Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura earns offensive freshman of the year, three Cougars pull in first-team honors from Pac-12

<p><p>Washington State’s football team received three first-team all-conference postseason honors Tuesday, plus an award for quarterback Jayden de Laura as the Pac-12’s offensive freshman of the year.</p></p><p><p>NFL-bound right tackle Abraham Lucas, edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. and Dean Janikowski, a first-year starter at place-kicker, raked in first-team accolades for the Cougars.</p></p><p><p>A WSU player had never taken home the annual prize for offensive freshman of the year in its 22-year history, and it’d been six years since so many WSU players landed on the conference’s first-team list.</p></p><p><p>Not a bad haul. But still, the Cougars have reason to feel a bit shortchanged.</p></p><p><p>WSU collected 14 All-Pac-12 honors, the conference announced.</p></p><p><p>Along with the three first-team selections, two Cougars earned second-team nods from the conference’s coaches – surprisingly, neither of WSU’s standout slotbacks made the first team. Another nine players were given honorable mentions.</p></p><p><p>De Laura was the Pac-12’s top frosh on offense, but apparently not one of its two best QBs.</p></p><p><p>That’s despite de Laura leading the conference this season with 2,742 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 249.3 passing yards per game.</p></p><p><p>De Laura, who was sidelined for about a game and a half this year, completed 64% of his passes against nine picks.</p></p><p><p>The dynamic Honolulu product developed into a star in 2021 and became somewhat of a WSU folk hero, known for his blended traits of poise and bravado.</p></p><p><p>De Laura’s ceiling raised as his second season in Pullman progressed.</p></p><p><p>He captained the Cougars (7-5, 6-3 Pac-12) to bowl eligibility and a number of memorable victories after coach Nick Rolovich – a mentor to de Laura – was fired in mid-October.</p></p><p><p>WSU’s offense going forward will center around de Laura, who new coach Jake Dickert credits often for rallying the Cougars this year.</p></p><p><p>Utah’s Cameron Rising and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson were named to the first and second team, respectively, while de Laura picked up an honorable mention nod.</p></p><p><p>De Laura is listed on WSU’s roster as a sophomore, but he’s still considered a freshman in the eyes of the NCAA because the pandemic-altered 2020 season didn’t count against his eligibility.</p></p><p><p>Lucas, a three-time second-team performer in his WSU career, started 12 games this year and didn’t allow a sack across 477 passing downs. The Everett native graded out as the Pac-12’s most effective pass-blocker and the No. 3 pass-blocker nationally, per Pro Football Focus.</p></p><p><p>He will play in the Senior Bowl early next year and presumably be scooped up by an NFL club in April.</p></p><p><p>Stone, a breakout junior from San Jose, California, ranked fifth in the Pac-12 with 11.5 tackles for loss, fourth with 38 pressures and eighth with five sacks. He logged 59 tackles and had a sack in four straight games.</p></p><p><p>Although his stat line wasn’t staggering, Stone was a consistent disruptor in the backfield for Dickert’s resurgent defense.</p></p><p><p>The first WSU D-lineman on the first team since Hercules Mata’afa in 2017, Stone was PFF’s No. 4 run defender in the Pac-12.</p></p><p><p>Janikowski won a position competition in fall camp and solidified himself as the Cougars’ kicker, connecting on 14 of 17 field goals – the best percentage among Pac-12 kickers. The sophomore from Fallbrook, California, hit four field goals in WSU’s 40-13 Apple Cup win over Washington on Nov. 26, including a career-long 41-yarder.</p></p><p><p>Floridian slotbacks Calvin Jackson Jr. and Travell Harris finished second and third in the conference with 955 and 801 receiving yards, respectively. Both were named to the second team – behind the clear-cut Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in USC’s Drake London and UCLA’s Kyle Philips, who paced the conference with 10 TDs.</p></p><p><p>“Truly don’t get it but it’s alright lol,” tweeted Jackson, who tallied seven TDs and led the conference at 79.6 yards per game, after awards were revealed.</p></p><p><p>“The disrespect,” added Harris, who scored nine times. “It’s cool though. (I’ve) been underrated my whole life and I’ll continue to prove them wrong.”</p></p><p><p>Harris totaled 73 catches and Jackson 63. Both vets had their most productive years as Cougars in their final college seasons.</p></p><p><p>Harris is fourth in WSU history with 4,194 all-purpose yards and 10th with 176 receptions. He’ll try to move up the list when WSU closes its campaign against Miami in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.</p></p><p><p>Jackson and Harris are the first Cougar receivers to be named to the conference’s first or second team</p></p><p><p>Honorable mentions include running back Max Borghi, linebacker Jahad Woods, nickel Armani Marsh, cornerback Jaylen Watson, safety Daniel Isom, edge Brennan Jackson, wideout De’Zhaun Stribling and all-purpose player Lincoln Victor.</p></p><p><p>Borghi enters his WSU finale a touchdown away from breaking the program’s all-time scoring record (42 TDs). The Arvada, Colorado, product rushed for 880 yards and 12 scores this year, finishing the season with back-to-back 100-yard outings.</p></p><p><p>Woods reached 100 tackles this year, and was one of only four Pac-12 players to do so. But he must settle for his fourth straight honorable mention.</p></p><p><p>The weakside LB from San Diego is WSU’s record-holder in career starts (52) and the Pac-12’s active leader in tackles (419). He ranked fourth in the conference this year in tackling and made six for loss, along with two forced fumbles and a pick.</p></p><p><p>Marsh, a former walk-on from Spokane, had 62 tackles, five for loss and recorded a team-best three interceptions – two, including a game-sealing pick-6, in the Apple Cup. Marsh will return to WSU next year.</p></p><p><p>Jackson, a junior from Temecula, California, earned two awards for the Pac-12’s D-lineman of the week this season. He registered 40 tackles, five in the backfield.</p></p><p><p>A versatile senior who’s been called a glue piece of the Cougars’ defense, Isom forced two fumbles and made 57 tackles. The St. Louis native will play his last game with WSU on New Year’s Eve.</p></p><p><p>Watson, a pro prospect from Georgia who’ll be attending next year’s Senior Bowl, picked off two passes and led the Pac-12 with four fumble recoveries.</p></p><p><p>Stribling started all 12 games in his true freshman season, snagging 42 passes for 458 yards and four TDs. The Hawaiian led all Pac-12 rookies in catches and shares the top spot among the conference’s freshmen in yards and scores.</p></p><p><p>Victor, a first-year Cougar who transferred out of Hawaii, was impactful on special teams. The West Camas, Washington, native also contributed 208 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game.</p></p><p><p>Utah’s Kyle Whittingham was awarded coach of the year after guiding the Utes to a Pac-12 title and their first Rose Bowl berth. Stellar Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was picked as defensive player of the year. His teammate, defensive tackle Junior Tafuna, pocketed defensive freshman honors</p></p><p><p>.</p></p>