All but one of the 50 players on the Polynesian College Football Player Of The Year watch list are playing at the FBS level, the majority from Power 5 programs.
Eastern Washington nose tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli is the lone FCS talent.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior has returned to action since using a medical redshirt in 2017, a year after he was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection. He had 33 tackles and four sacks in 2016.
The preseason All-American is among a list of players that includes Washington State center Fred Mauigoa, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and USC linebacker Jordan Iosefa. WSU defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa, who later signed with the Minnesota Vikings, won the award last year.
Five finalists will be announced Dec. 5 and the winner will be picked Dec. 14.
Tiuli said his Seattle-area high school, Federal Way, was around 40-pecent Polynesian, and he often looked up to football’s top Polynesian stars.
“Growing up I watched a lot of (former USC and Seahawks linebacker) Lofa Tatupu. These days, I’m watching Juju Smith-Schuster, who is black and Polynesian,” Tiuli said. “And now one of my good friends, (former EWU defensive end) Albert Havili is playing for the Chargers. It’s been great watching all of them.”