COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Football Players Returning From Latter-day Saint Missions In 2022

May 17, 2022, 5:50 PM
Bodie Schoonover, BYU Football, American Fork High...
Former American Fork High linebacker Bodie Schoonover is one of many athletes returning home from a Latter-day Saint mission in 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Returning missionaries are crucial to constructing BYU football rosters. Student-athletes that serve two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always been at the core of how BYU operates.

Even though many programs around the nation claim what BYU does with missions is an “advantage,” they don’t seem to follow the model.

It’s a component of BYU’s roster management that makes the faith-based institution unique in the college football world.

When players return home from a two-year mission, it can be a mixed bag of results. But it’s tough to make an impact right away after going two full years without training.

The 2022 group of returning missionaries had it more challenging than most, as many of them served in multiple locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Typically, an ideal timeframe for an athlete to make an impact in his first year is in the fall. Former BYU tight end Matt Bushman was a prime example of this timeline.

A fall arrival then allows for a grayshirt to train and prepare both physically and mentally for the challenges of D1 football before matriculating during the winter semester.

BYU football RMs struggle to make an impact right away

For student-athletes that return home from a mission in the spring or summer, it’s a quick turnaround to expect any impact. So they end up following the same timeline for RMs that return in the fall.

“In our research and the experiences we’ve had, the numbers show that when missionaries come home in the summer, they all get hurt in the fall,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake told KSL Sports. “That’s tough to have a young man get hurt and then have to spend the offseason rehabbing rather than conditioning and getting stronger. So that puts them behind. ”

But there are always a player or two that can find their way onto the field just months after proselytizing.

BYU Returning Missionaries in 2022

BYU has seen a wave of missionaries return home from their two years of service over the past month. Due to a numbers crunch, some will take the grayshirt route and then prepare for the 2023 season. Others could have an opportunity to contribute in 2022.

In March, Kalani Sitake and his staff got a glimpse at eight returning missionaries during spring practices. Those five players were edge rusher Logan Fano, defensive backs Isaiah Glasker and Carter Krupp, defensive linemen Brooks Maile, Bruce Mitchell, and Isaiah Perez, offensive lineman Sonny Makasini, and long snapper Dalton Riggs.

Fano, a former four-star recruit, was shining in spring practices before he suffered an ACL injury.

Here’s a list of the rest of the BYU football players who have either returned already or will be returning home in 2022 from their Latter-day Saint missions.

Bodie Schoonover | EDGE/LB

A talented linebacker/edge rusher out of American Fork High School. Schoonover picked BYU over offers from UCLA and Nebraska in a Signing Day hat ceremony in 2020. At 6-foot-4, Schoonover has the measurables to be a player that could become a talented edge rusher at BYU.

Tate Romney | LB

The youngest of the Romney brothers, Tate has the potential to be the best of the group. A 6-foot-2 linebacker, Romney could be the face of BYU’s linebacking unit in 2023 when the Cougars begin the Big 12 era.

Logan Pili | LB

The younger brother to BYU linebacker Keenan Pili, Logan Pili, is following in his older brother’s footsteps, going from safety to a career at linebacker at BYU. Logan was able to watch some spring practices in March after returning home from his mission.

Preston Rex | DB

Preston Rex is the younger brother of BYU football tight end Isaac Rex. Rex returned home from his Latter-day Saint mission during spring practices. He projects to be a safety at BYU but is an athlete who played various positions at San Clemente High in California.

Nukuluve Helu | RB

Helu completed his Latter-day Saint mission and is on BYU’s campus participating in summer workouts. He was a productive running back from Tooele High that was far more productive than his offer sheet would suggest.

Drason Havea | DL/LB

Havea played running back and linebacker at Provo High. During his senior year, he dealt with injuries, which slowed down his recruitment.

Ace Kaufusi | LB

A linebacker out of Kahuku High School will be the latest member of the Kaufusi family to don the blue and white.

 

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Jake Griffin | OL

Former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was high on the potential of Jake Griffin. At 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, Griffin received offers from Indiana, Washington State, Arizona, and Oregon State coming out of Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona.

Koa Eldredge | WR 

Eldredge will play for BYU football and the BYU baseball program as a pitcher.

Devin Downing | WR

Downing was in the same wide receiver room as BYU football wide receiver Chase Roberts at American Fork. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound pass-catcher racked up 1,298 yards in his junior season with Roberts. Then pulled down 100 catches for 1,755 yards as WR1 for the Cavemen.

Ty Burke | DB

A do-it-all type of athlete at Syracuse High School, Burke had a scary injury during his mission that required numerous visits to the dentist and he fell into a wall while unconscious.

 

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A post shared by Ty Burke (@tsb_13)

Lingi Havea | DL

Sitalingi Havea could play offensive or defensive line when he arrives at BYU.

Mac Aloisio | DL

Aloisio was a giant of a man during his prep days at Timpview High School. Checking in at 6-foot-6, 335-pounds, Aloisio projects to play along the defensive line.

Isaiah Tupou | OL

A former three-star prospect from Sacramento, California, Tupou turned down offers from Utah and Arizona to sign with BYU.

Chase Hopkins | RB/LB

A dual-sport athlete in both football and lacrosse, Hopkins had an impressive senior year rushing for 1,716 yards for the Titans.

Kael Mikkelsen | ATH

Pleasant Grove native Kael Mikkelsen took up football during his senior season and showed enough to earn a PWO opportunity from BYU’s staff. He primarily played basketball during his high school career.

Kyle Vassau | LB

Vassau racked up 101 tackles during his senior season at linebacker for Carlsbad High School in California.

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

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