PROVO, Utah (May 2, 2015) – Nine members of the 2014 BYU football team reached NFL agreements on Saturday as free agents immediately following the annual NFL Draft.
UPDATE: Another Cougar, defensive back Harvey Jackson, later become the 10th BYU player to get an NFL opportunity, receiving a rookie minicamp workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fullback Paul Lasike, who originally received a minicamp invite on Saturday with the Atlanta Falcons, later agreed to sign a free-agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Offensive lineman Solomone Kafu will particpate in the Cardninals' minicamp at nose tackle. These updates are reflected below.
Six offensive players and four Cougar defenders received NFL opportunities as undrafted free agents, including outside linebacker Alani Fua with the Arizona Cardinals, defensive backs Robertson Daniel with the Oakland Raiders, Skye PoVey with the Green Bay Packers and Harvey Jackson with the Jacksonville Jaguars, wide receivers Jordan Leslie with the Minnesota Vikings and Ross Apo with the Seattle Seahawks, tight end Devin Mahina with the Washington Redskins, fullback Paul Lasike with the Arizona Cardinals and offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley with the Baltimore Ravens and Solomone Kafu with the Arizona Cardinals. Kafu will play nose tackle with the Cardinals. Six Cougars agreed to signed deals while PoVey, Apo, Kafu and Jackson received minicamp offers.
“I’m proud of what each one of these young men have accomplished here at BYU, and I'm grateful for their many contributions to our football program,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I’m excited to see their hard work be recognized and look forward to following their careers."
Historically, BYU has had 166 former players receive NFL opportunities as free agents in addition to the 139 Cougars selected in the annual draft.
Having signed or received minicamp invites, the 10 former Cougars will next take part in upcoming team minicamps and workouts looking to make their respective team's roster.
Fua, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals, is a 6-foot-5, 238-pound outside backer who totaled 124 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks and five interceptions in his BYU career. He recorded a career-high 14 tackles against Boise State and returned one of his five interceptions 51 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Tech.
The San Fernando Valley, California, native is an extremely versatile linebacker who is both a strong pass rusher and athletic defender in pass coverage. The four-year letterman played in 44 games over his BYU career. Fua’s older brother, Sione, is a five-year NFL veteran defensive lineman with the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns.
“Alani is a fantastic football player who has developed as a player and a person at BYU and been a big part of our success,” Mendenhall said. “ I wish Alani and his family the best as they enter the next chapter in their lives in the NFL.”
Daniel, who signed with the Oakland Raiders, started at both boundary and field corner positions in his two seasons in Provo after joining the Cougars from De Anza Junior College in 2013. Daniel totaled 110 tackles his junior and senior years while adding three interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a team-best 23 pass breakups.
The 6-foot-1, 208-pound defensive back from San Jose, California, had career highs of 10 tackles against Central Florida in 2014 and Utah State in 2013. He intercepted balls in consecutive games to end the 2013 season and had a single-game best three pass breakups against Boise State in 2013 and Nevada in 2014.
"Rob is well deserving of this opportunity,” Mendenhall said. “He was a key member of our defense the past two years since transferring to BYU, and he has the tools to continue his contributions at the next level. I’m excited for Rob.”
PoVey, who received a minicamp invite with the Green Bay Packers, started 15 games for the Cougars, including the rare feat of earning a start at each secondary position. He started during his career at both KAT and free safety and the boundary and field corner positions. He averaged 62.5 tackles over his junior and senior seasons and led the Cougars with 78 tackles in 2014. He made three interceptions in his career and added five tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Ogden, Utah, native had a career-high 11 tackles, two pass breakups and a career-long 27-yard interception return to help BYU defeat Cal in Berkeley to conclude the 2014 regular season. He led the team in total tackles (78), solo stops (55) and assisted tackles (23) in 2014. Overall, he totaled 128 tackles and appeared in 39 games as a four-year letterman.
“I couldn’t be happier for Skye,” Mendenhall said. “He has been so diligent in not only doing all he could to help our team but also in striving to reach his individual potential as a football player. I know he’ll continue to represent himself and BYU well as he pursues this opportunity.”
Jackson, who received a minicamp invite with the Jacksonville Jaguars, transferred to BYU after four seasons at Nebraska. His senior year in Provo saw him make 30 tackles and 2.5 for loss. He added a sack, fumble recovery, two hurries and four pass breakups. His season-high of 10 tackles came in BYU’s regular-season finale victory over Cal in Berkeley. He started two games and recorded his fumble recovery in BYU’s win at No. 25 Texas.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Fresno, Texas, native was an Academic All-Big Ten selection and made the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll while at Nebraska. He started four games for the Huskers and played in 35 overall.
“Harvey is a exceptional individual who was a great addition to our program last year,” Mendenhall said. “I’m glad to see him get this NFL opportunity.”
Leslie, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings, transferred from UTEP to BYU for his senior season after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. Leslie was the second-leading receiver for the Cougars in 2014 with 779 yards on 55 receptions and six touchdowns. He recorded a season-high 155 receiving yards and two touchdowns in BYU’s regular-season finale at Cal. He also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career with the Cougars in 2014.
The Houston, Texas, native is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound wide receiver with good size and speed. Playing through nagging injuries his senior season, he went on to compile 10 career 100-yard receiving games between El Paso and Provo. He finished his career with a streak of 41 straight games with a reception, which ranked sixth nationally among active players in 2014.
“I’m excited for Jordan and believe the Vikings will be excited to have Jordan on their team,” Mendenhall said. “Jordan is a consistent and tough playmaker and good leader who made a significant impact on our team last year. I'm looking forward to seeing his continued success."
Apo, who received a minicamp invite with the Seattle Seahawks, is a four-year letterwinner at wide receiver for the Cougars who totaled 80 receptions for 981 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 48 games played. He had season highs of 453 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011 as a freshman. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound native of Arlington, Texas, recorded a single-game high of 71 yards against Idaho State and had three different two-touchdown games over his career.
“Ross is a dynamic player with tremendous potential,” Mendenhall said. “He is a great person who has overcome a lot of adversity and I’m pleased he will have a chance to continue playing football.”
Mahina, who signed with the Washington Redskins, had the best season of his career in 2014 as he caught 20 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns at tight end for BYU. Mahina set career highs first against Central Florida with 46 yards and two touchdowns and then against Memphis with 54 yards, including a career-long 41-yard reception.
The 6-foot-6, 257-pound Ontario, California, native was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl and NFLPA Bowl this past offseason after earning four All-Independent awards and National Tight End of the Week (Oct. 13) honors during the season. A four-year letterwinner, Mahina appeared in 44 games with 12 starts for the Cougars while totaling 554 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
“We have been fortunate to have Devin in our program,” Mendenhall said. “Devin can make key plays as a pass catcher and also do the tough work as a blocker. I wish Devin the best and look forward to offering my continued support as he pursues this NFL opportunity.”
Lasike, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals, totaled 364 rushing yards on 79 carries and 267 receiving yards on 25 receptions in 2014 as the Cougars’ primary blocking back. The physical runner and four-time rugby All-American scored seven touchdowns on the ground and two more through the air in 2014.
The Auckland, New Zealand, native ran for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame in 2013. He scored three touchdowns against UNLV in 2014 while running for 70 yards and two touchdowns and catching another TD for 26 yards. Overall, the 5-foot-11, 250-pound three-year letterman totaled 843 yards rushing and 322 yards receiving while appearing in 38 games for the Cougars.
"Paul has exceptional character, works hard and plays physical,” Mendenhall said. “He has a great story as an All-American rugby player. I’m excited to see him continue his development as a football player in the NFL.”
Wesley, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens, started 22 games at right tackle for BYU over the past two seasons after transferring from Diablo Valley Junior College. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Antioch, California, native was part of the highest scoring offense at BYU since 2001 this past season and helped make the run attack the 10th best rushing offense in the nation in 2013. He was named to the College Sports Madness All-Independent First Team this past season.
“De’Ondre is a fantastic person and I’m thrilled for him,” Mendenhall said. “He really developed at BYU and brought to the field a toughness and energy that I think will continue to serve him well in the NFL.”
Kafu, who received a minicamp invite with the Arizona Cardinals as a nose tackle, played in 30 games as an offensive guard at BYU while seeing action in each of his four seasons on the field. The 6-foot-2, 335-pound native of Rio Linda, California, started in 19 games at left guard for the Cougars. He was part of the highest scoring offense at BYU since 2001 this past season and helped make the run attack the 10th best rushing offense in the nation in 2013, when he was named to the College Sports Madness All-Independent Second Team.
“Solo is an extremely perseverant, hard-working and reliable individual,” Mendenhall said. “He has worked hard over the years to help us improve on the offensive line and as an offense. I'm happy to see him get this opportunity.”