Hercules Mata'afa named Polynesian College Football Player of th - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Hercules Mata'afa named Polynesian College Football Player of the Year

Photo: Washington State Athletics Photo: Washington State Athletics

By Washington State Athletics

HONOLULU – Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa was named the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year, the Polynesian Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.

The award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity. University of Oregon and Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was selected as the inaugural recipient of the award in 2014, Notre Dame and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley was selected as the recipient in 2015, and University of Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau was selected as the recipient in 2016.

Mata'afa, out of Lahaina, Hawaii, was named to the All-America First Team by SI.com, the Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News, ESPN.com and Associated Press, and to the All-America Second Team by the Football Writers Association of America. Mata'afa is the first Cougar defensive player to earn All-America honors since Deone Bucannon in 2013 and is the first-team All-America defensive lineman since Rien Long in 2002.

Mata'afa is the first Cougar defensive player to win a national award since safety Deone Bucannon was named the Elite Defensive Back Award by the College Football Performance Awards in 2013. Quarterback Luke Falk won the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation's top former walk-on, earlier this month. Cougar legendary quarterback Jack Thompson was selected into the inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Class in 2014.

Mata'afa was named to the All-Pac-12 Conference First Team and Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks. The redshirt-junior recorded 43 tackles with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Mata'afa started all 12 games, recorded multiple tackles-for-loss eight times and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following the win at Utah after making eight tackles, five for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors and Selection Committee, we congratulate Hercules on this historic accomplishment," said Jesse Sapolu, Chairman and Co-Founder.  "He had an outstanding season and truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture." 

The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 19, 2018), along with being recognized during the Polynesian Bowl (January 20, 2018) on Oahu, Hawai`i.

The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee composed of Coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, past NFLPA President and Inaugural Inductee Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL player personnel legend Gil Brandt, NFL Network writer and commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.

Other Finalists for the award included LB MANASE HUNGALU (Oregon State University), LB ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA (Virginia Tech), LB JAHLANI TAVAI (University of Hawai`i), and DL VITA VEA (University of Washington).
 The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia's greatest players, coaches and contributors. It also serves as a resource for Polynesian football history, provides academic scholarships and supports educational programs for Polynesian youth. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center (Laie on O'ahu's North Shore) and was established in 2013 by Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma'a Tanuvasa. Other board members include Troy Polamalu, Vai Sikahema, June Jones and Reno Mahe.  For more information, visit www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.

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