BYU LB Max Tooley Ready For Bigger Role After ‘Breakout Performance’
PROVO, Utah – BYU’s depth at linebacker was tested last week in the overtime win over USC.
The Cougars had a handful of linebackers miss some action against the Trojans. Due to some players getting banged up with injuries, opportunities were created for new faces to step up.
One of those individuals that had a big role was redshirt freshman Max Tooley.
Tooley ended last Saturday’s game with eight tackles and one tackle for loss in what many in the Cougar fan base felt was a breakout performance for the second-year player out of Bountiful High.
“Yeah, I don’t know, it was really the first chance I got to get some serious playing time on the field. Given the situation, I think I did pretty good. I don’t know, some people might say breakout, but I was just sticking to my assignments and trying to do my job. Overall, I felt it was a really good game,” said Tooley.
A four-star recruit out of Bountiful High School, Tooley had a handful of offers from Pac-12 programs but he always wanted to be a BYU Cougar.
“You know, it’s everything I thought it would be,” said Tooley. “I came to BYU for my personal reasons, great academics, great coaches, and I’ve always dreamed of being here. I had what I wanted to do in mind. I think it’s met every expectation. Always pushing to be a better version of myself and that’s what I came here for.”
Last season, Tooley appeared in four games but was able to take advantage of the NCAA’s new redshirt rule that was implemented last season. Getting the chance to play last season gave Tooley the confidence that he could contribute in 2019. Tooley believes he is ready to take on a bigger role in the Cougar defense if he and when his number is called upon.
“We’ve always been practicing and I’ve been in the two or three-deep since spring. But last year showed how depth can drop and you’ve got to be ready to go and I think this week especially, I don’t know, you never know what’s going to happen come game time. Just being ready to go is my number one priority. Whatever role I need to play, whether it’s playing most of the game, half the game, or quarter of the game, just want to be ready in whatever way I can,” said Tooley.
With this breakout performance, BYU fans everywhere are starting to familiarize themselves with who Tooley is and one thing they can count on is that he invites physical play.
“I’m an aggressive player. I like to hit people and I like to have contact every play and that’s kind of what I lean towards. I like blitzing coming off the edge, I think my speed really helps with that, but I’m kind of getting more used to other aspects of linebacker play and coverage. But overall, I’m an aggressive player who loves contact,” Tooley said.
Along with making an impact last week at linebacker, Tooley also plays a significant role on special teams. In the win over USC, Tooley was named Special Teams Player of the week.
This week, Tooley and the Cougars will look to get revenge against a Washington team that crushed BYU last season 35-7 in Seattle. Tooley wasn’t able to play in that game as he was recovering from injuries, but he’s excited about the opportunity if and when he’s called upon this Saturday afternoon in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
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.