Per The University of Washington Press Release…..
December 04, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 Conference announced Ben Burr-Kirven as the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year today. It marks the second year in a row that a Husky has been named the Conference’s top defensive player.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Burr-Kiven told reporter Mike Yam on the Pac-12 Network’s Inside Pac-12 Football – All-Conference Awards show. “It’s something I don’t think I ever imagined having an opportunity to win when I first got here in 2015.”
Earning the recognition as the Pac-12’s top defensive player became a reality for Burr-Kirven after he finished the regular season as the NCAA-FBS leader with 165 tackles and tied for sixth in the nation with four forced fumbles. The senior linebacker’s tackle total is 97 more than second on the team (Tevis Bartlett, 68). He has also recovered three fumbles, recorded six pass breakups and picked-off two passes to anchor a Husky defense that led the Pac-12 and was 12th in the nation in total defense (301.8 yards allowed per game), led the Pac-12 in pass defense (185.4 yards allowed per game), and finished second in rush defense (116.4 yards allowed per game).
The Menlo Park, Calif., native earns the honor a year after former teammate Vita Vea was named the Pac-12’s top defensive player.
“It was so cool to see that happen,” Burr-Kirven said to Yam on Vea’s accomplishment in 2017. “It just means so much to be part of a tradition of so many great defensive players, especially to follow one of my own teammates.”
Burr-Kirven becomes the fifth different Husky – six times overall – to be named the Conference’s top defensive player. Besides Vea, he joins the likes of Jason Chorak (1996), Dave Hoffmann (1992) and two-time winner Steve Emtman (1990 and 1991).
The award also has extra special meaning to Burr-Kirven, as it is named after a hometown hero that he admired while growing up in the Bay Area.
“Obviously it’s named after Pat Tillman and that was a guy from the Bay Area that I always looked up to,” he said. “I remember reading books about him and watching his documentary way back when it came out. It’s an award that means a whole lot to me. I just think it’s a really special thing that I got to have happen this year.”
Burr-Kirven is also the first player in the Conference’s history to garner both Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a Player of the Year award. The comparative literature major boasts a 3.69 grade point average and is a three-time member of both the CoSIDA Academic All-District 8 All-American team and All-Pac-12 Academic First Team.
Earlier Tuesday, Burr-Kirven was named first team All-Pac-12 after earning second-team recognition as a junior. He was one of six Huskies to earn All-Pac-12 first-team accolades. Three others were named to the second team and four were honorable mention.
Burr-KIrven is a finalist for the 2018 Lott IMPACT Trophy – which will be announced on Sunday – and was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award.
The Pac-12 also announced quarterback Gardner Minshew of Washington State as the Offensive Player of the Year, Washington State’s Mike Leach as Coach of the Year and Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson as Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and Arizona State linebacker Merlin Robertson as Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.