Most Outstanding Scout Team Player – Offense: WR Jordan Lasley
Most Outstanding Scout Team Player – Defense: DT Ainuu Taua
As Jim Mora has talked about this week, Jordan Lasley has been really impressive on the Scout team this year. He packed on probably ten pounds, really filling out his lean frame, and he’s maintained his considerable speed and explosiveness. During USC week, he did a very good job of mimicking Nelson Agholor on the scout team. Taua has started to work on his body, and he showed off a good motor on the scout team, often having to mimic the opposing team’s best defensive lineman.
Most Improved Player – Offense: Jordan Payton
Most Improved Player – Defense: Eddie Vanderdoes
Rookie of the Year – Offense: Mossi Johnson
Rookie of the Year – Defense: Jaleel Wadood
Alright, we’ll fess up: we’re complete Mossi Johnson honks. Tracy’s been a big fan since he saw him at the B2G Camp in spring of his senior year and I thought he’d be a significant part of the receiver rotation after the first couple of days of spring ball. Despite not really playing much through the first half of the season, Johnson still earns our vote here for the playmaking ability he showed throughout the second half of the year, particularly in stints replacing Thomas Duarte and Devin Fuller. As he grows and develops, he could be a special player at UCLA. Wadood, for being a freshman playing a critical position, had a great first year. Despite size being one of the primary concerns with him heading into the season, he showed such physicality and tackling ability that it quickly became a non-issue. His natural feel for the game is really advanced for a true freshman, and his future is considerably bright.
Outstanding Special Teams Player: Ishmael Adams
Most Outstanding Player – Offense: Paul Perkins
Most Outstanding Player – Defense: Eric Kendricks
We have to hand this one to Perkins, the regular season rushing leader in the Pac-12. No player (even including our defensive pick) was more consistent, with Perkins averaging six yards per carry, and it felt almost literally like six yards every carry. He showed that uncanny knack for making something out of nothing when the offensive line wasn’t blocking well, and showed vast improvement in all the secondary running back qualities – balance, vision, strength – to the point that it more than made up for his lack of real top end speed. Kendricks, of course, was our pick for the defense. This was the first really healthy year Kendricks has had since his redshirt freshman season, and he made the most of it, looking quicker sideline to sideline than he ever has. He showed really underrated coverage skills (underrated only because the freakish Myles Jack lines up next to him) and won the friggin’ Butkus Award. There’s not much more you can ask.
Most Outstanding Senior – Offense: Brett Hundley
Most Outstanding Senior – Defense: Kendricks
Since Brett Hundley was an academic senior, we’ll fudge and throw him in here. Whatever our critiques of Hundley at times, it’s a simple fact that he’s the best quarterback UCLA has had since 1998, and easily the biggest personnel reason that UCLA has had this resurgence over the last three years. If you factor in his value over replacement player (essentially, how much more did he win than his backup would have), he’s almost certainly the most valuable player on the team. No matter what you think about Josh Rosen’s ability (and we think a great deal!), replacing Hundley is going to be an incredibly difficult task. Also, Kendricks wins this one too, because he’s a monster.
The Apollo Hester Award for Slow Start, Fast Finish – Offense: Conor McDermott
The Apollo Hester Award for Slow Start, Fast Finish – Defense: Fabian Moreau