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Hercules Mata'afa gave up wresting, and it was not a bad idea

Not only does Hurcules Mata'afa's name stand out on the field, but so does his his play on the field.

Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Just getting to the state playoffs in any high school sport is tough, but, for Hercules Mata'afa, he not only made the playoffs -- he was a back-to-back state championship runner-up in Hawaii for wrestling. The redshirt freshman defensive tackle wrestled at the 215-pound weight class, but gave up the sport his senior year to focus on football.

In an article with Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times, Hercules gives praise to his wrestling workouts for helping him improve and become one of the best young defensive lineman in the game: "I think wrestling is a good sport for football because it (trains) a lot of leverage and hip work."

Without ever starting a collegiate game, Mata'afa has earned USA Today Freshman All-American honors, all-Pac-12 honorable mention, and was mentioned in Heisman talks by Andy Staples.

In the same article by Loh, Mata'afa's mother talks about how her son wrestles with his sisters whenever he comes home: "In our living room, there's a futon on the floor and no table and chairs any more because they rumble." Hercules is one of six children and has four sisters, two of which are state champion wrestlers, making it a lot tougher for him.

With 6 sacks, he is tied for the team lead with Darryl Paulo, and is just 2 tackles for a loss behind Paulo (who has 12 and leads the team), and Mata'afa leads the team in QB hurries.



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