Notable BYU Football two-way players

BYU Football linebacker and former running back Kavika Fonua is one of a handful of Cougars who have played on both sides of the ball in recent years.

Although it’s not all that uncommon to see high school athletes spend time playing on both offense and defense, often during the same game, such is not usually the case in college. Players generally specialize in a single position once they get to college to adjust to the level of physicality and up their chances of reaching the pros.

Some college players, however, do switch between offense and defense based on their specific skill set and the team’s needs. BYU has had a number of two-way players with enough versatility to successfully make the switch from one side of the ball to the other. Below are five such players, apart from Fonua, who effectively spent time on both sides of the ball for the Cougars within the last ten years.

Michael Alisa (2008, 2011-14)

Former BYU running back and linebacker Michael Alisa celebrates with Cougar fans after a 14-13 road win over Ole Miss on Sept. 3, 2011. (Luke Hansen)

Michael Alisa started his BYU career at linebacker in 2008 after having led Timpview High School to back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007. He played in 12 games as a freshman, tallying 11 tackles and a forced fumble. Alisa then made the switch to running back in 2011 following his mission, where his presence was immediately felt. Alisa quickly became one of BYU’s go-to backs and finished the season as the team’s second-leading rusher, racking up 455 yards and three touchdowns on 85 carries.

The Laie, Hawaii, native split time with freshman phenom Jamaal Williams in the Cougar backfield in 2012 before breaking his arm in the fifth game of the season. Alisa did return for BYU’s bowl game at the end of the year and finished the season with 222 rushing yards and one touchdown. Injuries continued to plague Alisa in 2013, as he was forced to sit on a medical redshirt after playing in the Cougars’ first four games.

Coming back from injury for his senior season in 2014, Alisa switched back to the defensive side of the ball to play linebacker again. The change to his original position proved successful for BYU, as Alisa recorded 21 tackles to go along with three quarterback hits on the year. Alisa’s best game came in the Cougars’ 41-7 victory at Texas, where he tallied four tackles, a forced fumble and an interception which he returned 30 yards.

Matt Hadley (2012, 2015-18)

Former BYU running back and defensive back Matt Hadley breaks a tackle during a game against New Mexico State on Nov. 17, 2018. (BYU Photo)

Matt Hadley also started his college career on the defensive side of the ball in 2012 after having been named Washington’s 1A High School Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Hadley saw limited playing time as a defensive back during his first two years at BYU, posting seven tackles as a freshman and 17 as a sophomore. As a junior in 2016, Hadley saw action in all 13 games and tallied 25 tackles, including 15 solo stops.

Hadley got off to a quick start in 2017, recording 23 tackles before suffering a season-ending injury in the Cougars’ fifth game. He applied for and received a medical redshirt that year, freeing him up to come back for a fifth season. Hadley played at both linebacker and running back during his senior season, becoming one of BYU’s featured backs as the season progressed and injuries plagued the position group. On defense, Hadley finished the year with seven tackles and one pass breakup. On offense, Hadley racked up 485 total yards and six touchdowns. Hadley also returned four kicks on special teams for 70 yards.

Beau Tanner (2016-19)

Gilbert, Arizona, native Beau Tanner was an all-state wide receiver at Shadow Mountain High School after hauling in 41 receptions for over 1,000 yards as a senior. Tanner transferred to BYU from Scottsdale Community College in 2016 and saw action in 10 of the Cougars’ 13 games. In 2017, Tanner caught 12 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown, averaging an effective 11.2 yards per reception.

After sitting out the 2018 season, Tanner came to play defensive back, where he made plenty of noise. Tanner played in all 13 of BYU’s games in 2019, posting 16 total tackles and 11 solo stops. He assisted on a tackle-for-loss and tallied two pass breakups on the year. Tanner also recorded an interception against Utah State, which he returned 73 yards.

Austin Kafentzis (2017-19)

Former BYU linebacker and wildcat quarterback Austin Kafentzis runs the ball against UNLV on Nov. 10, 2017. Kafentzis scored the first touchdown of his career later in the game. (Ty Mullen)

Austin Kafentzis was virtually unstoppable as a high school quarterback at Jordan High. The Sandy, Utah, native received Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a sophomore and senior, held 13 records in the state of Utah by the time he graduated and was listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN. Kafentzis started his career at Wisconsin after receiving offers from nearly every Power 5 program but transferred soon after to Nevada, Arizona Western and eventually BYU. Kafentzis ran the Cougars’ wildcat offense as a sophomore in 2017 and spent time at running back. He ended his first year at BYU as the team’s third-leading rusher, tallying 235 yards and a touchdown on 41 attempts.

Kafentzis made the switch over to defense in 2018, seeing time in 12 of the Cougars’ 13 games as a linebacker. He made his first career tackle against his former team, No. 6 Wisconsin, and tallied four stops on the year. He also played under center on offense for trick plays against No. 17 Utah and Western Michigan, both of which resulted in touchdowns. Kafentzis had the most effective season of his career in 2019, racking up 16 tackles at linebacker, including 10 solo stops, to go along with two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a sack. He continued to play under center on offense for select trick plays, one of which resulted in a game-sealing, first-down carry by Kafentzis against Boise State.

Tyler Allgeier (2018-20)

Fontana, California, native Tyler Allgeier finished his high school career as Kaiser High’s all-time leading rusher. Allgeier rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior and scored 29 touchdowns, enough to draw interest from the Cougar coaching staff. As a freshman at BYU in 2018, Allgeier played in only four games but tallied 103 all-purpose yards as a running back on offense and kick returner on special teams.

Allgeier, who used a redshirt in 2018 to preserve a year of eligibility, switched over to the Cougar defense last season to play linebacker. He racked up 26 total tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup as a redshirt freshman in 2019. As the season went on, however, BYU’s running back group dealt with a multitude of injuries, causing the Cougars’ coaching staff to move Allgeier back over to running back for the last three games of the year. Allgeier ran 17 times for 119 yards and caught three passes for 67 yards and a touchdown over those last three games. His performance while back at running back was impressive enough for BYU’s staff to keep him on the offensive side of the ball for his 2020 sophomore campaign.

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