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Whittingham, Lloyd, Tafuna headline Pac-12 season football awards



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Coming off a Friday night win over Oregon to claim the program's first Pac-12 title, Utah got some added love Tuesday when the conference announced its postseason awards.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham was named the Pac-12's Coach of the Year, his second in the last three seasons, after coaching his team to a 10-3 result to the season, including an 8-1 record in conference play.

Adding to the postseason honors for Utah was Devin Lloyd, who was named the conference's defensive player of the year, and Junior Tafuna, who was named the conference's defensive freshman player of the year. It's only the third time in program history a Utah player has won an individual award — Zack Moss was named offensive player of the year in 2019 and Ty Jordan was named offensive freshman of the year in 2020.

Whittingham, who became the all-time winningest coach in program history in Utah's first win over Oregon this season, said Friday he believed Lloyd was the best defensive player to ever come through the university, at least in the modern era. Tafuna was inserted into the lineup when Viane Moala suffered a season-ending injury and held up well against opposing offenses in his first season.

The Pac-12 named USC wide receiver Drake London was named the conference's offensive player of the year, even after suffering a season-ending injury midway through the season. Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura was named the freshman offensive freshman player of the year.

In addition to the individual honors, Utah had six players named to the All-Pac-12 First Team, including quarterback Cam Rising, running back Tavion Thomas, offensive lineman Nick Ford, defensive end Mika Tafua, linebacker Devin Lloyd and return specialist Britain Covey. An additional four players were named to the second team, including tight end Brant Kuithe, offensive linemen Bamidele Olaseni and Braeden Daniels, and cornerback Clark Phillips III.

Five other players — tight end Dalton Kincaid, offensive linemen Sataoa Laumea, linebacker Nephi Sewell and safeties Coke Bishop and Vonte Davis — were named honorable mentions.

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