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HCA: Hercules Mata’afa named Lombardi Award finalist

Mata’afa was named to the list of 21.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks after deciding to forego his senior season, Hercules Mata’afa was named a finalist for the 2017 Lombardi Award. The All-American defensive tackle was one of 21 athletes named to the award list.

In years past, this award has been handed out to the nations best defensive lineman or linebacker. Things are different this year as they announced previously that this award was no longer going in that direction but would be handed out to any position player that showed good leadership, resiliency, character, and had good performance on the field.

Mata’afa has been the leader on the defensive side of the ball for the Cougars the past couple of years and this past season he had 45 total tackles and 22 tackles for loss with 10.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles on the year.

As one of four Pac-12 athletes to be nominated to this award, Mata’afa joins Oregon offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, Stanford running back Bryce Love, and Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea who were all named finalists as well. The award will be shortened down to 7 next Monday, January 22nd. Of the seven finalists, four will be invited to Houston, where the event will take place and the award winner will be announced Saturday, January 27th. The event will be televised on ESPN3.

No Washington State athlete has won this award since it started in 1970 and was last won by a Pac-12 player in 2014 when Arizona LB Scooby Wright III took home the hardware.

For a full list of nominees, check out this tweet.

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