The Seattle Times picks its players of the year, most inspirational and breakout players of the year.
Having wrapped up a 10-2 regular season with last Saturday’s 41-14 Apple Cup victory over Washington State, the No. 13 Huskies will learn where they will be headed for a bowl game around noon Sunday.
Then on Sunday night, the Huskies will have their postseason banquet, where the team’s annual awards will be presented. Until then, here are The Seattle Times picks for players of the year, most inspirational and breakout players:
Offensive player of the year: Myles Gaskin
This is a no-brainer. The junior running back should be the runaway winner as the team’s offensive MVP for the second time (he also won it as a true freshman in 2015). As injuries mounted on the offense this season, Gaskin remained as durable and as steady as ever. His 19 rushing touchdowns are more than any other running back from a Power Five conference, and he will enter the bowl game 18 yards shy of his third consecutive 1,300-yard season. Gaskin, perhaps entering his final game in a UW uniform, needs 149 yards in the bowl game to match Napoleon Kaufman’s UW career rushing record of 4,106 yards.
Also considered: Dante Pettis, Jake Browning, Coleman Shelton
Defensive player of the year: Vita Vea
No only is Vea the team’s defensive player of the year, but he’s in the running for the Pac-12’s player of the year award too. Vea’s dominant performance in the Apple Cup — in which he had seven quarterback pressures on Luke Falk and completely wrecked WSU’s offensive game plan — might have cemented his place as a top-10 pick in the NFL draft next spring. Vea’s season statistics — 38 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups — don’t tell the whole story of how much he meant to the UW defense.
Also considered: Greg Gaines, Myles Bryant
Special teams player of the year: Dante Pettis
Another no-doubt selection. Pettis had four punt-return touchdowns this season, giving him an NCAA-record nine in his career. It got to the point where you expected him to return one for a TD every time he fielded a punt. Alas, he got fewer opportunities as the season went on, as teams smartly…