PROVO — BYU's Austen Jorgensen almost didn’t come back for his final season, but he’s glad he did.
The fifth-year senior linebacker has contributed 20 tackles through four games this fall and has received significant playing time at buck linebacker in place of Spencer Hadley, who is serving a five-game honor code suspension, and Tyler Beck, who has been battling through injuries.
“I’m having a blast,” Jorgensen said. “It’s definitely the most fun I’ve had playing here and it’s the type of year I was hoping for.”
Jorgensen’s career hasn’t gone according his expectations since joining the team in 2007. An inability to crack the two-deep roster early, coupled with a string of injuries, both took their toll.
Three shoulder surgeries and two knee surgeries in just four years would be tough for any player to endure.
"The rehab is tough, but getting back and trying to catch up — that's probably the toughest thing," Jorgensen said. "You really do have to work twice as hard to catch up and doing it every year since my first two years — it's been tough."
After playing in just four games last season due to injury, Jorgensen finally had enough. He made up his mind to not apply for a medical hardship and hang it up before ultimately reconsidering.
He's glad he did.
“After thinking about things and talking to my wife, I decided to come back and it’s paid off,” Jorgensen said. “It’s been five years of hard work with injuries. A lot of heartbreak with not playing when I wanted and heartbreak with injury, but I’m definitely happy to be back contributing.”
His team is happy he’s back as well, considering the depth he provides at both inside linebacker positions.
“He’s done a great job and his production shows that,” said coach Bronco Mendenhall. “He’s trustworthy and he’s really earned it. He’s had a long journey, but I’m happy for him.”
HOFFMAN SET TO RETURN: Senior wide receiver Cody Hoffman is set to return this week against Utah State after sitting out a one-game suspension last week against Middle Tennessee State.
“It’s always difficult to sit out and watch your team play, but it was a learning experience for me,” Hoffman said. “I made a mistake and I paid for it, so you just got to keep going.”
ALGIE BROWN IMPRESSES: Freshman running back Algie Brown saw late playing time last week against Middle Tennessee and responded with 11 rushes for 68 yards. His play earned praise from Mendenhall following the game.
“Seeing Coach Mendenhall get excited about how you’re playing certainly motivates you and helps you get ready for the next game,” he said.
Mendenhall mentioned that Brown could receive more reps moving forward due to how he's performed in games and in practice situations.
WILLIAMS EXPECTED TO PLAY: Running back Jamaal Williams practiced fully Monday and is expected to play this week against Utah State. Beck did not practice, but coaches anticipate that the linebacker will play this week. Beck suffered a hamstring injury early against Middle Tennessee. Offensive linemen Brock Stringham and Ryker Mathews are both expected to return as well after sitting out last week's game.