PROVO — BYU’s vaunted running back stable that overwhelmed Navy in Monday night’s season opener took a hit Thursday.
The Cougars' third-string running back Jackson McChesney, a redshirt freshman from Lone Peak, will miss the remainder of the season after having foot surgery, he said Thursday.
"The season started and ended for me real quick," McChesney wrote on his Instagram. "Due to a few torn ligaments in my foot, I am unable to continue with the 2020 season. I had a successful surgery this morning and I’m hoping for a quick recovery. I can’t wait to get back out on the field with the boys next fall."
McChesney ran for 56 yards on 11 carries Monday night in Annapolis, Maryland, including a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that topped off a 55-3 win over the Midshipmen. He was the Cougars' third-leading rusher that night, following Tyler Allgeier (132 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Lopini Katoa (80 yards, 2 touchdowns).
But the injury strikes a significant blow to BYU’s depth at the position.
McChesney played in just three games as a freshman in 2019 after returning from a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile. He finished the season with 274 yards and two touchdowns, all but 46 yards coming in a 56-24 rout of UMass.
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The season started and ended for me real quick. Due to a few torn ligaments in my foot I am unable to continue with the 2020 season. I had a successful surgery this morning & I’m hoping for a quick recovery. I can’t wait to get back out on the field with the boys next fall 🤙🏽💙 #gocougs
Behind McChesney, the Cougars have a flurry in role-playing backups in converted wide receiver Luc Andrada, a Colorado state champion sprinter; freshman Javelle Brown from San Diego; and former Kearns High standout Sione Finau, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound sophomore who is coming off season-ending knee surgery after four games in 2019.
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake admitted Thursday evening on a video call with reporters that he was “a little disappointed” in some of the early season injuries his team has faced, alluding to junior college transfer Hinckley Ropati’s ailment that will keep him out for the season.
But he also mentioned that Finau is ahead of schedule in rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury a year ago, and should be able to make his return to the team sooner rather than later.
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Jackson. He did it early when he got into the game and continued to play. His last play in 2020 was a touchdown, so that’s a good way to go out. But we’ll get him back; he’s a strong resilient kid, and he’ll be ready to go again.”
Sitake confirmed the injury was to the Lisfranc ligament on McChesney's foot, a common ailment that has afflicted BYU players in recent years. It’s the same injury that former quarterback Taysom Hill suffered in the first game of the 2015 season against Nebraska and former defensive standout Travis Tuiloma was also among the Cougars who suffered a slow recovery from the injury in 2016.
“It seems like that type of injury in the Lisfranc has been an issue,” Sitake said, “whether it’s the shoes or the surface. It was tough because I know how hard he’s worked.”
Still, Sitake believes the Cougar running backs will be fine. Between Allgeier and Katoa, as well as the role players, the injury isn’t dire to the squad’s depth.
He even joked that defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, defensive end Bracken El-Bakri and offensive lineman Brady Christensen have volunteered to move to offense to step in for McChesney.
Right now, I feel good with the two guys and getting Sione back,” Sitake added. “Without giving away too much, I think we’ll be fine there.”