A Father and Son Experience Like No Other

It's not often that a father passionate about football has a talented son considered tops in the nation at his position, but when that father has the potential of mentoring his son at the Division I level, an already unique circumstance becomes all the more special.

BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi is passionate about developing the young men under his charge into the best players they can be. His hands-on approach and understanding of the trenches have helped produce some of the best defensive linemen in the Mountain West Conference.

So when it comes to his son Bronson Kaufusi, it would only seem natural that he would be a dominating defensive lineman given his pedigree. Interestingly enough, Bronson's personal success never came from any high expectations or pressure placed on the shoulders by his father. Rather, it comes from his personal desire to be the best he can be and his love for the game.

"I just try and go out and do my best," said Bronson with a smile. "I just try and go out and do what Coach Wong tells me to do. I just try and go out and wreak some havoc out there in the backfield. I try to make that quarterback run around and make things hard them back there."

"It is a neat thing and I tell my kids that you have to truly be passionate about it," said Coach Kaufusi. "If you don't have a passion for it then it can just float by. If you never really know what the weight room can do for you, or find out what true effort can do for you in putting your time and sacrifice in, you won't be successful at it."

Seeing how parents can oftentimes ruin the passion and fun of football for their kids, Coach Kaufusi didn't let his son Bronson play football until he entered the eighth grade.

"I've seen too many parents live their lives through their kids and start them too early, and it just ends up making the kids get burned out," said Coach Kaufusi.

While most fathers and sons go on camping outings and spending time together in the mountains, Steve and Bronson Kaufusi have had their own personal time together studying and enjoying the game that both have grown to love.

"It's awesome and I love it," said Bronson. "I really love my dad and I'm really lucky. I'm lucky because I get a different view of the game a lot of other kids don't get, and I can get that perspective and that help whenever I want. I really like it because I always have a lot of questions and I'm always trying to learn and get better, so I just love having him as my dad because I can go up to him and ask him any question I might have."

"We do have good relationship," said Coach Kaufusi with a chuckle. "[Bronson's] very respectful and I try not to overload him with too much football because they've grown up seeing their dad play but mainly coaching. So yeah, we've had our share of film-room study together, but I think how we do it is just right. We don't spend a lot of time, but every now and again I'll take stuff home and say, ‘Hey guys, when you get a chance watch this.' It's usually just stuff on the fundamentals or technique, and I don't try and push them to watch it. I notice every now and then they'll put it on and watch it and I can hear them going through it and talking about it, or they'll come here to my office and watch a lot of film and tape."

It can be easy for a young man like Bronson, who loves the game of football and has a successful college coach as a father, to lose balance and perspective in life. Like a good father, Coach Kaufusi tries to ensure his kids have that balance and perspective in their lives, and that means football isn't always a daily topic or focus in their family.

"We love football and that's something that brings me and my dad close together, but we don't always talk about football except when we're watching film or if I have questions," Bronson said. "When we're home we don't really talk that much about football but mostly life in general. He always asks me how my day went and we just talk about normal son-and-dad stuff."

"You should truly love something and truly be passionate about it, so with that I try and help him find balance in his life," said Coach Kaufusi. "I try to teach my kids that football isn't the most important thing in life, and that sports aren't the most important thing in life. I tell them that they have to find balance in their lives so not everything is about football.

"I tell him that football was great for me but that doesn't mean that I want my kids to become football players. They have to find it for themselves just like everything else in life. It just so happens that my kids have found football and have fallen in love with it. You know, Bronson loves football and in a way it makes me excited inside. It's like, ‘Wow! My kids really do like football.' But they also have to know that football isn't the most important thing in life, and so finding that balance for them is something we try to do."

When football is the focus, Bronson takes full advantage of what his father has to offer, and credits most of his on-field success to the teachings of his father.

"Oh yeah, he teaches me most of what I do," said Bronson with a laugh. "Most of my moves come from my dad."

Last Friday, Bronson dominated in Timpview's season-opener against Pleasant Grove High School. The Thunderbird defensive end was sound with much of his technique and played a complete game.

"I don't know if he learned that from me," said a humble Coach Kaufusi. "He's been here a lot and has seen a lot of film and been to a lot of camps. I think he's seen a lot of film and has seen a lot of guys do that over the years. Those are just simple fundamentals that he works on. Before he was a little hesitant, but now he is just hitting it and just goes, so you see a lot of improvement about executing that particular technique like the swim move.

"I just think their coaching staff there at Timpview is loaded with great coaches. I just think they have guys on their staff that are good coaches and have either played or been around and have coached for a long time. They have good coaches that team correct fundamentals, and not only that, but what's important for me is they are good examples to those young men. That's a big thing for me, you know, what kind of coaches are coaching your sons and, for me, my sons who are playing there. Are they good men that are teaching them not just about football but about being good examples off the field and what's most important that they should be doing?"

"I'll usually go down to BYU because they have some really nice technology down there and will watch film with my dad," said Bronson. "We'll watch NFL players, college players and BYU practices and he'll teach me the basic fundamentals and different things I need to work on. He'll watch my high school games and tell me what I need to work on and what my weaknesses are. At the same time he'll tell me what my strengths are and what I do good. Then I just take what he tells me and try to put that into my game."

After his final season at Timpview High School, Bronson will leave for two years and serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 6-foot-7-inch, 250-pound defensive end knows that upon his return home from his mission he could possibly be switched to a different position depending on how much he grows.

"I'll go on my mission and then it really will depend on how my body changes," Kaufusi said. "It really depends on what happens to my body. I could lose some weight and I know I could lose that weight if I have to, or gain weight if I have to do that also.

"Right now, [BYU] is telling me that they want me to play at defensive end. That's my strength because I don't really play or practice at the tight end position, so right now I'm just thinking I'll play defensive end when I get there. I think I have a lot of the essentials an offensive lineman needs already. I have the size and strength, being around 6'7½" and around 250 pounds. I bench around 340 and run a 4.68 and have a 34-inch vertical."

"There's a chance he could grow himself out of a defensive end position, easily," said Coach Kaufusi. "That's the nice thing is he could do defensive end, he could do tight end and he could even be an offensive tackle. I would like to coach him at d-end because those type of players are hard to find."

A position change is something this father and son hope doesn't happen. A chance to coach a son is a rare opportunity for any coach at any coaching level.

"He's talked to me about him coaching me at BYU and I know he can't wait," Bronson said. "For me, I'm really excited about having my dad be my coach. I just think that's a really special thing, and I can't wait to go and prove to my dad that I can work hard and can play and be successful as a defensive end."

"I would probably be a little hard on him," said a reflective Coach Kaufusi. "The good thing is we would be able to go home and talk about things. If he had any questions we could talk about those things, but I would definitely demand more out of him. I told him his job is to come here and make his dad look good. You know, kind of like my little brother Jason, who made me look good when I was up there at Utah. So that will be Bronson's job … to make his dad look good."


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