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First-year Washington State defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys nominated by Broyles Award

WSU defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys watches Eastern warm up before the first half of a college football game on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

For the second year in a row, a Washington State defensive coordinator is being recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in college football.

Cougars defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was one of 53 coaches nominated Wednesday for the Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top assistant. Claeys is in his first season as WSU’s DC after taking over for Alex Grinch, who was nominated for the Broyles Award in 2017.

WSU’s defense has been able to sustain its success under Claeys and three new position coaches on the defensive side of the ball: outside linebackers coach Matt Brock, cornerbacks coach Darcel McBath and safeties coach Kendrick Shavers.

The Cougars rank 24th nationally and fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing just 327.1 yards per game. They’re allowing 23.8 points per game, which is sixth-best in the Pac-12 and 45th-best in the nation.

Despite losing All-American defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa and former starting nose tackle Daniel Ekuale, who’s now with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, WSU has managed to generate more quarterback pressure than anybody else in the Pac-12 and leads the conference with 27 sacks through nine games. That number is also tied for 16th in the country.

Claeys was one of five Pac-12 assistant coaches nominated by the Broyles Award. He joins Arizona State DC Danny Gonzales, Cal DC/outside linebackers coach Tim DeRuyter, USC assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator Johnny Nansen and Utah defensive coordinator/safeties coach Morgan Scalley.