USC’s Drake London Named Pac-12 Offensive Player Of Year; Tuli Tuipulotu On All-Pac-12 First Team
LOS ANGELES — USC junior wide receiver Drake London — despite playing in just the first 8 games of the season before being sidelined with an injury — was named the 2021 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches, while sophomore defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu joined London on the All-Pac-12 first team.
Junior outside linebacker Drake Jackson and sophomore placekicker Parker Lewis made the All-Pac-12 second team.
Senior running back Keaontay Ingram, senior offensive linemen Andrew Vorhees and Brett Neilon, senior inside linebacker Kana'i Mauga, junior cornerback Chris Steele and junior punter Ben Griffiths were honorable mention selections.
This is the eighth time that USC has produced the conference's Offensive Player of the Year but first since 2012. London joins quarterback Rodney Peete (1988), wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson (1995), quarterback Carson Palmer (co- in 2002), quarterback Matt Leinart (2003), Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush (co- in 2004), Bush (2005) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (2012). Tailbacks Ricky Bell (1976), Charles White (1978 and 1979) and Marcus Allen (1981) also were Trojan offensive players who were named the league's Player of the Year before the honor was divided between offense and defense.
Before suffering a broken ankle on a tackle while catching a touchdown late in the first half of Game 8, London had 88 receptions for 1,084 yards with 7 TDs in just 7.5 games. He was a semifinalist for the 2021 Biletnikoff Award and Maxwell Award. He was on pace to break Biletnikoff Award winner Lee's 2012 USC season records in catches (118) and receiving yards (1,721). He had 5 games this season with 10 or more catches and 6 with at least 130 receiving yards. He and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree in 2007 are the only Power 5 players with 88 catches through 8 games. He is the only Trojan to twice have 15 or more catches in a game and the first Trojan with 5 consecutive 100-yard receiving outings since Lee in 2012 (he has 9 total in his career). He had a reception in 21 consecutive games, dating to 2019.
— USC Football (@USC_FB) December 7, 2021
Tuipulotu made 48 tackles in 2021, including 7.5 for losses (with a team-high 5.5 sacks), and he also recovered a fumble for a touchdown, had 2 forced fumbles and deflected a pass. He follows older brother Marlon, a former Trojan defensive lineman who was named to the 2019 team, as All-Pac-12 first teamers. They are USC's first All-Pac-12 first team brother honorees since Ryan (2004-05) and Matt (2011) Kalil.
Jackson made the All-Pac-12 second team for his third consecutive year. In 2021, he posted 37 tackles, including a team-best 8 for losses (with 5 sacks), and also had an interception, deflection, fumble recovery and forced fumble.
Lewis hit 17 field goals on 22 attempts and 22-of-23 PATs this year. He also had touchbacks on 27 of his 34 kickoffs and recovered a fumble on a kickoff. He ranked seventh nationally in field goals per game (1.7, tops in the Pac-12). His 17 field goals were 2 shy of the USC season record. He hit his first 10 field goal attempts in 2021. He was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection last year.
Ingram, who transferred to USC from Texas this spring, topped the Trojans in rushing with 911 yards on 156 carries (5.8 average) and 5 touchdowns despite missing the final 2 games with an injury. He also caught 22 passes for 156 yards (7.1 average).
Vorhees started for his fourth season in 2021, appearing at left guard and then left tackle. Neilon, who also made All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season, started for a third year at center in 2021.
Mauga led USC in tackles in 2021 with 90, including 5.5 for losses (with a sack), and he also had an interception, a forced fumble and 2 deflections.
Steele had 33 tackles (with 2 for a loss, including a sack), 2 interceptions, a team-leading 3 pass deflections and a forced fumble this year. He made the 2020 All-Pac-12 second team.
Griffiths averaged 45.0 yards per punt in 2021. Of his 44 punts, 17 pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and only 5 were touchbacks. He booted punts of 50-plus yards in 9 games this season, with a long of 71 yards. He repeated as an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick.