Oregon State senior defensive tackle Stephen Paea has been awarded the 2010 Pac-10 Conference Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year, league commissioner Larry Scott announced Tuesday. Paea won the award based on a vote by the conference's 10 head coaches.
Paea, a native of Tonga, was a three-year letterman for the Beavers. He finished 2010 with 45 tackles, including 10 tackles-for-loss and six quarterback sacks. Paea also caused four fumbles during the season and is the new OSU record holder for career forced fumbles with nine. He was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player, and was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week after OSU's 36-7 victory over USC last month. Paea is the second Beaver to earn the conference honor, joining Bill Swancutt (2004). He also was co-recipient of the Morris Trophy in 2009, awarded annually to league's top defensive lineman as voted on by the opposing offensive linemen.
Paea, a two-time All-Pac-10 First Team honoree, is joined on the team by junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers is the first three-time Pac-10 First Team selection ever for a Beaver and also is only the third running back in conference history to make first team on three occasions, joining Charles White of USC (1977-79) and Napoleon Kaufman of Washington (1992-94). Rodgers is the sixth-leading rusher in conference history with 3,877 yards.