HONOLULU — The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced Thursday that Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines.
The Polynesian Pro Football Player of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding professional football player of Polynesian Ancestry. Arizona Cardinals Offensive Guard Mike Iupati was selected as the inaugural recipient in 2015, Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota was selected as the recipient in 2016 and Smith-Schuster also received the award in 2017.
The 6-foot-2 215-pound Smith-Schuster was born in Long Beach, Calif., and is of Samoan ancestry. He is in his second season out of the University of Southern California. Smith-Schuster finished the season tied for sixth in the NFL with 111 catches, fifth in the NFL with 1,426 receiving yards, seven receiving touchdowns and had eight 100-yard receiving games.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame also announced that Houston Texans kicker Ka‘imi Fairbairn will be honored as the 2018 recipient of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Kupono Award for Excellence.
Fairbairn led the NFL with 37 field goals made and has set the Texans franchise record for the most made field goals in a single season. Last year, University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and University of Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton received the inaugural awards.
“On behalf of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, we congratulate JuJu and Ka‘imi on terrific seasons,” said Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Chairman Jesse Sapolu. “They truly represent the very best of our Polynesian culture.”
The formal presentation of the Awards will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner on Jan. 18 along with being recognized at the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 19 on Oahu.