Washington State junior defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa, a 2014 Lahainaluna alumnus, was named the 2017 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year today.
Mata’afa was named the Associated Press’ Pac-12 defensive player of the year and is the first consensus All-American at WSU since 2002.
The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Mata’afa, who played both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Cougars, led the Pac-12 with 21 1/2 tackles for loss and 9 1/2 sacks. He started all 12 games for the Cougars while recording 43 tackles with two forced fumbles 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, in a press release. “He had an outstanding season and truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
According to the release, “the award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.”
Former Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon and current Tennessee Titans QB 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 Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau was selected as the winner last year.
The formal presentation of the award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner on Jan. 19, 2018.
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.