Officially measuring in at a little over 6’9’ flat footed, Corbin Kaufusi has the athleticism to go with the size. Weighing in at around 270 pounds, with the athleticism of a basketball player, the question is why he’s not playing tight end for the BYU Cougars?
“Well, not that I know of,” said Kaufusi with a chuckling. “That would be a coach’s decision, but right now I’m a D-end and I’m loving it. It’s always fun to catch a ball too though, but I’ll do whatever the coaches ask of me.”
With his near 10-foot wingspan Kaufusi is used to running the court at the center position for BYU basketball head coach Dave Rose, where Kaufusi’s big body, long arms, and athletic abilities are put to good use around and above the basketball rim. That same size and athletic skills could be put to good use in a sprint, pitch, and catch scenario in the end zone from the tight end position.
“Well, I’ll do whatever they asked,” said the ever-smiling Corbin Kaufusi. “I played D-end all throughout high school, so it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Tight end was something that I did. It’s always been something on my mind so you never know. Right now I’m just trying to stick with D-end so I don’t overload my brain.”
Since making the switch back from the hard court to the gridiron, Kaufusi has had to alter his diet a little in order to meet the physical demands of football.
“I’ve definitely gained some weight ever since the basketball season was over,” laughed Corbin Kaufusi. “I’ve gone back to the old eating ways with my brother Bronson, and so it was really good but I have a long ways to go since I’ve been out of football for so long. The coaches are great at helping me along and so are my teammates. Everyday I’m progressing little by little.”
Kaufusi has sort of a physical conundrum he has to juggle. For basketball, Kaufusi wants a trim down, leaner physique to meet the demands of the court and maintain a physical presence in the paint. For football, the pounds must be put on in order to perform with the physical play and strength of 300-pound offensive linemen. Finding the right balance of weight and physical development in order to be competitive for both sports has been a challenge.
“It’s a little bit different preparing physically for both sports,” Kaufusi said. “As soon as the basketball season ended, and I talked about this with my coaches and everything, after everything got sorted out it was a huge change up when it came to the diet plan.
“With basketball you want to stay more lean so you can run the floor better, jump higher, rebound, and all that stuff. It’s a different kind of being in shape for football. I like it because having the type of body that allows you to be explosive in a physical way. Now I’m going up against 300-pound offensive lineman, so I have to eat more while still being explosive on the field. Eating now becomes a chore now and I’m just shoving 7,000 calories worth of food down my mouth a day. It’s dedication but I like it.”
He may not be able to transform into the Hulk, or sling from building to building like Spiderman, but forcing yourself to eat 7,000 calories a day would be like super villain Galactus devouring a planet for most people. Then having to switch workout regimens to suit both basketball and football would definitely be superhero-ish for most people.
“No, no, I’m not Superman,” Kaufusi said laughing.
So what is the secret behind his super ability to physically transform?
“Well, I just hit the hot tub a ton,” he said still laughing. “Then I hit the ice tub and eat proper food right now. It’s all about body maintenance right now.”
So who’s to blame for all this physical transformation he must go through? Well, Kaufusi can blame none other than mastermind head coach Kalani Sitake for taking on this chameleon-like physical transformation from season to season. Ever the master recruiter, Coach Sitake inspired Corbin Kaufusi to take on the task with a few subtle comments from time to time that would peek Kaufusi’s interest.
“When you leave something there’s always things you miss, but I think the biggest thing was when they presented the idea of me coming back if this was something I would like to do,” said Kaufusi. “The coaches were really good about letting me decide and make the decision. It was funny because whenever I would see Kalani he was always making comments like, ‘Hey D-end how’s it going?’ I was like, ‘Hmmm?’ But I couldn’t think about it until basketball was over, so they were really good about that.”
Fall camp is now here so now begins the real challenge. Out on the football practice field, Kaufusi is learning how to ride that proverbial bike once again.
“There are some things that you pick up really quickly having played the sport before, but then there are some things that you forget or have to get back all over again,” Kaufusi said. “It’s coming along slowly but you remind yourself, ‘Hey, I can do this. I get this. It’s all natural to me and it’s coming along.’ It’s been a steady process for me.”
It’s been a few years since he’s worn a helmet and pads and had to use technique to hit and tackle someone without fear of getting a foul called or ejected from a game.
“I’m a football scholarship player and a basketball walk-on, so there’s a little switcheroo going on there, “Kaufusi said. “I’ve always liked that hitting, that tough mentality of football, so I kind of missed that part of sports. Besides, I can now come out here and hit someone. You don’t get a foul for knocking someone over. You can hit someone on their butt and not get pulled out of the game. I like that part of it!”
It’s going to be interesting to see how Kaufusi adjusts himself to the basketball court after an entire season of tackling techniques, hitting opponents, and physical play. In the meantime, he’s enjoying relearning a sport under the mentorship of his father Steve Kaufusi, whose task is to make sure he knows how to deliver a hit as well as take one.
“I love being coached by my dad,” said Kaufusi. “I really do. He’s my dad and so that’s what I love about it. It’s not like he takes it easy on me and I feel like he gets after me a lot more, but that’s what I love about being coached by him. I know I have potential and he can help me reach it.”
Not only does Corbin Kaufusi love being coached by his dad, but he also loves the program, atmosphere, and coaching style of BYU’s new head coach Kalani Sitake and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.
“They’re amazing coaches and I love having these new coaches out here,” said Kaufusi. “They’re part of the reason why I’m back out here to play football again. They bring such a different things to the table and I love it.”
While his older brother Bronson played the defensive end position in the 3-4 defense, it’s not quite known where exactly Corbin will play.
“Bronson played at the weak-side D-tackle position and they’re still moving pieces around on the defense to see where people fit and what not,” Kaufusi said. “Right now I’m exactly sure where I’ll play or on what side of the defensive line I’ll play. I’m just playing wherever right now.”
Recently big brother Bronson Kaufusi was carted off the practice field after suffering a leg injury during practice with the Baltimore Ravens. Corbin Kaufusi gives us an update as to how his brother is doing.
“Bronson is doing good, you know, he had his surgery and now he’s rehabbing his injury,” Corbin Kaufusi said. “They said he’ll make a full recovery. Right now he’s just staying off of his leg right now.”