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USC star Drake London chosen Pac-12 offensive player of the year despite missing games

USC wide receiver Drake London celebrates after a touchdown.
USC receiver Drake London celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Washington State on Sept. 18 in Pullman, Wash.
(Young Kwak / Associated Press )

USC receiver Drake London was in the midst of his star turn when an Arizona defender rolled over his right ankle during a game in late October, stopping an extraordinary season in its tracks with four games left to play.

Yet even a broken ankle and a month away wouldn’t keep the Pac-12 from recognizing London as the conference’s offensive player of the year, an honor that never has gone to a player who missed as much of a season as London.

London is the eighth USC player to receive the honor and first since Marqise Lee in 2012.

London was one of two USC players to be selected to the All-Pac-12 first team along with defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu, while UCLA had three players chosen: wideout Kyle Philips, tight end Greg Dulcich and offensive lineman Sean Rhyan.

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Five Bruins made the second team: quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, running back Zach Charbonnet, defensive lineman Mitchell Agude and defensive backs Quintin Lake and Qwuantrezz Knight, while Philips also was selected as a return specialist. They were joined on the second team by two Trojans: linebacker Drake Jackson and kicker Parker Lewis.

No Pac-12 player was as crucial as London, who carried USC’s offense over his eight games as the Trojans’ lead target. In spite of missing the final month, London was the only Pac-12 receiver to exceed 1,000 yards (1,084). His 88 catches also paced the conference while ranking 12th in the nation. His total contested catches (19) led the nation, according to Pro Football Focus.

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At the time of his injury, he led all Power Five receivers in yards and receptions and seemed assured of running away with the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver.

London wound up only a semifinalist for that award. Yet the conference’s coaches, who vote on the All-Pac-12 teams, still believed London to be the best offensive player in the conference.

Only three other receivers have won the award. Of Washington’s Mario Bailey (1991) and USC’s Keyshawn Johnson (1995) and Lee, none played fewer than 11 games.

No conference player, however, had a more outsized offensive impact in such a limited amount of time. With London the lone bright spot in an otherwise dark season, USC didn’t win again after his injury, finishing the season on a four-game losing streak.


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