Jack Follman’s 2021 Pac-12 Football Awards

Posted on December 7, 2021


  By Jack Follman, SportsPac12

It’s been a wild nearly two years in the Pac-12. Well, in the world, but it feels like the Pac-12 is extra weird.

Pac-12Oregon scored one of the biggest wins in Pac-12 history, but also lost to Stanford. BYU dominated the conference.

USC and Washington were such disasters both had to quickly fire their coaches.

Washington State had to fire their coach because he wouldn’t get a shot and then they finished super strong.

Cal was about the only program in the nation to be affected by COVID, and Arizona finally won a game.

Let’s take a look at the best of the year…


Offensive Player of the Year — Cameron Rising, So. QB, Utah
Utah’s Cam Rising breaks a UCLA tackle. | Rick Bowmer/AP
There are definitely better players and players with better stats, but I’m giving Rising the award because he was the conference’s most-valuable offensive player and the catalyst for the Utes winning the Pac-12.

He was also super gutsy and clutch in their wins over Oregon, which gave them the Conference.

Second-Best: Tavion Thomas, Junior Running Back, Utah
Third-Best: Travis Dye, Junior Running Back, Oregon


Defensive Player of the Year — Devin Lloyd, Jr. LB, Utah
Utah’s Devin Lloyd | Chris Gardner/Getty Images
Any entity that doesn’t give Lloyd their Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award should be cancelled for taking money.

Lloyd had one of the best defensive seasons in Pac-12 history. His stat line was insane. He made huge plays. He was the leader of a tough defense and was damn fun to watch. No question here.

Second-Best: Brandon Dorlus, Sophomore Defensive Tackle, Oregon
Third-Best: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Sophomore Defensive End, Oregon


Coach of the Year — Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham | Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports
This will be remembered as the year Whittingham officially broke through, not just winning the Pac-12, but dominating the runner up in the regular season and Championship Game.

He really has brought everything full circle at Utah in the Pac-12 since joining the conference and the future looks incredibly bright in Salt Lake City.

Second-Best: Jonathan Smith, Oregon State
Third-Best: Jake Dickert, Washington State


Special Teams Player of the Year — Britain Covey, Jr. WR, Utah
Britain Covey | Rick Egan/Salt Lake Tribune
The Pac-12’s elder statesman was LIGHTS OUT this year and returned two punts for touchdowns, including a huge power score against Oregon that may have delivered a knockout punch in the biggest regular season Pac-12 game of the year.

Second-Best: Race Porter, Senior Punter, Washington
Third-Best: Kyle Ostendorp, Sophomore Punter, Arizona


Offensive Freshman of the Year — Brendon Lewis, Fr. QB, Colorado
Colorado’s Brendon Lewis | Cliff Grassmick/ColoradoDaily
COVID has made classifications so complicated this year. I don’t know how other entities are doing it, but I’m only considering what I consider actual freshmen this year for Freshman awards and All-Freshman teams.

That means I’m not considering anyone who is still listed as a freshman who played more than three games last year. For example, you can’t consider someone like Noah Sewell, who played a ton of games and minutes in 2020 a freshman this year.

Tough call between Lewis and Jaxson Dart here for me. I’m giving Lewis the nod because he was the all-season leader for the Buffs and ended up with decent stats even if Colorado didn’t have a great season.

He finished with 12 total touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Second-Best: Jaxson Dart, Freshman Quarterback, USC
Third-Best: Terrance Ferguson, Freshman Tight End, Oregon


Defensive Freshman of the Year — Junior Tafuna, Fr. DT, Utah
Utah’s Junior Tafuna | Joel Davidson, UteZone, 247Sports
Tafuna was one of the best defensive tackles in the entire Conference this year. His emergence was a huge development for the Utah defense and his 4.5 sacks as a freshman were a huge accomplishment.

Second-Best: Cole Bishop, Freshman Safety, Utah
Third-Best: Carson Bruener, Freshman Linebacker, Washington


Coordinator of the Year — Morgan Scalley, DC, Utah
Utah DC Morgan Scalley | Leah Hogsten/Salt Lake Tribune
Scalley’s defensive unit broke through and won the Conference this year. His defense just continues to be great year-after-year and does everything you want a defense to do so well.

Second-Best: Andy Ludwig, Offensive Coordinator, Utah
Third-Best: Tim DeRuyter, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon


Transfer of the Year — Cameron Rising, So. QB, Utah
Utah QB Cameron Rising | Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Rising’s emergence as the Utes’ QB of the future is what pushed Utah to the next level.

He was arguably the best quarterback in the Conference, and the Texas transfer gets counted for this year since he barely played in 2020.

Second-Best: Zach Charbonnet, Sophomore Running Back, UCLA
Third-Best: Keaontay Ingram, Junior Running Back, USC


Most Improved Player — Brandon Dorlus, So. DT, Oregon
Oregon DL Brandon Dorlus | Oregon Athletics
Dorlus flashed in the 2020 Pac-12 Championship Game and was insanely valuable all season in 2021.

He was the key piece in Oregon having a tough run defense they could rely on and his quickness and athleticism up front allowed him to regularly get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Second-Best: T.J. Bass, Junior Tackle, Oregon
Third-Best: Kyler Gordon, Sophomore Cornerback, Washington


Comeback Player of the Year — Jack Jones, Sr. CB, Arizona State
ASU’s Jack Jones | Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
What a Pac-12 ride for Jones. He came back to Arizona State and had a first-team All-Pac-12 season, helping lead a very strong ASU defense throughout the year.

Second-Best: Max Borghi, Junior Running Back, Washington State
Third-Best: Britain Covey, Junior Wide Receiver, Utah


Biggest Surprise of the Year — Utah’s Dominance of Oregon
Utah destroyed Oregon twice. | Alex Goodlett/Associated Press
I think everyone thought Utah would at the very least give then-Conference favorite and CFP candidate Oregon a tough test in Salt Lake City in November.

I don’t think anyone thought Utah would wreck the Ducks 38-7 in one of the most physical beatings we’ve seen in a marquee Pac-12 conference showdown in a long time.

Then, I think everyone thought the Ducks would be able to at least fix some things, get some motivation and make the Conference Championship Game at least a little closer, but no.

It was close to being worse.

Second-Biggest: Oregon’s win at Ohio State
Third-Biggest: State of Washington head coaches both fired


Biggest Disappointment — Washington & Jimmy Lake
Former Washington coach Jimmy Lake | Ted S. Warren/AP
The Huskies were picked by some to win the Conference in 2021 after looking solid in four games under Lake in the COVID 2020 season.

No one saw them losing their opener to Montana while only scoring seven points, and then going 4-4 while looking atrocious on offense and run defense before Washington used a sideline transgression to help them get Lake out the door.

Second-Biggest: USC
Third-Biggest: Pac-12 refs




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