FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It’s been more than one year since BYU senior fullback Brayden El-Bakri made a special-teams hit and forced a fumble that was one of the Cougars’ most memorable plays of last season.
On a first-quarter kickoff early during BYU’s 41-20 victory over San Jose State in Provo in October 2017, El-Bakri sprinted down the field and leveled Spartan kick returner Rahshead Johnson, who fumbled.
El-Bakri made the ferocious — and legal — hit and recovered the ball.
During the offseason, El-Bakri earned a scholarship and he continues to play special teams. He’s recorded five tackles on kickoffs this season.
For El-Bakri, special teams is something he takes seriously.
“I really love special teams. It’s another opportunity to go out and have fun on the football field. You get to play the other side of the ball,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not going to be playing linebacker. Running down on kickoff allows you to play defense and help out the defense, which you see working way hard throughout the game. You’re like, ‘Well, I need to give them something back.’ There’s a little bit of an extra effort that you’re able to do to try to help the other side of the ball. Sometimes, you feel like you’re two separate teams in a way. Special teams is that little special thing that brings you together.”
DEFENSIVE STAND: In the first quarter of BYU’s eventual 21-16 loss at Boise State last Saturday, the Cougars trailed 14-0 when they fumbled a kickoff, giving the Broncos the ball at the BYU 18-yard line.
The Cougar defense held and BSU’s drive ended with a missed a field goal.Comment on this story
“We got down 14-0. Our first thought when we went back on the field was, we are not getting blown out,” said safety Austin Lee. “We are going to make a stand and come together as a team. We really dug deep for that. We finished that half off and we wanted to come out strong that first drive of the second half. We were able to do so that drive. Unfortunately, there was another long drive that ended up in a touchdown. At the end of the day, our defense has to be better than their defense.”