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University of Washington Huskies Football

UW’s Kalen DeBoer named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, four Huskies earn first-team honors

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix sits chats with Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer after the No. 5 Ducks fall 34-31 to the No. 3 Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023.  (Tribune News Service)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Kalen DeBoer shared Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors with Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith last fall.

Now, it’s all his own.

After leading Washington to a 13-0 record, a Pac-12 championship and a College Football Playoff berth, the 49-year-old DeBoer was announced as the award’s lone recipient Tuesday. Fourteen Huskies also earned All-Pac-12 honors, including four first-team nods.

UW wide receiver Rome Odunze, left tackle Troy Fautanu, edge Bralen Trice and linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio earned All-Pac-12 first-team recognition.

UW senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. – a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to college football’s premier player – was not among the first-team choices. Instead, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and received the first-team slot.

Penix, running back Dillon Johnson, center Parker Brailsford and cornerback Jabbar Muhammad were named to the All-Pac-12 second team. Six Huskies received honorable mention status: right tackle Roger Rosengarten, linebacker Carson Bruener, edge Zion Tupuola-Fetui, safety Dominique Hampton and tight ends Devin Culp (Gonzaga Prep) and Jack Westover.

A 6-foot-3, 213-pound senior, Penix is the first Husky to surpass 4,000 passing yards in consecutive seasons. The Tampa, Florida, product and Indiana transfer completed 65.9% of his passes, throwing for 4,218 yards with 33 passing touchdowns (plus three rushing scores) and nine interceptions this fall.

Nix touts mostly superior statistics – with 77.2% completions, 4,145 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns, three interceptions, 228 rushing yards and six rushing scores.

But Penix has prevailed where it matters most, with three UW wins over Nix and the Ducks in the last two seasons.

Of course, Penix’s primary target is Odunze – a 6-3, 215-pound junior – who recorded 81 catches, 1,428 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and a return score in 13 games. The Las Vegas product earned first-team honors for the second consecutive season.

One of Penix’s primary protectors is Fautanu – a 6-4, 317-pound junior – who helped the Huskies surrender just 11 sacks (fifth in the nation). Fautanu was a second-team All-Pac-12 performer in 2022.

As for Trice, the 6-4, 274-pound junior earned a second straight first-team nod – contributing 41 tackles with 14 quarterback hits, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.

Other Pac-12 honorees included UCLA outside linebacker – and former Husky – Laiatu Latu (defensive player of the year), Arizona quarterback Noah Fifita (freshman offensive player of the year) and California linebacker Cade Uluave (freshman defensive player of the year).

On Jan. 1, DeBoer will lead UW into the Sugar Bowl, seeking a national championship berth, against No. 3 Texas (12-1). DeBoer is 24-2 in his two seasons at Washington.

While he’s already won some hardware, more might be on the way.