PULLMAN – Hercules Mata’afa has been one of the Pac-12’s stalwart defensive players this season and Monday, the Washington State defensive tackle was recognized as one of the country’s best.
Mata’afa was one of 18 players named a semifinalist for the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award, which recognizes the nation’s top defensive player.
The junior from Lahaina, Hawaii, has been one of the best in the country at getting into the backfield this season and owns 15 tackles-for-loss through eight games. That number ranks No. 1 in the Pac-12 and fourth in the FBS. He’s also accumulated 6.5 sacks – good enough for second in the conference. Mata’afa has made 30 tackles this season and is the top defensive player for a WSU team that ranks No. 17 nationally in total defense. With 39.5 tackles-for-loss, Mata’afa ranks fifth in WSU history and his 18.5 career sacks are good enough for eighth all-time.
He’ll learn on Nov. 20 if he’s one of the three finalists chosen for the award, which is announced on Dec. 7 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.