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Washington State Defensive Lineman Hercules Mata`afa Named Polynesian College Football Player of the Year


Honolulu, HI (December 12, 2017) – Washington State University Defensive Lineman Hercules Mata`afa has been selected as the 2017 recipient of 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.

A redshirt junior from Lahaina, Hawai`i, Hercules was named the AP’s Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year.  He was also named to the Walter Camp, Sports Illustrated, The Athletic's, FWAA, and the AP All-American Teams.

Mata’afa was the cornerstone of the Washington State defense, leading the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks.  He started all 12 games for the Cougars while recording 43 tackles with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, had multiple tackles-for-loss eight separate times and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors following the Washington State win at Utah.

“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors and Selection Committee, we congratulate Hercules on this historic accomplishment,” said Jesse Sapolu, Chairman and Co-Founder.  “He had an outstanding season and truly represents the very best of our Polynesian culture.” 

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) on Oahu, Hawai`i.

The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee composed of 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.

Other Finalists for the award included LB MANASE HUNGALU (Oregon State University), LB ANDREW MOTUAPUAKA (Virginia Tech), LB JAHLANI TAVAI (University of Hawai`i), and DL VITA VEA (University of Washington).


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