UPDATE: Eight BYU players receive NFL free-agent agreements after five Cougars drafted
PROVO, Utah — After five BYU players were picked in this year’s NFL Draft, eight more Cougars from the 2020 team have reached agreements as undrafted free agents with NFL teams following the draft.
UPDATE: BYU defensive back Kavika Fonua received a mini camp invite from the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to join seven Cougars who signing as free agents on Saturday immediately following the draft.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight end Matt Bushman inked a free-agent contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, while offensive linemen Tristen Hoge and Chandon Herring signed with the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans, respectively. Defensive players signing on Saturday included linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi going to the Indianapolis Colts, defensive lineman Zac Dawe receiving a deal from the Atlanta Falcons and defensive backs Troy Warner and Zayne Anderson reaching agreements with the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.
“Whether it was the guys who got drafted or those who are signing deals after the draft, I’m equally excited for the opportunities that await them in the NFL,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “We have talented football players and great people in our program, and I know they will all represent themselves and BYU well. It was an honor to coach them.”
The five BYU players drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft are the most since 2002. Headlined by quarterback Zach Wilson going No. 2 overall to the New York Jets, the Cougars also had offensive lineman Brady Christensen drafted in the third round to the Carolina Panthers before three BYU players went in the seventh round with defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga taken by the Chicago Bears, cornerback Chris Wilcox by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Dax Milne by the Washington Football Team.
Historically, BYU has had 147 former Cougars drafted and another 202 receive NFL opportunities as undrafted free agents. In addition to the eight 2020 team members reaching agreements as free agents following this year's draft, 2019 BYU receiver Micah Simon recently signed a free-agent deal with the Carolina Panthers following his BYU Pro Day workout in March. BYU wasn't able to conduct a Pro Day last year due to the onset of the pandemic.
Information on Simon and the eight BYU players reaching free-agent agreements after the 2021 NFL Draft is included below:
Matt Bushman | TE | Las Vegas Raiders
Named a 2017 Freshman All-American by USA Today Sports, FWAA, 247Sports and Chat Sports, Bushman has been an impact player for the Cougars since stepping onto campus. The team captain has played in 39 career games starting 27 totaling 125 receptions for 1,719 yards with nine touchdowns.
The Tucson, Arizona, native has been BYU’s leading receiver all three years including during his freshman campaign in 2017 with 49 receptions, 520 yards and three touchdowns ranking as the No. 1 freshman tight end in the FBS with the most receptions and yards. The two-time Phil Steele All-Independent First Team honoree also made his mark on BYU as the most productive BYU tight end (receptions and yards) since Dennis Pitta in 2009.
During the 2019 season, among FBS tight ends, Bushman was No. 6 in receiving yards and No. 10 in receptions with a career-best 101 yards on five receptions with two touchdowns against No. 14 Boise State in 2019. He finished the season joining College Football Hall of Fame inductee Gordon Hudson and All-American Dennis Pitta as the only BYU tight ends to achieve three consecutive seasons of 500 or more receiving yards.
Chandon Herring | OL | Tennessee Titans
A Gilbert, Arizona, native, Herring saw action at three positions on the offensive line in 2020 playing right guard, right tackle and left guard. Part of BYU’s Joe Moore Semifinalist offensive line unit in 2020 he helped BYU’s offensive line ranked No. 8 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed (12 in 12 games).
A key contributor to creating many explosive plays in 2020, BYU ranked No. 1 for the most plays of 30 or more yards and No. 2 for the most plays of 10+ yards and finished the season on Phil-Steele All-Independent Second Team. The 6-foot-6, 307-pound lineman played in 49 career games with 23 starts and helped the BYU offense rank No. 4 in scoring (43.5), No. 7 in total offense (522.2), and No. 8 passing offense (322.1).
Tristen Hoge | OL | New York Jets
A dependable offensive lineman, Hoge played in 26 games, starting 25 after transferring from Notre Dame. The Pocatello, Idaho, native helped BYU’s offensive line ranked No. 8 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed (12 in 12 games).
A part of a strong offensive line which included draft-pick Brady Christensen protect the No. 2 overall pick, quarterback Zach Wilson. The 6-foot-4, 306-pound offensive lineman was a main contributor to BYU’s offense ranking No. 4 in scoring (43.5), No. 7 in total offense (522.2), and No. 8 passing offense (322.1), while adding 190.1 yards rushing per game.
Zayne Anderson | DB | Kansas City Chiefs
A two-time team captain, Anderson played in 50 career games at BYU including 28 starts. In 2020, he helped the BYU defense rank No. 4 in scoring defense (15.3), No. 10 in total defense (317.4), No. 19 in rushing defense (119.9) and No. 22 in passing defense (197.5).
A team player, Anderson played safety and linebacker for BYU and totaled 162 tackles with 105 solo stops to go with three interceptions which he returned for 39 yards while also adding three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and six pass breakups.
A first-team Phil Steele All-Independent honoree, the Stansbury Park, Utah, native recorded a career-high 12 tackles in the upset of No. 4 Wisconsin in 2018 as well as a career-high nine solo stops.
Zac Dawe | DL | Atlanta Falcons
A second-team Phil Steele All-Independent honoree, Dawe led BYU in tackles for loss with seven in 2020. Playing in 28 career games with 15 starts, he added 43 tackles with two sacks, two quarterback hurries and two pass breakups while having a knack for making timely plays to end opponent drives in 2020.
The Pleasant Grove, Utah, native helped the strong BYU defense rank No. 4 in scoring defense (15.3), No. 10 in total defense (317.4), No. 19 in rushing defense (119.9) and No. 22 in passing defense (197.5) in 2020 and posted a career-high eight tackles at Houston with a career-high tackles for loss of three in 2020.
Dawe, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive lineman finished his career with 13.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 sacks with 81 career tackles, two quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
Isaiah Kaufusi | LB | Indianapolis Colts
A 2020 Lott Impact Trophy Semifinalist, Kaufusi played in 47 career games at BYU, starting 25. The Cottonwood Heights, Utah, native posted 204 total tackles with 122 solo stops as well as five sacks, five interceptions, five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups.
The team captain recorded one pick-6 during the 2020 season against Texas State helping BYU rank No. 4 in scoring defense and No. 9 in defense. Kaufusi also added two interceptions against ranked opponents in 2019 including No. 14 Boise State and No. 24 USC.
Kaufusi led the team in tackles (83) and sacks (4.0) in 2020 while also adding 4.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. The linebacker also led the team in tackles vs. San Diego State with nine, his fourth game of the season with nine tackles.
Troy Warner | DB | Los Angeles Rams
The 2020 team captain started every game and was part of most snaps during the season helping direct BYU’s defense. A versatile athlete, Warner also started at cornerback when needed and led BYU with two interceptions, the first of his career, while adding 29 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry and two pass breakups in 2020.
A San Marcos, California, native, Warner played in 50 career games with 27 starts and tallied 12 career pass breakups. He finished his career at BYU with 130 total tackles including 69 solo stops, 15 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries.
In 2020, the 6-foot-1 200-pound safety helped BYU rank No. 4 nationally in scoring defense while also grabbing interceptions in back-to-back games. Warner started his career in 2017 where he recorded a career-high nine tackles against LSU.
Kavika Fonua | DB | Carolina Panthers
A versatile athlete at BYU, Fonua spent time at safety, running back and linebacker playing in 50 career games with 20 starts. A Syracuse, Utah, native, Fonua totaled 146 tackles with 79 solo stops in his career with six pass breakups and two interceptions.
In 2019, he posted a career-high 13 total tackles against ranked USC with a career-high nine solo stops. On the season he lead the defense in total tackles with 83 while also adding two interceptions for 35 yards.
In 2020, the 5-foot-11, 197-pounder had a career-high two tackles for loss against UTSA while also posting 36 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards with two touchdowns against North Alabama.
Micah Simon | WR | Carlina Panthers
A Dallas, Texas, product, Micah Simon led the Cougars as a two-time team captain and finished his BYU career in 2019 as one of the squad’s most significant contributors.
Simon played in 40 career games, earning 19 starts, including all 13 as a senior in 2019. He led the team his final season with 51 receptions while amassing 616 yards and scoring two receiving touchdowns. He also had two rushing touchdowns and passed for another touchdown in 2019.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound reliable receiver accounted for 90 career receptions, 1,109 yards and five receiving touchdowns. In addition to his receiver skills, Simon was also a key player on special teams coverage units. Simon posted 15 career tackles.
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