffell is one of those players who’s likely unknown because he plays in Berkeley. With that being said, he’s probably one of the best centers in the Pac-12 and figures to provide stability to an inconsistent Cal offense. He was the best pass-blocking center in the Conference last year, according to PFF.

Vorhees

OL: Andrew Vorhees, USC

Vorhees’ experience upfront is much-needed for a Trojan team that has struggled to run the ball. He has 25 starts throughout his career, and has the ability to play both the guard and tackle positions.

OL: Alec Anderson, UCLA

While maybe overshadowed by Rhyan, Anderson is a formidable offensive lineman in his own right. He started all seven games at right tackle for the Bruins last year. The combination of the two tackles could prove to be the best duo in the Conference in 2021.


All-California Region First-Team Defense

DL: Nick Figueroa, USC

Last season, Figueroa finished with 20 tackles, and led the team in both sacks and tackles for loss with 3.5 and seven apiece. Expect more of the same from him this year, barring any complications from his off-season surgery.

Tuipulotu

DL: Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

USC fans have high hopes for Tuipulotu as he was named to the 2020 Athletic Freshman All-American Second Team last season. As a sophomore, expect to find him making plays in the backfield. If he continues to develop, he could emerge as a future NFL’er.

DL: Thomas Booker, Stanford

Booker has been a pivotal playmaker upfront for the Cardinal the past few years, and his return could be the spark Stanford desperately needs. Last season, he blocked the extra point against Cal, which was the turning point from a 0-2 start to a 4-2 finish.

DL: Mitchell Agude, UCLA

Agude is a dynamic athlete with the ability to force turnovers from the edge position. Last year he forced two fumbles and added 2.5 sacks just for fun. I think his development may be one of the more interesting storylines in the Pac-12 this season.

LB: Drake Jackson, USC

Last year was Jackson’s first as a collegiate linebacker and it showed at times. Even in what may be considered a down season, he was selected to the 2020 All-Pac-12 Second Team, which speaks to his talent alone. This year should be his coming out party and he’ll likely make a number of big plays for the Trojans.

Johnson

LB: Caleb Johnson, UCLA

The JuCo transfer burst onto the scene last year, finishing with 44 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and one interception. He has the ability to get after the quarterback as well as stymie running backs behind the line of scrimmage. He could end up being a household name by season’s end.

LB: Cameron Goode, Cal

Goode is probably the most overlooked defensive player in the Conference. He is an extremely talented pass-rusher, and will likely prove to be the leader of The Golden Bears defense this season. Last year, he averaged 2.0 tackles for loss per game.

DB: Chris Steele, USC

There are extremely high expectations surrounding Steele as he enters his Junior campaign with the Trojans. He was a solid player all-around last season and was named to the 2020 All-Pac-12 Second Team.

DB: Quentin Lake, UCLA

Lake’s willingness to crowd the box and defend the run, combined with his playmaking ability on the back end, should have Bruins fans excited. Last year, he showed up big in the “Crosstown Rivalry,” finishing with 10 tackles and one interception. He also tied for the team lead with four pass deflections.

Hicks

DB: Elijah Hicks, Cal

Hicks is an extremely experienced player who’s played multiple positions in the secondary throughout his career at Cal. The veteran safety finished the 2020 season with 28 tackles, one interception, and two pass deflections. His leadership on the field could prove invaluable for the Golden Bears.

DB: Isaiah Pola-Mao, USC

Pola-Mao has established himself as a consistent playmaker for the Trojans over the past few seasons. As a Sophomore, he led USC with four interceptions. Last year he was a jack-of-all-trades, finishing with 40 tackles, five deflections, three fumble recoveries, and an interception. The athletic safety impacts the game in multiple facets.


All-California Region First-Team Special Teams

K: Parker Lewis, USC

Any freshman kicker who is 4-6 for field goals from 40-49 yards is alright by me. If his accuracy improves, he could be an All-Conference type.

Griffiths

P: Ben Griffiths, USC

The ex-rugby player may be one of the best punters in the country this year. Last season he averaged 46.4 yards per attempt.

R: Nathaniel Peat, Stanford

Peat is a third-year returner with enough athleticism to burn you. Last year he averaged 24.9 yards per return.

AP/ST: Kyle Philips, UCLA

Philips is just one of those sneaky players who, the more you get the ball in his hands, the better. He doesn’t have electric speed, but he could take one or two to the house.


All-California Region Second-Team Offense

QB: Chase Garbers, Cal
RB: Christopher Brown Jr., Cal
RB: Keaontay Ingram, USC
WR: Michael Wilson, Stanford
WR: Bru McCoy, USC
TE: Jake Tonges, Cal
OL: Brett Neilon, USC
OL: Will Craig, Cal
OL: Myles Hinton, Stanford
OL: Valentino Daltoso, Cal
OL: Sam Marrazzo, UCLA


All-California Region Second-Team Defense

DL: Korey Foreman, USC
DL: JH Tevis, Cal
DL: Brandon Pili, USC
DL: Ryan Johnson, Stanford
LB: Kuony Deng, Cal
LB: Kana’i Mauga, USC
LB: Evan Tattersall, Cal
DB: Josh Drayden, Cal
DB: Qwuantrezz Knight, UCLA
DB: Kendall Williamson, Stanford
DB: Stephan Blaylock, UCLA


All-California Region Second-Team Special Teams

K: Nicholas Barr-Mira, UCLA
P: Ryan Sanborn, Stanford
R: Gary Bryant Jr., USC
AP/ST: Nikko Remigio, Cal


Breakdown of All-California Region Selections by Program

ProgramFirst TeamSecond TeamCOY/POYTotal
USC107522
UCLA94013
Cal310013
Stanford4509




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Nick Bartlett

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