BYU sophomore defensive end, Bronson Kaufusi, is coming into this season with high expectations. Kaufusi will be asked to fill the role vacated by Ezekiel (Ziggy) Ansah, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 5th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Ansah was a freak athlete, whose raw ability, highlight plays, and an incredible story made him an anchor on the BYU defense last season and endeared him to fans and media alike. Following in Ansah’s footsteps will be no easy task, but fortunately for the Cougars, Kaufusi is just the man for the job.
Kaufusi is coming off a successful freshman season, totaling 23 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Impressive numbers if one considers his limited role. Unlike Ansah, Kaufusi does not lack in football playing experience or a football pedigree. He had a very successful career at Timpview High School where he was one of the top prep athletes in the state of Utah and among the top high school defensive end recruits in the entire country. His father, Steve, played on the defensive line for BYU, in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, and is currently the defensive line coach for the Cougars.
Kaufusi spent the off-season playing for the BYU Basketball team. It’s rare for any athlete to be able to compete on a Divison I level in both football and basketball. A defensive end that can pull that off is even more of an oddity. This accomplishment puts Kaufusi in an elite group that includes the likes of Julius Peppers. Peppers, who was a star defensive end for the North Carolina Tar Heels, also spent two seasons as a walk-on with the Tar Heels basketball team.
When you look at Kaufusi it’s hard not to see the similarities to Peppers. At 6 foot 7 inches, 282 pounds and running the 40-yard dash in the 4.65 to 4.70 second range, Kaufusi’s measurables are very similar to the NFL Pro Bowler’s. Kaufusi still has a lot of work to do before he is even close to having the kind of collegiate or NFL career that Peppers has had, but the potential is there and that should have fans excited.
If all that isn’t impressive enough, Kaufusi is bigger and in better shape than he was last year. The sophomore defensive end was listed in the 260 pound range last season, but is up to 282 pounds for 2013. With the help of basketball and his own dedication in the off-season, he has also cut his body fat percentage to around 10 percent.
The question is what can we expect from Kaufusi on the field this upcoming season?
I predict Kaufusi will have the biggest breakout season of any player for BYU on either side of the ball. Statistically, it’s a safe bet that he will easily surpass the numbers Ansah put up from that position last season. Kaufusi had no problem playing the enforcer on the basketball court and I will assume that won’t change on the football field. Expect him to be among the nation’s leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. Finally, I predict that, come season's end, Kaufusi will receive either second or third team All-American honors and be listed among the top NFL prospects at the defensive end position.
Now it’s your turn to chime in and tell us what you think of Kaufusi. Will the sophomore have a huge year or will he fail to meet expectations?