The Wommack Awards: Polynesian Bowl

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HONOLULU — The annual Polynesian Bowl is in the books and while we already looked at the players that helped their final rankings stock with a strong showing, today it’s time to hand out some awards. Rivals.com’s Woody Wommack gives out his unique honors to wrap up the week.

MATCHUP NIGHTMARE

After a relatively quiet week at the All-American Bowl earlier in the month, Coleman shifted into another gear during the week in Hawaii. He made an incredible sideline catch early in the game and then scoring two touchdowns, including a 35-yard pass where he easily outran the defenders and was wide open. For me, the comparison for Coleman is DK Metcalf, a big physical receiver with straight line speed that is tough to stop.

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CERTIFIED DAWG

The Texas A&M signee is already ranked as a top-five prospect and just competed in the Under Armour Game at the beginning of the month, so nobody would fault him for using his time in Hawaii as a vacation. But that’s the exact opposite of what happened. Hicks was going full speed all day every day, including on game day, when he was the first player on the field for either team warming up 90 minutes before kickoff in 80 degree weather. Hicks was also demonstrative during the game and even tussled with a few opposing players. Once he steps between the lines the switch flips on and it doesn’t flip off until the game is over. That type of motor will serve Hicks well at the next level and beyond.

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CHEETAH JUNIOR

Branch is one of the most dynamic players I’ve seen during my time at Rivals and he showed it once again during the week of practice and in the game on Friday night. I’m not the first to compare Branch to Tyreek Hill in terms of their on-field skillsets and he during the game he had a nice touchdown catch that made it look like he was toying with opposing defenders. Branch will be fun to watching catching passes from Caleb Williams next year at USC.

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*****

TEAM CAPTAIN

Iamaleava already enrolled at Tennessee and was practicing with the Vols, so why did he elect to participate in the bowl game? He said it was never even a question as he wanted to pay homage to his Polynesian culture and because of his visibility it was important to draw attention to the game. But unlike in the summer when Iamaleava drew attention for playing games in pajama pants, he was all business this week. Taking and listening to coaching and staying involved from start to finish the whole week. After throwing an early interception in the game, he bounced back nicely and showed his ability to both run and pass while leading his team to victory and earning MVP honors.

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*****

ALTER EGO

Fano showed up for the all-star games with a bleached blond long-haired mohawk and it’s almost like his new hairstyle unlocked a new level to his game. Fano was a beast in practice all week long and made it clear in conversations with me that he felt like he was too love in the rankings at No. 194 nationally. While he was likely to move up anyway after impressing at the All-American Bowl, he and his wild hair left no doubt in Hawaii.

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*****

LEAVE NO DOUBT

There has been some internal debate about just exactly where Mauigoa fits in the five-star conversation throughout the rankings process. He’s big an athletic but still relatively new to the position and because of that, he’s had his ups and downs against elite competition. After skipping the two earlier all-star games to spend time with his family in American Samoa and Hawaii, Mauigoa came in this week locked in and capped it off with a dominating performance in the game. He matched up with fellow five-star Matayo Uiagalelei during the game and did an excellent job and also made a key blocked on the game’s go-ahead touchdown. With the way he played this week, there’s no doubt he belongs among the best in the country.

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*****

BOOM OR BUST

The Oregon signee also skipped the other two all-star games, electing to focus just on the Polynesian Bowl after picking Oregon on Signing Day last month. While he flashed at times during the week and clearly is a special prospect, he’s going to have a little more work to do physically to get to the level of a sure-fire first round pick. Uiagalelei was great at using his superior athleticism off the edge during his senior season and if he can pair that with an array of moves and more strength he could be unstoppable in college. But there’s also a chance he could come back to the pack so it will be interesting to watch how things go in Eugene.

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*****

THE BLURĀ 

The game featured a lot of speed but there was no faster prospect in attendance than Pleasant, whose ability to stop and start is up there with any prospect in the country. There’s a reason USC has made him a priority as the Trojans work to fix their defense and adding speed like his is a great place to start. There aren’t many wide receivers in the country that can outrun Pleasant, and that includes Branch, who he battled with throughout the week.

*****

NEW AGE WONDER

A dual-sport star who is also a high-level baseball prospect, Robinson almost defies classic positional definitions. While he’s ranked as a tight end, he spent the week at wide receiver and didn’t skip a beat. He led all receivers with four catches for 87 yards in the game and looked great running in space. He’s farther along in his development than former first-round pick Kyle Pitts was at this point in his career, which is really saying something about his talents.

*****

LOCKDOWN

Simpson-Hunt is quiet and soft spoken off the field but his game speaks volumes when he’s on it. He’s a technician at defensive back who moves very fluidly for a cornerback his size. He did a great job in coverage all week and while he was impressive, it’s almost as if he doesn’t quite know how good he is yet. Once he confidence level matches his ability, he could turn into an elite shutdown corner in college.

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