The holidays are here. It’s time to relax with the family with cups of cocoa, wrap gifts, swap cookies, and watch football.
Under Kalani Sitake, BYU has done a much better job at getting players to the National Football League.
Three of those former Cougars will be on full display on Thursday Night Football.
Tonight, the Rams and Saints square off at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles at 8:15pm ET.
Puka Nacua of the Rams and Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill of the Saints represent BYU on football’s biggest mid-week stage.
The latter is something of a folk hero. Hill has earned himself nicknames like “The Swiss Army Knife” or, as Pro Football Reference says on his bio, “The Mormon Missile.” The former BYU QB is having one of his finer seasons in his seven-year pro career.
The do-everything 33-year-old has 347 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, a career-high 27 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown. Add on his passing stats, where he is 5-for-9 for 72 yards and a touchdown and there isn’t much Hill can’t do. He also has two tackles.
Most Saints fans adore Hill with his versatility, work ethic, and grit. He’s also very selfless, often being nothing more than a lead blocker for Alvin Kamara or former BYU teammate Jamaal Williams.
Speaking of BYU’s all-time leading rusher, Williams is having something of a down year after his franchise-record 2022 campaign with the Detroit Lions that put him up near a guy named Barry Sanders. A year after leading the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns, he is yet to find the endzone so far in New Orleans.
He hopes to change that on Thursday night.
An absolutely unreal catch and throw from Matthew Stafford to Puka Nacua.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) December 14, 2023
Five stars. pic.twitter.com/FcXOXHNV3J
On the other sideline is BYU’s next star in the NFL in receiver Puka Nacua. Not highly thought of outside of Sean McVay’s coaching staff as a fifth round pick, Nacua burst onto the scene in a big Week 1 debut and has not really slowed down since.
He has turned in five games of at least 100 receiving yards. He currently leads all rookies in receiving yards by a large margin. He is 311 yards shy of breaking Bill Groman’s rookie single season receiving yards record that has stood since 1960.
Nacua is sixth in the entire NFL with 1,163 yards.
Nacua has taken the NFL world by storm. From fifth round rookie to likely a Pro Bowler and perhaps a record-setting season. He already has the third most career receiving yards of any former BYU wideout in the NFL.