Five Bruins Named to Polynesian Player of the Year Watch List
Five Bruins – linebacker Ale Kaho, offensive lineman Atonio Mafi, linebacker Darius Muasau, offensive lineman Siale Taupaki, defensive lineman Jay Toia -- have been named to the 2022 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Watch List. The Award is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry that exhibits great ability and integrity.
Kaho, who transferred to UCLA for the 2021 season, appeared in 11 games with two starts last year for the Bruins. He posted a season-best seven tackles in a game at Utah and totaled six stops against Oregon. He also blocked a punt in a win over Hawai'i which was recovered for a UCLA touchdown.
Mafi has seen action in 41 games during the course of his Bruin career which has included starts on both sides of the ball. He started 14 games in the 2018 and 2019 seasons as a defensive lineman and registered 45 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss. Mafi switched over to the offensive line for the 2020 campaign and appeared in all seven games. This past season, he started three games at guard against Hawai'i, LSU and Utah.
Muasau transferred to UCLA in January of 2022 after three outstanding seasons at the University of Hawai'i. He earned first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors following 100-plus tackle performances in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Muasau made 25 career starts at UH and posted a career-best 18 tackles in a game against UNLV in 2020.
Taupaki has battled injuries over the course of his Bruin career. He appeared in all seven games during the 2020 season as a reserve offensive lineman but did not see game action in the 2019 or 2021 seasons.
Toia appeared in all 12 games during the 2021 for the Bruins as a reserve along the defensive line. He made multiple tackles in three games with a season-best of four stops versus Colorado.
Five finalists for the 2022 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be unveiled on December 1 and the winner will be announced on December 15. The presentation of the Award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Celebration Dinner on January 21, 2023 at the Sheraton Waikiki, and they will also be recognized at the Polynesian Bowl on January 20, 2023.
The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions will be made during the course of the 2022 season. 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 Thompson, coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL player Olin Kreutz, inaugural inductee Kevin Mawae, former NFL player Ray Schoenke, ESPN sportscaster Neil Everett and NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche.
"The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award has become one of the most competitive and prestigious awards in college football," said Jesse Sapolu, Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman, Co-Founder and Inductee. "This award has become a source of great pride for Polynesians everywhere."
The Bruins open the 2022 season with three straight non-conference home contests. The campaign begins on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green at Rose Bowl Stadium in a 11:30 a.m. PT kickoff that airs on Pac-12 Network. A Sept. 10 visit by Alabama State follows, with the Pac-12 Network-televised matchup slated for a 2 p.m. start. Pac-12 Network provides coverage of the Sept. 17 battle with South Alabama, beginning at 11 a.m. The Bruin's home slate also includes Pac-12 Conference home contests against Washington (Sept. 30), Utah (Oct. 8), Stanford (Oct. 29) Arizona (Nov. 12) and USC (Nov. 19). To place a $99 deposit on 2022 UCLA football season tickets, CLICK HERE.