NFL hopeful Hercules Mata‘afa to hold autograph signing at Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
KAANAPALI – In support of its local community and athletes, The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas will host an autograph signing opportunity with Lahainaluna High School alumni and NFL draft prospect Hercules Mata’afa on Wednesday, April 25.
Open to the public, the free event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. with complimentary valet parking at the South Lobby.
Mata’afa was born and raised on Maui in a family of seven kids. He and three of his siblings have gone on to play sports at the collegiate or professional level, both nationally and internationally.
He grew up playing football and wrestling from a young age and competed through high school in both sports.
He said, “As far back as I can remember, football was always one of my passions. My mom always says that my first word wasn’t mama or dada, it was football,” he continued.
“I get my strength from my Polynesian background and smarts from my mother.”
Hercules has many fond memories from his time at Lahainaluna High School. He said, “I loved the feeling of winning big games with all the teammates that I grew up and played with since we were kids playing Pop Warner.”
When it came time for college, Hercules knew he was serious about his football career and decided to play for the Washington State Cougars.
He had a great career with the Cougars, where he earned Polynesian Football Hall of Fame College Player of the Year honors in 2017.
Mata’afa said, “Running out into a stadium with thousands of people cheering you on is an atmosphere and feeling I will never forget.”
In December, he decided to forego his senior year at Washington State and declare for the draft.
With his dreams of the NFL in sight, he said his goals for the pros are “to have a healthy and successful career and be a role model to other athletes from the islands.”
With the draft quickly approaching, April 26-28, Mata’afa said he will be happy no matter what happens.
NFL.com scouts project the 6’1″, 254-pound edge rusher to be picked in round five or six of the draft.
His Player Bio says: “Mata’afa (MAH-tah-AH-FAH) has been one of the smallest defensive tackles in college football over the past three years – but also among the most dangerous. The Hawai’i native was an all-state football player and state finalist in wrestling, which makes sense given his ability to tussle with larger players inside. He redshirted the 2014 season before playing in all 13 games the following year, garnering honorable mention All-Pac-12 recognition with a team-leading seven sacks to go along with 32 tackles, 11 for loss. Mata’afa was named second-team all-conference as a sophomore, finishing the year with 47 stops, 13.5 tackles for loss, and a team-high five sacks using a quick first step and possessing more power than his frame would let on. He really broke out in 2017, becoming a consensus All-American, Polynesian Player of the Year, and first-team All-Pac 12. He played in all 13 games, starting 12, making 45 tackles, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and ranking in the top five nationally with 22.5 tackles for loss.”