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Announcing the 2023 Polynesian College Football Offensive & Defensive Players of the Year


Honolulu, Hawai`i (December 14, 2023) – UCLA Defensive Lineman Laiatu Latu, of Tongan ancestry, and University of Maryland Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, of Samoan ancestry, have been selected as the 2023 Polynesian College Football Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.

Laiatu Latu had 49 total tackles (28 solo), led the team in sacks (13), forced two fumbles, had two interceptions and had two passes defended. Latu’s 13 sacks were the third most in a single season in UCLA history. Latu was named first team All-Pac-12 and a consensus All-American.

Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 3,377 yards and had 30 total touchdowns this season. He finished his career as the Big Ten Conference’s all-time passing yards leader, and all-time completion percentage leader. Tagovailoa was named second team All-Big Ten Conference.

“We congratulate Taulia and Laiatu on outstanding seasons, and collegiate careers,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “Their accomplishments are a source of great pride for the Polynesian community.” 

Former University of Oregon, Philadelphia Eagles QB Marcus Mariota was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2014; former University of Notre Dame, Baltimore Ravens OL  Ronnie Stanley in 2015; former University of Colorado QB Sefo Liufau in 2016; former Washington State DE Hercules Mata`afa in 2017; former University of Alabama, Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa in 2018 & 2019; former University of Oregon, Detroit Lions OL Penei Sewell in 2019; former University of Southern California, San Francisco 49ers Safety Talanoa Hufanga, and former Brigham Young University, New York Jets QB Zach Kapono Wilson in 2020; former Ohio State University DL Haskell Garrett in 2021; and former University of Southern California, Los Angeles Chargers DL Tuli Tuipulotu in 2022.

The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the 2024 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 20, 2024), along with being recognized during the 2024 Polynesian Bowl (January 19, 2024).

The Polynesian College Football Offensive & Defensive Players of the Year were 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, former ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, and NFL Network Chief National Reporter Steve Wyche.

Other Finalists included DL JONAH ELLISS (University of Utah), OL TROY FAUTANU (University of Washington), OL TALIESE FUAGA (Oregon State University), WR TETAIROA MCMILLAN (University of Arizona), RB JAYDN OTT (University of California), OL DOMINICK PUNI (University of Kansas), DL J.T. TUIMOLOAU (Ohio State University), and DB/AP SIONE VAKI (University of Utah).

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. There are currently 44 inductees. For more information, visit

 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. Past MVPs include AJ Epenesa, Puka Nacua, Travis Hunter, and Nico Iamaleava. The game is broadcast live and in primetime on NFL Network. For more information, visit