The Pac-12 named its 2015 All-Conference players and Kenneth Clark was the Bruins lone representative on the First Team.
The second team was full of Bruins though: RB Paul Perkins, LT Conor McDermott, C Jake Brendel, TE Thomas Duarte, OLB Deon Hollins, S Randall Goforth, S Jaleel Wadood, and K Ka'imi Fairbairn.
WR Jordan Payton, OLB Aaron Wallace, and DB Marcus Rios were named Honorable Mention.
QB Josh Rosen was named the freshman offensive Player of the Year.
Congratulations to our Bruins who were honored.
These awards always have a bit of subjectivity and retrospective influence to them, but the announcement this week did bring up some interesting points.
The Bruins lone appearance on the first team and heavy representation on the second team pretty much reflects how the Bruins finished in the conference this year: good, but not great, and a long way from elite. By contrast, Stanford was named for 6 of the 22 positions and also won the Offensive Player of the Year, and Southern Cal got 5 of the remaining 16 position spots. The two teams combined for one half of the entire conference's first team awards and, not coincidentally, there are your conference title game participants.
Kenny Clark was an easy choice for the first team and was likely one of the finalists for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, an award that deservedly went to DE DeForest Buckner of Oregon. Unfortunately for the Bruins, I don't see any way Clark doesn't go to the NFL. He was an absolutely dominant player this season despite being the primary, secondary, and sometimes tertiary focus of every offensive line. But man it would have been something to watch Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes play next to each other for a season.
Fairbairn appearing on the second team behind Oregon kicker Aidan Schneider is a total crock. Fairbairn kicked as many field goals plus the nation's longest FG, was perfect on PATs, didn't miss inside 40 like Oregon's kicker (who did twice while Ka'imi's 3 misses were all over 45, longer than Schneider's long of 41), and was better on kickoffs, because Schneider didn't even handle kickoffs. Whatever. The Lou Groza Award voters know kicking, and they have Fairbairn as one of the best 3 kickers in the nation.
Obviously, the Bruins lost three projected first team defensive players this year in DE Eddie Vanderdoes, CB Fabian Moreau, and ILB Myles Jack. I also think their absence hurt the opportunities for players like Hollins who got more attention from opposing offenses when they didn't have to devote so much attention to a front seven with Clark, Vanderdoes, and Jack. As we look back on the year, it looks like the defense performed fairly well, especially considering its losses.
I also keep harping on the importance of the offensive line, and if you look at the players on the first team OL (Southern Cal, Wash St, Oregon, 2 from Stanford) vs the second team (ASU, Utah, Southern Cal, and 2 from UCLA), it correlates very well to the overall standings in the conference and our own head to head record. Get a dominant OL and you'll dominate the games.
The appearance of 12 Bruins on these lists tells you we have the talent. The relative dominance of the awards by two teams shows what successful teams with better staffs do with that talent. Of the Bruins 9 first and second teamers, 7 (counting Clark) of them are eligible to return next year, along with that freshman offensive POY at QB. Anyone optimistic?