WSU's O’Connell and Mata'afa named to award watch lists - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

WSU's O’Connell and Mata'afa named to award watch lists

Courtesy: Washington State Athletics Courtesy: Washington State Athletics

By Washington State Athletics

DALLAS – Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa and offensive lineman Cody O'Connell were each named to preseason watch lists for the Bronco Nagurski and Outland Trophy, respectively, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced Thursday.
 
Mata'afa was named to the Bronco Nagurski Trophy watch list, given to the nation's Defensive Player of the Year while O'Connell was named to the Outland Trophy watch list (given to the nation's best lineman) after being a finalist for the award last season.
 
Mata'afa earned All-Pac-12 second team after finishing fifth in the league with 13.5 tackles including a team-high five sacks last season. The redshirt-junior enters the 2017 season with 24.5 career tackles-for-loss, second-most among active Pac-12 players. Mata'afa, a native of Lahaina, Hawaii, was also named to the Bednarik Award watch list (given to the country's top defensive player) earlier this week.
 
O'Connell, a redshirt-senior, was unanimous All-American last season and was rated the second-best offensive linemen in the country in 2016 by Pro Football Focus. The Wenatchee, Wash. native started 12 games at left guard while protecting for the nation's third-best passing attack. O'Connell was also placed on the Maxwell Award Watch List for the National Player of the Year earlier in the week.

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