CF.C's 2013 Cougar Sportsman of the Year

WHEN HE CAME to Washington State, Deone Bucannon was a gangly 180-pounder, and that might have been overstating it. But boy, could he hit. He was so good he started as a true freshman at a position, safety, that doesn't lend itself to an easy transition for Pac-12 rookies. Four years later, among his many accomplishments, was the rare honor of being picked first-team All-America Associated Press.

Deone Bucannon is CF.C's 2013 Cougar Sportsman of the Year in large part because it has been so rare for Cougars to earn Associated Press All-America first team honors.

That first-team AP honor has long been considered the premier list in the nation and only eight Cougars had ever graced the list before Bucannon this year: Turk Edwards, tackle, 1930; Clancy Williams, back, 1964; Dan Lynch, guard, 1984; Mike Utley, guard, 1988; Jason Hanson, kicker, 1989; Lamont Thompson, safety, 2001; Rien Long, defensive tackle, 2002 and Jerome Harrison, running back, 2005.

Consider that Cougar defensive back greats Erik Coleman, Jason David, Paul Sorensen and even legendary Bill Gaskins never made first-team AP All-America and you get a sense of what Bucannon accomplished this season. And one gets a better view when turning to Bucannon's statistics.

Bucannon, listed at 6-1, 215-pounds as a senior, was simply sterling out on the field.

His 78 solo tackles rate No. 11 in the nation and first in the Pac-12. His six interceptions are tops in the Pac-12 as well, as are his 114 total tackles.

Those 114 sticks were the most by a Cougar in 17 seasons (James Darling, 136, 1996).

And the countless ways he made his teammates around him better -- well, they don't have a stat for that.

He was also a model of consistency. Bucannon, who never redshirted, led the Cougars in tackles each of his four seasons save for his sophomore season when he was second on the team -- he racked up 384 tackles during his four seasons out on the Palouse, the fourth-most in WSU history.

And his 15 career interceptions are the third-most in program history.

  • Bucannon was also named to several others AA squads this season, including: second-team Walter Camp All-America, first team Athlon Sports All-America, All-America Third Team by CBS Sports and Honorable Mention All-America Sports Illustrated.

  • Bucannon is projected by NFLDraftScout as the No. 1 strong safety available in May's upcoming NFL Draft. He is predicted to be selected in the first or second round.

    Here's a quick look back at Bucannon, with the final shot a picture from his days at Vanden High in Fairfield, Calif. -- where he also lettered all four years in golf.

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