Utah's defensive linemen so frequently have been honored by the Pac-12 this season that a rotation is established. This week is Bradlee Anae's turn again.
The senior defensive end started this trend Oct. 21, when he was named the Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week after a win over Arizona State. The three other starters on the line — Leki Fotu, John Penisini and Mika Tafua — followed as honorees, then Anae claimed the award Monday for his play in Saturday’s 35-7 win at Arizona. Disregarding a bye week, Utah defensive linemen have been recognized for five straight games.
With Utah's No. 1 defense on the field for fewer than 40 plays, Anae was second on the team with seven tackles. He recorded his 11th sack of the season and 28th of his career, and two of his tackles stopped the Arizona runner for no gain.
Anae needs two sacks to break Hunter Dimick's school career record. By winning Saturday's Senior Day game vs. Colorado, Utah would earn a berth in next week's Pac-12 championship game and already is guaranteed a bowl game, giving Anae multiple opportunities to pursue a record that he really wants.
After watching Zack Moss become the school's all-time rushing leader in October, Anae said, “I was getting emotional for him, but I could only imagine later in the season, if or when I do break the all-time record, it's going to be an emotional night. That type of feeling is special.”
The Pac-12 this season reinstated the weekly awards for offensive and defensive linemen, as voted by the media. Anae’s latest honor gives the Utes a total of 11 awards for 11 games, with nine going to defensive players.
No Utah players were named Monday among the three finalists for any of the major national awards, however. Oregon sophomore offensive lineman Penei Sewell, from Desert Hills High School, is a finalist for the Outland Trophy.