By Blair Willis / UA Sports
Arizona linebacker Colin Schooler was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and running back J.J. Taylor was recognized as the Pac-12 Co-Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, it was announced Tuesday by the league office. Earlier in the day, six Wildcats, including Schooler, were named All-Pac-12 honorable mention selections.
A native of Dana Point, Calif., Schooler had a breakout campaign as a true freshman middle linebacker for the Wildcats. The second-leading freshman tackler in the Pac-12, Schooler collected 88 tackles and led Arizona with 60 solo stops. Schooler registered four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss – all coming against Pac-12 opponents. He also intercepted two passes returned for a total of One game prior, Schooler was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following a 14-tackle effort that also saw him break up the potential game-winning two-point conversion in a double-overtime victory at California.
Taylor, a native of Corona, Calif., shared offensive freshman of the year honors with Walker Little, a lineman at Stanford. Taylor led Arizona’s running backs with 828 yards and five touchdowns as he split primary tailback duties with senior Nick Wilson, who was an honorable mention all-conference selection. He added two receiving touchdowns on 10 total receptions, tying him for fourth in total touchdowns on the Pac-12’s highest scoring team. Additionally, Taylor produced two 100-yard rushing games over Arizona’s resurgent second half of the season.
The duo of Schooler and Taylor are the second and third Wildcats to earn Pac-10/12 Freshman of the Year honors, joining wide receiver Mike Thomas (2005).
Schooler was the lone defensive player among Arizona’s six honorable mention selections to the All-Pac-12 teams. He was joined by Wilson, offensive linemen Jacob Alsadek and Nathan Eldridge, receiver/returner Shun Brown and quarterback Khalil Tate.
Eldridge and Alsadek each started all 12 regular season games on the offensive line for the nation’s third-leading rushing attack (324.4 yards per game). The unit paced the Pac-12 and tied for 14th among all FBS by allowing only 15 sacks this season. A native of San Diego, Calif., Alsadek has started 45 times and played in 47 career games. Eldridge, from Anthem, Ariz., has started 24 consecutive games at center.
Running behind the big men was Wilson, who tallied 585 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground to earn honorable mention recognition. A native of Fresno, Calif., Wilson was the team’s primary starting tailback and shared the workload with Taylor and Zach Green. With 3,009 career rushing yards to date, Wilson is only the seventh player in program history to top the 3,000-yard mark.
Tate, an eight-game starter at quarterback, received honorable mention honors following a breakout sophomore campaign in which he totaled 2,642 yards of total offense and 21 touchdowns, totals mostly accumulated over the last eight games of the season. The Inglewood, Calif., native was four times named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and became the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards (1,353 yards to date).
The fifth member of the offense to receive honorable mention accolades was Brown, who was recognized for his talents as a return specialist. A native of Shreveport, La., Brown averaged 12.9 yards per return on 15 punt returns, returning two for touchdowns. He had a third apparent touchdown return called back due to penalty in the fourth quarter of the Territorial Cup. As a receiver, Brown led the Wildcats with 39 receptions, 511 yards and five touchdowns.Click here for reuse options!
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