PROVO — San Diego State's Adam Dingwell approached the line of scrimmage midway through the fourth quarter of the Poinsettia Bowl, taking a moment to read the defense at the line of scrimmage. Dingwell had just completed a pass to Dominique Sandifer to move the SDSU offense into BYU territory for the second time of the half.
The BYU defense had been dominant in the half to that point, with Kyle Van Noy scoring two touchdowns to help BYU to a 23-6 lead with six minutes left in the game.
The ball was snapped, Dingwell dropped back, looked for a receiver, only to be dropped to the turf by freshman defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi for a loss of 7 yards, back to the San Diego State side of the field.
That sack proved to be the exclamation point of an outstanding freshman season for the budding football standout.
But now Kaufusi turns his attention to a different sport.
With the football season now in the books, Kaufusi hopes to contribute to another group of Cougars — the BYU basketball team. Kaufusi started to practice with the team during Christmas break, and hopes to provide support for a thin front line as the Cougars prepare to enter West Coast Conference play.
“Right now, he looks like a pretty good football player playing basketball,” Coach Rose told the Deseret News. “He’s got great hands and he has a nice touch on the ball. We’ve kind of decided to go for a week or two and see how it works out, see how he feels, and go from there.”
Kaufusi returned from a mission to Auckland, New Zealand and joined the football team as a true freshman this year. He recorded 23 tackles on the season, with 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound forward instantly becomes the most physically imposing player on the roster. The next-largest player is senior Brandon Davies, at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds.
“It’s awesome having him out here,” said captain Tyler Haws to the Deseret News. “He doesn’t move on box-outs. He provides a big presence inside and gives Brandon (Davies) a good guy to go against every day in practice.”
Kaufusi played both football and basketball at Timpview High, averaging 15 points a game during his senior year, according to the Deseret News.
The 2012-13 basketball season is nearly halfway done, with 12 games played before Christmas. Kaufusi joins a team that is still discovering its identity. The team has lacked consistent scoring outside of Haws and Davies, and is thin in the frontcourt after the preseason losses of Chris Collinsworth and Stephen Rogers to career-ending injuries.
How will Kaufusi help the Cougars? At the least, he will provide an additional forward and give depth throughout the remainder of the season. The best-case scenario is that Kaufusi turns into a BYU version of Julius Peppers and the Cougars win the rest of their games, the conference title, and then make a run into the Final Four.
Back in reality, he'll hope to impress the coaching staff in practice in order to earn playing time — especially if he hopes to become the most successful two-sport athlete currently at BYU. Right now, that title belongs to Jennifer Hamson, who recently finished another season with the volleyball team and is now playing with the women's basketball team.
BYU's men's basketball team has a game Saturday against Virginia Tech, which will be played in Energy Solutions Arena at 12 p.m. MST. Kaufusi is unlikely to play Saturday, meaning that the first time he may take the court is Jan. 3, at home in Provo, against Loyola Marymount.
Daniel Lewis is an intern with KSL.com, and covers the BYU men's basketball team. He is currently studying communications at Brigham Young University.