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Hercules Mata’afa listed as top returning defensive player by Pro Football Focus

Pro Football Focus has the Cougar defensive lineman at the top of his list.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State redshirt Junior defensive lineman, Hercules Mata’afa is listed as the top returning Pac-12 defensive player according to Pro Football Focus. Following his 2016 campaign he was named All-Pac-12 Conference Second Team and was named All-Pac-12 Second Team by AP as well as Phil Steele. He sits atop the list with two Huskies below him.

Mata’afa finished his Sophomore year leading the team and was 16th in conference for sacks with a total of 5. He finished at seventh on the team with 47 tackles. With 16 tackles for a loss he found himself at 5th in the conference. All four players in front of him on that list have graduated or moved on to the NFL.

During this past season he was named to the Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award, and the Polynesian Player of the Year watch-lists.

As the top-3 of the list is full of redshirt Juniors, Mata’afa sits above two of Washington’s defensive tackles in Vita Vea and Greg Gaines. Both Vea and Gaines were named to a Pac-12 team after this past season.



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