Football Lands Ten on Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference Teams
SAN FRANCISCO – With an unprecedented season getting closer to kicking-off, the Pac-12 Conference announced the 2020 Preseason All-Conference Teams.
As selected by the members of the media who cover Pac-12 Football, 25 individuals earned a spot on the First Team, with another 25 landing on the Second Team. An additional 28 student-athletes received Honorable Mention distinction.
Sun Devil Football has 10 players on the Preseason All-Pac-12 Conference Football Teams, including two First Team members and five Second Team honorees. Representation on the First Team is nearly split evenly between the North Division (13) and South Division (12). Here are some facts and figures for each Sun Devil on the Preseason All-Conference team:
DL Jermayne Lole, Jr. (First Team)
- Enjoyed one of the most productive seasons by a defensive lineman in program history.
- Recorded 72 tackles last season, the third most for a Sun Devil defensive lineman since 1990 behind only Shante Carver (79 in 1993) and Terrell Suggs (73 in 2002).
- Checked in as the 20th-highest graded player in the Pac-12 with a score of 75.3 - the second-highest score among edge defenders in the league. His 81.9 score on running plays last season was in the Top-50 of all edge defenders on the year.
- Named to Pro Football Focus' Pac-12 All-Conference Second Team last season, graded as an edge defender.
- Had the 12th-highest positive run impact score in the country at 23.6 percent among players graded as interior linemen (percentage of run defense snaps where player earned a positive grade from Pro Football Focus).
- Made 32 defensive stops on run plays last season, the seventh-highest total among the nation's edge defenders. His 39 overall stops were 14th among edge defenders.
- Credited with just five missed tackle last season, tied for 35th among FBS edge defenders.
P Michael Turk, Rs-Jr. (First Team)
- Established himself as one of the nation's top punters during his first season in Tempe.
- Named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, awarded to the nation's top punter. Averaged 46.0 yards per punt on 59 punts, the 11th-best figure in the FBS and the highest in the Pac-12.
- He pinned 32 of those 59 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line (54.2 percent), a total that was second in the nation.
- Had 21 punts out of 59 (35.6 percent) punts over 50 yards this season, six more than any other player in the Pac-12.
- Held the top mark in the FBS this season for max hang time on a punt with a mark of 5.51seconds in generally unfavorable conditions in Week 8 against Utah. Pro Football Focus gave him the 10th-highest grade among FBS punters this season that played at least 10 games.
- The 63.0 average yards per punt mark by Turk on Aug. 29 vs. Kent State broke an NCAA record. The previous record for highest average yards per punt in a game with minimum five attempts was Braden Mann of Texas A&M on Sept. 22, 2018, as he had a 60.8 yards per punt average vs. Alabama on punts of 56, 65, 62, 61 and 60 for 304 yards. Turk punted five times for 315 yards with boots of 64, 62, 65, 49 and 75 in his Sun Devil debut.
- Crushed Sun Devil school records for punting average, breaking the high mark for average on five punts of 55.0 by Danny White in 1972. His 63.0 yards per punt would have set records for every minimum number of punts in a game with the closest being Tony Lorick's 59.3 yards per punt on three punts in 1962.
QB Jayden Daniels, So. (Second Team)
- Put together one of the best campaigns by a freshman signal caller in conference history.
- Became the first true freshman quarterback in program history to start the first game of the season.
- Opens the season with the nation's third-longest active streak of consecutive passes thrown with an interception at 154, trailing Nevada's Carson Strong (230) and UCF's Dillon Gabriel (166).
- With two interceptions on 338 pass attempts last season, he set the ASU school record for fewest interceptions on 300 or more passes. It is also notable that one of those interceptions came on a half-ending Hail Mary against Utah midway through the season.
- Among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts on the year, Daniels was tied for the FBS lead for the fewest interceptions.
- He was 11th in ASU single-season history, finishing the 2019 season with 2,943 passing yards
- Became just the third freshman in ASU history to win his first career start, joining John Walker (1984) and Dennis Sproul (1974) as the only other QB's to win their first career starts as freshmen.
- Only 12 times in ASU history had a freshman quarterback recorded a 300+ yard passing performance, of which Daniels had five. His five 300+ yard performances were tied with Andrew Walter (2004) and Rudy Carpenter (2005) for the most in a single season in ASU history.
- His 8.86 yards per pass attempt were 13th in the FBS and third in the Pac-12.
- Daniels was eighth in the country with 15 pass completions over 40 yards this season and 12th in the FBS with 24 passes over 30 yards. His eight completions over 50 yards were 10th.
- Eleven of his 17 touchdowns passes went for at least 25 yards (64.7 percent).
WR Frank Darby, Rs-Sr. (Second Team)
- Known as an electrifying deep threat, but showed his expanded skill set during a breakout junior season.
- Earned Pac-12 honorable mention accolades in 2019.
- The Pac-12's 10th-highest graded wide receiver (69.7) among players with 600 snaps, but also did his part off the ball in recording the third-highest score in the FBS among receivers as a run blocker (80.6).
- He hauled in a touchdown pass in four straight games in the back half of the season and accounted for two touchdowns in three of those outings. He had seven touchdowns over the four-game span (UCLA-USC-Oregon State-Oregon). Prior to the UCLA game, he had five total receiving touchdowns in his previous 30 career games to that current four-game stretch.
- In those four games, he has made 16 catches for 387 yards (24.2 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns
- The 125-yard performance in the upset victory over No. 6 Oregon was the fifth 100+ yard game of his career
- His 19.87 yards per reception last season was 10th in the country and second among Pac-12 receivers
- When targeted last season, he posted a 133.1 NFL quarterback rating (31 catches for 616 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions) – good for the 21st-highest total among all wide receivers nationally and top-10 among those that return this season.
OL Dohnovan West, So. (Second Team)
- Emerged as a rare true freshman starting offensive lineman at the Power 5 level.
- Cemented his role at the guard spot, improving each week as the season progressed.
- Despite being one of less than 20 true freshman offensive linemen to start every game in the country, West was 5th-highest graded offensive guard in the Pac-12 last season (69.2).
- He was the sixth-highest graded true freshman guard in the nation and the 10th-highest graded true freshman offensive lineman in the country. His 844 snaps were ninth among true freshman lineman in the country.
- Named to the Pro Football Focus Pac-12 All-Conference Third Team as an offensive guard.
- All told, 32 true or redshirt freshmen played for the Sun Devils last year (21 true, 11 redshirt). That was tied for the third-highest total among FBS programs this season behind Clemson and Oklahoma.
DB Jack Jones, Rs-Sr. (Second Team)
- Made an immediate impact after transferring to Arizona State prior to last season.
- Embraced the role of lockdown corner opposite fellow Preseason All-Conference honoree Chase Lucas.
- Tied for 10th nationally with 16 passes defended on the season and his 1.2 passes defended per game were 25th in the country.
- His five pass breakups against Washington State were the most by an FBS player this season. He was a part of 12 pass breakups by the Sun Devils - the fifth highest total in the FBS this season and the first time ASU posted 10 or more since 2011.
- The 15th highest graded corner and the 37th-highest graded defender overall in the Pac-12 with a defensive score of 71.2.
- Came through in the biggest games of the season, picking off three passes in the final two home games. In the Territorial Cup win over Arizona, he became the first Sun Devil with multiple interceptions in a game since Gump Hayes picked off Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) twice in 2016.
- The Sun Devils had 72 passes defended in 2019, the 10th-highest total in the nation and the most since posting 75 in 2012.
DB Aashari Crosswell, Jr. (Second Team)
- One of the most reliable and consistent Sun Devil defenders who continues to improve since his outstanding freshman season.
- Credited with just two missed tackles last season, a total that led the nation's 300+ graded safeties.
- Among players with 500 defensive snaps last season, he was the 15th highest graded defender, overall, regardless of position (77.0). He will be the fifth-highest graded player returning to the field in 2020.
- Among safeties with at least 200 snaps on run defense, he was not credited with a missed tackle on a running play last season (on 312 snaps), marking him one of just two safeties in the country to lay such a claim.
- His two missed tackle on the season, period, were tied for first among over 300 FBS safeties in the country.
- The Sun Devils gave up just three plays over 50 yards this season, tied for the 8th-fewest nationally. ASU was also tied for 9th nationally in allowing just 3 plays of over 50 yards in 2018 after sitting in the bottom 10 nationally in the previous four years.
LB Merlin Robertson, Jr. (Honorable Mention)
- A defensive leader with the physicality and energy that sets the tone for the Sun Devils.
- Displays a nose for the football, regardless of what role he is asked to play on the defense.
- His 17 total quarterback pressures were tied for seventh among the league's linebackers, alongside teammate Darien Butler.
- Credited with just eight missed tackles last season, the second-fewest among the Pac-12 linebackers on the season and the 20th-fewest among Power Five linebackers in the nation.
- Played on 881 defensive snaps last season, the eighth-highest total in the Pac-12.
- ASU's run defense was especially efficient, finishing 17th in the country with only 47rushing plays allowed over 10 yards last season. With just 8 rushing plays over 20 yards allowed last season, ASU was 8th in the country.
DB Chase Lucas, Rs-Sr. (Honorable Mention)
- Three-year starter on the Sun Devil defense entering his final season in Tempe
- Part of a lockdown corner duo who is part of one of the top returning secondary units in the Pac-12.
- Trails only Oregon's Jordon Scott (37) for most defensive starts in the Pac-12 at 35. He has started 17 consecutive games, the highest total of any returning Sun Devil.
- Credited with just one touchdown allowed in coverage last season, the lowest total in the Pac-12 and 5th-lowest total nationally - despite being targeted the 37th most times on an corner nationally (76).
- In the last two seasons combined, the Sun Devil secondary has allowed just 15 total passing plays over 40 yards. For perspective, it had 12 alone in 2017, 22 in 2016 and 24 in 2015 – the latter two ranked second to last and last, respectively, in the nation.
K Cristian Zendejas, Rs-Jr. (Honorable Mention)
- Enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign in which he developed into one of the most reliable kickers in the nation.
- Ended his 2019 season on a high note, kicking four field goals in the Sun Devils win over Florida State in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.
- Opens the season with the nation's second-longest active streak of consecutive field goals made at 11, trailing only Florida's Evan McPherson (13).
- Finished with 23 field goals, good for sixth in ASU single season history. The 23 field goals were the 7th-most in the nation (most in the Pac-12) and 5th among those returning this season.
- He was 20th nationally in field goal percentage (85.2).
- ASU had the 9th-highest SFEI special teams rating at .10, which represents the per possession scoring advantage a team's combined ST units would be expected to have on a neutral field against an avg. opponent.
2020 PRESEASON ALL-PAC-12 CONFERENCE FOOTBALL TEAM
|First Team Offense||Second Team Offense|
|QB||Kedon Slovis, USC||QB||Jayden Daniels, Arizona State|
|RB||CJ Verdell, Oregon||RB||Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State|
|RB||Max Borghi, Washington State||RB||Christopher Brown Jr., California|
|WR||Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC||WR||Frank Darby, Arizona State|
|WR||Tyler Vaughns, USC||WR||Johnny Johnson III, Oregon|
|TE||Brant Kuithe, Utah||TE||Cade Otton, Washington|
|C||Drew Dalman, Stanford||C||Orlando Umana, Utah|
|OL||Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC||OL||Jake Curhan, California|
|OL||Abe Lucas, Washington State||OL||Dohnovan West, Arizona State|
|OL||Jaxson Kirkland, Washington||OL||Foster Sarell, Stanford|
|OL||Nick Ford, Utah||OL||Simi Moala, Utah|
|First Team Defense||Second Team Defense|
|DL||Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon||DL||Mike Tafua, Utah|
|DL||Mustafa Johnson, Colorado||DL||Thomas Booker, Stanford|
|DL||Jordon Scott, Oregon||DL||Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA|
|DL||Jermayne Lole, Arizona State||DL||Brett Johnson, California|
|LB||Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State||LB||Kuony Deng, California|
|LB||Nate Landman, Colorado||LB||Jahad Woods, Washington State|
|LB||Drake Jackson, USC||LB||Ryan Bowman, Washington|
|DB||Elijah Molden, Washington||DB||Jack Jones, Arizona State|
|DB||Camryn Bynum, California||DB||Elijah Hicks, California|
|DB||Talanoa Hufanga, USC||DB||Mykael Wright, Oregon|
|DB||Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon||DB||Aashari Crosswell, Arizona State|
|First Team Specialists||Second Team Specialists|
|PK||Blake Mazza, Washington State||PK||Peyton Henry, Washington|
|P||Michael Turk, Arizona State||P||Ben Griffiths, USC|
|AP||Max Borghi, Washington State||AP||Demetric Felton, UCLA & Britain Covey, Utah|
ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION (Received four or more votes)
RUNNING BACK: Alex Fontenot, Colorado
WIDE RECEIVER: K.D. Nixon, Colorado; Britain Covey, Utah
CENTER: Michael Saffell, California; Luke Wattenberg, Washington State
OFFENSIVE LINE: Donovan Laie, Arizona; Will Sherman, Colorado; Brandon Kipper, Oregon State; Sean Rhyan, UCLA; Josh Watson, Washington State
DEFENSIVE LINE: Zeandae Johnson, California; Brandon Pili, USC; Marlon Tuipulotu, USC; Viane Moala, Utah
LINEBACKER: Merlin Robertson, Arizona State; Cameron Goode, California; Isaac Slade-Matautia, Oregon; Devin Lloyd, Utah
DEFENSIVE BACK: Lorenzo Burns, Arizona; Chase Lucas, Arizona State; Olaijah Griffin, USC; Isaiah Pola-Mao, USC; Trent McDuffie, Washington
PLACE KICKER: Cristian Zendejas, Arizona State; Jet Toner, Stanford
PUNTER: Oscar Draguicevich III, Washington State
ALL-PURPOSE: Mykael Wright, Oregon; Travell Harris, Washington State
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Sun Devil Football program will open the 2020 season this Saturday, Nov. 7 on the road against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the program's first ever appearance on the FOX Sports Big Noon Saturday Game of the Week.
FOX Sports lead college football game broadcasters Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft call the action when the game kicks off at 12:00 PM ET, 9:00 AM local time, in the Pac-12's first contest scheduled in the network's featured time slot.