Kaufusi ready to break out

BYU's defensive line lost some very capable players following last season. With the loss of Ezekiel Ansah – who was the fifth pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and four-year starter Romney Fuga – finding talented replacements is now the task for Coach Kaufusi. He won't have to look very far to find one in his son Bronson, who is on the verge of breaking out.

Out of Timpview High School, Bronson Kaufusi was a highly rated defensive end. Possessing size, speed and athleticism, Kuafusi was rated the nation's No. 19 defensive end in his recruiting class, but his ability to dominate his senior year was cut short by an ACL injury. His return to the football field would be placed on hold for two years while he served an LDS mission to New Zealand. Now that he's been home from his mission for a while, Kaufusi has been able to aggressively work out over this past season for the first time in more than three years.

"I think being able to come and have an entire year to lift has been great," said Kaufusi. "My body has been answering tremendously and I've been making huge jumps, because I got hurt my senior year in high school and then I went on a mission. So, for years I didn't really do a whole lot of running or anything and haven't been able to really lift because of those reasons. Now my muscles are starting react to being able to work out over the past year."

Recently, members of BYU's football team were tested in what is called the beep test, which is designed to gauge a player's cardiovascular fitness. Apparently, Kaufusi did very, very well.

"For the beep test, you know, being able to play basketball really helped me out a lot with that," said Kaufusi. "The beep test is what they use for soccer and rugby players. It's a new test that we've never done before. You have to run 22 yards and back and the beep gets faster with every try. Being able to run the court was similar to running the beep test, so it was good for me and I did really well in that test. It's just a test to test your running ability and doesn't cover your overall strength."

The beep test may not measure an athlete's physical strength, but when it comes to Kaufusi, he's no slouch in that department either.

"You know, Bronson has been very active in the weight room," said his father and position coach, Steve Kaufusi. "He's been going crazy in there and loves to work out. I mean, he's been working out so much that Coach Omer had to tell him to slow down and take it easy once in a while. He's doing workouts that are like NFL standards."

Former Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker, who comes in at 6 feet 5 inches and 339 pounds, was the eleventh pick in the first round by the San Diego Chargers. He signed a five-year, 1.4 million-dollar contract to become a cornerstone on the offensive line. At the NFL combine, this first-round draft pick benched 225 pounds 21 times. So, how does Bronson Kaufusi stack up?

"I bench 225 pounds 27 times right now," Kaufusi said. "When I first started I could only do 225 pounds 14 times when I first got home off my mission, so I've been able to double that, so that's good. It's been great to work out and watch my body respond.

"When it comes to squatting, we don't really do a squat test. It's more like a range of motion thing. We do squat but we just don't want to hurt ourselves, so we don't do a whole lot of squatting but do things that substitute that. Right now I can squat over 400 pounds. My power clean is 335 right now."

Judging by the results, Kaufusi has been utilizing his summer well.

"Well, I'm just over 6'7" and weigh 280 pounds," Kaufusi said. "I'm going to try and maintain this size but keep getting stronger. This is the biggest thing for me. I want to find that balance of size and power. I don't want to get any heavier, but want to keep building my strength while adding more speed."

It would appear he's well on his way. By the time Kaufusi is a senior defensive tackle in two years, his weight room numbers will be off the charts, and that will aid his abilities as a defensive lineman. In taking a look at his first year's performance in 2012, Kaufusi played exceptionally well without the physical transformation.

He saw time in all 13 games and recorded 23 tackles, with five-and-a-half being for a loss, but the number that really pops out is how many sacks he recorded. Kaufusi racked up four-and-a-half sacks on the season in limited play. One can only guess what this season holds.

"I'm excited about the up-and-coming season," said Kaufusi. "I've been working really hard in the summer and getting ready with all the guys. We have a lot of good players coming back like Eathyn [Manumaleuna] and Remington [Peck] and a lot of really talented freshman players coming in like Tomasi Laulile. As for me, I'm hoping to have a really good season this year. I know that people like to put a glass ceiling over you, but for me I want to break those glass ceilings and it's not because I'm tall. I have a lot of belief in myself that the sky's the limit. I just want to keep on improving and never stop climbing to reach that potential. I'm going to keep working hard to be the best player I can on the field, so next season should be a lot of fun and I'm excited to see what happens."

Cougar fans can't wait either.

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