BOULDER — Senior defensive end Will Pericak was named by his University of Colorado teammates as the Buffaloes’ 2012 Zach Jordan Award winner as the team's most valuable player, highlighting the team’s annual senior banquet Sunday at the Coors Events Center.
A Boulder High School graduate, Pericak is the first player from Boulder to be Colorado’s MVP in 43 years, or since tailback Bobby Anderson won it in 1969. The last defensive player to earn the honor was cornerback Cha’pelle Brown in 2009, though players on the defensive side of the ball have won four the last six years.
Pericak enjoyed his finest season as a Buff, racking up 62 tackles (38 solo) with a lot of “garnish,” topped by four forced fumbles, the most by a CU defensive lineman since 1990. In 563 snaps from scrimmage, he also had eight third down stops, six pressures, four passes broken up, six tackles for loss including two quarterback sacks, three tackles for zero, a fumble recovery, a touchdown save and a blocked PAT kick.
An honorable mention All-Pac 12 performer as selected by the league coaches, he shifted full-time to defensive end three games into the season after starting the year at tackle; he played at both spots the first two games. He set a Colorado record with 49 career starts (every game of his collegiate career), which is also the record for the most games played by a defensive player.
Also the recipient of the team’s Dave Jones Award as the outstanding defensive player, he became just the ninth defensive lineman to record 200 or more tackles in a CU career, finishing with 207.
Junior David Bakhtiari and senior tight end Nick Kasa shared the John Mack Award as winners of the team’s most outstanding players on offense.
Bakhtiari has been CU’s rock at left tackle the last two seasons. He started 11 of 12 games in 2012 (he missed the Oregon game with a knee sprain, though he tried to go). He graded out well above 80 percent in all 11 games he appeared in, as was at 89.8 percent overall on the season (655 plus plays out of 729 snaps), with a top game grade of 92.5 percent at Washington State. He had 41 “will-breaker” blocks (or pancakes-plus), two touchdown blocks and over 30 downfield blocks while allowing just two-and-a-half quarterback sacks and a single pressure. He earned second-team All-Pac 12 accolades.
Kasa started all 12 games this season, 12 of the 13 games in his career as a tight end, yet he was one of only 26 on the official midseason watch list for the John Mackey Award (he did not advance to the semifinalist stage). While still learning all the nuances of the position this year, he caught 25 passes for 391 yards (a team-best 15.6 per, seldom a stat that is led by a tight end) with three touchdown receptions. He also had a team-best eight receptions of 20 yards or longer and earned 16 first downs. He moved to tight end eight games into the 2011 season (played in one game there, the finale at Utah), and despite this being his first full-time season at the position, he earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors.
Sophomore linebacker Brady Daigh was named the recipient of the Bill McCartney Award for special teams achievement. He led the team with 12 knockdown or return springing blocks on return unit duty, in addition to six tackles (four solo) on coverage teams, including one stop inside-the-20. He also recovered a blocked PAT kick and caused a penalty for a total of 21 special teams points, second most on the squad.
The Scout Team Awards were presented to quarterback Shane Dillon (offense) and outside linebacker Lowell Williams (defense). The coaches selected the players who contributed the most to the weekly preparation on their respective scout teams over the course of the entire season.
The Lee Willard Award for the most outstanding freshman went to Christian Powell, who started the season at fullback but was quickly moved to tailback. In doing so, he became just the fifth freshman to lead CU in rushing as he had 691 yards in 10 games (he missed Arizona State with a hip bruise and Utah with a concussion). He is currently ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing at 69.1 yards per game, but the second freshman. He had a CU freshmen record 158 carries, averaged 4.4 yards per rush and scored seven touchdowns (second most by a CU frosh). He also tied the school’s CU freshman mark with three 100-yard games, including 121 on 20 carries and both CU touchdowns at Oregon; 70 of the yards came against the Ducks first-team defense and the rest against a mix of 1’s and 2’s. He had 19 runs of 10 yards or longer, converted 8-of-11 opportunities on 3rd/4th-&-1 plays and He earned 31 first downs on the year (30 rushing). He was also an honorable mention All-Pac 12 performer.
Pericak also was honored with the Dean Jacob Van Ek Award for academic achievement. A Pac-12 All-Academic team member and an Academic All-District selection, he owns a 3.45 grade point average in Business-Finance.
In all, 67 players earned letters this season, including all eight seniors and 24 cited as first-year lettermen with 13 of those players true freshmen. The breakdown included 33 players on offense, 29 on defense and five specialists.
The complete list of CU award winners announced Sunday; the most valuable player was selected by the players and all others by the coaching staff:
Zack Jordan Award (most valuable player, selected by teammates): DE Will Pericak
John Mack Award (outstanding offensive players): OT David Bakhtiari, TE Nick Kasa
Dave Jones Award (outstanding defensive player): DE Will Pericak
Bill McCartney Award (special teams achievement): ILB Brady Daigh
Lee Willard Award (outstanding freshman): TB Christian Powell
Dean Jacob Van Ek Award (academic excellence): DE Will Pericak
Offensive Scout Award: QB Shane Dillon
Defensive Scout Award: OLB Lowell Williams
Best Interview (selected by team beat media): OT David Bakhtiari, FS Ray Polk
Buffalo Heart Award (selected by “the fans behind the bench”): DE Will Pericak