How good is WSU's Hercules Mata'afa? So good he was voted to not one, but two spots on the Associated Press' All-Pac-12 first team defense.

Share story

Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, which also named him a first-team All-Pac-12 selection at both defensive tackle and defensive end Thursday morning.

Mata’afa’s nomination to two positions on the All-Pac-12 first team defense was not a mistake, according to the AP. Mata’afa had the majority votes at both positions by a landslide. The Cougars’ junior pass rushing extraordinary from Lahaina, Hawaii finished the regular season as the Pac-12 leader in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (21.5)

In addition, Mata’afa was the only WSU player named a first team All-American by Sports Illustrated  Thursday morning.

Mata’afa also made The Athletic’s All-American second team defense, with that media outlet naming WSU offensive guard Cody O’Connell to its All-American first team offense.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

SI.com noted, “Mata’afa landed in the top 10 nationally with 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss—and he missed two games and sat out virtually the entire second half of a third after a targeting ejection in the Apple Cup.”

Perhaps it helps cushion the blow from being passed over for the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year award that went to UW’s Vita Vea on Tuesday.

Mata’afa seemed a little miffed about losing out to Vea Tuesday afternoon, tweeting his stats (21.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) with a questioning face emoji.

Mata’afa led a list of six WSU players on the AP’s All-Pac-12 team.

Mata’afa, strong safety Jalen Thompson, right tackle Cole Madison and left guard Cody O’Connell all garnered AP All-Pac-12 first team honors.

Wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. and kicker Erik Powell were named to the AP’s All-Pac-12 second team.

The AP named Stanford running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, while USC’s Clay Helton won Coach of the Year honors. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate was named Newcomer of the Year.

Here’s the full list of the AP’s All-Pac-12 teams,

AP All-Pac-12 First Team

Offense

  • QB — Sam Darnold, USC, 6-4, 220, So., Capistrano Beach, California.
  • RB — Bryce Love, Stanford, 5-10, 196, Jr., Wake Forest, North Carolina.
  • RB — Ronald Jones II, USC, 6-0, 200, Jr., McKinney, Texas.
  • T — Cole Madison, Washington St., 6-5, 314, Sr., Burien, Washington.
  • T — Tyrell Crosby, Oregon, 6-5, 310, Sr., Henderson, Nevada.
  • G — Cody O’Connell, Washington St., 6-9, 368, Sr., Wenatchee, Washington.
  • G — David Bright, Stanford, 6-5, 299, Sr., Yorba Linda, California.
  • C — Coleman Shelton, Washington, 6-4, 299, Sr., Pasadena, California.
  • TE — Kaden Smith, Stanford, 6-5, 250, So., Flower Mound, Texas.
  • WR — N’Keal Harry, Arizona St., 6-4, 216, So., Chandler, Arizona.
  • WR — (tie) Deontay Burnett, USC, 6-0, 170, Jr., Compton, California.
  • Darren Andrews, UCLA, 5-10, 195, Sr., Phillips Ranch, California.
  • All-purpose player — Dante Pettis, Washington, 6-1, 195, Sr., San Clemente, California.
  • K — Matt Gay, Utah, 6-1, 220, Jr., Orem, Utah.

Defense

  • DE — Rasheem Green, USC, 6-4, 275, Jr., Los Angeles.
  • DE — Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St., 6-2, 252, Jr., Lahaina, Hawaii.
  • DT — Vita Vea, Washington, 6-5, 340, Jr., Milpitas, California.
  • DT — Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St., 6-2, 252, Lahaina, Hawaii.
  • LB — Christian Sam, Arizona St., 6-2, 237, Jr., Allen, Texas.
  • LB — Uchenna Nwosu, USC, 6-2, 240, Sr., Carson, California.
  • LB — Troy Dye, Oregon, 6-4, 224, So., Norco, California.
  • CB — Isaiah Oliver, Colorado, 6-1, 190, Jr., Goodyear, Arizona.
  • CB — Arrion Springs, Oregon, 6-0, 205, Sr., San Antonio.
  • S — Jalen Thompson, Washington St., 6-0, 191, So., Downey, California.
  • S — Justin Reid, Stanford, 6-2, 204, Jr., Prairieville, Louisiana.
  • P — Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah, 6-2, 220, Jr., Perth, Australia.

AP All-Pac-12 Second Team

Offense

  • QB — Josh Rosen, UCLA, 6-4, 218, Jr., Manhattan Beach, California.
  • RB — Royce Freeman, Oregon, 6-0, 238, Sr., Imperial, California.
  • RB — Myles Gaskin, Washington, 5-10, 191, Jr., Lynnwood, Washington.
  • T — Jeromy Irwin, Colorado, 6-5, 300, Sr., Cypress, Texas.
  • T — (tie) A.T. Hall, Stanford, 6-5, 297, Sr., Glendale, Arizona.
  • Kolton Miller, UCLA, 6-8, 310, Jr., Roseville, California.
  • Kaleb McGary, Washington, 6-7, 318, Jr., Fife, Washington.
  • G — Salesi Uhatafe, Utah, 6-5, 320, Sr., Euless, Texas.
  • G — Nate Herbig, Stanford, 6-4, 339, So., Kalaheo, Hawaii.
  • C — Nathan Eldridge, Arizona, 6-3, 297, So., Anthem, Arizona.
  • TE — Noah Togiai, Oregon St., 6-4, 246, Jr., West Valley, Utah.
  • WR — Darren Carrington, Utah, 6-3, 205, Sr., San Diego.
  • WR — Tavares Martin, Washington St., 6-1, 183, Jr., Belle Glade, Florida.
  • All-purpose player — Phillip Lindsay, Colorado, 5-8, 190, Sr., Aurora, Colorado.
  • K — Erik Powell, Washington St., 6-1, 202, Sr., Vancouver, Washington.

Defense

  • DE — (tie) Kylan Wilborn, Arizona, 6-2, 245, Fr., Northridge, California
  • Bradlee Anae, Utah, 6-3, 265, So., Laie, Hawaii.
  • DE — (tie) Christian Rector, USC, 6-4, 275, So., South Pasadena, California.
  • Jalen Jelks, Oregon, 6-6, 245, Jr., Phoenix.
  • DT — Harrison Phillips, Stanford, 6-4, 295, Sr., Omaha, Nebraska.
  • DT — JoJo Wicker, Arizona St., 6-3, 273, Jr., Long Beach, California.
  • LB — Cameron Smith, USC, 6-2, 250, Jr., Roseville, California.
  • LB — Manase Hungalu, Oregon St., 6-1, 238, Sr., Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
  • LB — Kenny Young, UCLA, 6-1, 235, Sr., New Orleans.
  • CB — (tie) Jack Jones, USC, 5-11, 170, So., Long Beach, California.
  • Jace Whittaker, Arizona, 5-11, 182, Jr., Oceanside, California.
  • CB — (tie) Quentin Weeks, Stanford, 6-2, 197, Jr., San Diego.
  • Iman Marshall, USC, 6-1, 205, Jr., Long Beach, California.
  • S — Chase Hansen, Utah, 6-3, 220, Jr., Highland, Utah.
  • S — Chris Hawkins, USC, 5-11, 190, Sr., Las Vegas.
  • P — Jake Bailey, Stanford, 6-2, 193, Jr., Solana Beach, California.

Coach of the Year: Clay Helton

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Love, Stanford.

Defensive Player of the Year: Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St.

Newcomer of the Year: Khalil Tate, Arizona.