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Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa named semifinalist for Walter Camp Player of the Year Award

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 15, 2017, 7:24 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)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Hercules Mata’afa has been a linchpin for Washington State’s defensive line this fall and Wednesday the standout defensive tackle was one of 15 players named a semifinalist for The Walter Camp Foundation’s 2017 Player of the Year Award.

The fourth-oldest college football award in the country recognizes the nation’s best college football player. Cougars QB Luke Falk was a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Award in 2016.

Mata’afa is a big reason the Cougars are the country’s 10th-ranked defense through 11 regular-season games. The junior leads WSU and is third in the FBS in tackles-for-loss(21.5), while his 9.5 sacks rank atop the Pac-12 Conference and are tied for fifth-most in the nation.

Mata’afa is coming off his most disruptive game of the season. The native of Lahaina, Hawaii, was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after registering five TFL, three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in a 33-25 win at Utah. Mata’afa was also named the Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week.

WSU will take a 9-2 record into the Nov. 25 Apple Cup. The Cougars are ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 and lead the country with 94 TFL. They’re also second nationally with 27 takeaways and tied for third with 35 sacks.