Neil Pau’u to redshirt 2019 season
Wide receiver Neil Pau’u will redshirt the 2019 season after pleading guilty to impaired driving in July. Though not participating in this year’s fall camp, Pau’u will come back to the team as a junior in 2020 and will still be enrolled in classes at BYU during the 2019-20 academic year, but he will not be participating in any games for BYU in 2019.
Pau’u finished the 2018 season with 216 total yards on 18 receptions in 13 games. He also had a touchdown reception against Utah on Nov. 24. His longest reception was a 48-yard catch against Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 21.
Joe Tukuafu returns to BYU
Tukuafu has a unique story regarding his NCAA eligibility coming into the 2019 season, but he will be ready and eligible to play football for the Cougars this season. Tukuafu signed a national letter of intent with Utah State before his mission, but upon returning home from Argentina, Utah State refused to release Tukuafu from his letter of intent. This forced him to redshirt the 2017 season before also sitting out the 2018 season.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound tight end adds depth to a star-studded tight-end lineup that features Matt Bushman, Moroni Laulu-Pututau and Kyle Griffitts.
“He’s a tight end. He has an 87 jersey right now,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We’ll need his presence on the line of scrimmage.”
Kavika Fonua makes move from running back to linebacker
Fonua is set to make the move from running back to linebacker, Sitake announced. This announcement comes because of the high number of running backs in the system for BYU. Kalani Sitake also said that Fonua’s previous experience as a safety and a linebacker will make it an easier transition for the junior.
Once the No. 9 overall prospect in the state of Utah, Fonua made 24 solo tackles and 38 total tackles in his first two seasons before redshirting in 2017. Fonua suffered an ankle injury in spring camp in 2018 that kept him out of action for the entire season. The majority of his days as a safety came in high school, having been named the No. 76 safety prospect in the nation by Scout.com.
Offensive line continues to turn heads
One exciting addition to the 2019 BYU football team is a strong offensive line. BYU gave up 29 sacks last year for a combined loss of 204 yards. But the offensive line is poised for a bounce back this season.
Headed by James Empey, Tristen Hoge and Brady Christensen, the offensive line looks as if it could be as good as it’s ever been. Empey made the NCAA Division I All-Freshman team in 2019, Hoge is back after a monster season and Christensen has his first year of NCAA football under his belt. The three of them have been repeatedly praised in fall camp by both players and coaches, so expect this unit to give Zach Wilson plenty of time and open field.
Draft hopeful Khyiris Tonga sheds weight
Tonga told BYU Sports Nation that he has lost 30 pounds since the 2018 fall camp. Weighing in at his goal weight of 220 pounds this year, Tonga says he has faster feet and quicker acceleration.
Tonga has already been named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, an award given to the nation’s top defensive player. Tonga tallied 20 solo tackles and 30 total tackles last season, with 4.5 tackles for loss.
BYU a top school for combined football and basketball programs
The NCAA March Madness Twitter account released its rankings for the universities with the best combined football and basketball programs in the nation on Aug. 1, and BYU ranked No. 16. Notable names listed above BYU were No. 7 Utah, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 15 Washington — all teams that BYU will face during the 2019 football season.
BYU football jersey schedule announced
The Cougars are set to don their royal blue jerseys in their season opener against Utah, as announced on July 31. The royal blue jerseys will be worn for six games during the 2019 season, the navy jerseys will be worn three times and the white jerseys will be worn twice. There will be a whiteout game against Washington on Sept. 21, and it’s unknown what jerseys will be worn during the Cougars’ final game of the season on Nov. 30 against San Diego State.