Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Matau on 2016 Polynesian Football Player of the Year Award Watch List

HONOLULU – East Carolina junior center Christian Matau has been named to the 2016 Polynesian Football Player of The Year Award Watch List, according to an announcement by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Wednesday.

The award is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry who epitomizes great ability and integrity. Matau is one of 38 student-athletes selected on the preseason watch list and the only representative of the American Athletic Conference.

As a sophomore in 2015, Matau continued to climb ECU's offensive depth chart and earned a starting assignment as the unit's top center prior to the Virginia Tech contest last September 26. He proceeded to open five-straight games and played a key role helping the Pirates average 448.6 yards and 33.2 points per game during that span before suffering a season-ending arm injury against Temple Oct. 22.

Matau, who enjoyed a stellar prep career at New Bern (N.C.) High School, also boosted East Carolina's rushing attack with a 171.8 ypg clip in those five outings, compared to a 105.9 ypg average in the other seven contests. His first career start resulted in a 35-28 win against the Hokies that was fueled by a 182-yard ground effort, while Matau's initial road starting nod produced a season-high 306-yard rushing performance at SMU.

The winner of the 2016 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced Dec. 7 after five finalists are unveiled Nov. 17.  The formal presentation of the award will be held at the Celebration Dinner during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend on January 20, 2017.

“It is remarkable that the first two recipients of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award went on to be drafted No. 2 overall (Marcus Mariota, 2015 NFL Draft) and No. 6 overall (Ronnie Stanley, 2016 NFL Draft) respectively,” Chairman and Co-Founder Jesse Sapolu said. “This award allows us to showcase the tremendous impact that our Polynesian student-athletes are having on the game of football.”

Watch list candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2016 season progresses. The finalists and the winner will be chosen by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes coaches Dick Tomey (chairman), LaVell Edwards, Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, past NFLPA President and inaugural inductee Kevin Mawae, ESPN sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL player personnel legend Gil Brandt and Honolulu sportscaster Robert Kekaula.

The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame honors Polynesia’s greatest players, coaches and contributors. As a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, the Hall of Fame serves as a resource for Polynesian football history, provides scholarships for Polynesian student-athletes and supports educational programs for Polynesian youth.

So far this season, five Pirates have been named to a preseason watch list - Worth Gregory (Ray Guy Award), J.T. Boyd (Outland Trophy), Zay Jones (Biletnikoff Award), Quay Johnson (Paul Hornung Award) and Matau (Polynesian Football Player of the Year).