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Countdown to Kickoff (71): Ask the Alumni with BYU defensive lineman Romney Fuga

BYU v Utah Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

In 2010, Romney Fuga had his season cut short after an offensive lineman clipped him below the waist in what looked like a very dirty play. Determined not to let that be a defining moment of his career, Romney fought his way back from the devastating ACL and LCL injury to help anchor one of BYU’s best defenses in the last two decades.

We were able to catch up with him and get his thoughts on his time at BYU and what he notices the most when watching the games as a fan.

Vanquish the Foe: As a defensive lineman who was the toughest offensive lineman that you had to go up against in practice?

Romney Fuga: Jake Kuresa. I don’t think I ever saw him get beat one-on-one in practice.

VTF: Your BYU career spanned from 2006 to 2012, one in which you experienced BYU’s move from the Mountain West Conference to Independence. Did you have a preference between the two situations, or was it pretty much the same for the players?

RF: I think to the players, the mindset between independence and being in a conference were similar. Our goal was always just to win the next game, no matter who that team was. However, if I were to choose, I prefer independence, especially as a player. It was just really cool to play teams all across the country. I was able to play at Texas, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, and other cool places.

VTF: Coming to BYU is an interesting transition for anyone. Who was the most helpful person (teammate, coach or admin) that made your BYU experience that much better?

RF: I can’t pin point it to a specific person. There were a lot people at BYU who helped me with the transition. I had a great position coach (Steve Kaufusi) and position group with the defensive line. They were all very welcoming and always willing to help the younger guys.

VTF: Was there ever someone on the team that you thought didn’t get enough praise or recognition? Maybe a player that flew under the radar.

RF: Riley Stephenson. He was appreciated on the team, but I don’t think fans really understand how good of a punter he was. He helped our defense finish to be one of the best BYU defense in school history.

VTF: Going from high school football to the college game would probably be pretty challenging. Was there were a specific moment where you thought you might be in over you head?

RF: Yes. It was during my first practice in full pads at BYU and we were live. So, we were going full speed. Everyone was bigger, faster, stronger, and more fundamentally sound. I remember getting owned so many times my first year.

VTF: When you watch games now as a fan, what’s the thing that you pay attention to the most?

RF: I pay attention to effort the most. I look to see how many guys finish around the ball. Seeing guys flying all over the field gets me really fired up.

VTF: Which of your teammates talked the most trash? Who didn’t say much but could back it up with his play?

RF: Biggest trash talker is definitely Brandon Ogletree. He easily talked enough trash for our entire defense. I remember a particular moment when a player on the opposing team came up to me during the game and asked, “is something wrong with 44, like is he okay??”

Jordan Johnson didn’t say much but he sure could ball out.

VTF: What advice would you give to any player coming into the program?

4 - 5 years may seem like a long time to play college football but it’s not. It goes by so fast, so take advantage of every opportunity that being a BYU student athlete provides (both on and off the field) and enjoy the experience.

VTF: What do you wish the the casual fan could know or understand about what it’s like to play college football?

RF: There’s a lot work, energy and time that goes in preparing for each game. And it’s from everybody, players, coaches, and support staff. This was probably the biggest surprise to me coming out of high school... to see the amount of effort that everyone involved with program puts in and it’s just nonstop, especially during season. There’s a lot of people who deeply care about his program and want to see it succeed.

Thanks again to Romney for taking the time chat with us!