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Breaking Down BYU’s Running Backs For 2020 Season

Courtesy of BYU Photo

PROVO, Utah – BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake hasn’t let the coronavirus pandemic affect his preparation for the Cougars’ 2020 campaign.

BYU halted spring practices in the middle of March due to coronavirus concerns. Since then, Sitake announced the hire of his new running back coach, former BYU great Harvey Unga.

Unga took over the RB coaching responsibilities after AJ Steward left Provo to join Kevin Sumlin’s staff in Arizona.

Unga spoke about his new position and the running backs he’ll be coaching with KSLSports.com’s Mitch Harper and Matt Baiamonte during Cougar Sports Saturday on Saturday, March 21.

“It’s a been a dream and this is something I’m super grateful for,” Unga told Harper and Baiamonte.

Unga was the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher when he left Provo after his junior season. The former BYU RB spent time in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.

Unga accepted the coaching position after serving as a graduate assistant on Sitake’s staff since 2016.

“The great teams & great players that I was part of had the most selfless players who loved each other & took care of each other. But they were also great learners as well,” said Unga. “Love and learning helped me as a player & is now helping me as a coach.”

Once the Cougars are able to get back to the gridiron, Unga will coach up a full running back room that features backs ranging from a true freshman to a graduate transfer senior.

BYU’s running backs for the 2020 season include:

  • Devonta’e Henry-Cole
  • Lopini Katoa
  • Sione Finau
  • Tyler Allgeier
  • Jackson McChesney
  • Jackson Kaufusi
  • Johnny Tapusoa
  • Chase Wester
  • Alec Wyble-Meza
  • Theo Dawson
  • Bruce Garrett

Devonta’e Henry-Cole – Senior

A former three-star recruit out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Henry-Cole was part of the Utah football program the past four seasons. Henry-Cole is set to graduate from the University of Utah this spring which will then make him eligible to transfer to BYU and play one season for the Cougars.

Henry-Cole missed the 2018 season due to a season-ending injury he suffered in Fall Camp. During the three seasons he played on the field for the Utes, Henry-Cole had 469 career rushing yards.

While playing for the Utes, Henry-Cole was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Henry-Cole was baptized by former Utah star Chase Hansen. With Henry-Cole being a member of the Church and having a relationship with BYU Passing Game Coordinator Aaron Roderick, the Cougars were always viewed as a potential landing spot.

Looking ahead to 2020, Henry-Cole comes to BYU with an opportunity to be the Cougars starting running back like South Carolina graduate transfer Ty’Son Williams was in 2019.

Lopini Katoa – Junior

Katoa enters his junior season after backing up senior Ty’Son Williams in 2019. After seeing a productive second half of his freshman campaign in 2018, Katoa’s numbers dipped in 2019.

As a freshman, Katoa carried the ball 76 times for 423 yards and 8 touchdowns.

As a sophomore, he ran the ball 85 times for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The best game of Katoa’s sophomore season came in BYU’s 42-14 win over Utah State, Against the Aggies, Katoa had 4 catches for 129 yards along with 7 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Sione Finau – Sophomore

Finau was a former prep standout at Kearns High School in Utah. He emerged as a go-to back in BYU’s offense last season after Ty’Son Williams went out for the season with an injury.  He rushed for 89 yards in BYU’s upset of Boise State.

Finau’s season ended early due to a knee injury. He recorded 59 rushes for 359 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2019.

Tyler Allgeier – Sophomore

Allgeier is currently listed as a running back and linebacker on BYU’s roster. He played four games at running back before redshirting in 2018.

Before the start of the 2019 season, the BYU coaching staff moved Allgeier to linebacker.

While on defense, he recorded 29 total tackles, 0.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.

Due to injuries late in the season, Allgeier was moved back to running back for the last three games.

He finished 2019 with 17 carries for 119 yards. He also had 67 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Jackson McChesney – Freshman

McChesney saw action in three games during his first season with the Cougars. During BYU’s win over UMass, McChesney posted a freshman record 228 yards on 15 carries.

The back finished the season with 25 carries for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Jackson Kaufusi – Sophomore

Kaufusi moved over to the offensive side of the ball in 2020 after playing the last two seasons on defense as a linebacker.

He finished the 2019 season with 21 total tackles and an interception.

Johnny Tapusoa – Senior

Tapusoa rejoined the BYU program in 2020 after missing the 2019 season.

He played for the Cougars from 2016-2018. He’s played a total of 16 games for the Cougars since joining the program.

Chase Wester – Junior

Wester is a junior running back out of Hoschton, Georgia. He joined BYU’s roster in 2019 after committing in 2016.

In high school, Wester was an All-Area wide receiver and defensive back.

In addition to BYU, he was also recruited by Southern Virginia, Ferry College, Suwanee University and Lagrange College.

Alec Fitz Wyble-Meza – Sophomore

2020 will be Wyble-Meza’s second season of the Cougars’ roster. He joined BYU in 2019 after one year at Scottsdale Community College.

He was named MVP at Scottsdale CC where he ran for 1,018 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2018.

Theo Dawson – Sophomore

Dawson is a former Wyoming running back who was recruited by BYU as a preferred walk-on in the 2016 class. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling at Wyoming.

He recently transferred to BYU.

Bruce Garrett – Freshman

Bruce Garrett was a playmaker for Pleasant Grove High School in his senior season. The speedy running back helped lead Pleasant Grove to the 4A Texas State Championship Game which he played at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The three-year high school starter committed to the Cougars in 2019.

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