WSU's Daiyan Henley named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week

WSU’s Daiyan Henley named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week

WASHINGTON STATE LINEBACKER Daiyan Henley was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, the conference announced Monday. The senior transfer from Nevada has had an explosive start to the season for the Cougars and was flying around the field in the 38-7 win over Colorado State on Saturday.

Originally out of Los Angeles, Henley racked up a game-high 13 tackles (5 solo), with 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in the win over CSU. The 6-2, 232-pounder has shown a penchant this season for starting fast out of the gate. On Saturday, he posted five tackles including a sack in the first quarter.

Not bad for a guy who began his college career as a wide receiver and kick returner.

“I was a quarterback in high school and then became a wide receiver and kickoff returner,” Henley told CF.C earlier this offseason about his transformation to a hulking linebacker. “I was around 180 or 190 pounds but gradually I was gaining weight. My body was able to hold weight and maintain it and allow me to move the way I can. I would gain more and more weight and my coaches noticed and said you could be a heckuva guy on defense. And I said let’s give it a shot. So I went to safety, gained more weight and went to linebacker.”

Daiyan Henley (Photo: Thornton)

Henley and the Cougar defense held Colorado State to just 249 total yards of total offense and a late-game touchdown.

Henley ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in tackles, and leads or is tied for the lead in sacks, tackles-for-loss and forced fumbles.

Nationally, Henley is highest-graded linebacker on Pro Football Focus through three games, and of all defensive players playing at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps, Henley grades out No. 2 overall regardless of position.

He had the best overall defensive grade in the Pac-12 last week and owns the best defensive grade of all Pac-12 players for the season.

Related: Daiyan Henley a PFF ratings monster

With Henley roaming the field at WIL, Washington State has 14 sacks in three games, t-1 in the Pac-12 and t-2 nationally with USC behind leader Arkansas (17). Henley has four of those sacks. Last season, Wazzu managed only 21 total sacks.

Henley is the first WSU player named Pac-12 Defensive POW since last season when three Cougs took home the weekly award (George Hicks III, Jahad Woods, Armani Marsh).

NOTICEABLE NOTE: After Henley entered the transfer portal, interest was heavy and he eventually narrowed his choices to Kansas State, USC, Washington and Washington State. Then he was down to two — an announcement Instagram featured a cake for each team and Henley’s final two were UW and WSU. He endeared himself to WSU fans when he cut into the Cougars’ cake rather than the purple one.

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