Washington State pass rusher Hercules Mata'afa grew up watching Trent Cole and the Eagles

Mar 04, 2018 | by Turron Davenport, EaglesWire

It’s always fun to talk with the prospects at the NFL Combine about what made them want to start playing football. Washington State defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa grew up in Hawaii and was an all-state football player and state finalist in wrestling.

With a name like Hercules, it’s pretty easy to see why he played football and was a wrestler in his younger days. He said he got the name Hercules because he was a 10-pound baby. His mother was going to name him either Hercules or Anthony.

As for football, Mata’afa said the first game he watched was an Eagles game, and Trent Cole was dominating. The fact that Cole played the same position as Mata’afa stood out to him. It made him want to watch Cole and the Eagles more.

Once he got to college, Mata’afa got to play alongside a future Eagles defensive lineman in Destiny Vaeao.

“When I first came to Washington State, I was a backup to Destiny [Vaeao]. I had seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss when I was a freshman All-American,” Mata’afa said on Saturday. “He was a big influence in how I played at the collegiate level. I learned a lot from him as far as being physical and holding the point of attack.”

At 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, Mata’afa doesn’t have the size to play defensive tackle consistently in NFL. However, he projects as a player that can be a versatile option for defensive coordinators. That skill set is something that Mata’afa takes pride in.

“I am the most versatile pass rusher in the draft. You can line me up anywhere to rush the passer. I am a playmaker,” Mata’afa said.