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Sports >  WSU football

Hercules Mata’afa becomes Washington State’s first consensus All-American DL in 15 years

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 12, 2017

Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) lines up for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata'afa (50) lines up for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. (Young Kwak / AP)

PULLMAN – Another round of All-American honors came Washington State’s way Tuesday morning.

WSU defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa and offensive lineman Cody O’Connell were both pegged as first team All-Americans by the Sporting News. That makes Mata’afa the school’s first consensus All-American defensive lineman since Rien Long in 2002. The junior defensive tackle had previously earned first team All-American distinction from the Walter Camp Foundation and the Associated Press. The Football Writers Association of America named Mata’afa to its second team.

O’Connell, who was also on the Walter Camp list, can become WSU’s second consensus All-American if he’s named to the American Football Coaches Association’s first team. The senior left guard from Wenatchee was a unanimous All-American in 2016.

CBS Sports also recognized the WSU duo on Tuesday, placing Mata’afa on its 2017 All-American first team and O’Connell on the second team.

Mata’afa scored a Pac-12-best 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks this season and was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. In an unprecedented feat, the junior was also named first team All-Pac-12 at both defensive tackle and defensive end by the AP. The conference’s coaches additionally named him to the all-conference first team at defensive tackle.

O’Connell has been a 6-9, 368-pound anchor for the Cougars at left guard the last two years. He’s started in 24 games – including all 12 this season – and was named an Outland Trophy finalist in 2016. O’Connell and fellow first team All-Pac-12 offensive lineman pick Cole Madison helped the Cougars finish the regular season with the country’s second-best passing offense.

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