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Honolulu, HI (November 22, 2016) – The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced today five Finalists for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. 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, and Notre Dame and Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman Ronnie Stanley was selected as the recipient in 2015.
The five Finalists for 2016 include TE Cole Hikutini (University of Louisville), QB Sefo Liufau (University of Colorado), DT Lowell Lotulelei (University of Utah), DB Kai Nacua (Brigham Young University), and WR Juju Smith-Schuster (University of Southern California).
The Finalists were chosen by a selection committee composed of past head football coaches Dick Tomey (Chairman), LaVell Edwards, Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett, NFL player personnel expert Gil Brandt, past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae (Polynesian Football HOF Inaugural Inductee) and Hawai’i sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, we congratulate this year’s Finalists,” said Dick Tomey, Selection Committee Chairman. “Each of these Student-Athletes has had an incredible season.”
The winner of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 8. The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 20, 2017) along with being recognized at the Inaugural Polynesian Bowl (January 21, 2017).
Tight End … Senior … Tahitian Ancestry … 42 catches for 556 receiving yards on the season … Seven receiving touchdowns on the season … Ranked #5 in the nation for receiving yards among Tight Ends … Ranked #3 in the nation for receiving touchdowns among Tight Ends … Named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award … Born in Wilton, California
Quarterback … Senior … Samoan Ancestry … Completed 156 of 233 Pass Attempts (67%) on the season … 1,880 passing yards with 10 passing touchdowns on the season … 146.3 passer rating on the season … 424 rushing yards with six rushing touchdowns on the season … Born October 29, 1994 in Fort Lewis-Madigan, Washington
Defensive Tackle … Junior … Tongan Ancestry … 24 tackles on the season … Three sacks on the season … Candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy, and Bednarik Award … Born March 22, 1995 in South Jordan, Utah
Defensive Back … Senior … Samoan and Hawaiian Ancestry … 41 tackles on the season … Five interceptions on the season … One forced fumble on the season … Ranked #6 in the nation in interceptions … Named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award … Born in Las Vegas, Nevada
Wide Receiver … Junior … Samoan Ancestry … 59 catches for 758 receiving yards on the season … Eight receiving touchdowns on the season … Ranked #4 in the Pac 12 Conference in total receiving yards … Ranked #5 in the Pac 12 Conference in touchdown receptions … Candidate for the Biletnikoff Award and Walter Camp Award … Born November 22, 1996 in Long Beach, California
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
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 (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.
ABOUT THE POLYNESIAN BOWL
The Polynesian Bowl will feature the world's elite high school players of Polynesian heritage and other ancestries. Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota (TEAM MARIOTA) and Baltimore Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley (TEAM STANLEY) will serve as team captains. Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Inductees Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson and Olin Kreutz will serve as honorary head coaches. June Jones and Dick Tomey will serve as head coaches. For more information, visit www.PolynesianBowl.com.