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Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa named one of five finalists for Polynesian award

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 5, 2017, 4:16 p.m.

Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) reacts after he stopped Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love (20) during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU led 14-7 at the half. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) reacts after he stopped Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love (20) during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. WSU led 14-7 at the half. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Hercules Mata’afa, the Washington State defensive tackle who hails from Lahaina, Hawaii, was named one of five finalists for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.

The award is given annually to the top player of Polynesian ancestry that “epitomizes great ability and integrity.”

Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea was one of the other four finalists, along with Oregon State linebacker Manase Hungalu, Virginia Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka and Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai.

Mata’afa finished first in the Pac-12 and tied for 10th nationally in sacks, with 9.5, and his 21.5 tackles-for-loss were best in the league and fifth among FBS players. Mata’afa finished the regular season with 43 total tackles and also had two forced fumbles.

The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 12 and will be presented on Jan. 19, 2018, at the Polynesian Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner, one day before the Polynesian Bowl.

Pac-12 players have won the award in two of the last three years. Former Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau won it in 2016 before ex-Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley won it the year prior. In 2014, the award went home with former Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.