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).