Today the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced their 2015 Watch List for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. The award is given each year "to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity." Marcus Mariota was the inaugural recipient of the award last season, the same season he won the Heisman Trophy. The watch list features three University of Utah football players, senior center Siaosi Aiono, junior tight end Siale Fakaloatonga, and sophomore defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei.
"The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2015 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."
Five finalists for the award will be announced on November 19, 2015, and the winner will be unveiled on December 8, 2015.
"There are nearly 300 players of Polynesian Ancestry in Division I college football today," said Jesse Sapolu, Chairman and Co-Founder. "This award showcases their incredible talents and gives us a platform to celebrate their success as student-athletes." Polynesian athletes have been key contributors for many teams in college football, and Utah is certainly one of them, with players like Nate Orchard, Star Lotulelei, and Luther Elliss all being named All-Americans. Orchard was a finalist for this award last season.
Of the three players, I think Lotulelei has the best chance to win the award, but like many college football awards, offensive players, specifically quarterbacks are often the players with the best shot to win. Arizona sophomore quarterback Anu Solomon is the lone returning finalist this year and could be considered a favorite to win the award. Seeing Fakaloatonga getting recognized was a bit of a surprise because he has not been a starter for Utah yet, but it speaks to his big potential. Aiono is one of the best centers that few people are talking about in the national media. Lotulelei was dominant in his true freshman season at Utah and should only be better in his second season now that he has had a full offseason with Utah's excellent strength and conditioning staff. It will be interesting to see if any current Polynesian Utah players surprise this season and get added to the watch list