O’Connell, Mata’afa Headline Nine All-Pac-12 Selections
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Nine Washington State football players received All-Pac-12 Conference recognition led by first-team selections offensive lineman Cody O’Connell and defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa, conference commissioner Larry Scott announced Tuesday.
The Cougars put multiple players on the first team for the third straight year, three in 2015 and two last season. In addition to O’Connell and Mata’afa, offensive lineman Cole Madison, safety Jalen Thompson and kicker Erik Powell were all named to the second team while offensive lineman Andre Dillard, quarterback Luke Falk, linebacker Frankie Luvu and running back Jamal Morrow all received honorable mention.
O’Connell, a 2016 unanimous All-American, earns his second career all-conference accolade after receiving honorable mention honors last season. The redshirt-senior from Wenatchee, Wash. started all 12 games at left guard for the nation’s second-rated passing offense.
Mata’afa earns his third career All-Pac-12 honor after receiving honorable mention as a freshman and second-team honors as a sophomore and is the first Cougar defensive lineman named to the first team since Mkristo Bruce in 2006. Mata’afa, redshirt-junior from Lahaina, Hawaii led the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks and totaled 43 tackles with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Mata’afa earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following the win at Utah after making eight tackles, five for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Madison earns his third straight honorable mention accolade after starting all 12 games at right tackle for the nation’s second-rated passing offense. The redshirt-senior from Burien, Wash. also earned a team-best four BONE AWARDS, given out to the team’s best offensive lineman after a win.
Thompson picks up his first career all-conference honor after posting team-highs with 69 tackles, four interceptions and tied for the team lead with three fumble recoveries. The sophomore from Downey, Calif. and 2016 ESPN True Freshman All-American started all 12 games at strong safety for a Cougar defense that forced the most turnovers in the Pac-12 and finished the regular season as the country’s No. 15 rated defense.
Powell earns his first career All-Pac-12 honor and is the first Cougar kicker to garner second team honors since Andrew Furney in 2012. Powell went 19-for-23 on field goal attempts, earned three Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors and totaled 101 points, third-most in the conference. The redshirt-senior from Vancouver, Wash. made four field goals twice in wins at Oregon and at Utah, went 8-of-10 on kicks of 40+ yards and also recorded three kicks of 50+. Powell, who was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, hit the game-winning 32-yarder against No. 5 USC and added a career-long 56 yarder at Arizona, tied for the second-longest in the country this season.
Dillard earns his first career all-conference honor after starting all 12 games at left tackle for the nation’s second-rated passing offense. The redshirt-junior from Woodinville, Wash. earned a two BONE AWARDS, given out to the team’s best offensive lineman after wins over Nevada and No. 5 USC.
Falk earns his third straight all-conference honor after sharing first-team honors in 2015 and second-team accolades last season. The redshirt-senior for Logan, Utah led the Pac-12 Conference with 30 touchdown passes, was sixth in the country with 3,593 passing yards and earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors twice this season. Falk set Pac-12 and WSU career records for passing yards (14,486), passing touchdowns (119), total offense (14,086), plays (2,306), completions (1,404), attempts (2,055) and 300-yard games (30). He also owns the WSU record for wins by a quarterback with 27.
Luvu earns his first career all-conference honor after starting all 12 games at the RUSH linebacker position and tied for ninth in the Pac-12 with 6.5 sacks and tied for No. 12 in the league with 10.5 tackles-for-loss, both numbers are career highs. The redshirt-senior from Pago Pago, American Samoa also recovered two fumbles and recorded his first career interception to seal the win over No. 18 Stanford.
Morrow earns honorable mention for the second straight season after leading the Cougars with 1,070 all-purpose yards, his third straight season with 1,000 all-purpose yards. The redshirt-senior from Menifee, Calif. tied for the team lead with nine total touchdowns, led the team with 522 rushing yards and was fourth on the team with 56 receptions. Morrow will finish his career among the WSU Top-10 in total receptions, total touchdowns, all-purpose yards and with the school-record for catches by a running back.