Pac-12 2015 Season Awards and All-Conference Team

Athlon hands out its awards from the 2015 season.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Runner Up: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

 

Pac-12 2015 Postseason All-Conference Team
 

First

Team

Second

Team

QB

Luke Falk

Washington State 

QB Jared Goff

California 

RB

Royce Freeman

Oregon 

RB Paul Perkins

UCLA 

RB

Devontae Booker

Utah 

RB Myles Gaskin

Washington 

AP

Christian McCaffrey

Stanford 

AP Charles Nelson

Oregon 

WR

Gabe Marks

Washington State 

WR Jordan Payton

UCLA 

WR

JuJu Smith-Schuster

USC 

WR Nelson Spruce

Colorado 

TE

Austin Hooper

Stanford 

TE Thomas Duarte

UCLA 

C

Jake Brendel

UCLA 

C Josh Mitchell

Oregon State 

OG

Joshua Garnett

Stanford 

OG Isaac Seumalo

Oregon State  

OT

Zach Banner 

USC 

OG Isaac Asiata

Utah 

OT

Joe Dahl

Washington State 

OT Conor McDermott

UCLA 

OT

Kyle Murphy

Stanford 

OT J.J. Dielman

Utah 

     
DE

DeForest Buckner 

Oregon 

DL Antwaun Woods

USC 

DT

Lowell Lotulelei

Utah 

DL Aziz Shittu

Stanford 

DT

Kenny Clark

UCLA 

DL Darryl Paulo

Washington State 

LB

Antonio Longino

Arizona State 

DL Destiny Vaeao

Washington State 

LB

Gionni Paul

Utah 

LB Salamo Fiso

Arizona State 

LB

Su'a Cravens

USC 

LB Jared Norris

Utah 

LB

Blake Martinez

Stanford 

LB Travis Feeney

Washington 

CB

Sidney Jones

Washington 

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Colorado 

CB

Adoree' Jackson

USC 

CB Ronnie Harris

Stanford 

S

Marcus Williams

Utah 

S William Parks

Arizona 

S

Budda Baker

Washington 

S Randall Goforth

UCLA 

     
K

Ka'imi Fairbairn

UCLA 

K Andy Phillips

Utah 

P

Tom Hackett

Utah 

P Drew Riggleman

Arizona 

KR

Christian McCaffrey

Stanford 

KR Tim White

Arizona State 

PR

Adoree' Jackson

USC 

PR Dante Pettis

Washington 

 

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