The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame has named Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau the 2016 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year.
This is the third year of the award, given annually to "the most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry that epitomizes great ability and integrity." Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota won the inaugural honor in 2014, and former Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley took home the trophy last year.
Liufau, a senior, threw for 2,171 yards and accounted for 18 touchdowns in the Buffs' resurgent season, the biggest turnaround in Pac-12 history. Colorado finished its Pac-12 South championship campaign with a 10-3 record, a No. 10 ranking and an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl, where No. 12 Oklahoma State awaits.
The Buffs finished just 4-9 in 2015, and Liufau's status back then was in question because of a Lisfranc injury. At one point, graduate transfer quarterback Davis Webb was committed to Colorado, and Liufau's prospects for 2016 playing time were in considerable doubt. But Webb transferred to California instead, and Liufau's foot healed, and that set the table for his successful senior season.
During his best game, a 38-24 win over Washington State, Liufau became just the second quarterback in Colorado history to surpass 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in one game. He remained effective with his legs throughout the season, even in the midst of a nagging hip injury.
“Sefo has led the University of Colorado to one of their greatest seasons in school history,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame chairman Jesse Sapolu. “His leadership on and off the field has been instrumental in their success."
The honor comes with family ties for Liufau. His uncle is former Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson -- nicknamed "The Throwin' Samoan" -- who was a member of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 2014.
Former coaches Dick Tomey, LaVell Edwards, Ron McBride and Dick Vermeil voted on this player of the year award, as did ESPN anchor Neil Everett and NLPA presient Kevin Mawae. Other finalists included Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini, Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei, BYU defensive back Kai Nacua and USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Liufau will be formally presented with his award at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame celebration dinner on Jan. 20.