Fifteen Utes Take Home All-Pac-12 Accolades
SAN FRANCISCO – Fifteen All-Pac-12 Conference awards have been dished out to the conference champion Utah Utes, as announced by the league office on Tuesday. It follows the reveal of the Pac-12's performance awards and yearly recognitions, which included Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham (Coach of the Year), linebacker Devin Lloyd (Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year) and defensive tackle Junior Tafuna (Freshman Defensive Player of the Year).
Utah led the league both with six student-athletes on the All-Conference First Team, as well as combined First and Second Team picks with 10.
Landing on the First Team were Lloyd, defensive end Mika Tafua, offensive lineman Nick Ford, quarterback Cameron Rising, running back Tavion Thomas as well as Britain Covey, who was recognized as a return specialist. Second Team accolades went to the quartet of cornerback Clark Phillips III, offensive lineman Braeden Daniels, tight end Brant Kuithe and offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni.
Five more Utes were Honorable Mention All-Pac-12, including safeties Cole Bishop and Vonte Davis, linebacker Nephi Sewell, tight end Dalton Kincaid plus offensive lineman Sataoa Laumea.
Seven players are repeat All-Pac-12 selections, including Covey (fifth), Ford (third), Kuithe (third), Lloyd (third), Tafua (third), Laumea (second) and Sewell (second). All told, four offensive linemen were tabbed All-Pac-12, matching the 2019 Utah squad for the most in that group since the Utes joined the conference in 2011.
Utah, headed for its first Rose Bowl in program history, has won nine of its last 10 games and secured its first Pac-12 championship. En route to these new heights, the Utes have won three games over top-20 AP-ranked opponents. It includes two wins in 13 days over Oregon—both with the Ducks ranked top-10—with the latter clinching the Pac-12 crown for Utah on Dec. 3.
Quick Hits on Utah's Pac-12 First & Second Team All-Conference Selections
#7 Cameron Rising, So., QB || First Team All-Pac-12 Offense
Made his return to the starting lineup in Week 4, leading the Utes to a 9-1 record since … Leads the Pac-12 and ranks No. 8 in the country in ESPN's QBR (81.3) … Ranked fourth in the league both in passing efficiency (143.6) and passing touchdowns (18) … During Pac-12 play, led the league in yards per pass attempt (8.03) … 187-of-298 passing (62.7%) on the season for 2,279 yards and 18 touchdowns … Also has rushed for 407 yards and five touchdowns (63 carries) … Just the sixth Utah quarterback since at least 1996 to rush for 300+ yards in a season … Two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
#9 Tavion Thomas, So., RB || First Team All-Pac-12 Offense
After joining the Utes as a newcomer in 2021, led the team in carries (186), rushing yards (1,041) and rushing touchdowns (20, a school record) … Averaging 5.6 yards per carry … Thomas' 20 rushing touchdowns is tied for the FBS lead … Five 100-yard rushing games this season guide him to fourth in the Pac-12 in total rushing yards … In Pac-12 games only, he led the league in scoring per game (12) and rushing touchdowns (16); his 16 rushing TDs in that span were five ahead of the next closest Pac-12 player … Earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the week and Rose Bowl Pac-12 Player of the Week in November.
#55 Nick Ford, Jr., OL || First Team All-Pac-12 Offense
#71 Braeden Daniels, So., OL || Second Team All-Pac-12 Offense
#77 Bamidele Olaseni, Sr., OL || Second Team All-Pac-12 Offense
Trio highlights a unit that protected for the Pac-12's second-leading rushing offense (216.1 yards per game), which also ranks top-15 in FBS … During Pac-12 play, the Utes ranked atop the league in rushing touchdowns (29) … Utah allowed only five sacks during Pac-12 play, a league-best … Overall, the Utes have allowed just 12 sacks this season, ranking seventh in FBS … Ford has appeared in 42 career games with 38 starts, Daniels in 33 games as a Ute with 27 starts, and Olaseni totaling 20 career games and 11 starts … Ford has started every game this season, primarily at center … Olaseni has led the charge at left tackle and Daniels has started the last 10 games at right tackle … … Ford is a two-time Pac-12 Offensive Line Player of the Week this season, while Daniels also won the award once.
#0 Devin Lloyd, Jr., LB || First Team All-Pac-12 Defense
Ranked No. 2 in FBS with 22.0 TFL this season … Currently has a team-high 106 tackles, plus eight sacks, four interceptions, two QB hurries and six pass breakups … Finalist for both the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Butkus Award … Tied for second in the Pac-12 for total tackles (106) and third in the league with 8.2 stops per game … Has had at least 1.0 TFL in 10 of Utah's 13 games this season … Led all Pac-12 linebackers with eight sacks, after Lloyd had 8.5 sacks in his first three seasons combined … Named the Pac-12 Championship Game MVP after a seven-tackle performance plus a 34-yard pick-six ... Lloyd's 93.3 coverage grade by PFF in the Pac-12 Championship was the highest by any linebacker in a game this season … Three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week in 2021.
#42 Mika Tafua, Jr., DE || First Team All-Pac-12 Defense
Has started all 13 games at defensive end, now totaling 43 games in his Utah career with 37 starts … Ranks second among all active Pac-12 defensive linemen with 32 career TFL … His 48 tackles and 13 TFL this season lead the Utah defensive line, including four games with five-plus stops … Tafua's 9.5 sacks are tops in the Pac-12 … He has at least one TFL in six of Utah's last seven games, and at least an assisted sack in nine games on the season … Tafua had a 12-yard sack during the historic win over then-No. 3 Oregon on Nov. 20 … Tied his season-high three times with six tackles at Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona.
#18 Britain Covey, Jr., WR/RS || First Team All-Pac-12 Specialist
One of the nation's top return men and the Utah all-time leader in career punt return yards (1,092), while sitting second in school history with 92 return attempts … Is the only active FBS wide receiver with over 700 career punt return yards … Leads the Pac-12 and is No. 3 in FBS with a 14.7-yard punt return average this season … His 427 total punt return yards leads FBS … Four career punts returned for touchdowns, two this season … It includes a 78-yard runback for a score against then-No. 3 Oregon … His 132 punt return yards at San Diego State led the Power Five during the regular season … Covey also has reputation as one of the most reliable receiving targets in the Pac-12, leading active wideouts in the league with 181 career receptions … Two-time Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week.
#80 Brant Kuithe, Jr., TE || Second Team All-Pac-12 Offense
A dynamic tight end whose 123 career receptions leads all active Pac-12 players at that position … Totaled 44 receptions this season for a team-high 534 yards and six touchdowns … His 3.4 catches per game ranks third among tight ends in the conference … Averaging 12.1 yards per catch, ranking second on the team of all players with at least 30 receptions … Five of Kuithe's eight touchdown receptions are in the last eight games, including two in the win over No. 18-ranked Arizona State … Kuithe has at least one catch in 27 straight games … Is the only tight end in the conference this season with a rushing touchdown … Earned All-America accolades in 2020.
#8 Clark Phillips III, Fr., CB || Second Team All-Pac-12 Defense
Totaled 58 tackles on the season, ranking second among the Utah secondary group … Led all Pac-12 freshmen with 11 passes defended (10 PBU, one INT) during conference play … Overall, Phillips' 13 passes defended (12 PBU, one INT) share the league lead … Averaged 4.4 tackles per game in Pac-12 conference play … Tied his career-high with nine tackles in the win at USC and had two other seven-tackle games during October … Phillips also had a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Washington State … He is one of three active Pac-12 players, including teammate Devin Lloyd, with multiple career pick-sixes.