PHOTO: Michigan State defensive lineman Domata Peko has been elected to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024.
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By TOM SHANAHAN
Michigan State continues it influence on the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame with Domata Peko named to the Class of 2024.
Peko, a defensive lineman for the Spartans in 2004 and 2005, will be inducted during events on January 19 and 20 in Hawaii. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten as a senior in 2005 and was a fourth-round NFL draft pick who played 15 NFL seasons.
Two previous Spartans were enshrined from Duffy Daugherty’s Hawaiian Pipeline recruited out of Hawaii high schools. Bob Apisa, a two-time All-American in 1965 and 1966, was enshrined in 2018. Charlie Wedemeyer, who was sophomore on the 1966 national title team, was a quarterback and receiver, 1965-67.
Wedemeyer was enshrined as a contributor. After his playing days, he was a head coach at Los Gatos High in California. During his career, he was afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive nerve disease with no cure. He continued to successfullly coach from a wheelchair. In 1988, a TV movie was made about his life, “QUIET VICTORY: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story.” The film star Michael Nouri as Wedemeyer and Pam Dawber as his wife, Lucy.
Peko and Apisa are Samoans, Wedemeyer Hawaiian/German.
Tommy Kaululukui Sr., who was Daugherty’s Hawaiian Pipeline eyes and ears, also was enshrined in the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2022. Kaululukui was a legendary player at the University of Hawaii and later a coach and athletic director.
Peko played 11 years with the Bengals, two with the Denver Broncos (2017-18), one with the Baltimore Ravens (2019) and retired after his final season with the Arizona Cardinals (2020).
Peko was recruited out of College of Canyons in California by former coach John L. Smith.
Joining him in the Class of 2024 are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Reno Mahe.
Johnson, whose mother was Samoan, played at Miami before greater fame in Hollywood.
Mahe, who is Tongan, played at BYU and in four years in the NFL, including All-Pro Kick Return in 2005 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
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The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s
Foreword by Ruffin McNeill
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RAYE OF LIGHT
Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans
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