WSU football awards, Sun Bowl rings handed out at annual banquet

LUKE FALK WAS named team MVP at Washington State’s annual banquet Thursday evening at Martin Stadium, while safety Shalom Luani and wide receiver Gabe Marks took home defensive and offensive MVP awards, respectively. The Sun Bowl rings were also handed out (pictured).

Falk led the nation in passing as a third-year sophomore and ranked first in the Pac-12 in total offense and second in TDs. He led the Cougs to comeback victories against Rutgers, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA in leading the Cougs to a 9-4 record that included a Sun Bowl victory. 

Luani, a junior (but in his first season at WSU in 2015) posted a team-leading 4 INTs to go with 91 tackles. Marks was fourth in the nation in TD catches (15) and led the Pac-12 with 104 receptions.

Sophomore Erik Powell was named the Special Teams MVP – the Cougar kicker totaled 109 points on the season, third-most all-time at WSU, and was named the Sun Bowl Special Teams MVP.

Senior left tackle Joe Dahl received the Mike Utley Award, given to the offensive lineman of the year. Dahl earned second-team All-America and first-team All-Pac-12 honors. Senior defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao was awarded the Leon Bender Award as the Cougar defensive lineman of the year. Vaeao posted 41 tackles with 12 tackles-for-loss and 4 1/2 sacks and was named second-team All-Pac-12.

Senior linebacker Kache Palacio was named the recipient of the Tim Petek Strongest Man Award. Palacio recorded 32 tackles (25 solo) with 10 tackles-for-loss, 5 sacks and two forced fumbles this past season. Junior linebacker Parker Henry took home the Randal Simmons Award, named in honor of the former Cougar and Los Angeles SWAT team member who was killed in the line of duty in 2008. Henry recorded 71 tackles, fourth on the team, with 6 1/2 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one interception.

Wide receiver Dom Williams and safety Taylor Taliulu were named co-recipients of the Laurie Niemi Award, given to the senior who best depicts the courage and attitude of the former Cougar assistant coach. 

Linebacker Ivan McLennan was given the Frank Butler Award, which goes to a senior member of the team who exemplifies the Cougar spirit made famous by the Spokane booster.

The Cougar Inspiration Award (known as the Fred Bohler Award) was presented to defensive lineman Darryl Paulo for displaying the qualities of the former athletic director and head basketball coach.

Senior offensive lineman Gunnar Eklund was the recipient of the Captain’s Award for Offense, with senior linebacker Jeremiah Allison receiving the Captain’s Award for Defense. Both are presented for showing exceptional leadership throughout the season.

Laurie Niemi Award (Cougar Attitude)    
Dom Williams & Taylor Taliulu

Frank Butler Award (Cougar Spirit)         
Ivan McLennan

Fred Bohler Award (Cougar Inspiration)  
Darryl Paulo

Team MVP                                                                                                   
Luke Falk

Offensive Most Valuable Player                                                               
Gabe Marks

Defensive Most Valuable Player                                                              
Shalom Luani

Special Teams MVP                                                                                      
Erik Powell

Leon Bender Award (Defensive Lineman of the Year) 
Destiny Vaeao

Mike Utley Award (Offensive Lineman of the Year)                         
Joe Dahl

Tim Petek Award (Strongest Man Award)                                            
Kache Palacio

Randal Simmons Award (Coaches Award)                                          
Parker Henry

Offense Captain Award                                                                                
Gunnar Eklund

Defense Captain Award                                                                              
Jeremiah Allison

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