SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly freshman Kain Su'a is a West Region finalist for the 2017 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Chapter Scholar-Athlete Award.
The award honors one football player from each of the country's five regions as the best and the brightest for their accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens at the high school level.
The 35 finalists — seven from each of the five regions — all graduated from high school in 2017 and are now playing college football. A national committee will select the five honorees, who will be announced Oct. 4.
"The NFF Chapter Network continues to grow and excel, and their work this year has allowed us to identify these 35 exceptional high school scholar-athletes who have clearly established themselves among the best in the nation," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "It will be a difficult task to select one from each region as the absolute best. Each possesses incredible talent in all facets of their lives, and it is a tremendous honor for us to highlight their accomplishments."
Su'a is a graduate of Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. He was nominated by the NFF Riverside County (Calif.) Chapter and currently is utilizing his redshirt year at Cal Poly.
A 6-0, 290-pound defensive lineman, Su'a made 39 tackles, including 10 for lost yardage and 2.5 sacks, as a senior under head coach Jeff Steinberg last fall. He also forced two fumbles and was credited with a pair of quarterback hurries, helping the Mustangs to an 11-2 overall record, first-place finish in the Inland Valley League and a berth in the semifinal round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
A team captain, Su'a earned second-team All-Inland Valley League honors and was selected to play in the Inland Empire All-Star Classic. He was class valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude) and also competed in track and field in the shot put event.
The kinesiology major is the son of Toa and Melody Su'a.
With 120 chapters and more than 12,000 members, the NFF Chapter Network impacts more than 500,000 student-athletes at 5,000 high schools in 47 states each year.
The centerpiece of their efforts are the annual chapter awards banquets, which recognize more than 3,500 of the nation's top scholar-athletes and distribute more than $1 million in scholarships.
The five NFF Chapter Scholar-Athletes selected from the finalists list will travel to New York City to be honored during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the New York Hilton Midtown.
First bestowed in 1991, the NFF Chapter Scholar-Athlete Awards have become one of the most prestigious high school honors in the country. Criteria for the award include but are not limited to academic achievement, athletic accolades and community involvement.
The six other West Region finalists:
• Nolan McCafferty from Big Horn High School in Big Horn, Wyo. Nominated by the NFF Wyoming Chapter and currently playing at Rocky Mountain College (Mont.).
• Brandon Micale from Pomona High School in Arvada, Colo. Nominated by the NFF Colorado Chapter and currently playing at the University of San Diego.
• Sampson Niu from James Madison High School in San Diego, Calif. Nominated by the NFF Walter J. Zable/San Diego Chapter and currently playing at Oregon.
• John Stamos from Villa Park High School in Villa Park, Calif. Nominated by the NFF Orange County (Calif.) Chapter and currently playing at Naval Academy Preparatory School (R.I.).
• Corey Stephens from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. Nominated by the NFF Valley of the Sun (Ariz.) Chapter and currently playing at Arizona State.
• Brett Traeger from John F. Kennedy High School in Mt. Angel, Ore. Nominated by the NFF Portland (Ore.) Chapter and currently playing at Western Oregon.
During the past 26 years, 115 student-athletes have been recognized as NFF Chapter Scholar- Athletes, and this year will mark the 27th class of honorees. Past NFF Chapter Scholar-Athletes have gone on to hold various titles, including president, CEO, vice president, lawyer, NFL player, orthopedic surgeon, senior partner and financial analyst, among others.
Recent recipients include Andrew Luck (2008, former Stanford and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback), Andrew Rodriguez (2008, Army West Point linebacker and winner of the 2011 William V. Campbell Trophy), Josh Rosen (2015, current starting quarterback at UCLA) and Weston Steelhammer (2013, First Team All-Mountain West defensive back at Air Force).
Other notable past recipients include Todd Helton (1992, former Tennessee quarterback and retired Colorado Rockies first baseman), Drew Henson (1998, former Michigan quarterback and professional football and baseball player), Bobby Hoying (1991, former Ohio State quarterback and winner of the 1995 William V. Campbell Trophy®) and Jon Stinchcomb (1998, former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman).