Offensive Player of the Year: Gardner Minshew II, Washington State
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
Coach of the Year: Mike Leach, Washington State
SAN FRANCISCO — Quarterback Gardner Minshew II of WASHINGTON STATE has been named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven of WASHINGTON the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year and Mike Leach of WASHINGTON STATE the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. In addition, running back Jermar Jefferson of OREGON STATE has been named Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and ARIZONA STATE linebacker Merlin Robertson the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
Offensive Player of the Year – Gardner Minshew II, QB, Washington State: Minshew, from Brandon, Miss., not only led the Pac-12 in passing, but the FBS as well, averaging 373.1 yards per game. He completed 433 of 613 pass attempts for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns, with just nine interceptions. He threw for 300 or more yards in 11 games, including a season-best 473 yards in Washington State’s 69-28 win over Arizona, where he tied a Pac-12 record with seven touchdown passes in regulation play. His 4,477 passing yards are third-most in a single season at Washington State and fifth-most in Pac-12 history. With a bowl game remaining, he needs 243 passing yards to set the Pac-12 single-season mark of 4,719 set in 2015 by California’s Jared Goff. This marks the seventh time Washington State has claimed the conference offensive player of the year honor, and first since Jason Gesser in 2002. Minshew joins former WSU QBs Gesser (2002), Ryan Leaf (1997) and Drew Bledsoe (1992) as Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year – Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington: Burr-Kirven, a senior from Menlo Park, Calif., anchored the Husky defense that led the Pac-12 and was 12th in the nation in total defense (301.8 yards allowed per game), led the Pac-12 in pass defense (185.4 yards allowed per game), and second in rush defense (116.4 yards allowed per game). He led the Pac-12 with 165 tackles and his 12.7 tackles per game ranked third-best in the FBS, It’s a repeat honor for the Huskies, following DL Vita Vea’s award-winning season last year. Burr-Kirven is the sixth Husky to garner the honor and the first Pac-12 player to earn both Conference Player of the Year and the Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year – Jermar Jefferson, RB, Oregon State: Jefferson, a freshman from Harbor City, Calif., topped all FBS freshmen in rushing with 1,380 yards (5.8 yards/carry) and an average of 115.0 yards per game (7th overall in the FBS). His 12 rushing touchdowns were tied for second most in the Pac-12. Jefferson’s 1,380 rushing yards set an Oregon State true freshman rushing record and is the sixth-best single-season total. He twice rushed for 200 or more yards in a game, including a Pac-12 freshman single-game record 254 yards vs. Arizona State. Jefferson also picked up 25 receptions for 147 yards during the season. He is the second running back in Beaver history to be highlighted with the honor joining Jacquizz Rodgers in 2008. Honorable Mention Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon; Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC; Max Borghi, RB, Washington State.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year – Merlin Robertson, LB, Arizona State: Robertson, a freshman from Gardena, Calif., ranked 20th in the Pac-12 with 6.4 tackles per game, while his team-leading 77 total tackles led all Pac-12 freshmen. Named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week after he tallied nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in a 16-13 win over Michigan State. Posted a season-best 11 tackles at Washington. In all, Robertson had 77 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and an interception. Robertson’s play kept the Sun Devils in every game as their five losses were by seven or fewer points. He’s the third Sun Devil to earn Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, joining LB Vontaze Burfict (2009) and DE Junior Onyeali (2010), and the fifth Sun Devil overall to earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors, along with TE Zach Miller (2004) and DE Terrell Suggs (2000). Honorable Mention Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Paulson Adebo, DB, Stanford; Jay Tufele, DL, USC.
Coach of the Year – Mike Leach, Washington State: Guided the Cougars to their sixth 10-win season, and first since 2003. Washington State won seven straight Pac-12 games and finished tied atop the Pac-12 North Division standings with a 7-2 league record, 10-2 overall. Under Leach, the Cougars climbed to No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings where they sat for four weeks (Oct. 30 – Nov. 20). The Cougars led the Pac-12 in scoring (38.3 ppg), total offense (461.8 ypg) and passing offense (379.8 ypg). In seven seasons at Washington State, Leach’s record stands at 48-40. Over the last four seasons, his record is 36-15, with at least eight wins in each of those four seasons. It’s the second time Leach has earned Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors (Co-Coach with Stanford’s David Shaw in 2015).
The individual awards and the All-Pac-12 Football Team are selected by the Pac-12 head coaches. Below is the 2018 All-Pac-12 Football Team that was announced earlier today.
2018 ALL-PAC-12 CONFERENCE FOOTBALL TEAM
AP/ST=all-purpose/special teams player (not a kicker or returner)
(1) Two-time first team selection
(2) Three-time first team selection
No Tiebreaker: There was a tie for the fifth offensive lineman for first team, so that team is represented with six offensive linemen. There also was a tie for the fourth defensive back for second team, so that team is represented with five defensive backs.
ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION
ARIZONA: DL PJ Johnson, RJr.; WR Shawn Poindexter, Sr.; Thomas Reid III, WR, RSo.; LB Colin Schooler, So.;
ARIZONA STATE: OL Quinn Bailey, RSr.; DB Aashari Crosswell, Fr.; OL Casey Tucker, Grad.; DL Renell Wren, RSr.;
CALIFORNIA: DE Luc Bequette, RJr.; DB Camryn Bynum, RSo.; P Steven Coutts, RJr.; RS Ashtyn Davis, RJr.;
COLORADO: LB Rick Gamboa, Sr.; DL Mustafa Johnson, So.; LB Nate Landman, So.; RB Travon McMillian, Sr.; OL Will Sherman, Fr.; DB Evan Worthington, Sr.;
OREGON: DB Ugochukwu Amadi, Sr.; OL Jake Hanson, Jr.; OLB Justin Hollins, Sr.; DL Jordon Scott, So.; OL Penei Sewell, Fr.; OL Calvin Throckmorton, Jr.;
OREGON STATE: AP/ST Andre Bodden, RJr.; WR Trevon Bradford, Jr.; WR Isaiah Hodgins, So.; RB Jermar Jefferson, Fr.;
STANFORD: DB Alijah Holder, RSr.; RB Bryce Love, Sr.; LB Bobby Okereke, Sr.; TE Colby Parkinson, So.; DL Jovon Swann, Jr.;
UCLA: P Stefan Flintoft, RSr.; DB Darnay Holmes, So.; WR Theo Howard, Jr.; RB Joshua Kelley, RJr.; PK JJ Molson, Jr.;
USC: DB Ajene Harris, Sr.; OL Toa Lobendahn, RSr.; WR Michael Pittman Jr., Jr.; DB Marvell Tell III, Sr.; RS Tyler Vaughns, RSo.;
UTAH: DB Corrion Ballard, Sr.; LB Cody Barton, Sr.; OL Lo Falemaka, Sr.; DB Javelin Guidry, So.;
WASHINGTON: QB Jake Browning, Sr.; DL Jaylen Johnson, Sr.; DB Jojo McIntosh, Sr.; TE Drew Sample, RSr.;
WASHINGTON STATE: P Oscar Draguicevich, RSo.; RS Travell Harris, RFr.; OL Frederick Mauigoa, Jr.; LB Peyton Pelluer, Grad.; DB Jalen Thompson, Jr.; RB James Williams, RJr.; AP/ST Kainoa Wilson, RJr.; LB Jahad Woods, RSo.