When it comes to the health of Tuni Kanuch, or any player for that matter, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is cautious about their returning to the field. Despite that fact, Kanuch isn’t worried about when he’ll return fully for action. He just wants to return as soon as possible to hit someone.
“Things are going good for me but everyone is just being cautious right now,” Kanuch said. “The doctors were just being cautious with me but I feel good. I had been hitting it strong with the trainers and weight lifting coaches. Other than not being able to practice all of fall camp, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’m just ready to go. I just want to get out there and do something. I’m tired of sitting and want to mix it up and hit someone”
Kanuch tore his upper pectoral muscle in a weightlifting incident that has kept him off the field while he recovers.
“It was my pec that got hurt,” said Kanuch with a chuckle in his voice. “I was benching too much but it feels good now. They just want me ready for Nebraska. Oh, and I’ll be ready for sure, so don’t worry about that.”
Going back to his high school days when he played both ways for Dave Peck at Bingham High School, Tuni Kanuch has always been as strong as an ox. Now that he’s at BYU the sophomore can bench over an eye-popping amount.
“If I had to guess it was over 500 pounds,” said Kanuch. “I don’t know what it is now, but I could do 500 pounds pretty easily. I feel like my strength is there and not really an issue with my development. Right what I’m trying to do is work on my technique: steps, hand placement, foot work. I’m just trying to perfect the little things like watching the linebacker’s depth or positioning. Things like that.”
One might thing that benching over 500 pounds is quite the accomplishment when it comes to physical development. However, for Kanuch that’s not the case. His biggest gain comes in the form of what he’s lost.
“My greatest leap as a player was losing weight,” said Kanuch. “I was playing last year at around 340-pounds, but I lost some weight and that has helped me with my back. I was too heavy playing at 340 and it was too much for me. Now I’m at around 315-pounds and I feel much better. I feel I can move a lot quicker and faster now. My footwork is quicker and my steps are faster. It’s all about speed, speed kills.”
Now that he’s rejoined the team, Tuni Kanuch is back with the first team offensive line, and although he’s back, he’s still taking a cautious approach.
“I’m with the one’s right now and they’re just being cautious with me,” he said. “They won’t really let me go all out and they’re just looking out after me, which I really appreciate. I just want to get going and go all out, but I have to also be smart about it too. I can’t just jump right in and go all out or else it could mean I have to sit out because I wasn’t being smart about things.”
“There’s just a few series here and there [for Tuni] and I’m always worried if he’s back too soon, and that’s what I told him before practice,” said Mendenhall. “’I would rather have you, you know, wait two or three days than have you come back and have a set-back.’ He’s chomping at the bit but I think we managed it well today.”
The offensive line made vast improvements last season and looks to only improve upon their performance of last season. Kanuch is excited about the group as a whole and feels if they can stay healthy they should dominate up front.
“The offensive line is looking really good right now,” Kanuch said. “We have a lot of returning starters with some really good playing experience. We have Tejan Koroma coming back at center and he’s looking as good as ever. He is one stout son of a gun out there, holding down the middle of our line. Then, of course, we have Ryker Mathews who is just looking amazing out there at left tackle. Our line is looking really good at pass blocking, run blocking, and even our guards are looking good with pulling plays. We’re going to be good up front and should own the trenches if we can stay healthy.”
The offensive line has received an infusion of younger talent, coming into a fold that contains a lot of returning starters with playing experience. According to what Tuni Kanuch has seen, the new players are proving to be solid, despite their youth and D-1 inexperience.
“We have a lot of young guys on the team right now,” said Kanuch. “That can make it tough but it’s also a good thing. We’ve got J.J. Nwigwe out there doing some things. I think he’s been standing out as a true freshman over a lot of guys. He’s got long arms man, but he’s been looking good and his technique looks solid for such a young guy.
“LeRoy Tanoa’i who just got off his mission is also looking really good at the tackle position. So, he’s looking good. Also Demetrius Davis, Austin Hoyt, and Jacob Jimenez all look really good out there, so we have a good mix of experience and new but I’m impressed with what I see so far. We have a mix of guys that know the plays and some that don’t, so we have to find ways of moving forward without slowing down. That’s what makes it tough at times for us and Coach Tujague. It’s a good mix and I think we have a bright future with all of these guys we have in the program right now.”