Skip to main content

Watch List Central: Robertson, Lole Polynesian Player of the Year Candidates

Jul 19, 2021

TEMPE, Ariz. – A pair of Sun Devils were named to the 2021 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List, the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced.

Jermayne Lole and Merlin Robertson continue to add preseason accolades to an already loaded resume, with both defenders garnering consideration for the award given to the most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry. The Watch List is composed of 63 players from 31 different FBS schools. Former winners include Marcus Mariota, Ronnie Stanley, Sefo Liufau, Hercules Mata`afa, Tua Tagovailoa, Penei Sewell, Talanoa Hufanga, and Zach Wilson.

Merlin Robertson enters his fourth season in Tempe as one of the leaders of the defensive unit, starring at linebacker for the Sun Devils. He was second on the team with 20 tackles last season and enjoyed a great season opener against USC, collecting ten tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, and an interception on his way to winning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. He came through with seven tackles and half a tackle for loss against UCLA.

Robertson had a negative grade on just 11.0 percent of rushing defensive plays on the year, according to PFF. His average depth of tackle was just 2.44 yards, seventh best in the league among linebackers. He was not credited with a missed tackle on the season after a sophomore year where he was seventh among league linebackers in fewest missed tackles. Robertson was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2018.

Pro Football Focus Preseason All-American First Team defensive lineman Jermayne Lole has caught the attention of the nation heading into his senior year. He was also a Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 pick and was named to PFF' College 50 entering 2021 as the No. 24 player in the nation. He was named to the watch list for the Bednarik and Outland Trophy over the past few weeks as well. Lole was the highest graded defensive interior player in the Pac-12 last season with a score of 85.9 - 3.3 points more than any other conference player and good for 13th among all FBS interior linemen. He was the third-highest graded defensive lineman when playing three-technique on the year.

Lole was second in the league with 18 defensive "stops" despite playing only four games. He had the highest run defense score in the league at 82.1 and only scored a negative grade on 9.2 percent of his run defense snaps, the second-lowest in the league and among the top-30 lowest in all of the FBS. Lole led league interior linemen in tackles for loss or rushes for no gain on run plays with seven. He was just as disruptive in the pass rush as he was third among defensive interior players in the Pac-12 with 18 quarterback pressures. He "won" his matchup in pass rushing 14.2 percent of the time, fourth in the league.

The winner of the 2021 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 14. Five finalists will be unveiled on November 30. The presentation of the Award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Celebration Dinner (January 21, 2022) at the Sheraton Waikiki, and they will also be recognized at halftime of the Polynesian Bowl (January 22, 2022).

The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2021 season progresses. The finalists and winner will be chosen 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, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, and NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche.

SUN DEVIL FOOTBALL PRESEASON WATCH LIST CENTRAL

Jayden Daniels - Quarterback - Redshirt Junior
Maxwell Award - College Player of the Year
Davey O'Brien Award - National Quarterback of the Year
Walter Camp Award - National Player of the Year
Manning Award - Nation's Top Quarterback (after bowls)
Preseason All-Pac-12 - Second Team

Overview

  • Has thrown for 877 passing yards in the fourth quarter of games in his career, 14th among Power Five quarterbacks since 2019.
  • His nine fourth quarter passing touchdowns are 11th among Power Five QBs since 2019.
  • His fourth quarter NFL passer rating is 111.4 in the fourth quarter, ninth among Power Five QBs since 2019.
  • Leads the nation since 2019 in yards per pass competition with 11+ yards to go at 18.9 ypc (680 yards on 36 completions).
  • His passer rating with over 11+ yards to go since 2019 is 188.2, second in the nation behind Texas Tech's Tyler Shough (195.4).
  • Additionally has 103 rushing yards on 10 carries on third and 11+, sixth most among FBS quarterbacks.
  • When rushing on third down in his career, Daniels has a first down or touchdown percentage of 54.0 percent, good for sixth among FBS quarterbacks since 2019.
  • Has committed just five turnovers on 618 plays in his career, the fewest among FBS quarterbacks since 2019 (0.8 percent of plays).
  • His seven rushing touchdowns are 19th among P5 QBs since 2019, as are his 782 rushing yards (sacks excluded).
  • Since 2019, Daniels is second among FBS quarterbacks in yards per completion on third down at 16.3 (964 yards on 59 competitions), trailing only Louisville's Malik Cunningham (17.2).
  • Daniels is one of just five FBS quarterbacks since 2019 to not throw an interception on third down.
  • Among Power Five quarterbacks with at least 100 third-down attempts since 2019, Daniels is 10th with an NFL quarterback rating of 101.0.

Rachaad White - Running Back - Redshirt Senior
Doak Walker Award - Nation's Top College Running Back
Preseason All-Pac-12 - Second Team

Overview

  • Led the nation in averaging 10.0 yards per rush, rushing for 420 yards on 42 attempts
  • Had the fourth-highest rushing grade in the Pac-12 at 82.5
  • Anchored a rushing offensive that was seventh nationally and tops in the league at 264.2 yards per game
  • Rushed 10 times for 133 yards and three touchdowns - including a 93-yard burst - in ASU's 70-7 rout over Arizona
  • Had just three yards for loss on the season and PFF credited him with a 0.0 percent stuff rate joining teammate DeaMonte Trayanum as the only other running back in the league with such a claim and one of just five FBS running backs to do so
  • A credit to his smooth cuts and the big men in front of him, 58.0 percent of White's rushing yards came before contact
  • He averaged 5.8 yards per rush without being touched on the year - tops in the nation and 3.0 more yards than any other player in the league
  • Averaged a first down or touchdown 35.7 percent of the time, second in the Pac-12 behind only teammate DeaMonte Trayanum and 22nd in the FBS
  • Was 14th nationally in all-purpose yards per game at 151.0
  • Was second among Pac-12 running backs with 151 receiving yards on 8-of-8 receptions
  • Had 186 yards after the catch (think receptions behind the line of scrimmage), which was second in the league
  • One of just five Pac-12 running back to record a receiving touchdown on the year

Dohnovan West - Center - Junior
Rimington Trophy - Nation's Top Center
Outland Trophy - Nation's Top Lineman
Preseason All-Pac-12 - First Team

Overview

  • 2021 PFF Preseason All-America pick by Pro Football Focus; 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team Selection; Ranked 2021 No. 5 Lindy's Preseason Center.
  • Named the Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week after 70-7 win at Arizona on Dec. 11.
  • Was the 7th-highest graded guard in the Power Five last season, according to PFF (76.7) and tops among Pac-12 guards 
  • Credited with just two QB pressures allowed, tied for third among P5 guards nationally and did not allow a sack on the season
  • Paved the way for a rushing offense that was seventh nationally in 264.2 yards per game - 30 more than any other team in the Pac-12 and the most at ASU since 1981

DeaMonte Trayanum - Running Back - Sophomore
Doak Walker Award - Nation's Top College Running Back
Preseason All-Pac-12 - Honorable Mention

Overview

  • Enjoyed one of the most impressive starts to a career by a freshman running back in program history as the four-star recruit showed why he was one of the most highly-pursued prospects in the class, rushing for 290 yards in his shortened debut season.
  • Trayanum had at least one touchdown in three of four games this season, highlighted by a two-touchdown effort in his first college game at No. 20 USC.
  • He averaged nearly six yards per carry and was extremely hard to tackle, earning a chunk of his yards after contact.
  • The highest-graded running back in the Pac-12 as a true freshman with a score of 87.6 - 4.4 points higher than any other player
  • 10th in the league in yards per game (72.5) and yards per rush (5.9) despite splitting carries all season.
  • Led the league with a first down or touchdown on 36.7 percent of his rushes
  • Had just four lost yards rushing on the season and joined teammate Rachaad White as the only two running backs in the Pac-12 to not get stuffed on the year and was one of just five FBS running backs to do so.

Chase Lucas - Cornerback - Redshirt Senior (Gr.)
Bednarik Award - College Defensive Player of the Year
Thorpe Award - Top Defensive Back
Preseason All-Pac-12 - First Team

Overview

  • 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team.
  • The highest graded corner in the Pac-12 in coverage last season with a grade of 84.7 and the 16th-highest graded corner in the nation.
  • Allowed just 109 yards in coverage, seventh fewest in the Pac-12 while his 7.8 yards allowed per catch were third in the league.
  • Only allowed five first downs, fourth fewest in the league and forced five incompletions - good for third in the league.
  • Allowed a first down or touchdown just 31.8 percent of the time, seventh-lowest in the Pac-12, and allowed just one player over 15 yards, second-lowest in the league.
  • Among players with at least 250 defensive snaps, Lucas was the fifth-highest graded defensive player in the Pac-12, regardless of position, with a score of 81.4 from Pro Football Focus. He was the highest-rated cornerback in the league.
  • Lucas recorded a score of 84.8 in pass coverage for the season, the highest for a cornerback in the league and the second-highest of any defensive player.
  • He was the sixth-highest graded cornerback in the nation in pass coverage and the 12th-highest graded cornerback in the country overall.
  • Forced an incompletion on 27.3 percent of the passes thrown his way, the ninth-best tally among corners nationally.
  • Targeted just 22 times on the season despite playing over 90 percent of the team's defensive snaps, allowing just 14 catches.

Jermayne Lole - Defensive Lineman - Senior 
Outland Trophy - Nation's Top Lineman
Rotary Lombardi Award - Nation's Top Lineman
Preseason All-Pac-12 - First Team
Polynesian Player of the Year

Overview

  • Pro Football Focus Preseason All American - First Team Defensive Line; Athlon Sports Preseason All-Pac-12; Named to PFF' College 50 entering 2021 as the No. 24 player in the nation.
  • The highest graded defensive interior player in the Pac-12 last season with a score of 85.9 - 3.3 points more than any other conference player and good for 13th among all FBS interior linemen. Was the third-highest graded defensive lineman when playing three-technique on the year.Had the highest run defense score in the league at 82.1.
  • Only scored a negative grade on 9.2 percent of his run defense snaps, the second-lowest in the league and among the top-30 lowest in all of the FBS.
  • Was second in the league among linemen with 18 defensive "stops" despite playing only four games and led league in tackles for loss or rushes for no gain on run plays with seven.
  • Just as disruptive in the pash rush as he was third among defensive interior players in the Pac-12 with 18 quarterback pressure.
  • "Won" his matchup in pass rushing 14.2 percent of the time, fourth in the league.
  • Was third on the team with 17 tackles despite being an interior lineman.

Tyler Johnson - Defensive Line - Redshirt Junior
Nagurski Trophy - Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason All-Pac-12 - Second Team

Overview

  • Finished the season with 16 tackles and was the team leader with 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
  • Johnson was disruptive all season long getting into opposing backfields, recovering two fumbles and deflecting a pass.
  • After an incredible 4.5 tackle for loss and 3 sack performance against UCLA, Johnson was named the Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week (12/7).
  • The seventh-highest graded edge defender in the Pac-12 as a pass rusher with a score of 71.9 from Pro Football Focus. Johnson was the ninth-highest graded edge defender in the Pac-12 overall with a grade of 71.2.
  • Credited with just one missed tackle on the year on 173 total snaps.
  • Generated 21 total pressures on the season – the fifth-highest total among edge defenders in the league despite playing 100 fewer pass-rushing snaps than three of the players ranked ahead of him.
  • With 21 pressures on 95 total pass rushing snaps, Johnson created a pressure on 22.1 percent of his plays as an edge rusher.
  • His one-on-one win percentage of 18.3 was 10th among edge defenders in the league.

Merlin Robertson - Linebacker - Senior 
Butkus Award - Top Linebacker
Polynesian Player of the Year

Overview

  • Second on the team with 20 tackles a year ago
  • Enjoyed a great season opener against USC, collecting ten tackles, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, and an interception on his way to winning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. Came through with seven tackles and half a tackle for loss against UCLA.
  • Had a negative grade on just 11.0 percent of rushing defensive plays on the year.
  • His average depth of tackle was just 2.44 yards, seventh best in the league.
  • Was not credited with a missed tackle on the season.
  • Led Sun Devils with three fumbles forced in 2019 and was third on the team with 72 tackles, adding 5 TFL and an interception
  • Credited with just 8 missed tackles last season, the second-fewest among Pac-12 linebackers on the year
  • 2018 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year

Jackson He - Running Back - Senior 
Wuerffel Trophy - Community Service

  • Made history by becoming the first Chinese-born player to carry the ball and rush for a touchdown at the FBS level
  • Raises awareness for discrimination toward Asian-Americans while also spending time speaking to youth in his native China to encourage the next generation of athletes
  • One of five ball carriers with a rushing touchdown in the 70-7 victory over Arizona, fighting through a tackle for a one-yard score
  • Has picked up the game extremely quickly having only starting playing football five years ago.

    Kellen Diesch - Offensive Line - Senior 
    Earl Campbell Tyler Rose - Best Player With Roots in Texas

    • Made history by becoming the first Chinese-born player to carry the ball and rush for a touchdown at the FBS level
    • Raises awareness for discrimination toward Asian-Americans while also spending time speaking to youth in his native China to encourage the next generation of athletes
    • One of five ball carriers with a rushing touchdown in the 70-7 victory over Arizona, fighting through a tackle for a one-yard score
    • Has picked up the game extremely quickly having only starting playing football five years ago.