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CHICAGO — Former BYU and Timpview High standout Bronson Kaufusi has always dreamed of playing in the NFL.
His dream became a reality Friday in Chicago.
With the seventh pick of the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Kaufusi was selected by the Baltimore Ravens, announced at Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.
Kaufusi, the No. 70 overall pick of the draft, lands with the same organization as former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta and offensive lineman De'Ondre Wesley. The Ravens selected two defensive standouts from the Intermountain West on Friday, trading back to grab Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa in the third round.
“I’m so excited. I just can’t wait to get to work, and get out there," Kaufusi said via teleconference with the media. "I can’t wait to be a part of it. They have a great defense, great players, great coaches. I just can’t wait to be out there and be a part of it."
The Ravens also picked up former Notre Dame offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley in Thursday's first round.
"I’m really happy for Bronson,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. “I’ve known Bronson since he was a child and he’s an incredible person from a great family. I didn’t have the chance to coach him here at BYU, but I did coach against him and know how good of a player he is and how hard he’s worked. He will represent BYU well in the NFL."
Kaufusi graduated from BYU in December with a degree in statistics after a standout four-year career with the Cougars.
“They’re getting a player that is relentless every single play, a player that wants to make plays not only for myself but for my teammates,” Kaufusi said. “I’m a dedicated player who wants to be the best and is willing to put in the time and sacrifice so that I can be at my best when my best is needed.”
The former Thunderbird became the first BYU player drafted since Kyle Van Noy went to the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Van Noy's selection capped back-to-back picks from BYU by the Lions, who also selected former defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah in 2013.
Kaufusi totaled 44 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks during a four-year, 50-game career on the defensive line at BYU. He also picked off two passes, amassed 17 quarterback hurries, broke up 15 passes and blocked four kicks.
As a senior in 2015, Kaufusi had 64 tackles, including 45 solo tackles and 11 sacks while helping the Cougars to a 9-4 record. The 6-foot-8 native of Provo spent most of his junior season at linebacker in 2014, when he had 43 tackles with seven sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
Kaufusi, whose father Steve is BYU’s defensive line coach and whose brother Corbin plays basketball for the Cougars, also spent time with the BYU cagers in 2012-13. He played in 20 games as a power forward, averaging 6.4 minutes, 1.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while earning a reputation as a hardwood enforcer.
“My dad was really good about letting us try everything," Kaufusi said. "I played all sports growing up, and then as I got into high school, he became a bigger part of my sports, especially football. I remember him always watching football games with me. Progressively, as I went from high school to college, then he became my coach."
The top-rated recruit in the state of Utah by Scout and Rivals out of Timpview High School, Kaufusi was a 2010 Under Armour All-American who chose BYU over recruiting interest from Stanford, among others.
The Ravens were first attracted to Kaufusi's work rate, which seems to be a common characteristic on a roster that includes fellow former locals Eric Weddle and Steve Smith Jr. from Utah.
“These two guys (Kaufusi and Correa) are going to run to the ball 100 miles per hour every single play,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s really important on this defense.”