ANNOUNCING THE 2022 POLYNESIAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (December 13, 2022) – University of Southern California Defensive Lineman Tuli Tuipuoltu, of Tongan ancestry, has been selected as the 2022 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.
Tuli helped lead the USC Trojans to an 11-2 record and a selection to play in the 2022 Cotton Bowl Game. Tuipulotu had 44 total tackles (29 solo), led the team in sacks (12.5), forced two fumbles, and had three passes defended. Tuipulotu was named a first team All-American, first team All-Pac-12 selection, and won the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was also named a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Rotary Lombardi Award, the Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Nagurski Trophy.
“We congratulate Tuli on an incredible season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “His accomplishments are a source of great pride for the Polynesian community.”
The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the 2023 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 21, 2023), along with being recognized during the 2023 Polynesian Bowl (January 20, 2023).
Former University of Oregon, and current Atlanta Falcons 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 Defensive Lineman Hercules Mata’afa received the award in 2017; former University of Alabama Quarterback, and current Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the award in 2018 & 2019; former University of Oregon Offensive Tackle, and current Detroit Lions Offensive Lineman, Penei Sewell received the award in 2019; former University of Southern California, and current San Francisco 49ers Safety, Talanoa Hufanga and former Brigham Young University, and current New York Jets Quarterback, Zach Kapono Wilson received the award in 2020; and former Ohio State Defensive Lineman, Haskell Garrett won the award in 2021.
The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, 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, and NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche.
Other 2022 Finalists included J.T. TUIMOLOAU (Ohio State University), VILIAMI FEHOKO (San Jose State University), NOAH SEWELL (University of Oregon), SATAOA LAUMEA (University of Oregon), TAULIA TAGOVAILOA (University of Maryland), LAIATU LATU (UCLA), and SIAKI IKA (Baylor University).
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. PolynesianFootballHOF.org
About the Polynesian Bowl: The Polynesian Bowl is a premier all-star game played annually in Honolulu, Hawai`i that features 100 of the nation’s top ranked high school seniors of Polynesian and non-Polynesian ancestry alike – many of whom have gone on to play in the NFL. The game has become the most sought-after all-star football invitation – a rapid rise from its inaugural game in 2017. This past January, top ranked 2022 player Travis Hunter participated in the game and was named Offensive MVP. The game will be broadcast live and in primetime on NFL Network. Major partners include Microsoft Surface Pro, adidas, BodyArmor, Riddell, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawaiʻi Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, HBCTC, Hawaiʻi News Now and World Wide Safety. For more information, go to PolynesianBowl.com