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Pac-12 2015 Season Awards and All-Conference Team

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey

The Pac-12 won’t have a team in the College Football Playoff, but this league is the deepest in the nation, featuring 10 teams with a .500 record or better. Four teams from the Pac-12 finished in the top 25 of the playoff committee rankings, with Stanford the highest at No. 6, followed by Oregon at No. 15.

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Stanford claimed the conference title with a victory over USC, giving the Cardinal at least 11 wins in four out of coach David Shaw’s five seasons. Oregon started 3-3 after an injury limited quarterback Vernon Adams in the first half of the year. However, the Ducks finished fast and ended the regular season with six consecutive victories. The North Division also featured two improving teams – Washington State and California – and a team on the rise in Washington. The South Division featured a crowded race at the top, but the Trojans claimed the division title after a win over UCLA on Nov. 28. Utah recorded with its best mark in conference play (6-3) since joining the Pac-12, while UCLA finished 8-4 behind true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.

With the regular season completed and bowl season starting on Dec. 19, it’s time to recap and look back at the 2015 campaign. Athlon Sports offers its awards and honors the best players in the league with the first and second all-conference teams for the Pac-12:

Pac-12 2015 Season Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

McCaffrey was the nation’s best all-purpose player in 2015. The sophomore led the Pac-12 with 1,847 rushing yards and recorded eight scores and caught 41 passes for 540 yards and four touchdowns. McCaffrey showcased his big-play ability on special teams, averaging 28.9 yards per kickoff return and completed two of three pass attempts for 39 yards and two touchdowns this season. McCaffrey's 3,496 all-purpose yards set a new FBS single-season record.

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Runner Up: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State/Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Defensive Player of the Year: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon

It’s a close call between Buckner and Utah linebacker Gionni Paul for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The edge goes to Buckner, as the senior dominated the line of scrimmage for the Ducks this season. Buckner recorded 9.5 sacks (second in the Pac-12), 16 tackles for a loss and 76 overall stops.

Runner Up: Gionni Paul, LB, Utah

Coach of the Year: Mike Leach, Washington State

Leach is the easy pick for coach of the year honors after Washington State made a five-game improvement in the win column this season. The Cougars finished 3-9 last year but made significant progress behind new quarterback Luke Falk and an improved defense under new first-year coordinator Alex Grinch. Leach guided the program to road wins at UCLA, Oregon and Arizona and fell just short of an upset (30-28) against Stanford.

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Runner Up: David Shaw, Stanford

Freshman of the Year (Offensive): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

UCLA’s offense has a promising outlook for the future with Rosen at the helm. The true freshman started all 12 games, threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns and averaged 279.2 yards per game. Rosen tossed only two picks over the last six games and passed for 399 yards in UCLA 40-24 victory over California on Oct. 22.

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Runner Up: Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington

Freshman of the Year (Defensive): Cameron Smith, LB, USC

Smith was a standout performer for coach Clay Helton in 2015, and the true freshman is a building block for USC’s defense in 2016. Despite a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 13 against Colorado, the California native tied Su’a Cravens for the team lead in tackles (78) and registered three pass breakups and one sack. Smith turned in one of the top individual performances on defense for the Trojans in 2015, intercepting three passes and returning one for a touchdown against Utah on Oct. 24.

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Runner Up: Kareem Orr, CB, Arizona State

Coordinator of the Year: Pete Kwiatkowski, Defensive Coordinator, Washington

Kwiatkowski is one of the Pac-12’s underrated coaches, as he’s developed one of the league’s top defenses in just two seasons in Seattle. The Huskies led the Pac-12 by limiting opponents to just 4.86 yards per play and 17.8 points per game in 2015. Washington’s defense improved in both statistical categories despite losing three standouts – Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha – off last year’s group. Under Kwiatkowski’s direction, the Huskies have developed the top secondary in the Pac-12, as this unit allowed only nine passing scores all season.

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Runner Up: Mike Bloomgren, OC, Stanford

Newcomer of the Year: Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon

Oregon’s 2015 season might have looked a little different if Adams managed to stay healthy all season. The Eastern Washington transfer was a dynamic addition to the Ducks’ high-powered attack, throwing for 2,446 yards and 25 touchdowns. The senior has a knack for producing big plays and connected on 20 passing plays of 30 yards or more this season. A finger injury limited Adams early in the year, but he returned at full strength by mid-October and guided Oregon’s offense to an average of 48.6 points per game over the final five contests.

Runner Up: Matt Hegarty, C, Oregon/Shalom Luani, DB, Washington State

Breakout Player: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Falk’s four-game audition for the starting job at the end of the 2014 season showed the former walk-on was capable of handling the controls of Washington State’s high-powered offense. It’s probably safe to say Falk exceeded most of those preseason expectations, as he earned first-team Athlon Sports All-Pac-12 honors at quarterback and threw for 4,266 yards and 36 touchdowns. Falk’s emergence is a big reason why Washington State improved its win total by five games from 2014 to 2015.

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Runner Up: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Pac-12 2015 Postseason All-Conference Team





Luke FalkWashington State 

QB Jared GoffCalifornia 


Royce FreemanOregon 

RB Paul PerkinsUCLA 


Devontae BookerUtah 

RB Myles GaskinWashington 


Christian McCaffreyStanford 

AP Charles NelsonOregon 


Gabe MarksWashington State 

WR Jordan PaytonUCLA 


JuJu Smith-SchusterUSC 

WR Nelson SpruceColorado 


Austin HooperStanford 

TE Thomas DuarteUCLA 


Jake BrendelUCLA 

C Josh MitchellOregon State 


Joshua GarnettStanford 

OG Isaac SeumaloOregon State  


Zach Banner USC 

OG Isaac AsiataUtah 


Joe DahlWashington State 

OT Conor McDermottUCLA 


Kyle MurphyStanford 

OT J.J. DielmanUtah 





DeForest Buckner Oregon 

DL Antwaun WoodsUSC 


Lowell LotuleleiUtah 

DL Aziz ShittuStanford 


Kenny ClarkUCLA 

DL Darryl PauloWashington State 


Antonio LonginoArizona State 

DL Destiny VaeaoWashington State 


Gionni PaulUtah 

LB Salamo FisoArizona State 


Su'a CravensUSC 

LB Jared NorrisUtah 


Blake MartinezStanford 

LB Travis FeeneyWashington 


Sidney JonesWashington 

CB Chidobe AwuzieColorado 


Adoree' JacksonUSC 

CB Ronnie HarrisStanford 


Marcus WilliamsUtah 

S William ParksArizona 


Budda BakerWashington 

S Randall GoforthUCLA 





Ka'imi FairbairnUCLA 

K Andy PhillipsUtah 


Tom HackettUtah 

P Drew RigglemanArizona 


Christian McCaffreyStanford 

KR Tim WhiteArizona State 


Adoree' JacksonUSC 

PR Dante PettisWashington