Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award Finalists Announced
Honolulu, HI (December 5, 2017) – 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, Notre Dame and Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman Ronnie Stanley was selected as the recipient in 2015, and University of Colorado Quarterback Sefo Liufau was selected as the recipient in 2016.
The five Finalists for 2017 include LB MANASE HUNGALU (Oregon State University), DL HERCULES MATA’AFA (Washington State University), LB ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA (Virginia Tech), LB JAHLANI TAVAI (University of Hawai`i), and DL VITA VEA (University of Washington).
The Finalists were chosen by a selection committee which includes 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.
“With more than 500 players of Polynesian ancestry playing Division I football today, the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award has become one of the most prestigious awards in college football,” said Jesse Sapolu, Chairman and Co-Founder. “On behalf of our Board of Directors, we would like to congratulate each of this year’s finalists.”
The winner of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 12. The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 19, 2018) along with being recognized during the Polynesian Bowl (January 20, 2018).
MANASE HUNGALU (Oregon State University)
Linebacker … Senior … Tongan Ancestry … Started 12 games … 97 tackles (57 solo) … six tackles for loss … 2.5 sacks … two interceptions … four passes broken up … Named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week in Week 10 after recording a team-best 20 tackles in the game against California … Born January 4, 1995 in Kailua Kona, HI.
HERCULES MATA’AFA (Washington State University)
Defensive Lineman … Junior … Samoan Ancestry … Started 12 games … 43 tackles (30 solo) … 21.5 tackles for loss … 9.5 sacks … two forced fumbles … one fumble recovery … Named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week in Week 12 after setting career-highs with five tackles-for-loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the game against Utah … Bednarik Award Semifinalist … Walter Camp Award Semifinalist … ESPN, USA Today, & AP Mid-Season All-American … Born in Lahaina, HI.
ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA (Virginia Tech)
Linebacker … Senior… Tongan Ancestry … Started 12 games … 82 tackles (40 solo) … 10.5 tackles for loss … 3.5 sacks … one interception … one forced fumble … one fumble recovery … four passes broken up … Named ACC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 1 after recording 12 tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries in the game against West Virginia … Named third team All-ACC for the season … Born June 29, 1995 in Auckland, New Zealand.
JAHLANI TAVAI (University of Hawai`i)
Linebacker … Junior … Samoan Ancestry … Started 12 games … 124 tackles (66 solo) … 11 tackles for loss … 5.5 sacks … one interception … one forced fumble … one fumble recovery … Finished the season ranked #11 in total tackles per game in the NCAA … Named second team All-Mountain West Conference for the season … Born in Inglewood, CA.
VITA VEA (University of Washington)
Defensive Lineman … Junior … Tongan Ancestry … Started 12 games … 37 tackles (25 solo) … 5.5 tackles for loss … 3.5 sacks … four passes broken up … 2017 Bednarik Award Semifinalist … 2017 Associated Press Preseason All-American … Named to the Pro Football Focus National Team of the Week in Week 9 … Born February 5, 1995 in Palo Alto, CA.
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 (Laie on 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.