COUGAR TRACKS

Gunner Romney Feels Better Than Ever Entering Final Season At BYU

Aug 6, 2022, 11:49 PM | Updated: Aug 7, 2022, 12:18 am
Gunner Romney, BYU Football...
BYU football wide receiver Gunner Romney is going through his final year with the Cougars. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney didn’t expect to be here.

Last season, the former Chandler, Arizona native was approaching the 2021 campaign as his final year at BYU. But multiple injuries piled up for Romney, which prevented him from playing his best. And in the process, preventing him from putting out his best film for NFL scouts.

A year ago, being at BYU for another fall camp in 2022 was not on Romney’s radar. But now that he’s here, he wants to take care of some “unfinished business.

Despite the injuries, Romney still played in 10 of BYU’s 13 games last season. He showed an amazing ability to recover in a hurry from injuries that, at first glance, appeared season-ending. Especially the week one setback against Arizona, where he was seen on crutches at the end of the game. One week later, he’s hauling in a touchdown to help BYU defeat Utah.

But even Romney admits he wasn’t the best version of himself last season.

“I always go back and watch the film [from last year] and maybe it’s hard to notice from an outside perspective. But watching myself run, it was so different,” Romney said to KSL Sports. “It was hard, but I felt like I could still contribute to my team. Even though I wasn’t 100% the entire season, it was kind of a team thing. I felt like if I would have sat out a couple of games, maybe I couldn’t have helped my team out as much and maybe could have gotten a little bit more healthy. But, I just wanted to help my team win as many games as possible.”

Injuries have been a common theme during Romney’s BYU career. In Romney’s first practice as a college player in 2018, he suffered a hamstring injury.

Luckily for Romney, the injuries from last season didn’t end his BYU career. Romney took advantage of an extra year of eligibility, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Gunner Romney: “Best I’ve ever felt since I’ve been at BYU.”

Romney enters his final season at BYU feeling better than ever.

“We’ve been working hard all summer. It’s been a grind, just trying to get ready. I feel like I have had my fun. I’ve taken a couple of days off, which you need. You need that balance in your life,” Romney said. “But really, I’ve just been getting ready. And I feel the best I’ve ever felt since I’ve been at BYU, and I’m ready to go.”

Fall camp is just an extension of that grind Romney experienced in the summer. Players get to the Student Athlete Building on a daily basis around 7 a.m. they go through treatments, there are practices, then meetings. It’s a sun up to sun down sort of deal throughout the entire month.

Even though it’s challenging, Romney is grateful to have the opportunity to experience it one more time at BYU.

“Fall camp is fall camp, but I think this one’s special to me because it is my last fall camp no matter what happens,” said Romney. “I’m just grateful to be able to play football still. And I think that’s a huge difference. Sometimes you go into fall camp, and it’s a grind, a burden; you just want to play during the season. But I’m really appreciating every single day and appreciating every opportunity.”

Opportunity to climb up the record books

Individual stats aren’t a top priority for Romney. But it’s hard to ignore that he comes into the 2022 season with an opportunity to climb the record books at BYU.

Entering his fifth year with the Cougars, Romney is currently 18th in BYU history in career receiving at 1,900 yards. He’s 27th all-time in receptions at 117.

 

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If Romney puts together a 1,000-yard season in receiving, he could crack into the top four in career receiving yards all-time at BYU.

“I’m not going to put numbers on anything. I want to go out and stay healthy throughout the entire year,” Romney said. “If I can do that, you know, I’ll hopefully have a really good season and that’s been my goal the entire year.”

Take his game to the next level

BYU’s wide receiver room is as talented as they’ve ever been since Kalani Sitake took over as head coach in 2016. Along with Romney, the Cougars bring back Puka Nacua and Keanu Hill. Plus, they have rising underclassmen in Kody Epps and Chase Roberts, who appear ready for game action this fall.

It’s a talented group that has a lot of versatility. Romney wants to be one of those versatile guys, showing that he can do more than just be a deep threat in BYU’s prolific passing attack.

“I think that’s been my biggest emphasis over this entire offseason is creating separation on my underneath routes and big plays with my legs. That has been my biggest focus and it’s been the thing that I’ve talked with Fesi (Sitake) and A-Rod (Aaron Roderick) the most about how I want to up my game and take my game to the next level.”

Romney’s first chance at showing his game has gone to the next level will be on September 3, when BYU goes across the country to take on the USF Bulls in Tampa.

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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