Our All-SportsPac12 teams will be presented shortly, with Stephen Vilardo and Chris Courtney joining the other three senior football writers in the voting across all three regions.
You’ll find a breakdown of All-Southwest/Mountain Region players by program at the bottom of the page, after Dane’s selections and summaries.
As always, deciding between talented players and coaches is a difficult task, especially in the preseason. We’re bound to have more clarity after the season, when we vote on these same teams in December.
Nonetheless, here’s how I see the All-Southwest/Mountain teams shaping up as of this summer.
The Sun Devils lead the way with a total of 19 combined First/Second-Team and individual honor selections, followed by the Utes with 16, the Buffs with 15, and the Wildcats with 7.
Coach of the Year: Herm Edwards, Arizona State
Despite the allegations of recruiting violations that could potentially derail the season, Herm Edwards has the roster to do damage in the South. Managing the distraction figures to be Edward’s biggest task since arriving in Tempe, but winning on Saturday’s should ease the burden. A strong start to the season should end with a chance for a Divisional Championship.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jayden Daniels, Quarterback, ASU
There aren’t many players in the entire country that take care of the ball better than Jayden Daniels. With a career touchdown to interception ratio of 22-to-3, the bar is set high in Tempe. His efficiency in the second year of running Zak Hill’s offense should separate him even further from the pack.
Defensive Player of the Year: Nate Landman, Linebacker, Colorado
Arguably snubbed in last season’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honor, Nate Landman is back for his super-senior season. As the heart and soul of the Colorado defense, there arguably isn’t another player in the region with a bigger chip on his shoulder. It’s that perceived disrespect which drove CU to such heights last season, and it figures to be a substantial motivating factor for Landman once again.
Offensive Freshman of Year: Junior Alexander, Wide Receiver, ASU
Filling a need on the Sun Devil roster, Junior Alexander is a four-star receiver who has a chance to crack the rotation. The position group is arguably the lone flaw on the Arizona State offense, opening the door for Alexander to seize the opportunity. A consistent season from the 6-foot-3 true freshman would set the groundwork for a successful career at ASU.
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Ethan Calvert, Linebacker, Utah
As one of the nation’s highest-rated recruits at the linebacker position, Ethan Calvert has the potential to be great. Projected by some as an eventual Second-Round pick, Calvert has two of the most skilled linebackers in the Pac-12 to learn from during his freshman season in Salt Lake City. If the hype is real, the California native could go toe to toe with USC’s Korey Foreman for the Pac-12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year award.
All-Southwest/Mountain Region First-Team Offense
QB: Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
In a region with quarterback battles at every other school, the situation at Arizona State is peachy. Daniels hasn’t missed a beat since his freshman season, torching defenses with his arm and legs. And surrounded by a roster that is arguably his strongest to date, the grass has never been greener for the ASU gunslinger to light the world on fire.
RB: Jarek Broussard, Colorado
The defending Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year enters his sophomore season with repeating on his mind. Although the departure of Sam Noyer could have an effect on his production, Broussard’s record-setting season in Boulder might be just the prelude to a legacy-defining year in 2021. Averaging 5.7 yards per carry, the sky is the limit in his second season.
RB: Rachaad White, Arizona State
The lead running back on the Arizona State roster enters his second year with the program, this time as the projected featured back. White’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield is what sets him above his competitors, allowing him more playing time and opportunities to do damage. And with a running quarterback like Jayden Daniels in front of you, the lanes are there for White to exploit.
WR: Dimitri Stanley, Colorado
As one of the deadliest threats in the Pac-12 over the top, Dimitri Stanley is primed for a breakout year. The open question under center in Boulder may throw a wrench in his plans, but the projected No. 1 option for Colorado should eat no matter who is passing him the ball. Averaging 16.8 yards per catch in 2020, the speedy Colorado-native and former four-star prospect might find himself on some NFL draft boards by the end of the year.
WR: Britain Covey, Utah
Mr. Consistent played his first season for Utah in 2015, taking two years off for a church mission before returning in 2018. Covey has led the Utes in receiving yards in 2015, 2018, and 2020, and enters his fourth year as the primary threat once again. The master of time has spanned three administrations in the White House, showing no signs of slowing down.
TE: Brant Kuithe, Utah
Among the best tight ends in the Conference, Brant Kuithe can do no wrong. His 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame makes him an easy target, leading the Utes in receptions in all three of his seasons in Salt Lake City. Determined to finally make the Pac-12’s First Team selection, Kuithe’s fourth year projects to be his strongest.
OL: Nick Ford, Utah
Starting in 26 of his 30 career games, Nick Ford is a seasoned vet with NFL potential. Weighing in at 315 pounds and standing 6-foot-5, its easy to see why Ford is always mentioned when discussing the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman. With the ability to play multiple positions, it’s no wonder why his draft stock has only continued to rise.
OL: Dohnovan West, Arizona State
Coming off the 2020 season that landed him on the Pac-12’s First Team All-Conference list, Dohnovan West enters his third year with the NFL Draft on his mind. As one of the anchors on the Pac-12’s leading rushing attack, West’s size and recognition has served him well. And with ASU set to make noise nationally, his potential to attract the attention of NFL scouts has never been higher.
OL: Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
A graduate transfer from Texas A&M, Kellen Diesch has taken advantage of his Covid super-season. In his lone year in Tempe, the 6-foot-7, 300-pound hogmolly helped guide the Conference’s most potent rushing attack, earning All Pac-12 Honorable Mention recognition. Now in his final year in college, the Texas-native aims to make a splash with NFL scouts.
OL: Sataoa Laumea, Utah
Starting in five games last year, Sataoa Laumea secured Second Team All-Conference honors as a redshirt freshman. Yet to play in a full 12-game season, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound native of California hasn’t been able to fully show off his abilities. That should change this year, with Laumea set to start every game of the season.
OL: Frank Fillip, Colorado
Earning All Pac-12 Honorable Mention status in his redshirt sophomore season, Frank Fillip leads a Colorado rushing attack highlighted by Jarek Broussard. The strength up front allowed Broussard to win the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year award, and Fillip’s contribution was a big reason why. Now in his third year in Boulder, he projects to have his strongest season yet.
All-Southwest/Mountain Region First-Team Defense
DL: Jermayne Lole, Arizona State
Heralded as one of the nation’s best defensive linemen, Jermayne Lole has the skills necessary to be successful at the next level. With current projections handicapping the junior as high as the Second Round, the 2021 season is his for the taking. And with all eyes on ASU, the lights have never been brighter.
DL: Tyler Johnson, Arizona State
Tyler Johnson’s 2020 season was a stat stuffer: 7.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, and two fumble recoveries in just four games. Despite the limited opportunities, Johnson was fourth in the Pac-12 in total sacks. Production like that attracts attention, and the Arizona native is just getting started.
DL: Terrance Lang, Colorado
At 6-foot-7, Terrance Lang has what it takes. His presence alone effects every play from scrimmage, leading the Colorado line from the opening snap. The 2021 season projects as his strongest yet, with All-Conference honors a distinct possibility.
DL: Mika Tafua, Utah
The anchor of the Pac-12’s leading rushing defense, Mika Tafua takes no prisoners. Starting in 24 of his 30 career games, Tafua’s consistency is evidence of his professional future. The buck stops here, no running backs allowed.
LB: Nate Landman, Colorado
Leadership is an intangible trait that changes the coarse of any given season. And at the linebacker position, there arguably isn’t a greater leader than Nate Landman. Willing to sacrifice everything for his team, every coach in America wants a player like him on their roster.
LB: Devin Lloyd, Utah
As one of the top linebackers in the country, Devin Lloyd is a shoe-in on the All Region team. Leading the Utes in total tackles and tackles-for-loss during the 2020 season, Lloyd is set to command a Utah defense that could harken back to its 2019 prowess. And in his fourth year, the NFL beckons at the end of the season.
LB: Carson Wells, Colorado
Snubbed in last year’s All-Conference selections, Carson Wells is the truth. The numbers don’t lie: The Florida-born linebacker posted an astounding 16 tackles-for-loss and six sacks over six games in 2020. Relegated to the Honorable Mention list, his absence from the Pac-12’s First or Second teams was criminal.
DB: Clark Phillips III, Utah
Entering his second season in Salt Lake City, Clark Phillips III is ready. His Pick-Six in the final Utah game of the year should be an indication of things to come in 2021. And after starting in all five games last year, a First Team All-Conference selection is a legitimate expectation.
DB: Chase Lucas, Arizona State
Hands down one of the best defensive backs in the Pac-12, Chase Lucas is armed and dangerous. Projected by many to lead what could be the Conference’s strongest defense, the fifth-year senior is here for one reason: a South Championship. With the experience and skill to get it done, Week One can’t come any sooner.
DB: Mekhi Blackmon, Colorado
Mekhi Blackmon started in all six games for Colorado in 2020 and finished the year as one of the highest-graded corners in the Pac-12. After inconsistent playing time in 2018 and an injury in 2019, Blackmon enters this season with expectations that have never been higher. With something to prove, he projects to lead the CU pass defense and make a splash among scouts.
DB: Evan Fields, Arizona State
Evan Fields returned to Tempe with one thing on his mind: Winning a championship. In a legacy-defining year, the opportunity is ripe for the super-senior to accomplish what many only dream of. And after forcing three fumbles in just four games, it’s clear what the Oklahoma native must do for ASU to be successful: Hit opponents in the mouth.
All-Southwest/Mountain Region First-Team Special Teams
K: Jadon Redding, Utah
Connecting on all eight of his field goal attempts in 2020 and all 17 of his extra point tries, Jadon Redding is a star in the making. Redding’s 41 points scored ranked third in the Pac-12 among kickers, and his eight field goals made were the most among those with 100% accuracy. And with a perfect 72-for-72 mark in extra point attempts over his career, the Utah kicker is as consistent as they come.
P: Michael Turk, Arizona State
Michael Turk led the Pac-12 with 47.2 yards per punt, dropping six of his 14 attempts inside the 20-yard line. A potent punter is invaluable to any roster, and Turk is among the best in the business. With the third-highest Net Punting numbers in the Conference, the redshirt junior gets it done.
R: D.J. Taylor, Arizona State
After leading the Pac-12 with 34.9 yards per kick return as a true freshman, D.J. Taylor looks to repeat the success he had in 2020. Averaged over a traditional 12-game regular season, Taylor’s production last year would have generated three returns for touchdowns and over 1,000 kick return yards.
AP/ST: Britain Covey, Utah
The Do-Everything receiver led the Pac-12 in punt return yards despite playing in only four games. His 16.1 yards per return topped the Conference, and that doesn’t figure to change any time soon.
All-Southwest/Mountain Region Second-Team Offense
QB: Charlie Brewer, Utah
RB: Chip Trayanum, Arizona State
RB: T.J. Pledger, Utah
WR: Stanley Berryhill III, Arizona
WR: Bryan Thompson, Arizona State
TE: Brady Russell, Colorado
OL: Colby Pursell, Colorado
OL: Donovan Laie, Arizona
OL: Josh McCauley, Arizona
OL: Kary Kutsch, Colorado
OL: Casey Roddick, Colorado
All-Southwest/Mountain Region Second-Team Defense
DL: Jalen Harris, Arizona
DL: Viane Moala, Utah
DL: Max Tupai, Utah
DL: D.J. Davidson, Arizona State
LB: Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
LB: Nephi Sewell, Utah
LB: Darien Butler, Arizona State
DB: Isaiah Lewis, Colorado
DB: Vonte Davis, Utah
DB: Christian Roland-Wallace, Arizona
DB: Jack Jones, Arizona State
All-Southwest/Mountain Region Second-Team Special Teams
K: Lucas Havrisik, Arizona
P: Josh Watts, Colorado
R: Maurice Bell, Colorado
AP/ST: Tayvian Cunningham, Arizona
Breakdown of All-SW/MTN Region Selections by Program
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