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Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year

Officially this time around

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans safety Talanoa Hufanga definitely turned a few heads with his play in 2020 — and intercepted a few passes as well. Hufanga finished with the conference lead with four interceptions and was a dominant force for USC all season long.

Though the season didn’t end the way they wanted, you can bet the postseason accolades for Hufanga were going to come. First was Jon Wilner’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award — and now the official Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The Pac-12 saying this:

Talanoa Hufanga’s Pac-12 leading four interceptions came in four-straight outings for the junior safety out of Corvallis, Oregon to grab the 2020 Pac-12 Football Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year honors. Hufanga is the first player with an interception in four-straight games since Sammy Knight in 1996. His 17 tackles versus UCLA this season is the most tackles in a game by a Trojan since he had 18 versus the Bruins back in 2019.

His highlight-moments were something else.

Wilner, again, had this to say:

A dominant playmaker in the middle of the field, Hufanga has the mobility of a safety and the physicality of a linebacker. How many players over the years have ever led the conference in interceptions and ranked in the top five in tackles and the top 10 in sacks? Very few.

Hufanga finished the year with 62 total tackles, three sacks, a pass breakup, four interceptions and two more forced fumbles. He truly was everything you’d expect him to be and then some.

He was also selected to the First-Team Pac-12 Defense by Wilner and was joined by Amon-Ra St. Brown, Drake LondonAlijah Vera-Tucker and Marlon Tuipulotu as first-team selections. Tyler Vaughns and Isaiah Pola-Mao were selected to the second-team offense and defense, respectively.

Congratulations to Hufanga, and the rest of the selections here.

FIGHT ON!