BYU football: Unga might skip senior year, enter NFL draft

Published: Friday, Dec. 11 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

PROVO ?— Could the Dec. 22 Las Vegas Bowl be the last time junior running back Harvey Unga dons a BYU uniform?

The Cougars' all-time leading rusher acknowledged this week that he is contemplating the possibility of forgoing his senior year in favor of next April's NFL draft.

"It's up in the air," Unga said.

For now, he's more concerned with the upcoming bowl game against Oregon State in Las Vegas.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've got one more college game this season to play. I'm focused on that," Unga said. "Whatever comes after that comes after that. I'm sticking around here. I'm here now. I've got one more game to worry about, then we'll figure everything out."

After BYU's 26-23 victory over Utah, offensive coordinator Robert Anae met with Unga, according to coach Bronco Mendenhall. Anae gave Unga "a number of people to talk to, that he trusts, that we trust, to give him the right advice," Mendenhall said.

Soon, Unga is expected to fill out paperwork and submit it to the NFL to gauge where he might go in the draft.

Unga has rushed for a school-record 3,396 yards in his career and has become the first BYU player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.

"Once we get done with this bowl game, I'll see what doors are open and what opportunities are out there, then I'll take it from there," Unga said.

Asked about the factors that will play a part in his decision, Unga replied, "If I take the NFL evaluation, that will come a little into play, talking to the coaches and getting a feel for where they'll think I'll be and where I feel where I'll be in comparison to how the next season's going to come about. I don't know. I haven't really got much into it. I think talking to agents and getting a feel for what they think is a start for me and I'll take it from there and see how it all goes."

Said Mendenhall: "Harvey will take the time he needs. We have all the paperwork that needs to be submitted — that doesn't commit him to the draft, but allows it to be predicted as to where he will possibly fall in the draft, and where he might be selected. So that is in the process as well. But there isn't any decision that has been made to this point, and probably won't be until maybe after the holiday season."

OSU-BYU CONNECTIONS: The Las Vegas Bowl will be an Unga family reunion of sorts.

Harvey Unga has two cousins who play for Oregon State — twins Devin and Kevin Unga. They are freshmen linebackers.

"I talked to one of them (Sunday night)," Harvey Unga said. "The week before when we were trying to figure out who we would be playing, we were talking about it. I was giving him a hard time about maybe playing each other."

A pair of Beaver defensive tackles, junior Stephen Paea and senior Sioeli Nau, both played at Snow College with Cougar linebacker Coleby Clawson. Nau hails from Spanish Fork.

Meanwhile, BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber was the O-line coach at OSU from 1987-1990.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

BYU (10-2) vs.Oregon St. (8-4)

Dec. 22, 6 p.m.Sam Boyd Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 102.7 FM, 1160 AM

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com

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