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WSU announces 2015 football awards

Several players were recognized for their work on and off the gridiron last fall.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State Cougars held their annual football awards banquet Thursday evening where several players were recognized for their contributions to WSU football on and off the gridiron.

We're going to start with the seniors, who wrapped up their collegiate careers at WSU's Pro Day this afternoon. Receiver Dom Williams and safety Taylor Taliulu were co-recipients of the Laurie Niemi Award, given to the senior who best depicts the courage and attitude of former Cougars assistant coach Laurie Niemi.

Ivan McLennan received the Frank Butler Award, which is given to the senior who exemplifies the Cougars spirit made famous by Spokane booster Frank Butler. Darryl Paulo received the Fred Bohler Award, which is given to the senior who displays the inspiration of former athletic director and head basketball coach Fred Bohler.

To no one's surprise, Team MVP went to Luke Falk, who led the Cougars to numerous come-from-behind victories, led the nation in passing and became the clear-cut leader of the team on- and off-the-field. He's a sophomore, by the way.

Gabe Marks was named the Offensive MVP after his record-breaking redshirt junior campaign while Shalom Luani, the glue to the Cougars' revamped defense, earned Defensive MVP honors. Erik Powell solidified WSU's kicking game in 2015, earning Special Teams MVP Awards after totaling 109 points, third-most all-time at Washington State.

The Leon Bender Award, given to the defensive lineman of the year, went to Destiny Vaeao, whose decision to rebuff several national offers to attend Washington State five years ago helped kickstart a massively effective Samoan pipeline. After yet another nearly flawless season protecting Falk's blindside, Joe Dahl received the Mike Utley Award given to the offensive lineman of the year.

Offensive guard Gunnar Eklund and linebacker Jeremiah Allison received the Offensive and Defensive Captain Awards, respectively. The awards are given to the players that show exceptional leadership throughout the season.

Senior linebacker Kache Palacio received the Tim Petek Strongest Man Award after a wrapping up his career with 16 sacks, good for 10th all-time at Washington State. The Randall Simmons Award, nominated by the coaches and named in honor of the former Cougar and Los Angeles SWAT team member killed in the line of duty in 2008, went to linebacker Parker Henry.

What a season. Let's do it again. Go Cougs!