Three Washington State football players were recognized for their efforts in returning the Apple Cup to Pullman.
The Pac-12 awarded weekly plaudits Monday for its top freshman, defensive and special-teams performances to Cougar quarterback Jayden de Laura, nickel Armani Marsh and placekicker Dean Janikowski, respectively.
De Laura is listed as a sophomore on WSU’s roster, but still qualifies as a freshman because his debut season on the Palouse in 2020 didn’t count against his eligibility.
In a 40-13 rout of arch-rival Washington, de Laura played like a veteran.
The second-year starter from Hawaii completed 27 of 32 passes for 245 yards, spreading the touches to six receivers, and added another 31 yards in the run game on three carries. He didn’t score, but he avoided taking a sack and didn’t commit a turnover against a strong Husky defense.
De Laura’s 84.4% completion rate was the highest in program history among Cougar QBs in an Apple Cup game and the fourth-best percentage in WSU single-game history.
“He’s grown so much over the last year,” tailback Max Borghi said of his signal-caller. “It was special to see. He really led this team. He did a great job of rallying this team and bringing us together, keeping drives alive … helping us get the ball down the field. Without him, it wouldn’t have happened.”
De Laura finished his first full regular season as the Cougs’ QB atop the Pac-12 passing rankings in touchdowns (23), yards (2,751) and yards per game (250.1), and wound up third in yards per attempt (8.0) and passing efficiency.
He didn’t start in Week 1 and missed a game and a half early in the season with an injury. He was at his best down the homestretch, particularly in his first Apple Cup appearance.
De Laura’s mix of poise and exuberance sparked WSU. He was “razor sharp,” according to coach Jake Dickert, who said there’s “not a moment that’s too big for the kid.”
“He had clean pockets, he had clean reads, and he was out there just throwing the way he’s capable of,” Dickert continued. “He’s playing at an extremely high level right now.
“Jayden’s an energy player. He plays on feel, plays a little bit on emotion. When he gets rolling, I think everyone looks to him.”
De Laura planted Ol’ Crimson at midfield after WSU earned its first Apple Cup win since 2012.
Marsh, a Gonzaga Prep grad, had a career performance Friday, intercepting two passes, sharing the team lead in tackles with five and combining on a stop in the backfield.
Marsh picked an off-target throw from freshman UW QB Sam Huard in the second quarter, then collected a ball that ricocheted off its intended target in the fourth. After his late interception, Marsh spun out of a tackle and raced into the end zone from 28 yards out to seal the game.
Marsh is now a third-year starter and team captain after walking on in 2017. By all appearances, he’ll be returning to WSU next season.
“Talk about a guy that’s Mr. Consistent,” Dickert said. “I believe he’s an All-Pac-12 player. Whether he gets that respect or not, that’s on other people.”
Janikowski, a redshirt sophomore who won the kicking competition in fall camp, connected on 4 of 5 field-goal tries, splitting the uprights from 41, 39, 31 and 25 yards away.
His 41-yarder marked a career long, and his four field goals matched WSU’s Apple Cup record. Janikowski missed from 48 just before halftime.
“I know we didn’t finish in the red zone as well as we wanted to at times. Hats off to Dean for how he kicked the ball,” Dickert said. “That was fantastic to watch.”
The Cougars set a program record this year with 10 Pac-12 weekly awards.
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