BYU football: First-year junior college transfers making a big impact for Cougars
Matt Gade, Deseret News
PROVO — Junior college transfers are often brought in to immediately contribute at positions where teams lack depth and overall talent. The BYU Cougars have received significant help from three such players this season.
JC transfers Edward Fusi and De’Ondre Wesley have both contributed heavily on the offensive line, and it’s perhaps been cornerback Robertson Daniel who has provided the most help.
Daniel was initially brought in as an emergency replacement for junior college transfer Trent Trammell, who tore his ACL during the first day of spring practices. Arriving after spring ball concluded, the De Anza (Calif.) Junior College product was expected to compete for the boundary corner position until assumed starting field corner Jordan Johnson sustained his own ACL injury midway through fall practices.
Coaches shuffled Daniel over to the field position and he quickly responded — earning himself the starting spot. Through eight games, the 6-foot-1 corner has not only proved adequate, but indispensable, according to coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“Robertson Daniel might be, because of our lack of depth in the secondary and at corner specifically going into the year, he might be one of the most valuable players on the team,” Mendenhall said. “In terms of impact — if a player were to go down and whose (injury) would have the biggest impact — it might be him. He’s done a really nice job — not only in coverage, but in tackling.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Wesley and Fusi have both provided solid and improving play. Wesley currently sees the majority of reps at right tackle while Fusi has started at center over the last two contests.
Wesley is a 6-foot-7, 330-pound tackle from Diablo Valley (Calif.) Community College. Fusi is a 6-foot, 317-pound center from Mount San Antonio (Calif.) Junior College.
BYU signed four junior college offensive linemen prior to the season with the hope that at least two of them would earn significant playing time. Both Wesley and Fusi emerged out of fall practices and have played big roles within the offensive line rotation.
For Fusi, it was a challenge to just get academically cleared upon arriving at BYU. Due to some issues regarding the transfer of credits, he was unable to practice for most of August.
Fortunately, he was cleared just prior to the start of the season and has worked hard to become a productive first-year player.
“Edward Fusi has done a great job getting in shape. That was our main concern with him and a lot of the other incoming guys, but he’s done really well there,” said offensive line coach Garett Tujague. “He’s been able to spell Terrance Alletto and has played very well for us.”
Wesley has quickly earned the designation of being one of the most athletic and physical linemen on the team. After sitting out most of the Virginia game, he came on strong the following week against Texas.
"That was a fun game for me and I've just become more comfortable every week I've been here," Wesley said. "I love it here. I love the system. It's not an easy system and it took time (to get used to), but I love it. I love the coaches and I'm excited for the rest of the season."
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