BYU defensive standout Khyiris Tonga will return for senior season

(Scott G Winterton, KSL)

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PROVO — Happy New Year, BYU football fans.

At least, it should be a little more so now.

Khyiris Tonga, the Cougars’ 6-foot-4, 321-pound defensive lineman who has long been considering a jump to the 2020 NFL Draft, announced Tuesday he will return to BYU for his senior season.

“Trust the coaches. Trust the process. Trust family,” Tonga wrote on Twitter, just a few hours before the New Year. “I have decided to stay at BYU for my senior year. See you in 2020!”

Tonga, a former tight end and rugby standout at Granger High School, has been a defensive menace in three years for the Cougars, posting 94 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a forced fumble in three seasons. He had his most complete season on the defensive line in 2019, when he compiled 45 tackles and four tackles for loss in Ilaisa Tuiaki’s three-man front that put a lot of pressure on opposing offenses from base formation.

He’s also been promoted back to offense in specialty “scrum packages,” thanks to assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Ed Lamb and Tonga’s own desire to play offense again — this time, as a fullback.

“I’ll just do the block,” he told last month. "I wanted to see them score or get the first down.”

Tonga’s return joins junior tight end Matt Bushman, the Cougars’ leading pass catcher for three years in either catches or yards (or both) who announced shortly after BYU’s 38-34 loss in the Hawaii Bowl that he would be returning to Provo for his senior season.

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