Alisa goes from tackler to ball-carrier

As a true freshman in 2008, Alisa played in 12 games as a linebacker and special teams member. After the season, he then left to serve a mission in Puerto Rico. Having returned from his mission, Alisa is now on the other side of the line of scrimmage as a ball-carrier instead of a ball-hawking tackler.

During his first year at BYU, Michael Alisa showed Cougar fans they had a talented future linebacker in the program. Two years later, many were surprised to learn he had been switched to running back instead of resuming his previous position.

"When I came here they told me they were recruiting me as a linebacker and running back," said Alisa. "Back then we had Harvey [Unga] and Fui [Vakapuna], and I knew then that I could help out more effectively at defense."

Like the running back corps during Unga's and Vakapuna's days, the Mike linebacker position of today is both talented and deep. So, Alisa made the switch to running back, something that he wanted to do anyway.

"I want to fulfill my dream," said Alisa. "I want to play running back like Harvey and Fui did when they were here. I've always wanted to play running back, so I made the switch when I came back. I think I can help the team here."

Alisa had a very productive first day of spring camp running the ball. He ran hard and showed why Coach Mendenhall talked about him last month during the signing day press conference. He's fast and moves very well for his size, much like former Cougar running backs that BYU fans are used to seeing in the backfield.

"My first day back was last January, so I was doing winter workouts with the team and it was good," Alisa said. "I really appreciate all the other running backs. They've been really supportive and helping me learn the plays. I really appreciate the coaches, especially, in being patient with me. Coach DuPaix has been very patient with me while I get my legs back under me. He knows that a return missionary needs some extra time to get himself back into football shape."

Having been away from the game for two years, Alisa also faces the challenge of getting back into a football mindset.

"Getting back into shape is really half the battle," Alisa said. "I think the other half is learning to play again, especially since I was on defense before. Right now I'm just learning to play again, but on the offensive side of the ball. Coach DuPaix has been patient with me and is giving me extra reps during practice. He's willing to put in the extra help in getting me a final chance with the other running backs."

In speaking of BYU's new running back coach, Alisa had nothing but glowing comments about Coach DuPaix.

"Oh man, Coach DuPaix is awesome!" Alisa said. "He's enthusiastic, positive and always encouraging me. He knows football and he knows how to excite a player. I'm just working hard like the rest of the new players. I think we all have a good group and it's been fun. We're all pushing each other a lot and we're getting bigger and faster after serving our missions."

Alisa looks to have a bright future as a Cougar ball-carrier, and fared well during his first day back on the football field.

"I think we all got the first-day jitters out," said Alisa. "We had a lot of good plays and we have a lot of good players. The defense came up and made some stops. They had two interceptions and that was good, but we also did some good things as well. Our quarterbacks showed their accuracy in throwing the ball and our running backs showed that we can move the chains behind a really good offensive line. I feel I had a pretty good first day and I'm going to keep on working hard to get better. It's only going to get better from here."

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