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Lahainaluna alum Mata‘afa on Vikings’ 53-man roster

Hercules Mata‘afa, a graduate of Lahainaluna High School, and the Minnesota Vikings begin the season next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. AP file photo

The Maui News

Lahainaluna High School graduate Hercules Mata’afa has made the 53-man roster for the Minnesota Vikings.

Mata’afa, the Associated Press Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Washington State University in 2017, signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent last year, but was injured in camp and missed the entire season.

“These past 2 years have been the craziest roller coaster ride for me from being undrafted to having a torn ACL,” Mata’afa wrote in an Instagram post Saturday. “I worked so hard for this moment to prove everybody who doubted me coming out of college would regret not drafting me. The humiliation was necessary for me to thrive. Proud to be a Viking and to be apart of this 53 man roster!”

Mata’afa is listed as a defensive tackle, at 6-foot-2, 254 pounds, on the team’s website.

Mata’afa can become the fifth Maui player to appear in an NFL regular-season game when the Vikings open against the Atlanta Falcons at home on Sept. 8, following Kaluka Maiava, John Lotulelei, Pasoni Tasini and Mitchell Loewen.

Two days after being released by the Detroit Lions, Loewen, also a Lahainaluna graduate, was signed by the New Orleans Saints’ 10-player practice squad on Sunday.

Loewen, a defensive end out of Arkansas, previously appeared in three games for the Saints — one last season and two in 2017.

Tasini, a defensive lineman out of Baldwin and Utah, was cut by the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. He played in one game for the Cardinals in 2018.