Hercules Mata’afa, Cody O’Connell lead WSU Cougars as first team All-Pac-12 selections

Nine WSU players earned All-Pac-12 honors in the list released by the conference Tuesday morning

Washington State defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa and offensive guard Cody O’Connell have been named to the All-Pac-12 first team, the conference announced Tuesday morning. The Pac-12 football coaches selected the all-conference teams.

(Full list of Pac-12 All Conference selections available here)

Mata’afa and O’Connell led a list of nine Cougars who were named All-Pac-12 selections.

Offensive tackle Cole Madison, safety Jalen Thompson and kicker Erik Powell were named to the All-Pac-12 second team, while offensive tackle Andre Dillard, quarterback Luke Falk, linebacker Frankie Luvu and running back Jamal Morrow were All-Pac-12 honorable mentions.

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Mata’afa, a junior from Lahaina, Hawaii, leads the Pac-12 in tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (9.5), was a semifinalist for the Walter Camp and Bednarik Awards, and is a finalist for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award. Mata’afa was a USA Today freshman All-American as a redshirt freshman in 2015, and he finished his sophomore season as an All-Pac-12 second team selection.

Wenatchee native O’Connell was an Outland Trophy Finalist and was voted a unanimous All-American as a junior last season, but was mysteriously snubbed by Pac-12 voters and only earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors in 2016. He’s started 24 games in two seasons for WSU, and this season, earned the team’s weekly Bone Award (best offensive lineman) after the Stanford game.

On the All-Pac-12 second team, Cole Madison, from Seattle, has been a stalwart for WSU at right tackle over the last four years He’s earned a team-high four Bone Awards this season to up his career total to eight. Madison, a senior, has started a team-high 46 games, and has just accepted an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Jalen Thompson, a sophomore from Downey, Calif., has started every game for WSU at strong safety in the last two seasons. He was named a freshman All-American by ESPN.com in 2016, and this year, he leads WSU with 69 tackles (including a team-high 44 solo stops) and four interceptions, and also has two pass breakups and three fumble recoveries.

Kicker Erik Powell, from Vancouver, was one of the most improved players on the team this season. After a mediocre junior season in which he went 9 of 15 on field…

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