When the NFL fall camp opens tomorrow, BYU will be represented in record numbers. The Cougs have 28 former players that are currently on NFL rosters, with 16 veterans returning, five new draft picks, and seven undrafted free agents.
Of course, it is BYU’s two quarterbacks that will be the talk of the town. Is no. 2 draft pick Zach Wilson ready for the big stage? Will Taysom Hill start over Jameis Winston? Watching those developments over the next several weeks is going to be interesting.
While the QBs are the hot topic, there are several other players coming into camp with some significant question marks.
Which position will the Kaufusi brothers play at? Both played defense at BYU, but Bronson has switched to tight end while Corbin is currently listed as an offensive tackle.
Which of the 2021 undrafted free agents will make the final 53-man rosters? BYU typically has 1-2 each year make the roster, but with seven UDFAs currently fighting for spots that number could be much higher this year.
Will Ziggy find his place on the 49ers and return to the production he had as an all-pro a few years ago?
And while we’re talking about the 49ers, how many Cougs will end up on their final roster? Right now Ziggy (DE), Corbin Kaufusi (OT), Kai Nacua (S), and All-Pro Fred Warner (OLB) are all on the team.
With 28 Cougs fighting for roster spots, it’s very possible that 2021-22 could have more BYU alumni in the NFL than any other year in league history. Even if half of them are cut, that will still be more Cougs in the NFL than we’ve had in a long time.
So who’s ready for some football?
Returning Players (16)
Ziggy Ansah (DE, 49er), Michael Davis (CB, Chargers), Taysom Hill (QB, Saints), Corbin Kaufusi (OT, 49ers), Bronson Kaufusi (TE, Packers), Harvey Langi (LB, Patriots), Kai Nacua (S, 49ers), Micah Simon (WR, Panthers), Daniel Sorensen (SS, Chiefs), Sione Takitaki (LB, Browns), Kyle Van Noy (LB, Patriots), Fred Warner (OLB, 49ers), Jamaal Williams (RB, Lions), Ty’Son Williams (RB, Ravens), *Francis Bernard (LB, Cowboys), *Dallin Leavitt (S, Raiders)
The Class of 2021 Draft Picks (5)
Brady Christensen (OL, Panthers), Dax Milne (WR, Washington), Khyiris Tonga (DT, Bears), Chris Wilcox (DB, Buccaneers), Zach Wilson (QB, Jets)
2021 Undrafted Free Agents (7)
Zayne Anderson (LB, Chiefs), Matt Bushman (TE, Raiders), Zac Dawe (DL, Falcons), Chandon Herring (OT, Titans), Tristen Hoge (OT, Jets), Isaiah Kaufusi (LB, Colts), Troy Warner (S, Rams)
Others Still hoping for a Contract (10+)
BYU seems to sign 1-2 long shots every year. These include players who are still actively pursuing opportunities to play professionally but aren’t currently signed to NFL squads. Right now BYU has about ten players who fall under this category, including the following:
John Denney, the 14-year NFL veteran long snapper was signed earlier this year to the New Orleans Saints practice squad.
Kavika Fonua had a mini-camp invite this spring with the Carolina Panthers but was released from the squad.
There were three former Cougars who played in “The Spring League” (TSL) earlier this year: Jousters teammates: Tejan Koroma, Tomasi Laulile, and Manoa PIkula. The Jousters went 3-2 with NFL scouts watching.
NFL and CFL veteran Ryker Mathews signed a two-year contract with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League earlier this year, but he still has his eye on the NFL.
There were five former Cougs on XFL rosters last year when the XFL played five games in 2020 before being shut down due to COVID. Now under new management (including part-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the league is set to reopen in 2023. Cougs in the XFL (2020) included: Micah Hannemann (Tampa Bay Vipers), Colby Pearson (New York Guardians), De’Ondre Wesley (DC Defenders), Tejan Koroma (Houston Roughnecks), and Tomasi Laulile (Dallas Renegades).
With so many former BYU football players fighting for roster spots this will certainly be an exciting pre-season month for Cougs in the Pros. For more details about Cougs in the Pros, please visit the following page: http://byuinsider.com/pro-tracker/.