With it being Senior Day Saturday afternoon, we thought it appropriate to pay tribute to our senior class. We’re grateful for these 19 seniors and the various contributions they’ve made to the program throughout their time at BYU. Our staff here at Vanquish the Foe came together to share some favorite memories and highlights of them all. Feel free to leave yours in the comments!
LB Sam Baldwin
Jake Welch: In all honesty I’m not sure that I recall Sam taking the field but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he stuck with the team and helped contribute in practice for four years. It takes a special kind of player to stick with football without seeing the field and we will salute them forever.
RB Emmanuel Esukpa
Robby McCombs: Esukpa battled some injuries during his lone season in Provo, but he was a great ambassador on and off the field for the program. The Rice transfer had some nice runs and helped shore the gap after Williams got hurt. Here’s to hoping for a big senior day from “Soup.”
DB Dayan Ghanwoloku
Jake Welch: I just spent the last 35 minutes trying to pick out my favorite Dayan moment at BYU and it’s gosh dang near impossible. There was the 2018 game against Cal where BYU had no business making that a close contest until Dayan recovered two fumbles, one of which he took to the house. There was the 2017 game which could have been a lot uglier if not for two red zone interceptions from Dayan. His freshman season he had huge games against Toledo (nine tackles and one interception returned for 49 yards) and Boise State (an interception he returned 50 yards for a touchdown). I could keep going but I’ll end with what should be his most impactful and productive game against USC this year. Not only did he collect nine tackles, a pass breakup and a rushing touchdown but he snagged an interception in overtime that gave BYU the win. His knack for making big plays will be sorely missed.
LS Mitch Harris
Robby McCombs: Do you remember any bad snaps over the last two seasons? Yeah, me neither. Mitch did his job.
WR Aleva Hifo
Mary Blanchard: Oh, Aleva. Our Super Speedy King of the Jet Sweep, and all around Swiss Army Knife. He’s been huge for us this season, like on this 4th down conversion last week against Liberty.
And never forget, that at one point last year, he had both our longest TD throw, and catch.
QB/RB Beau Hoge
Robby McCombs: Beau’s career was unfortunately derailed due to injuries, but he was a great athlete when healthy. BYU’s 4-9 2017 season is largely unforgettable, but Beau Hoge’s first half performance against Utah State was one of the few highlights. Beau tossed 2 TDs and ran for 25 yards, leading BYU to a 21-7 lead before he got concussed in the second quarter. Lots of “what ifs” for Beau’s career.
WR Batchlor Johnson IV
Robby McCombs: Johnson was at BYU in 2015 as a freshman before transferring to Utah. He transferred back BYU this year as a graduate transfer — glad he made the right decision to come to the good guys.
LB Austin Kafentzis
Jake Welch: The college career of Austin Kafentzis is anything but conventional. After starting out as a bluechip recruit he bounced around until finally finding his way to BYU and this year he’s made a fantastic impact on defense. Back in 2017 he had a few nice plays on offense but lets be honest that entire season should be banned from online discussion. This year he forced a fumble against Utah State and he had the game-sealing run for a first down against Boise State. If not for that effort it’s a very different game.
TE Moroni Laulu-Pututau
Mary Blanchard: It is CRAZY that MLP is finally a senior. He’s been with the squad since 2015, including that redshirt year in 2017. MLP is the absolute picture of resilience, fighting back from what seems like injury after injury, to contribute to the team. I almost cried when he got into the end zone last week against Liberty. Aside from all of that, my favorite Moroni memory has to be when he impersonated the Angel Moroni with this one-handed grab against Mississippi State in 2016.
DB Austin Lee
Jake Welch: Austin was another prodigal son that started his career in SLC and then found his way home to Provo where he’s become an enforcer in the BYU secondary. My favorite moment of his was against Tennessee earlier this year where he had two huge pass breakups in the end zone to prevent scores. Without his huge effort against the Volunteers that game his a lot less memorable.
There are many unsung heroes of last night’s game, one in particular was Austin Lee.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) September 9, 2019
Two HUGE game-saving pass breakups in the end zone, this one in the 4th quarter. pic.twitter.com/lpAgwzDCUt
DL JJ Nwigwe
Robby McCombs: I’ll always have the utmost respect for non-LDS, African-American players that come to BYU. Nwigwe has been at BYU for five years and has always been a team player. Awesome to see him starting on the DL as a fifth-senior and having a tangible impact on the team.
Jake Welch: I’ll always have the utmost respect for players who start their careers as blocking-only tight ends. That was JJ’s role for the majority of the 2017 season (he had one catch against San Jose State) but this year he’s been a reliable body on the defensive front. His forced fumble against Utah State was a thing of tackling beauty.
DL Trajan Pili
Robby McCombs: Solid, steady, reliable. That to me describes Trajan, who has always been a player the coaches can count on to do his job.
DB Sawyer Powell
Jake Welch: It’s wild to think that Sawyer was on the football team back in 2012 as a freshman, which is nuts. Bronco Mendenhall was still coaching, Riley Nelson was still thought of as a good quarterback and Taysom Hill was just a freshman. It’s always great to have a guy like Sawyer because you can never have too many defensive backs. After BYU was hit hard last year with injuries he was able to step up. He had a great performance in the bowl game last year where he had five tackles and forced a fumble.
OL Addison Pulsipher
Jake Welch: Ah yes, the Menace of Temecula. Just like JJ Nwigwe, he got some work as a blocking tight end but he stayed on the offensive side of the ball and saw the field quite a bit last year. He’s a large man and we’re forever grateful for his large nature.
OL Thomas Shoaf
Jake Welch: Offensive lineman are the world most beloved creatures and we should honor them with every opportunity. Thomas had a tough senior year after suffering an injury against South Florida. But let’s celebrate him for this beautiful block against Arizona.
WR Talon Shumway
Mary Blanchard: Here’s a crazy tidbit about Talon: He’s caught passes from EIGHT different BYU QBs. I did a double take at that one. But here’s the operative word: Catch. I’ll remember Talon as being sure-handed and reliable, no matter who was throwing to him.
WR Talon Shumway told me the other night after the #SitakeShow that has caught in-game passes from eight different BYU QBs: Taysom Hill, Tanner Mangum, Beau Hoge, Koy Detmer, Joe Critchlow, Zach Wilson, Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney.— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) November 14, 2019
Talon is the only BYU player who can say that.
WR Micah Simon
Tyler Staten: Micah Simon definitely established himself as a fan favorite on offense, especially in 2019. I’ll never forget seeing him SO WIDE OPEN against Tennessee, in that most improbable comeback at Neyland. Such a big-time play in a critical moment.
His quarterback play this season can’t go unmentioned, with a QBR of 504.4. Surely that is the best ever at BYU, even if it was only two passes. One being that touchdown to Bushman against Liberty, and the other a pass to QB Baylor Romney at Utah State.
BYU needed a miracle with less than 30 seconds left (or blown coverage by the Tennessee secondary) to send the game to overtime. Micah Simon made his biggest play as a Cougar. #BYUFOOTBALL #BYU https://t.co/mswkFuB8kZ pic.twitter.com/rP1MWDhVix— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) September 10, 2019
DB Beau Tanner
Jake Welch: Our guy Beau had his fair share of ups and down while playing for BYU. He changed position multiple times and then left the team for a season, only to return for his senior year. His biggest moments came against Utah State, where he had a nice 40-yard touchdown catch in 2017 and this interception in 2019.
BYU Pick #3 courtesy of Beau Tanner to close this one out.— Jake Welch (@BYUAllBlue) November 4, 2019
Let's take a moment and recognize Alden Tofa who easily beats a double team to deliver a big hit on Jordan Love. And then give credit to Love for getting up and making a TD saving tackle. pic.twitter.com/hIXHk0lTfK
RB Ty’Son Williams
Mary Blanchard: It’s SO unfair that Ty’Son got injured. My favorite memory of him is a no-brainer — It’s the time he straight-up willed us to win the Tennessee game in 2OT. We don’t get that win without him, period. I’m still holding out hope he gets granted that medical hardship waiver. The dude is an absolute beast, and I’m so grateful he transferred here, regardless of how long he had him.