It had only been a week since BYU walked away with a win at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl when Devin Kaufusi received a text from his coach, Kalani Sitake. Sitake, a coach that is known to be a supporter of tradition, asked if Devin wanted to carry on his family’s tradition of wearing number 90 for BYU football.
Devin said he was at first inclined to decline, but Sitake encouraged him, saying it was a great opportunity to continue the Kaufusi tradition of wearing the number, especially immediately following his brother, Corbin. Devin said he texted his brothers, and they were all for it.
BYU football runs deep in the Kaufusi family. His father, Steve Kaufusi, was a former player and longtime coach for BYU. Devin’s two brothers, Bronson and Corbin, were stars with BYU football are now on NFL rosters — Bronson with the Jets and Corbin with the Saints.
The first memory of playing football that Devin said he can remember dates back to his family’s flag football days. He said his parents didn’t let the kids play with football pads until they were older, so he recalled sitting on the sidelines and watching his two older brothers playing football, even though it was just flag football.
“It was kind of funny — my brothers and I were the biggest guys at school, but we were playing flag football,” Devin said. “It was me watching their games and then going to my own flag football games and playing with their friends’ little brothers. It was fun knowing that we were another generation playing the sport we love.”
Bronson was the first of the Kaufusi trio to wear number 90 for BYU football, and Corbin and Devin followed in their older brother’s footsteps. Originally a quarterback as a freshman in high school, Bronson wanted to wear the number 90 but couldn’t as a quarterback, so he wore the number 10. As soon as he got put on defense, he traded his quarterback number for number 90.
The number 90 comes from one of Bronson’s NFL idols. Since their father, Steve, was a defensive line coach, the brothers would often gather to watch film of top defensive players in the NFL. It was here, Devin said, that Bronson found the player he would later model his game after — NFL defensive end Julius Peppers.
“He loved Julius Peppers,” Devin said. “My mom also likes the number 90 because it’s a big number and easy to see. … She likes seeing her boys and being able to watch them.”
Bronson starred on the BYU football roster for four years before being drafted 70th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. At that time, it was Corbin’s turn to carry the family name on the BYU football turf.
The number 90 didn’t go unworn for very long as Corbin had his name penciled onto the BYU football roster in 2016. Corbin was a two-sport athlete for BYU that year, splitting his time between basketball and football. Interestingly enough, Bronson did the same thing for two years while attending BYU. The two brothers never had their time overlap in any sport as a Cougar, but they also wore the same jersey number as basketball players — number 44.
Corbin recently finished his collegiate football career and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New Orleans Saints earlier this year. Devin said he’s always looked up to his brothers, especially since there is an age gap of almost four years between him and Corbin as compared to only 18 months between Corbin and Bronson.
Devin said this age gap meant that he was able to watch Corbin and Bronson learn right from wrong. Devin said it was interesting watching his brothers go through different stages of their lives, and that there have been many times where he has really appreciated seeing how his brothers dealt with certain situations.
He said there have been times where his brothers were faced with dilemmas that involved choosing between two good decisions, and his brothers always seemed to make great decisions instead of just good ones. The biggest thing Devin said he’s learned is being able to do just that — choosing between good and better. Making the decision to wear the number 90 is an example of that.
When his brothers told him to wear number 90, Devin said there was nothing left to decide. He knew that he was going to carry on the tradition that his brothers had started while they attended BYU.
When he first saw his name above the number 90 on his new football jersey, Devin said he thought of his brothers. He said he remembered watching them and saw the two football players that he idolized his whole life. He said he saw them in that jersey, and it made him want to be the type of player that his brothers had been.
“It’s a really neat experience seeing the jersey,” Devin said. “It reminds me to keep up the hard work that they showed me and to bring honor to that number and keep doing what the players who wore that number had always done — which is trying our hardest and trying our best.”
With Devin embarking on just his second year of college football, he said he has three years to write his own script for the number 90 jersey. As the youngest and last of the brothers to wear this number, Devin said that he’s thought a lot about the story he wants to write with his name on the jersey.
“Make plays for the team and do my job; doing that year after year, week after week and game after game — that’s what number 90 meant to me when I saw them, especially playing with Corbin last year,” Devin said.
Devin said he knows his life is more than football, but he also knows that there are a lot of lessons for him to learn — lessons that perhaps only football can teach him. With three years of eligibility remaining, Devin said he will put in the work on and off the field.
“We’ve always talked about how the way we play football doesn’t define us as people, but we sure do love it,” Devin said. “That’s the most important thing — finding the love we have and putting it towards something.”