After dominant seasons in the the trenches, Cody O’Connell and Hercules Mata’afa are receiving the recognition we know they deserve. The pair of Cougar linemen were named to the Walter Camp All-America First Team on Thursday.
O’Connell was a unanimous All-American last season, and could repeat this year. Both players were named to Sports Illustrated’s All-America First Team, and but only the Continent is a first team All-American according to TheAthletic.com.
After snubbing O’Connell last season, the Pac-12 coaches made another controversial decision this year by not naming Mata’afa the conference’s defensive player of the year. Instead, that honor was given to UW defensive linemen Vita Vea. Mata’afa led the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2017.
Vea had 16 fewer tackles for loss in 2017 and was not named to the Walter Camp first or second All-America teams. The AP also awarded its Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award on Thursday to Mata’afa.
WSU’s star defensive linemen was one of the most dominant and disruptive football players in the country this season. He may not win every award he should but it’s good to see him and O’Connell receive national recognition.
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