Bronson Kaufusi talks family and NFL career

Jaren Wilkey/BYU
Former BYU defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi warms up for a game against Hawaii in 2012. Kaufusi now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Former BYU football player Bronson Kaufusi is a 6-foot-6, 285-pound defensive end who now plays professional football for the Baltimore Ravens.

Bronson is the second oldest child of Steve and Michelle Kaufusi. Steve is currently the linebackers coach at BYU and Michelle was recently elected mayor of Provo.

Steve moved to the United States from Tonga when he was 8 years old and eventually ended up going to BYU.

He met Michelle while he was playing football for BYU and Michelle was a BYU Cougarette. After years of courting, the two married and moved to Philadelphia, where Steve played professional football for the Eagles.

Their children, Alexis and Bronson, were born during the family’s time in Philadelphia. Later came Corbin, Daryl and Devin.

While the Kaufusi children were encouraged to practice piano, succeed academically, and weren’t allowed to play full-padded football until 8th grade, they are all successful athletes.

The oldest, Alexis, played basketball at BYU. Bronson played football and basketball at BYU and is married to Hilary Kaufusi, a former goalkeeper for the BYU soccer team.

Corbin also played basketball at BYU and is currently a defensive lineman for the Cougars’ football team. The youngest daughter, Daryl, played soccer for BYU-Hawaii. The youngest Kaufusi son, Devin, recently returned home from a two-year mission and has a full-ride scholarship to play football for BYU in the coming seasons.

This family knows what it takes to succeed.  

Steve attributes his family’s success to the fact he “married up.”  He explained that his wife encouraged the growth and development of their kids.

While she is humble about it, Michelle said she did everything she could to keep her kids active and involved.

“They’ve always been kind of hyper-active, so every rec program, anything that was under $40, I stuck them in it, just to keep them active and busy,” Michelle said.

All of those recreation programs paid off as Bronson was drafted by the Ravens in the third round of the 2016 NFL draft.

However, he sustained a season-ending ankle injury during fall camp of that year.

“It was a long-awaited goal and mountain I had to climb to get there,” Bronson said.

Bronson said an ACL tear in high school helped him through that experience. Last season’s injury gave him the opportunity to learn more about the NFL and learn from his teammates.

While Bronson is enjoying his time in the NFL, he wasn’t always sure he would make it.

“When we moved to Provo my goal was just to play at BYU; I hadn’t really thought about playing in the NFL. Although, it was always a dream of mine,” Bronson said.

Bronson admitted he was more concerned with getting his homework turned in on time and his bed made than the idea of playing professional football.

However, once he could see his NFL dream in sight, that’s when the goal became real.

Steve was happy to see Bronson get drafted.

“I was happy for him,” said Steve, who was one of Bronson’s coaches at BYU. “You know, I know how long that he’s been dreaming about something like that, so to come to full terms over time — all the hard work and sacrifices that were put forth to reach that level. It’s hard. So yeah, I was happy for him.”

Bronson’s younger brother, Corbin, is also excited to see his brother play with the best. 

“It’s like a dream come true for a little brother,” Corbin said. “You’re always rooting your older brother on in high school and college, and then he finally makes it to the top tier and you’re like ‘this is the best.'”

Corbin said while he and Bronson are many states apart, they still support one another through calls and FaceTime.

“We’re just always in constant communication throughout the day,” Corbin said.

They even watch football film together through FaceTime. They often give each other advice, although Corbin admitted he’s more of a “hype-man” than one to give advice.

Bronson said his experience playing professional football has been very different than college.  

“Every single player on these teams is one of the best in the whole country. There are no weak links.  Pretty much, you have to bring your A-game every play, or else you’ll get embarrassed or exposed,” Bronson said. “There’s a lot more preparation and there’s a lot more riding on what you do (in the NFL).”

Yet despite the differences, Bronson is grateful for the opportunity he has to play professional football.

He described the experience of running out of the Raven’s stadium tunnel, with the fire on both sides, and hearing his name be called as “an awesome moment.”

“You sacrifice a lot (playing in the NFL). At the same time it’s just really rewarding.  Just making it to the NFL is a big blessing,” Bronson said.

So far this season Bronson has five total tackles in three games with the Ravens.

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