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95 DAYS TO 2019 KICKOFF: Matthew Pola-Mao

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In which BracketCat counts down the 94th day until the 2019 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State defensive tackle Matthew Pola-Mao.

#95 Travis Britz
Kansas State definitely could use another impact freshman like Travis Britz (95) on its defensive line this season, especially with Trey Dishon set to graduate. Perhaps Matthew Pola-Mao will fit the bill...
Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Matthew Pola-Mao

True Freshman | 6-3 | 309 lbs. | Chandler, Arizona
Matthew Pola-Mao
Matthew Pola-Mao
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Defensive Tackle
  • Previous College: None
  • Projection: Redshirt
  • Status: On Scholarship

Matthew Pola-Mao (b. Sept. 9, 2000) is a physical and athletic player who likely will use a redshirt season to develop at defensive tackle in 2019. He comes from athletic bloodlines:

  • His father, Tracey, played football at San Diego State, where he was the 1992 team captain and voted Most Inspirational Player. Tracey went on to play for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.
  • His brother, Isaiah, is a sophomore safety at USC.
  • His uncle, Troy Polamalu, was a two-time All-American at USC who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2003 to 2014, winning two Super Bowls and making eight Pro Bowls. (K-State fans who haven’t forgotten the Aaron Lockett hit may have to forgive Matthew this one.)
  • His cousin, Noa Pola-Gates, signed with Nebraska.

Pola-Mao played under head coach Shaun Aguano at Chandler High School in Arizona, where he was viewed as the 21st-best defensive tackle in the Class of 2019 by ESPN, while the organization also rated him the sixth-best player overall in the state of Arizona.

He registered 141 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks during his career and helped the Wolves to earn a 13-1 record en route to its third straight state championship in 2018.

Chandler finished No. 17 nationally in the USA TODAY Sports Super 25 Expert Rankings and 15th nationally, according to MaxPreps.

Pola-Mao also was selected to play in the 2019 Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii in January. We owe a lot to Mike Tuiasosopo for his successful recruitment to K-State as a Signing Day surprise.

The three-star prospect picked K-State over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee, USC, Utah and Washington, clearly making him K-State’s hottest recruit in the Class of 2019. He also had interest from Kansas and Iowa State.

“I went on my visit this past weekend, and it was an amazing visit. I loved it a lot,” Pola-Mao told The Arizona Republic. “I love the head coach. He was great at North Dakota State. He knows how to win. It’s a great program.”

Rick Garretson, elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach recently at Chandler, said he thinks Pola-Mao will have a great college career at Kansas State.

“He’s athletic,” Garretson said. “He’s got a bounce to his step and has got a motor. We got to play against him when he was at Mountain Pointe and we knew what a problem he was.”