Monday, August 3, 2020

One more year – forgoing the NFL draft to play their senior season of college football at BYU

Khyiris Tonga announced that he would return to BYU for his final season of football via social media on New Year’s Day. (Addie Blacker)

Top BYU junior football players were put in a tough spot after the 2019 SoFi Hawaii Bowl. Should they declare for the NFL draft, or return to BYU for their senior season on the football team?

While it seems like many players are eager to take their shot at the big leagues, BYU has many players wanting to stay and play until their last season of eligibility.

Khyiris Tonga and Tristen Hoge are two of these athletes.

Tonga said the main reason for his return to BYU was his parents and the coaching staff. They reminded him of why he came to BYU in the first place.

“There’s a degree. I’m on track to do that,” Tonga said.

From early on, Tonga had set the goal to not only be a great football player but to also end his time at BYU with a bachelor’s degree in hand.

BYU offensive lineman Tristen Hoge takes questions during BYU’s 2019 fall camp. (Addie Blacker)

Hoge had a different feeling on the issue. Hoge has only been able to play roughly a year and a half at BYU. He had tough 2019 season because he was only able to play in five games before a gruesome injury left him on the sidelines for the remainder of the year. Hoge said that he has gained a lot of pride in BYU and that he loves playing here.

“I want to finish what I came here for this next year, I figured there is no better place and people that I would want to do that with then the brothers that I have formed bonds with,” Hoge said.

Although their time at BYU hasn’t gone as planned, they both feel there is much to improve upon to better prepare themselves for their futures. They both have the goal and desire to give this last year of eligibility all they have.

“Stay rooted in the present. If that opportunity comes then take it,” Hoge said.

He added that it’s too easy to get caught up about the future and then lose sight of the present.

The university and the BYU football program has left these two men with the feeling of wanting to give back just a little more. After finishing the 2019 season 7-5, Tonga and Hoge feel that their duty is to come back as seniors this fall semester and finish what they came here to do both on and off the field.

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