Brett Pyne | Posted: 12 Jan 2021 | Updated: 9 Feb 2021

BYU's Wilson, USC's Hufanga named 2020 Polynesian College Football Co-Players of the Year

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Wilson named Polynesian Player of the Year
Wilson named Polynesian Player of the Year

HONOLULU — Brigham Young University quarterback Zach Kapono Wilson, of Hawaiian ancestry, and University of Southern California safety Talanoa Hufanga, of Tongan ancestry, have been selected as co-recipients of the 2020 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.

The award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity. 

“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate Talanoa and Zach on their accomplishments this season,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu.  “They are tremendous role models and a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere.”

Wilson led BYU to a 11-1 record in 2020 while earning All-America honors and finishing No. 8 in the Heisman Trophy voting. The All-Independent First Team honoree threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and only three interceptions on the season.  He broke a BYU record, previously held by Steve Young, for completion percentage, completing 73.5 percent of his passes in 2020. He also rushed for 255 yards and 10 touchdowns.

BYU's star signal caller posted 11 different top-10 rankings in 2020. He was ranked No. 2 nationally in points responsible for (264), passing efficiency (196.4) and completion percentage (73.5); No. 3 in passing yards (3,692), passing touchdowns (33), yards per pass attempt (10.99) and points responsible for per game (22.0); No. 4 in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback; No. 5 in passing yards per completion (14.95); No. 8 in total offense (328.8); and No. 10 in passing yards per game (307.7).

Hufanga led USC in tackles (62), interceptions (4) and forced fumbles (2) while helping USC earn a 5-1 record in 2020. He ranked third nationally in interceptions per game, 16th in forced fumbles per game and 19th in tackles per game. He had an interception in four consecutive games this season, the first Trojan to do so since 1996. Hufanga was a consensus All-American and was also named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Talanoa was the inaugural Polynesian High School Player of the Year in 2018 and a 2018 Polynesian Bowl All-Star.

Other finalists for this year's award included Haskell Garrett (DT, Ohio State University), Darius Muasau (LB, University of Hawaiʻi) and Khalil Shakir (WR, Boise State University).

The formal presentation of the Player of the Year Award will be held at the 2022 Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner (Jan. 21, 2022), along with being recognized during the 2022 Polynesian Bowl (Jan. 22, 2022).

The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year was voted on by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson (Chairman), Coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, Inaugural Inductee and past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.

Former University of Alabama and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and University of Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell were named the Co-Players of the Year last season, with Tagovailoa also earning the award in 2018. Former University of Oregon and current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2014. Other past recipients include former University of Notre Dame and current Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley (2015); former University of Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau (2016) and former Washington State and current Minnesota Vikings defensive end Hercules Mata`afa (2017).

About the Polynesian Football Hall of FameThe Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. Its permanent home is located at the Polynesian Cultural Center and was established in 2013 by Super Bowl Champions Jesse Sapolu and Ma’a Tanuvasa. Other board members include Troy Polamalu, Vai Sikahema, June Jones and Reno Mahe. 

About the Polynesian Bowl: The Polynesian Bowl is held annually during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week and is televised LIVE on CBS Sports Network. Major sponsors include adidas, BodyArmor, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawai’i Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawai’i News Now, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Riddell.