The Utah Utes inspired us all in 2021. They also played some terrific football. Utah is heavily featured in our All-Pac-12 Team from the 2021 college football season.
As the Pac-12 season went along, it became clear who ran the conference in 2021. After starting the season 1-2 amid unspeakable tragedy, the Utes began one of the most resilient, inspiring runs of success in recent memory. From Halloween forward, this Utah team would not be denied anything but greatness for the legacy of Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe.
They gave us emotional and dominant performances that inspired hope both on and off the field. Rightfully so, they earned a ton of respect on the national stage. And today, they earn even more national respect from the team at Pro Football Network.
All-Pac-12 Football Team Honors for 2021
Utah isn’t the only inspiring team from the Pac-12 in 2021. There was the turning of the corner by the Oregon State Beavers, and there was a performance for the ages from a certain USC receiver before injury struck. The Pac-12 had some major highs mixed in with even lower lows in 2021.
It’s important to note that these are awards and honors from Pro Football Network for each individual’s prowess on the field this season. This is in no way a projection of their NFL Draft status nor a report on actual conference awards that have already been handed out. These honors are from Pro Football Network, as judged upon by our team of college football analysts.
Let’s get to the overall awards.
- Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Kyle Whittingham, Utah
- Pac-12 Player of the Year: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
- Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year: Tavion Thomas, RB, Utah
- Pac-12 Game of the Year: Oregon vs. UCLA, Week 6
The Pac-12 had some truly terrific performances on the offensive side of the ball. But who was the most impressive at each position on offense?
- Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year: Tavion Thomas, Utah
- Pac-12 Quarterback of the Year: Cam Rising, Utah
- Pac-12 Running Back of the Year: Tavion Thomas, Utah
- Pac-12 Wide Receiver of the Year: Drake London, USC
- Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year: Bamidele Olaseni, Utah
- Pac-12 Offensive Line of the Year: Utah Utes
- Pac-12 Offensive Rookie of the Year: De’Zhaun Stribling, WR, Washington State
Tavion Thomas earns the award for top running back and overall offensive player. He didn’t get to his final statistical output without adversity, however. There was a rough stretch to start the year that saw him see the bench for two games against San Diego State and Washington State. Instead of wallowing, Thomas honed his craft and put forth one of the more remarkable stretches from a running back across college football this season.
From Week 6 through the Pac-12 Championship Game (eight games), Thomas scored a whopping 18 touchdowns on the ground. He had multiple 4-touchdown performances and five multi-score games on the ground in that span. All told, Thomas ran for 1,041 yards and a conference-best 20 touchdowns on the ground.
On the flip side, no receiver was better than Drake London through the first eight games of action. Despite fracturing his ankle in Week 9, London still led the conference with 1,084 receiving yards in 2021. He bailed out Kedon Slovis on many occasions and would have likely led the country in every major receiving category had he finished the season.
Utah’s offensive line is the best in the West, maybe the country
From left to right, the Utes’ offensive line played some of the best football through the back half of the season. From October through December, no unit played better in the country. LT Bamidele Olaseni, LG Keaton Bills, C Nick Ford, RG Sataoa Laumea, and RT Braeden Daniels all put forth some of the best team blocking we saw all season long. They didn’t play in those positions in every game as injuries forced some movement along the line, proving once again how dominant they were as a unit.
The Utes averaged over 6.0 yards per carry and ran for 35 rushing scores in 2021 behind this offensive line. Olaseni earns the top spot as the best overall lineman as he anchored the left tackle spot brilliantly. He’s still learning the game and ascending draft boards in the process. The big man from the United Kingdom is a name to know.
First-Team All-Pac-12 Offense
QB: Cam Rising, Utah
RB: Tavion Thomas, Utah
RB: B.J. Baylor, Oregon State
WR: Drake London, USC
WR: Kyle Phillips, UCLA
WR: Calvin Jackson Jr., Washington State
TE: Brant Kuithe, Utah
FLEX: Rachaad White, Arizona State
LT: Bamidele Olaseni, Utah
LG: Paul Grattan Jr., UCLA
C: Nick Ford, Utah
RG: Nous Keobounnam, Oregon State
RT: Braeden Daniels, Utah
Second-Team All-Pac-12 Offense
QB: Jayden de Laura, Washington State
RB: Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
RB: Max Borghi, Washington State
WR: Stanley Berryhill III, Arizona
WR: Trevon Bradford, Oregon State
WR: Trevon Clark, Cal
TE: Greg Dulcich, UCLA
FLEX: Travell Harris, Washington State
LT: Sean Rhyan, UCLA
LG: Andrew Vorhees, USC
C: Dohnovan West, Arizona State
RG: Sataoa Laumea, Utah
RT: Abraham Lucas, Washington State
Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 Offense
QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
RB: Travis Dye, Oregon
RB: Keontay Ingram, USC
WR: Gary Bryant Jr., USC
WR: Devon Williams, Oregon
WR: Ricky Pearsall, Arizona State
TE: Dalton Kincaid, Utah
FLEX: Curtis Hodges, Arizona State
LT: Joshua Gray, Oregon State
LG: LaDarius Henderson, Arizona State
C: Nathan Eldridge, Oregon State
RG: Liam Jimmons, USC
RT: Brandon Kipper, Oregon State
Some of the best individual players in college football resided in the Pac-12 this season. While Kayvon Thibodeaux headlined the group, it was Utah’s Devin Lloyd who demanded attention and earned respect at the national stage. Thibodeaux was great, but Lloyd was elite.
- Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year: Devin Lloyd, Utah
- Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Year: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
- Pac-12 Linebacker of the Year: Devin Lloyd, Utah
- Pac-12 Defensive Back of the Year: Verone McKinley III, Oregon
- Pac-12 Defensive Rookie of the Year: Junior Tafuna, DI, Utah
- Pac-12 Defensive Line of the Year: Utah Utes
- Pac-12 Secondary of the Year: Oregon Ducks
Lloyd was amazing all season long for the Utes. He finished the year with a gaudy stat line of 107 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 interceptions, a pair of pick-sixes, 1 forced fumble, and an even bigger impact on the opposing offensive game plan. Lloyd is as instinctive as they come. He rose not only in the Pac-12 ranks but in NFL Draft circles. Lloyd is now likely to be the first linebacker drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Thibodeaux was also terrific, commanding double-teams at will. He finished second in the conference with 7 sacks despite missing time with an injury. But his impact on the game went much further than statistics. Thibodeaux impacted the game even before Saturdays, influencing offensive game plans from coordinators and coaches.
Utah’s Junior Tafuna earns the Rookie of the Year on the defensive side of the ball after impressing week in and week out for the Utes. He finished with 4.5 sacks and 32 total tackles. Tafuna pushed the pocket with great ease at times and looks poised for a great career similar to previous big men up the middle for Utah.
Oregon Ducks secondary is still one of the best
The Oregon Ducks’ secondary absolutely stole the show like they stole footballs in 2021. One could even say the only reason they were in the Pac-12 Championship was because of their secondary.
Led by Verone McKinley III’s national-best 6 interceptions, the Ducks made it difficult to throw against them in seemingly every game. McKinley, Bennett Williams, and DJ James each had multiple interceptions, while Mykael Wright and Jamal Hill also chipped in with at least 4 pass breakups a piece.
First-Team All-Pac-12 Defense
EDGE: Mika Tafua, Utah
EDGE: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
DI: Brandon Dorlus, Oregon
DI: Kyon Barrs, Arizona
LB: Devin Lloyd, Utah
LB: Avery Roberts, Oregon State
LB: Nephi Sewell, Utah
CB: Kyler Gordon, Washington
CB: Jack Jones, Arizona State
CB: Armani Marsh, Washington State
S: Verone McKinley III, Oregon
S: Quentin Lake, UCLA
FLEX: Noah Sewell, Oregon
Second-Team All-Pac-12 Defense
EDGE: Cam Goode, Cal
EDGE: Drake Jackson, USC
DI: Junior Tafuna, Utah
DI: Trevon Mason, Arizona
LB: Kana’i Mauga, USC
LB: Jahad Woods, Washington State
LB: Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
CB: Rejzohn Wright, Oregon State
CB: Kyu Blu Kelly, Stanford
CB: Jay Shaw, UCLA
S: Elijah Hicks, Cal
S: Xavion Alford, USC
FLEX: Clark Phillips III, Utah
Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 Defense
EDGE: Ron Stone Jr., Washington State
EDGE: Mitchell Agude, UCLA
DI: Thomas Booker, Stanford
DI: D.J. Davidson, Arizona State
LB: Jackson Sirmon, Washington
LB: Anthony Pandy, Arizona
LB: Justus Rogers, Washington State
CB: Chris Steele, USC
CB: Jaylen Watson, Washington State
CB: Lu-Magia Hearns III, Cal
S: Mark Perry, Colorado
S: Brandon McKinney, Utah
FLEX: Omar Speights, Oregon State
Pac-12 Special Teams
Some all-time great moments happened in the Pac-12 this season — especially on special teams. Here are the top honors from the third aspect of football in the Pac-12.
- Pac-12 Kicker of the Year: Cole Becker, Colorado
- Pac-12 Punter of the Year: Race Porter, Washington
- Pac-12 Specialist of the Year: Britain Covey, Utah
Britain Covey has long since been a favorite of the Utah fan base. He further engraved his name in Ute folklore with his play on special teams this season. Covey led the conference with 415 punt return yards and 2 touchdowns. He was a runaway for the top individual honor for a specialist here.
The kicking duties were not as easy, however. Cole Becker nailed all 25 of his extra points and 14 of 20 field goals this year. His efforts from distance earned him the nod as he made 3-of-4 from at least 50 yards. Race Porter finished the season with a conference-best 22 punts inside the 20 and the third-best net punt average.
First-Team All-Pac-12 Specialists
Kicker: Cole Becker, Colorado
Kickoff Specialist: Logan Tyler, Arizona State
Punter: Race Porter, Washington
Kick Returner: Kazmeir Allen, UCLA
Punt Returner: Britain Covey, Utah
Special Teamer: Connor O’Toole, Utah
Second-Team All-Pac-12 Specialists
Kicker: Nicholas Barr-Mira, UCLA
Kickoff Specialist: RJ Lopez, UCLA
Punter: Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona
Kick Returner: Nathaniel Peat, Stanford
Punt Returner: Kyle Phillips, UCLA
Special Teamer: Joey Hobert, Washington State
Honorable All-Pac-12 Specialists
Kicker: Parker Lewis, USC
Kickoff Specialist: Cole Becker, Colorado
Punter: Ryan Sanborn, Stanford
Kick Returner: Nikko Remigio, Cal
Punt Returner: Mycah Pittman, Oregon
Special Teamer: Kenny Hebert, Arizona
Congratulations to all those players selected. For any questions regarding these selections or the process behind them, please ask on Twitter (@CamMellor).
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