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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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Jonah Tavai Jonah Tavai

Three Aztecs on Polynesian PotY Watch List

Alama Uluave joins brothers Jonah and Justus Tavai in consideration for the 2022 award.
By GoAztecs

San Diego State's Alama UluaveJonah Tavai and Justus Tavai have all been selected to the 2022 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award watch list. The award is presented annually to the most outstanding college football player of Polynesian ancestry that epitomizes great ability and integrity. The announcement came Thursday morning.

Uluave, who was named to the MW preseason all-conference team earlier this summer, started all 22 games the past two seasons for the Aztecs at center. He was an honorable mention all-league pick in 2021 after allowing just six pressures (two hits, two hurries and two sacks) in 409 passing chances, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Additionally, Uluave played the most snaps on the team (953). Uluave has also been named a preseason all-MW first-team selection by both Phil Steele Magazine and Athlon Sports and was named to the preseason Rimington Trophy Watch List for the nation's top center.

A two-time honorable-mention all-MW pick (2020-21) and a 2022 MW preseason all-conference team, Jonah Tavai had 47 tackles (23 solo) last year, including 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries in 14 starts. Jonah Tavai ranked sixth in the league in sacks (8.5, T-37th in FBS), seventh in sacks per game (0.61, T-54th in FBS) and tackles for loss (14.0, T-52nd in FBS), eighth in sack yards (57, T-37th in FBS), ninth in tackles for loss yards (65, T-57th in FBS), and tied for 10th in tackles for loss per game (1.00).
According to Pro Football Focus, he ranked second in the Mountain West in quarterback pressures (sacks/hits/hurries) (61, T-7th in FBS) and hurries (40, T-8th in FBS), and tied for fifth in hits (11, T-21st in FBS). He has also been named a first-team selection by both Phil Steele Magazine and Athlon Sports, and is listed as the second-best player by Athlon.

Tavai, who joins the Aztecs after spending the last four seasons at fellow Mountain West foe Hawai'i is also on the watch list. He appeared in 25 games over that span (2019-21), logging 19 starts after redshirting the 2018 campaign. Tavai totaled 72 tackles (40 solo), including 10 tackles for loss and four sacks, along with three pass breakups, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Tavai had 34 tackles (19 solo) last year, playing all 13 games with 12 starts, while adding five tackles for loss, a sack, three quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and a pass breakup.

SDSU (12-2) finished with a school-record 12 victories last season, one of only 10 programs with at least 12 wins. Only four teams had more victories than San Diego State, including national champion Georgia, and CFP teams Alabama and Cincinnati. The Aztecs played five teams who reached double-digit victories in 2021, securing wins over Pac-12 Champion/Rose Bowl participant Utah (10-4), UTSA (12-2) and Air Force (10-3).
SDSU, which played all 14 of its games away from its own market, including eight "home games" two hours from campus at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, finished the 2021 season ranked 25th in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll. It was the third time in program history San Diego State made the final AP Top 25 poll (also 1977 (16th) and 2016 (25th)). The Aztecs were also ranked in every CFP poll in 2021.