Cougar linebackers some of the biggest in college football


BYU linebackers are big boys. Cougar linebackers are among the biggest college linebackers in the country with an average height of 6-feet-2-and-a-quarter-inches and weight of 227 pounds. In comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the average 19-year-old male at 5-feet-9-and-a-half-inches tall and just 152 pounds. That’s a 75-pound difference — or 10 large hams, 300 sticks of butter or 857 Twinkies.

BYU Photo
Sophomore BYU linebacker Va’a Niumatalolo stands 6 feet 2 inches and 229 pounds. (BYU Photo)

Size, strength, speed and agility all contribute to being a good linebacker. A linebacker has to quickly decipher if the offense is going to run or pass the football, then move to the right position to make a play on the ball.

Linebackers do everything from fight through 300-pound offensive linemen to covering shifty slot receivers trying to get past them to score. They have to take on powerful fullbacks and agile running backs.

“Being able to execute the assignment is what it comes down to,” senior linebacker Jherremya Leuta-Douyere said. “We’re young but very athletic.”

BYU has 24 linebackers on the roster this season. They range in size from freshman Nathan DeBeikes, the lightest linebacker at just 196 pounds, to junior Sae Tautu who stands at 6-feet-4-inches and weighs in at 246 pounds. Many players on BYU’s team have served missions for the LDS Church, which means those players can be a couple years older than many other  `college athletes.

There’s no doubt that BYU’s linebackers are bigger than average. Occasionally teams and coaches have asserted that it gives BYU an unfair advantage. But being able to play the game is what it comes down to. lists the average NCAA Division I linebacker at 6-foot-2-inches and 220 pounds. That’s only a seven-pound advantage on average. But that seven pounds can be the difference between manhandling a running back or getting put on your back.

Collegiate football players are a rare breed. The sheer athleticism and mental capacity required to compete at the level of BYU is staggering. Physicality, speed and agility are all important traits for linebackers to possess. These skills are further enhanced by football smarts, intuition and the ability to read an offense.

“The more you know, the more you know,” inside linebacker coach Paul Tidwell said when asked about the importance of players knowing their position and assignments. At a school like BYU, mental rigor is not in short supply and adds to the overall capacity of BYU’s linebackers.

Boise State linebackers stand a little above the NCAA average as well at an average height of 6-feet-1-inch and 223 pounds. The key for the game against Boise State on Sept. 12 will be depth. BYU boasts 24 linebackers while Boise State has only 11 guys to choose from.

BYU certainly has an edge going into the game against Boise State. Having larger-than-life linebackers is certainly going to be a major factor.

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