2019 POLYNESIAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Honolulu, HI (December 10, 2019) – 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 college football player of Polynesian ancestry that epitomizes great ability and integrity.
Former University of Oregon, and current Tennessee Titans Quarterback, Marcus Mariota was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2014; former University of Notre Dame, and current Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman, Ronnie Stanley received the award in 2015; former University of Colorado Quarterback Sefo Liufau received the award in 2016; former Washington State, and current Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Hercules Mata`afa received the award in 2017; and University of Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the award last year.
The five Finalists for 2019 include DL BRADLEE ANAE (University of Utah), DB JULIAN BLACKMON (University of Utah), DL A.J. EPENESA (University of Iowa), OL PENEI SEWELL (University of Oregon) and QB TUA TAGOVAILOA (University of Alabama).
The Finalists were selected from a Watch List of more than 60 players by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee which includes which includes former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson (Chairman), Coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, Inaugural Inductee and past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
“The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award allows us to showcase the tremendous impact of our Polynesian student-athletes,” said Jesse Sapolu, Chairman and Co-Founder. “We congratulate the finalists on an incredible season and look forward to celebrating their success.”
The winner of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 17. The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 17, 2020), along with being recognized during the Polynesian Bowl (January 18, 2020).
POLYNESIAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
BRADLEE ANAE (University of Utah)
Defensive End … Senior … Hawaiian Ancestry … Started 12 games … Selected as Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week (October 22) … 35 total tackles (26 solo) … 13.5 tackles for loss … 12.5 sacks … one forced fumbles … one pass broken up … Born in Lāʻie, Hawai`i.
JULIAN BLACKMON (University of Utah)
Defensive Back … Senior… Samoan Ancestry … Started 13 games … Named Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week (November 17) … Named 1st Team All-American … 60 total tackles (41 solo) … 1.5 sacks … two forced fumbles … four interceptions … four tackles for loss … Born in Prince, Utah.
A.J. EPENESA (University of Iowa)
Defensive End … Junior … Samoan Ancestry … Started 12 games … Named 1st Team All Big10 … 45 tackles (29 solo) … 13 tackles for loss … Nine sacks … Three passes broken up … Three forced fumbles … Nine quarterback hurries … Born in Oak Park, Kansas.
PENEI SEWELL (University of Oregon)
Offensive Lineman … Sophomore … Samoan Ancestry … Started 13 Games … Named 1st Team All-American … Named 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year … Named a Finalist for the Outland Trophy … Born in Malaeimi, American Samoa.
TUA TAGOVAILOA (University of Alabama)
Quarterback … Junior… Samoan Ancestry … Started 9 games … Named 3rd Team All-American … Named All-SEC Selection … 2,840 Passing Yards … 33 Passing Touchdowns (5th in FBS) … 94.6 QBR (1st in FBS) … Born in ʻEwa Beach, Hawai`i.
About the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame: The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center 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. www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.
About the Polynesian Bowl: The Polynesian Bowl is held annually during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week and is televised LIVE on CBS Sports Network. Major sponsors include adidas, BodyArmor, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawai’i Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawai’i News Now, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Riddell.