Mataafa named Polynesian HOF POY

Hercules Mataafa (50) has been named an All-American by The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, the Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and ESPN. AP file photo

The Maui News

Washington State University defensive lineman Hercules Mataafa was named the recipient of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame College Player of the Year Award on Tuesday.

In a video posted on the Polynesian HOF website, the Lahainaluna High School graduate said he was “honored and blessed” to receive the award, which started in 2014.

“This award means so much to me because I’m able to receive the award in my home state and for my Samoan heritage,” Mataafa said in the video. Among those he thanked were his family and Washington State teammates and coaches.

He will be presented with the award at a celebration dinner on Jan. 19 on Oahu.

Past winners are Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley and Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau, making Mataafa the first defensive player — and the first from Maui — to win the honor.

Mataafa, a 6-foot-2, 252-pound junior, had 43 total tackles, 30 solo, this season in helping the Cougars go 9-3 and earn a spot in the Holiday Bowl, where they will face Michigan State on Dec. 28. He led the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Also Tuesday, Mataafa was named to the Sporting News and ESPN All-America first teams after already earning All-America honors from The Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and the Walter Camp Foundation.

The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award selection committee comprised Dick Tomey, Ron McBride, Dick Vermeil, Kevin Mawae, Ray Schoenke, Neil Everett, Gil Brandt, Steve Wyche and Robert Kekaula. Other finalists were Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai, Oregon State linebacker Manase Hungalu, Virginia Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea.