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Zac Dawe Might Be BYU’s Best Edge Rusher In 2019

BYU defensive lineman Zac Dawe (99) cheers after the Cougars defeated the Arizona Wildcats 28-23 in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO, Utah – In any given season of BYU football, there are always a lot of questions heading into the fall.

One of the bigger questions that Cougar fans want answering is who will be BYU’s best rusher off the edge?

Coming out of spring practices, former Bingham High and four-star standout Langi Tuifua would have been my guess. Tuifua had to medically retire from football the following month due to lingering issues with his neck and other injuries.

BYU has options to fill that lead rusher role, but the guy no one is talking about that will likely end up being the best off the edge is Zac Dawe.

Dawe, a junior from Pleasant Grove High School, signed with BYU back in 2014 and then promptly served a two-year for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Houston, Texas.

The younger brother to former BYU offensive line walk-on Parker Dawe, Zac was a top-rated recruit locally. Ran a 4.85 forty time and was a violent football player along the Vikings defensive line. He also excelled as a wrestler for Pleasant Grove.

After returning home from a mission to Houston in the summer of 2016, Dawe redshirted his first season at BYU where he was slated to play offensive line. Then a huge setback took place the following year as he suffered a back injury in the weight room that potentially put his football career in jeopardy altogether.

Dawe fought his way back and returned in 2018 to the BYU Football team as a walk-on.  He remained an offensive lineman till fall camp of last year. During camp, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki brought him over as an interior defensive lineman.

Immediately, Dawe was making an impact along the defensive line. In week one against Arizona, Dawe was in the two-deep at nose tackle. Then two weeks later at No. 6 Wisconsin, Dawe had the defensive play of the game midway through the fourth quarter in Madison. Dawe burst through the Wisconsin offensive line to sack quarterback Alex Hornibrook on third down.

Towards the tail end of last season, Dawe switched from nose tackle to a starting defensive end, and he’s now found a new permanent home.

At his new home at defensive end, Dawe was one of the stars in spring practices. Every day at practice, Dawe challenged BYU’s talented offensive line by creating havoc plays for the Cougar defense.

Dawe has been preparing for the 2019 season at Mike Stroshine’s gym, Next Level Fitness.  Since spring ball, Dawe has slimmed down to 270 pounds and has maintained his strength in the process. Just look at this video below of how explosive Dawe is at the moment.

Along with Dawe, other edge rushers include Devin Kaufusi, Trajan Pili, Uriah Leiataua, JJ Nwigwe, Freddy Livai, and preferred walk-on Gabe Summers. But Dawe looks to be BYU’s best bet for a consistent pass rush this fall. Based on his production a season ago and being a standout this past spring.

We’ll find out more on Dawe and the 2019 BYU Football team next Tuesday at BYU Football Media Day 2019.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.