Washington’s Vita Vea, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound defensive tackle from Milpitas, CA., Tuesday was selected the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and also won the Morris Trophy, presented annually to the top offensive and defensive linemen in the conference. The league award is voted upon by Pac-12 coaches, the Morris Trophy by players.
A junior and a likely first-round pick in the next NFL draft, Vea finished the Huskies’ 10-2 regular season with 38 tackles, including 5½ for loss.
Stanford’s Bryce Love, invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York, was named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year. The Cardinal’s David Shaw won the Coach of the Year award for the fourth time. Stanford won the Pac-12 North after starting the season 1-2, but lost the conference title game to USC.
A 12-game starter, Vea was defensive player of the week by UW coaches for his performances against Colorado, Cal, UCLA and Washington State. Vea added 3.5 sacks and four pass breakups.
Vea, named first team All-Pac-12 earlier Tuesday, is the fourth UW player to win the conference’s defensive POY award, following Steve Emtman in 1990 and 1991, Dave Hoffman in 1992 and Jason Chorak in 1996. He is widely considered the best defensive lineman at Washington since Emtman.
“I’m very thrilled to win this,” Vea told the Pac-12 Networks. “This is a very proud moment for me and my teammates as well. I have to give credit to my coaches and to work in the weight room and film room. I also want to thank my teammates for pushing me to get better.”
Vea is the 11th Husky to win the Morris Trophy, the first to do since Chad Ward in 2000, and the first defensive lineman to do so since D’Marco Farr in 1993. Vea and Emtman are the only Huskies to win Defensive Player of the Year and a Morris Trophy.
UW’s Morris Trophy winners: Fletcher Jenkins, DT, 1981; Ron Holmes, DT, 1984; Reggie Rogers, DT, 1986; Bern Brostek, C, 1989; Steve Emtman, DT, 1990 and 1991; Lincoln Kennedy, OT, 1991 and 1992; Farr, DT, 1993; Bob Sapp, OT, 1996; Olin Kreutz, C, 1997; Chad Ward, OG, 2000; Vea, DT, 2017.
Also Tuesday, Vea was named a finalist for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award, and is a Bednarik Award semifinalist.