University of Southern California Safety Talanoa Hufanga, of Samoan ancestry, and Brigham Young University Quarterback Zach Kapono Wilson, of Hawaiian ancestry, have been selected as co-recipients of the 2020 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.
The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity. Former University of Oregon, and current Las Vegas Raiders Quarterback, Marcus Mariota was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2014; former University of Notre Dame, and current Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman, Ronnie Stanley received the award in 2015; former University of Colorado Quarterback Sefo Liufau received the award in 2016; former Washington State, and current Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Hercules Mata`afa received the award in 2017; former University of Alabama Quarterback, and current Miami Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the award in 2018 & 2019; and University of Oregon Offensive Tackle Penei Sewell received the award in 2019.
Talanoa Hufanga led USC to a 5-1 record. Hufanga led the team in tackles (62), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (2) in 2020. He ranked third nationally in interceptions per game, 16th in forced fumbles per game, and 19th in tackles per game. He had an interception in 4 consecutive games this season, the first Trojan to do so since 1996. Hufanga was a consensus All-American and was also named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Talanoa was the Inaugural (2018) of the Polynesian High School Player of the Year and a 2018 Polynesian Bowl All-Star.
Zach Kapono Wilson led BYU to a 11-1 record. Wilson threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions on the season. He broke a BYU record, previously held by Steve Young, for completion percentage, completing 73.4% of his passes in 2020. He also rushed for 255 yards and 10 touchdowns. Wilson finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy voting.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Talanoa and Zach on their accomplishments this season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “They are tremendous role models and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere.”
The formal presentation of the Award will be held at the 2022 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (January 21, 2022), along with being recognized during the 2022 Polynesian Bowl (January 22, 2022).
The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson (Chairman), Coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, Inaugural Inductee and past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
The other Finalists included DT HASKELL GARRETT (Ohio State University), LB DARIUS MUASAU (University of Hawaiʻi) and WR KHALIL SHAKIR (Boise State University).
About the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame: The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center and was established in 2013 by Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvasa. Other board members include Troy Polamalu, Vai Sikahema, June Jones and Reno Mahe. www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org
About the Polynesian Bowl: The Polynesian Bowl is held annually during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week and is televised LIVE on CBS Sports Network. Major sponsors include adidas, BodyArmor, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawai’i Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawai’i News Now, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Riddell. www.PolynesianBowl.com