PROVO — The Kaufusis keep popping up at BYU’s spring football camp.
Corbin Kaufusi is gone, but his brother Devin and cousins Isaiah and Jackson remain.
Isaiah Kaufusi was on his way to another outstanding performance, this one in Rice-Eccles Stadium against Utah last November, when he tore ligaments in his ankle, ending his sophomore season.
Now he’s among the walking wounded, a cadre of BYU players healing from surgeries and watching from the sidelines. That group includes starting quarterback Zach Wilson, tight end Matt Bushman and receiver Aleva Hifo.
This past year, Isaiah Kaufusi was BYU’s third-leading tackler behind Sione Takitaki and Corbin Kaufusi. That’s some lofty playmaking.
Isaiah is quick, smart, can move and jump. He has a nose for the ball and is now a veteran.
This spring won’t be without some big hits for Kaufusi, however. In two months his wife Breanna will deliver their first child, a son, and Isaiah can’t wait to add another to his three-bedroom condo in Vineyard and begin fatherhood.
Since his injury against Utah and corrective surgery, Kaufusi is working on strengthening his leg. “I’m taking it slow and really focusing on just getting better.” He’s been doing a little running in straight lines with very little cutting while he increases his strength and cardio.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Isaiah Kaufusi is part of BYU’s defensive effort to find playmakers to replace what Takitaki and Corbin Kaufusi brought. He can play two of the three linebacker positions and is a solid cover defender. He will be key in holding the edge in BYU’s alignments and his versatility makes him valuable.
From his perch on the sidelines, Isaiah likes what he’s witnessed so far in spring practice.
“I'm excited. We lost a lot of key players in Corbin and Sione, our leaders on the team, and I think a lot of guys have stepped up. I'm really excited about our talent. We’ve got positions filled and I know we have players who are elite.”
Kaufusi believes his position coach, Ed Lamb, will use him like he did last season, in a myriad of positions in formations.
“I played outside linebacker on both sides and some Mike (middle linebacker), so hopefully I’m still able to be versatile and kind of play wherever they need me to. I like being the utility guy, wherever I can get on the field. I want to play more special teams this year, too.”
Kaufusi said his surgery involved doing kind of a tight rope with the ligaments and bone to keep them tied down, a reconstruction of the support structure in his ankle.
“Right now, I just need to heal. I need to take care of myself and make sure I don’t do anything to hurt the recovery," he said. "Getting back is the No. 1 thing right now in spring and that’s what I’m concentrating on. Health is the priority.”9 comments on this story
Kaufusi is impressed with what he’s seen in BYU’s offense because a lot of young players with different skill sets are being used to take advantage of their strengths, and there are a lot of returning players. “It’s something we haven’t seen in a while,” he said.
And he likes new offensive line coach Eric Mateos, who replaced the energetic Ryan Pugh, now the offensive coordinator at Troy.
“He seems to fit. He’s awesome. He’s a cool guy, I mean he’s kind of younger and kind of hip and he connects really well with the players and a lot of the guys really like him.”
Spring comes fast at Kaufusi. There’s the football and then delivery day, May 11, when he becomes a father.
That, Isaiah, will really be a new position to play.