Editor’s Note: Our Senior Writers have selected their SportsPac12 All-Region teams. We continue with Dane Miller’s All-Southwest/Mountain (Arizona, ASU, Colorado, Utah) choices, followed by Nick Bartlett’s All-Northwest (Oregon, OSU, Washington, WSU) selections. If you missed Mik Dietlin’s California picks, you’ll find a link below. In coming days, the trio will then vote on our inaugural All-SportsPac12 Football Team.
Posted on July 21, 2020
Coach of the Year, Kyle Whittingham, Utah
The Gold Standard of the region, Whittingham has led the Utes to seven winning-seasons since joining the Conference in 2011. During that period, Utah has compiled a 5-2 bowl record, including appearances in the prestigious Sun Bowl, Alamo Bowl, and Holiday Bowl.
Freshman of the Year, Daniyel Ngata, Arizona State
The four-star running back for the Sun Devils enrolled early and projects to be the No. 1 back in Tempe after the departure of Eno Benjamin to the NFL. Look for Ngata to approach 1,000 yards rushing and five or more touchdowns on the ground.
Offensive Player of the Year, Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Daniels is expected to light the Conference on fire under new offensive coordinator Zak Hill. The sophomore threw for nearly 3,000 yards last season and projects to equal or exceed that mark in 2020.
Defensive Player of the Year, Jermayne Lole, Arizona State
Coming off a season that saw him post 6.5 sacks, Lole projects to improve on that number in his junior year. His 8.5 tackles-for-loss should increase as well, making him a force to be reckoned with in the Conference.
Quarterback, Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
As a freshman, Daniels led the Sun Devils to a Sun Bowl victory over Florida State and threw for nearly 3,000 yards passing with just two interceptions. Coming into 2020, he hasn’t thrown an interception in 157 consecutive passing attempts.
Running Back, Alex Fontenot, Colorado
Averaging 4.9 yards per carry last season, Fontenot is a proven commodity in the region. His seven touchdowns and 720 yards rushing in 2019 ensure he is the most productive returning running back across the four teams.
Running Back, Gary Brightwell, Arizona
Somewhat overshadowed by J.J. Taylor, Brightwell averaged 5.9 yards per carry to go along with six total touchdowns in 2019. A shifty runner with a quick burst, Brightwell is poised to lead the Arizona rushing attack after holding down the No. 2 running back spot the past two years.
Wide Receiver, Frank Darby, Arizona State
Darby’s eight receiving touchdowns and 19.87 yards per catch in 2019 make him the leading returning wideout in the region. Last year, his average yards per catch was the second-best in the Conference and 10th highest in the nation. Darby’s numbers should climb even higher this season.
Wide Receiver, K.D. Nixon, Colorado
Entering his senior season, Nixon has 1,128 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns in his career. With 19 starts and 35 games played, he is the most experienced player on the CU offense, as well as 25th on the school’s all-time reception list with 89 grabs.
Tight End, Brant Kuithe, Utah
Arguably one of the best tight-ends in the nation, Kuithe enters his junior season at Utah after leading the Utes in receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2019. His 17.71 yards per catch was the second-highest in the nation among tight-ends and fourth in the Pac-12 among all players.
Offensive Lineman, Orlando Umana, Utah
The experienced senior started 12 games at center in 2019 and has appeared in 39 games over his career. With 25 total starts to his name, Umana commands the Ute line and was a Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention last year.
Offensive Lineman, Dohnovan West, Arizona State
As a true-freshman, West started every game of the season and was a Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention. He is the second-highest rated returning guard in the Conference, according to Pro Football Focus. West was one of just eight true-freshman offensive lineman in the Pac-12 to play at least 200 snaps.
Offensive Lineman, Nick Ford, Utah
Coming off a year in which he started all 14 games, Ford enters his redshirt-junior year with 21 career starts to his name. As a Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2019, Ford has experience at left guard and right tackle in addition to his primary role as right guard.
Offensive Lineman, William Sherman, Colorado
Starting in 21 games over his career, including all 12 contests last year, Sherman is one of the most experienced players on the Colorado offense. Over his two seasons in Boulder, he has played in every game and is poised for a strong junior campaign.
Offensive Lineman, Simi Moala, Utah
In his redshirt-freshman season, Moala started 12 games and saw action in all 14. He was named as a Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention, and is positioned to build on that honor in 2020.
Defensive Lineman, Jermayne Lole, Arizona State
Last season, Lole led the Sun Devils with 6.5 sacks to go along with 71 total tackles. His 37 defensive stops in the regular season led the nation among interior defensive linemen.
Defensive Lineman, Mika Tafua, Utah
Starting 13 games in 2019, Tafua was tied for first in the nation with four fumble recoveries. He notched 47 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, and 3 sacks last season.
Defensive Lineman, D.J. Davidson, Arizona State
With 51 tackles and 4.5 tackles-for-loss last year, Davidson is one of the best returning linemen in the region. He has appeared in 21 games over his career and anchors the middle of the ASU defensive line.
Defensive Lineman, Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
In just two years in Boulder, the junior college transfer has reached 21st on the program’s all-time sack list with 13. Johnson has started in 21 games for the Buffs and posted 23 tackles-for-loss.
Linebacker, Nate Landman, Colorado
As a senior, Landman enters his final year at CU with 277 career tackles, 25 tackles-for-loss, and six sacks. His 24 starts make him the most experienced starter on Colorado’s roster and he has appeared in 35 games.
Linebacker, Colin Schooler, Arizona
In 2019, Schooler led the Wildcats with 98 total tackles and 11 tackles-for-loss. His 46 career tackles-for-loss is fourth in Arizona history and he has started 33 games over his three seasons in Tucson.
Linebacker, Devin Lloyd, Utah
As the Utes leading tackler last year, Lloyd notched 91 total tackles and was second on the team with 6.5 sacks. He started 14 games in 2019, and posted 11 tackles for loss.
Defensive Back, Jack Jones, Arizona State
In his first season in Tempe, Jones made 45 tackles, 13 pass break-ups, three interceptions, and forced a fumble. The former USC player was ninth nationally with 16 passes defended on the year.
Defensive Back, Lorenzo Burns, Arizona
Leading the Wildcats with four interceptions and seven pass break-ups in 2019, Burns enters his redshirt-senior season with nine career picks. He has started in 35 games over his Arizona career, and is the leader of the UA secondary that forced 11 interceptions last year.
Defensive Back, Aashari Crosswell, Arizona State
With 48 total tackles, 10 pass deflections, three forced fumbles, and one interception in 2019, Crosswell enters his junior year on a hot-streak. The former four-star recruit is the fifth-highest graded returning Power 5 free safety according to PFF College.
Defensive Back, Chase Lucas, Arizona State
Starting in all 13 games in 2019, Lucas made 54 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He also blocked a field-goal and posted four pass break-ups.
Punter, Michael Turk, Arizona State
After going unsigned in this year’s NFL Draft, the NCAA granted Turk eligibility to return to ASU. During his single season with the Sun Devils, he averaged 46.0 yards per punt with a long of 75. Turk’s average led the Pac-12 and was the 11th highest mark in the country.
Kicker, Christian Zendejas, Arizona State
Perhaps the most underrated kicker in the country, Zendejas is one of the best in the Pac-12. He connected on 23 field goals out of 27 attempts last season, the most in the Conference and 7th nationally.
Return Specialist, Britain Covey, Utah
As the Utes primary returner, Covey averages 9.7 yards per punt return and 21.5 yards per kick return in his career. After playing in just four games last season and taking a two year break for his LDS Mission in 2016 and 2017, his college career has been non-traditional.
—Southwest/Mountain Region Breakdown by Program—
Next Up: Nick Bartlett’s All-Northwest Region Team
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