Nine WSU players earned All-Pac-12 honors in the list released by the conference Tuesday morning
Washington State defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa and offensive guard Cody O’Connell have been named to the All-Pac-12 first team, the conference announced Tuesday morning. The Pac-12 football coaches selected the all-conference teams.
Mata’afa and O’Connell led a list of nine Cougars who were named All-Pac-12 selections.
Offensive tackle Cole Madison, safety Jalen Thompson and kicker Erik Powell were named to the All-Pac-12 second team, while offensive tackle Andre Dillard, quarterback Luke Falk, linebacker Frankie Luvu and running back Jamal Morrow were All-Pac-12 honorable mentions.
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Mata’afa, a junior from Lahaina, Hawaii, leads the Pac-12 in tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (9.5), was a semifinalist for the Walter Camp and Bednarik Awards, and is a finalist for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. Mata’afa was a USA Today freshman All-American as a redshirt freshman in 2015, and he finished his sophomore season as an All-Pac-12 second team selection.
Wenatchee native O’Connell was an Outland Trophy Finalist and was voted a unanimous All-American as a junior last season, but was mysteriously snubbed by Pac-12 voters and only earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors in 2016. He’s started 24 games in two seasons for WSU, and this season, earned the team’s weekly Bone Award (best offensive lineman) after the Stanford game.
On the All-Pac-12 second team, Cole Madison, from Seattle, has been a stalwart for WSU at right tackle over the last four years He’s earned a team-high four Bone Awards this season to up his career total to eight. Madison, a senior, has started a team-high 46 games, and has just accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Jalen Thompson, a sophomore from Downey, Calif., has started every game for WSU at strong safety in the last two seasons. He was named a freshman All-American by ESPN.com in 2016, and this year, he leads WSU with 69 tackles (including a team-high 44 solo stops) and four interceptions, and also has two pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.
Kicker Erik Powell, from Vancouver, was one of the most improved players on the team this season. After a mediocre junior season in which he went 9 of 15 on field goals, including four-consecutive misses to start the year, Powell has transformed himself into a Lou Groza Award semifinalist and one of the Pac-12’s most reliable kickers this season. He’s 19 of 23 on field goals, and has reset his career-long twice this year, first by converting a 52-yarder against Oregon, and then booting a successful 56-yarder against Arizona. Powell is also 44 of 45 on extra points, and he’s averaged 62.1 yards on 65 kickoffs, with 30 touchbacks.
Luvu and Dillard earned their first career All-Pac-12 honors as two of WSU’s four honorable mention selections.
Dillard, WSU’s left tackle, is a Woodinville native who has started every game in the last two years. The junior earned two Bone Awards this year, and has three in his career.
Luvu, a native of American Samoa, moved from inside linebacker to rush linebacker this offseason and had a breakout year, recording 44 tackles, including 10.5 for loss. His 6.5 sacks are second on the defense behind Mata’afa, and he also has one interception, one pass breakup, two quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries.
Falk is a three-time All-Pac-12 selection. The Logan, Utah native earned first team honors in 2015 as a sophomore, and was named to the All-Pac-12 second team last season. In his senior season, he rewrote the WSU and Pac-12 record books, setting conference records for passing yards (14,481) and passing touchdowns (119), and became the Cougars’ all-time winningest quarterback, with 27 victories. On Monday, he won the Burlsworth Trophy that goes to the nation’s best former walk-on, and he also accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Finally, Morrow, a senior running back from Menifee, Calif., earned his second-straight All-Pac-12 honorable mention nod. After leading the Cougars with 1,217 all-purpose yards in 2016, Morrow has once again proved to be one of WSU’s most versatile offensive players. He leads WSU with 1,070 all-purpose yards through 12 games, and is the Cougars’ leading rusher with 522 yards and four rushing scores, and also has 56 receptions for 479 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
With 198 career receptions, Morrow is third on WSU’s all-time receptions list, behind only former WSU receivers Gabe Marks (316) and River Cracraft (218). Morrow is also third on WSU’s career all-purpose yardage list, with 4,192 yards.