Ten Pac-12 players have been invited to the Senior Bowl, the premier postseason star game, but there's also an interesting sidenote for Washington fans.
Huskies running back Chris Polk is one of the invitees. It turns out that Polk's announcement that he would bypass his senior season and enter the draft was purely academic: Polk is actually a senior.
From the Senior Bowl press release:
Polk was extended a Senior Bowl invite after it was determined that he had exhausted his eligibility at Washington. Despite being listed as a junior, he never applied for a medical redshirt his freshman year (2008) and thus had no more eligibility remaining.
“We made sure that we followed proper protocol before we invited Chris and that entailed getting everything cleared through the NFL and Coach Sarkisian at the University of Washington,” Senior Bowl President and CEO Steve Hale said. “Once it was determined that Chris had exhausted his eligibility at Washington there was no question we wanted him on our roster. He is an excellent player and has a bright future in the National Football League.”
The 10 Pac-12 selections come from five different schools, with Washington leading the way with three.
Arizona: Juron Criner, WR; Nick Foles, QB
Arizona State: Garth Gerhart, OL; Gerell Robinson, WR
California: Mychal Kendricks, LB; Mitchell Schwartz, OL
Utah: Tony Bergstrom, OL;
Washington: Senio Kelemete, OL; Chris Polk, RB; Alameda Ta’amu, DL
The 63rd Senior Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Jan. 28 in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised live by NFL Network.
All 10 invitees were named to All-Pac-12 squads, including four first-team selections. It’s a group that includes the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year (Kendricks) and the conference’s leading passer (Foles) and receiver (Robinson).
Here's the rest of the release:
Kelemete (pronounced KEL-uh-MET-tay) started every game at left tackle for the Huskies this season, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors in the process. He anchored an offensive line that helped pave the way for fellow Senior Bowl invitee Chris Polk to rush for more than 1,000 yards each of the last three seasons. A converted defensive lineman, Kelemete made 37 starts on offense and four on defense over the course of his career.
Polk was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection at running back this season after posting his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He totaled 1,488 yards on the ground in 2011, ranking third in the Pac-12 and 16th in the nation. That total was the second-highest single-season output in school history. He also scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 114.5 yards per game. He added two receiving touchdowns for a total of 16 scores on the year, fifth-most in school history for a single-season.
Polk ranks second on UW’s all-time rushing list with 4,049 yards and is only one of seven players in Pac-12 history to break the 4,000-yard mark. His 799 career carries are a school record and he’s tied for eighth in career rushing touchdowns with 26. He also holds the UW mark for most career 100-yard rushing games (21) and is one of only two Huskies to rush for more than 1,000-yards in three different seasons.
Ta’amu (pronounced tah-AH-moo) was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection for the Huskies from his defensive tackle spot this season. He recorded 30 total tackles, including eight tackles for loss and four sacks. For his career, Ta’amu made 42 starts, totaling 109 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Juron Criner was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection this season after catching 75 passes for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in eleven games for the Wildcats. He ranked sixth in the conference with 86.91 receiving yards per game and was eighth in total receiving yards. He had five 100-yard receiving yard games on the year and three games in which he had multiple touchdowns.
Criner is Arizona’s career record holder with 32 receiving touchdowns and is number four all-time in career receptions (209) and receiving yards (2,859). He posted 11 career 100-yard receiving games and five games with ten or more catches.
Garth Gerhart was a second-team All-Pac-12 honoree after starting all 13 games for the Sun Devils in 2011. The center was part of a unit that ranked third in the conference this year in passing offense, averaging 316.7 yards per game. He played in 39 career games at ASU, making 35 starts and is the brother of former Heisman Trophy finalist Toby Gerhart, who currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.
Gerhart’s teammate, Gerell Robinson was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection in 2011 after posting the second-highest single-season total for receiving yards in school history. The wide out finished with 1,397 yards—tops in the conference—and totaled six 100-yard receiving games and seven touchdowns. He also set a school record for receiving yards per game (107.5) and his 77 receptions were third-most in ASU history. He closed out his career with a huge game in the Las Vegas Bowl, totaling 13 catches for 241 receiving yards.
A three-year starter for the Sun Devils, Robinson finished his career with 135 receptions for 2,071 yards and 12 touchdowns. He played in 47 career games, making 25 starts.
Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks was named the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12 and was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection after leading the Bears with a career-high 106 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss. Those totals ranked fifth and third respectively in the Pac-12 this season. He also had two interceptions, three sacks and two pass breakups on the year. A three-year starter for the Bears, Kendricks played in all 51 games possible during his career with 29 starts. He made 258 tackles, including 36.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He added seven fumble recoveries, four interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Mitchell Schwartz was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick in 2011 after starting all 13 games at left tackle for the Bears. He was a key member of an offensive line that helped pave the way for Isi Sofele to rack up 1,000-yards rushing this year. He started all 51 games possible during his career, including 35 at left tackle and 16 at right tackle.
Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection this season after leading the Utes with an 85% overall grade on his blocking assignments. The right tackle ‘won’ 546 of 639 assignments in 2011, starting all 12 games in which he played. A Salt Lake City native, Bergstrom made 38 career starts for the Utes, appearing in 48 overall.