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BYU Football Positional Preview: Linebackers

As the season nears, we are previewing each position group. The linebackers look to be one of the strongest units at BYU.

NCAA Football: Utah at Brigham Young Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

As the work begins to prepare for the 2022 season, we take a look at each position group at BYU. The linebackers are a diverse and athletic unit. This could be one of BYU’s strongest groups on the team.

Top of the Depth Chart


Ben Bywater

In the latter half of 2021, he had the spotlight all to himself after injuries to Keenan Pili, Payton Wilgar, and Chaz Ah You last season. He appeared in all 13 games and finished as BYU’s leading tackler with 102. With the supporting cast back around him, he will thrive, even if he doesn’t reach 100 tackles again. He was named to the 2022 Butkus Award Watch List for linebacker of the year.

Jackson Kaufusi

As BYU has gotten deeper at linebacker in recent years, Kaufusi has not had as prominent of a role. He is still a valuable piece to the defense and should see plenty of action again. Over four seasons, he has appeared in 33 games with 49 total tackles and an interception.

Josh Wilson

The younger brother of former star quarterback Zach Wilson, Josh will have a chance to make a name for himself, especially on special teams. He might not start on the defense barring injuries, but he is a playmaker with a nose for the football.


Chaz Ah You

Ah You has a chance to be one of the most dynamic defensive players BYU has had in some time. He already has shown off his versatility, playing safety and now more of a hybrid role at linebacker. He displays the abilities of a defensive player like Jamal Adams with the Seattle Seahawks, a bulky safety who can do a lot near the line of scrimmage. The main issue with Ah You is health. If he can stay healthy, he is a true weapon for the Cougars.

Max Tooley

Tooley has appeared in at least 12 games for three straight seasons. He was named Second Team All-Independent with 44 tackles in 2020. Last season, he was the second-ranked tackler on the Cougars with 68. With the linebacker group getting healthy this season, he might have a hard time topping that number. He is a luxury to have as depth.

Morgan Pyper

Appearing in all 13 games last season in various roles, Pyper collected 32 total tackles. Over three seasons, he has appeared in 30 games with 42 tackles. He is adds plenty of depth to the linebacker room.


Keenan Pili

He was clearly the heart and soul of the defense last year. He might be limited in fall camp but should be good to go by September. There was a clear difference in defensive production last season before and after his injury. He was second on the team in tackles in 2020 with 72. He was named Defensive MVP of the Boca Raton Bowl following that season. As a team captain last season, he started the season strong with 31 tackles in three games, including a whopping 17 takedowns against Arizona in the season opener alone. Getting him back will be a big shot in the arm for the defense.


Payton Wilgar

After double shoulder surgeries, he is feeling good heading into the 2022 season. After a number of injuries around him, he stepped up. He ended up suffering a season-ending injury of his own late in the year. He finished as BYU’s third-leading tackler with 56 tackles along with 1.5 sacks. He has been named to the Butkus Award watch list, like his teammate Bywater.

Tavita Gagnier

This is a guy who has paid his dues, from the scout team to special teams. He has appeared in seven games over his career, totaling eight tackles. He continues to be a hard worker who does some of the dirty work.


Michael Daley

Daley enters his second season at BYU after serving on the scout team last season. A former three-star recruit from Lone Peak, Daley received plenty of interest from other Power 5 schools like UCLA and TCU.

Logan Pili

Brother of team captain Keenan, Logan Pili comes in as a three-star recruit out of Timpview. It may be a while before he is getting significant snaps but he is certainly a name to watch given his pedigree and high school production.

Tate Romney

Another brother of a Cougar, Tate, Gunner’s little brother, enters the program for his freshman season. The former three-star defender was also recruited by Arizona, Cal, Kansas State, Utah, Washington State, and Yale.

Bodie Schoonover

A three-star recruit that also garnered interest from UCLA, Utah, and Nebraska, Schoonover enters his first year in the program. He was a 2020 Polynesian Bowl invite.

Micah Wilson

Yet another sibling enters the program. Micah, the younger brother of now New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, as well as Josh, comes to Provo. He was named Second Team All-6A for the state of Utah.