More BYU football players added to awards watch lists

Ari Davis
Taysom Hill leaps over Utah State players for a touchdown October 2014. Hill is on watch lists for four awards so far, including the Davey O’Brien Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. (Ari Davis)

BYU football players were added to multiple watch lists this month for their skills on the field and service off the field.

In the second wave of football awards watch lists released recently, Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill, defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, center Tejan Koroma, linebacker Manoa Pikula, wide receiver Mitch Mathews and running back Jamaal Williams were added to various watch lists.

Hill was added to watch lists for the Davey O’Brien Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Mannimg Award and Wuerffel Trophy. The 6-foot-2-inch, 232-pound senior quarterback was added to the Maxwell Football Award watch list last week.

The watch list for the 2015 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award includes 24 of college football’s top quarterbacks. Selection for the Davey O’Brien Award watch list was based on player performance last year and expectations heading into the upcoming season.

“I’ve got another year to showcase what I can do as an athlete, as a quarterback and as a BYU football team. So let’s make the most of it,” Hill said during interviews at 2015 BYU Media Day.

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Manoa Pikula pumps up the crowd during the 3rd quarter game against Virginia. Pikula was added to Rotary Lombardi Award watch list. (Maddi Dayton)

The Walter Camp Player of the Year Award is the nation’s fourth-oldest football accolade. This is the second consecutive year Hill has been placed on the list of 50 “players to watch” by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

“This watch list is a great start to what is shaping up to be another exciting year of college football,” said Robert Kauffman, president of the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Hill was out with an injury for the majority of last season after breaking his leg in the game against Utah State last October, but he said during interviews at Media Day he is cleared to play this season.

The Cougars won all four games Hill completed last year. Hill was also nominated for the O’Brien Award last year. Three BYU quarterbacks of the past have won the O’Brien Award: Jim McMahon in 1981, Steve Young in 1983 and Ty Detmer in 1990 and 1991. For the second year, Hill was one of 30 college quarterbacks added to the watch list for the Manning Award. The Manning Award is given to the best quarterback in college football and is the only quarterback award that includes bowl performance in its balloting.

The Wuerffel Trophy is an annual award given to one FBS player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. Student-athletes are nominated by their college or university, and voting is performed by a national selection committee. According to the press release, it is known as the “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service.”

Ari Davis
Bronson Kaufusi takes down a UNLV player last November. Kaufusi was added to watch lists for the Bednarik Trophy and Lombardi Award in addition to his nomination for the Allstate AFCA Good Team. (Ari Davis)

Kaufusi was also recognized for his actions off the football field. He was nominated for the 2015 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, an award that recognizes college football players who “exemplify a superior commitment to community service and volunteerism,” according to the press release.

As with the Wuerffel Trophy, players are nominated by their respective schools for the Good Works award. Since the award’s inception in 1992, 11 FBS players are placed into the Good Works Team every year. BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was one of the 11 FBS Allstate AFCA Good Works Team winners, in 2010.

On the field, Kaufusi, a 6-foot-7-inch, 265-pound senior, is BYU’s leader in sacks and tackles for a loss. His off-field service is diverse: Kafusi also takes part in team service activities, including the “Thursday’s Hero” program and various firesides, and speaks at elementary schools all over Utah, involved in Scouting and has volunteered to work with troubled teens and suicide prevention groups.

Kaufusi was named to watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award last week.

Ari Davis
Tejan Koroma snaps the ball to quarterback Christian Stewart against Utah State last season. Koroma is on the watch list for the Lombardi Award. (Ari Davis)

Kaufusi, Koroma and Pikula were added to the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award. The Rotary Lombardi Award is given to the best lineman or linebacker in college football. To be named on the Rotary Lombardi watch list, candidates must have earned All-American honors, be named to their respective all-conference teams or have received 2015 pre-season honors.

Koroma, a 6-foot, 280-pound sophomore, was added to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy last week as well. He was the only true freshman center in Division I football to start all 13 games last season.

Pikula, a 6-foot-1-inch, 239-pound middle linebacker, is entering his senior year having played 36 consecutive games for the Cougars. Last season, he had 49 tackles and one interception.

Mathews, a 6-foot-6-inch, 215-pound senior, was added to the watch list for the 2015 Biletnikoff Award. The Biletnikoff Award recognizes college football’s most outstanding receiver. Mathews has caught a pass in 24 consecutive games. He caught a career-best 16 receptions for 182 yards in the Nevada game last October.

Maddi Dayton
Mitch Matthews catches a pass and runs down the field for a touchdown against Savannah State last November. Matthews was added to the Biletnilkoff Award watch list. (Maddi Dayton)

After the Nevada game, Mathews said, “The numbers might be what they are, but it doesn’t affect the outcome enough. We have to keep working.”

Last season, Mathews led BYU with 73 receptions for 922 yards and nine touchdowns.

Williams, who is returning to the field after injuries last season, was announced as a Doak Walker Award candidate. The annual award is presented to college’s top running back. The 6-foot, 206-pound senior led BYU in rushing last season with 109 carries and 518 yards. Williams needs 929 yards to become BYU’s career rushing leader.

At Media Day, BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae said, “(Williams) is a very important part of the offensive scheme.”

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