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Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura one of seven finalists for Polynesian Player of the Year

Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura heads to the locker room Oct. 16 after the Cougars beat Stanford.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura, a fast-rising star in the Pac-12, joined six others on the list of finalists for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award, as announced Thursday by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.

A Hawaii native from Honolulu, de Laura hopes to become the second Cougars player to claim the prize in the past five years. Defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa brought home the honor in 2017.

De Laura, a second-year starter but still technically a freshman, captured the Pac-12’s offensive freshman of the year award and received an honorable mention nod on the all-conference list after leading the Pac-12 with 2,751 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 250.1 yards per game.

Known as a dynamic player and charismatic leader, de Laura’s steady play boosted WSU to a 7-5 finish and a postseason berth. The Cougars meet Miami in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.

First-year WSU coach Jake Dickert promises that the Cougars’ future offense will center on de Laura. New offensive coordinator Eric Morris is set to start installing his pro-style version of the Air Raid after the Sun Bowl.

Before his collegiate career, de Laura played in the 2020 Polynesian Bowl.

The other finalists for the award are Minnesota offensive lineman Daniel Faalele, Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell, Utah defensive end Mike Tafua, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and Oklahoma State running back Jaylen Warren.

The finalists were picked by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s selection committee, comprised of coaches, players, analysts and inductees. Cougar quarterbacking great Jack Thompson serves as the committee’s chairman.

The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award has been given annually to the “most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry who epitomizes great ability and integrity,” per a release. The winner will be announced Wednesday.