Utah State senior linebacker Suli Tamaivena and junior nose guard Christopher Unga were both named to the 2018 Watch List for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award, it was announced by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame on Thursday.
The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.
Tamaivena and Unga are two of the nine players from Utah and 13 players from the Mountain West on the 50-player watch list.
Tamaivena is also a preseason third-team all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports, while Unga is a preseason second-team all-MW selection by Athlon Sports.
The 6-foot-0, 230-pound Tamaivena started all 13 games as a junior and finished the season with a team-best 111 tackles, which included 3.0 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss, to go along with two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups.
The 6-0, 295-pound Unga started seven of the nine games he played in a year ago as a sophomore and finished the season with 32 tackles, which included 4.5 tackles for loss.
For his career, Unga has started seven of the 16 games he has played in. He has tallied 52 total tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss, while adding two pass breakups.
The winner of the 2018 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 14, 2018. Five finalists will be unveiled on Dec. 5. The presentation of the award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Celebration Dinner (Sheraton Waikiki), and they will also be recognized at halftime of the Polynesian Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
Former University of Oregon and current Tennessee Titans 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, and former Washington State University and current Minnesota Vikings defensive end Hercules Mata`afa received the award last year.Comment on this story
The watch list candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2018-19 season progresses. The finalists and winner will be chosen by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes coaches Dick Tomey (chairman), Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil; former NFL player and inaugural inductee Olin Kreutz, past NFLPA President and inaugural inductee Kevin Mawae, former NFL player and Class of 2015 inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network writer and commentator Steve Wyche and Honolulu sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
Utah State opens the 2018 season on Friday, Aug. 31, at Michigan State and begins its home season the following weekend against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 8. Mountain West play begins for USU two weekends later as it hosts Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 22.