HAWAII GROWN: Milton, Mata’afa in elite company

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton threw a pass against Connecticut during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Walter Camp Award — given to the best college football player in the country, regardless of position — released its 15 semifinalists on Wednesday.

Two players from Hawaii made the cut. Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton, a 2016 Mililani alumnus, and Washington State defensive end Hercules Mata’afa, a 2014 Lahainaluna graduate, are still alive for the award, which will announce its five finalists on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

The winner will be announced Thursday, Dec. 7.

The final 15 selections include six quarterbacks, five running backs and four defensive players.

Milton, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound sophomore, has led No. 12 UCF to its first 9-0 start in school history. The Knights lead the nation averaging 48.6 points per game with Milton ranking in the top 10 in the nation in six different offensive categories.

The 2014 Star-Advertiser All-State offensive player of the year is third in completion percentage (69.6), second in passing efficiency (184.6), ninth in passing yards per game (302.2) and eighth in total offense.

He is one of three sophomores still eligible for the player of the year honor.

Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch spoke with defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa after a win over Stanford in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Mata’afa, who was named the Pac-12 player of the week on Monday, tied a career high with eight tackles and added a career-high five tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in a 33-25 win over Utah last Saturday.

The 6-foot-2, 252-pound junior leads the Pac-12 with 21 1/2 tackles for loss and 9 1/2 sacks this season. His five tackles for loss against Utah are the second-most in a single game in school history.

The 15th-ranked Cougars have a bye this week before the Apple Cup against Washington on Nov. 25. A win over the Huskies would secure the North Division title and a berth in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 1 against Southern California.

Milton’s Knights play their final road game of the regular season at Temple on Saturday.


  1. TooMeke November 15, 2017 8:09 pm

    That is just AWESOME!!

    Hawaii players showing the rest of the country how we do. This is great for current and future Hawaii HS athletes.

    Great job guys! Keep it going!

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