Two Cougs named to Polynesian Player of the Year watch list

WASHINGTON STATE safety Shalom Luani and defensive end Hercules Mata’afa were named to the 2016 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award watch list, WSU SID and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

Luani (pictured above) is a fourth-year senior from Masausi, American Samoa. He was also named to the watch list prior to last season. Luani earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2015 after recording 90 tackles, two forced fumbles, 10 pass breakups and a team-best four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown. He clinched the double-overtime win at Oregon with an interception and later sealed the Sun Bowl victory over Miami.

Luani also earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week and Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week after posting 11 tackles and two interceptions in the win over Oregon State.

Mata'afa, a third-year sophomore from Lahaina, Hawaii, earned Freshman All-America First-Team honors from USA Today and All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season after tying for the team lead with seven sacks despite not starting a game in 2015.

Mata’afa recorded 11 tackles-for-loss during his freshman campaign and capped the season earning Outstanding Lineman of the Sun Bowl in the win over Miami.

The award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity, and is of Polynesian ancestry. Five finalists will be unveiled in November, with the winner announced in December. 


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