LOGAN, Utah – Utah State senior defensive end Tipa Galeai, as well as senior defensive tackles Fua Leilua and Christopher ‘Unga, were named to the 2019 Watch List for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award, it was announced by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
The Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player that epitomizes great ability and integrity.
Galeai, Leilua and ‘Unga are three of the eight players from the state of Utah and 17 players from the Mountain West on the 62-player watch list.
Galeai is also a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s Magazine, as well as being named to the Bednarik Award Watch List. Leilua is a fourth-team all-Mountain West selection by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s Magazine, while ‘Unga is a preseason second-team all-conference selection by Phil Steele’s Magazine and a third-team all-MW selection by Athlon Sports.
Galeai, a 6-5, 230-pounder from Euless, Texas (Trinity HS/TCU), earned second-team all-Mountain West honors in 2018 as he played in all 13 games and made 12 starts. He finished his redshirt junior season fifth on the team with 64 tackles (30-solo, 34-assist), while leading the team in both sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (14.0). In fact, his 10.5 sacks are the most by an Aggie since 2005, while his 14.0 tackles for loss are the most by an Aggie since 2015. He also led the team with three forced fumbles and seven quarterback hurries, while adding two interceptions, three pass breakups and one blocked kick during the year.
Leilua, a 6-foot-3, 305-pounder from Spanish Fork, Utah (Spanish Fork HS/Oklahoma State), earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors in 2018 as he started all 13 games as a redshirt junior. He finished the season with 38 tackles, which included 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, while adding one pass breakup and six quarterback hurries.
‘Unga, a 6-0, 300-poinder from Rochester, Calif. (Rancho Cucamonga HS), also earned honorable mention all-conference honors last season as he started all 12 games he played in as a junior and finished the season with 31 tackles, which included 7.0 tackles for loss and one sack.
The winner of the 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be announced on December 17. Five finalists will be unveiled on December 5. The presentation of the Award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Celebration Dinner (January 17, 2020) at Sheraton Waikiki and they will also be recognized at halftime of the Polynesian Bowl (January 18, 2020) at Aloha Stadium.
Former University of Oregon, and current Tennessee Titans Quarterback, Marcus Mariota was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Award in 2014; former University of Notre Dame, and current Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman, Ronnie Stanley received the award in 2015; former University of Colorado Quarterback Sefo Liufau received the award in 2016; former Washington State, current Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Hercules Mata`afa received the award in 2017; and University of Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa received the award last year.
The Watch List candidates have been selected based on past performance and future potential. Additions to the list may be made as the 2019 season progresses. The finalists and winner will be chosen by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee which includes Coaches Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil, former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson (Chairman), former NFL Player and Inaugural Inductee Olin Kreutz, Inaugural Inductee and past NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, former NFL Player and Class of 2015 Inductee Ray Schoenke, ESPN Sportscaster Neil Everett, NFL Network commentator Steve Wyche, and Honolulu Sportscaster Robert Kekaula.
Utah State will open the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30, on the ACC Network at Wake Forest at 6 p.m. (MT) and begin its home season the following weekend against Stony Brook on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Mountain West play begins for USU two weekends later at San Diego State on Saturday, Sept. 21, in a game that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network and begin at 8:30 p.m. (MT).