The postseason accolades continue to roll in for Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa and offensive lineman Cody O’Connell.
On Thursday, both were named to the Walter Camp All-American First Team, the Walter Camp Foundation announced. The Walter Camp All-American team is the oldest in the nation. The 2017 All-American team will be honored on Jan. 13 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, as part of the organization’s 51st annual national awards banquet.
The Walter Camp All-American team is one of five used by the NCAA. The others are Associated Press, Sporting News, American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America. Mata’afa and O’Connell would be consensus All-Americans if they made at least three of those five lists. Getting on all five teams earns a player unanimous All-American status.
Thursday morning, Mata’afa, a junior defensive tackle was also named a first team All-American by Sports Illustrated. Washington’s Vita Vea, who beat out Mata’afa for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year two days ago, was named to SI’s second team.
Mata’afa, a native of Lahaina, Hawaii, led the Pac-12 in both sacks (9.5) and tackles-for-loss (21.5), also forcing fumbles and recovering another during his productive junior season. He was named the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high five tackles-for-loss and three sacks in WSU’s 33-25 win over Utah. Mata’afa becomes WSU’s first defensive player to earn All-American status since Deone Bucannon in 2013 and he’s the first Cougars defensive lineman to do so since Rien Long in 2002.
On Thursday, The Athletic’s All-American college football website selected O’Connell, a senior left guard, to its first team, while Mata’afa earned second team honors.
O’Connell, from Wenatchee, was a unanimous All-American offensive lineman last season and was additionally a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He started in all 12 games at left guard this season for a WSU team that ranked second nationally in passing offense at 374.8 yards per game. He becomes the first WSU offensive lineman in program history to earn All-America honors in back-to-back seasons.
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