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Day 6: Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

Which conference defender will take home the hardware at season’s end?

Washington v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Yesterday we looked at the best candidates to win the Pac-12 OPOY which included a ton of stellar quarterbacks. The options aren’t quite as clear cut today as we continue by looking at the likely nominees for conference Defensive Player of the Year. One week today and we will have a Husky football game to look back on and analyze. An actual game, like on a football field!

S Calen Bullock, USC

54 total tackles, 5 interceptions, 4 pass breakups

The Trojans are the favorite to win the conference so they need a representative on this list even if the USC defense wasn’t exactly that good last year. When they did perform well it was because of their ability to force turnovers and Bullock was the best at it. He led the conference with 5 interceptions last year. That may be a bit fluky but if he can do anything close to that again then he’ll get his name thrown into consideration.

ED Bralen Trice, Washington

39 total tackles, 70 QB pressures (20.9%), 10 sacks

Former Husky assistant and now UCLA coach Ikaika Malloe turned heads when he compared Trice to Joe Tryon before Trice had stepped on the field. Trice has already shattered that assessment. He led the nation in quarterback pressures per Pro Football Focus and put up a truly absurd pressure rate which compares favorably to former top-5 picks like the Bosa brothers or Myles Garrett. Trice doesn’t quite have that same athleticism to warrant consideration that high quite yet but a similar season could be enough to get him Pac-12 DPOY, All-American status, and launch him up draft boards.

ED Laiatu Latu, UCLA

25 total tackles, 65 QB pressures (20.4%), 12.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Latu’s success was bittersweet for Husky fans after he medically retired at UW but was cleared at UCLA and then immediately kicked ass. He finished 2nd in the conference in sacks last year and was named 1st team all-conference. He did all that despite playing over 100 fewer snaps than Bralen Trice. UCLA is just as deep with their stable of pass rushers as they were last year which will make it impossible to justify single blocking Latu but also may once again limit his snaps enough to keep him from putting up even bigger totals.

LB Jackson Sirmon, California

104 total tackles (6.3% miss rate), 12 QB pressures, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 4 pass breakups

Consecutive players that transferred away from Washington? Well both made last year’s 1st team all-conference list so it’s not that far fetched. Sirmon finished 2nd in the conference in total tackles last year and leads all returners in that category. In Cal’s system he also showed off the ability to be effective as a pass rusher with only one fewer QB pressure than he had in the previous 3 seasons at Washington. His 4 sacks last year were also the first 4 of his career. If Cal surprises a little and makes a bowl game on the back of their defense with Sirmon leading the team in tackles it gives him a legitimate shot.

CB Travis Hunter, Colorado

18 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 pass breakups, 43.2% opposing completion percentage

Hunter was the #1 overall recruit in the country in the class of 2022 which seems like a pretty good place to start on his list of accolades. Obviously, his numbers from last year came at the FCS level with Jackson State so it’s tough to immediately translate it to the Pac-12. But the media named him preseason 1st team all-conference already so they clearly think he’ll be good from day one. The wild card with Hunter is that he played on both sides of the ball at JSU with an extra 187 receiving yards and 4 TDs. If he does similarly at Colorado is there a chance it gives him a boost towards DPOY? I can see the voters thinking that way.


Who will win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    S Caleb Bullock, USC
    (3 votes)
  • 71%
    ED Bralen Trice, Washington
    (225 votes)
  • 23%
    ED Laiatu Latu, UCLA
    (74 votes)
  • 2%
    LB Jackson Sirmon, California
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    CB Travis Hunter, Colorado
    (7 votes)
316 votes total Vote Now

Honorable Mentions

LB Darius Muasau, UCLA

LB Lander Barton, Utah

ED Brandon Dorlus, Oregon