PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Bronson Kaufusi is rising star on the BYU football team. He recorded 4 1/2 sacks and recovered one fumble during his freshman year at defensive end.
That's why Dave Rose was so surprised when Kaufusi asked if he could join the basketball team this year.
"I was surprised," said Rose. "He actually first approached me through Brandon (Davies). They are pretty good friends, and Brandon said, 'Coach, Bronson wants to talk to you because he's thinking about playing.'"
"In the back of my mind, I always wanted to, but I never thought it would happen," said Kaufusi, who spoke after practice Thursday to the media for the first time since joining the basketball team. "But when I found out sometime during football season that there might be an opportunity, I was excited."
But what did Bronco Mendenhall think?
"Great, as long as he didn't get hurt," Mendenhall said. "Bronson is very valuable to our team. When he first approached me with it, I just simply told him what the risks were. Dave Rose and I talked for a long time about it. At this point, he's still healthy and his weight is holding, so that's good for us. Whether it will be long term, I would doubt it."
The opportunity to join the basketball team opened up when forwards Stephen Rogers and Chris Collinsworth suffered career-ending injuries and the Cougars were in desperate need of another big man. At 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, Kaufusi was big enough, and he brings his football physicality to the court.
"I don't have a helmet on, so I can't do that," Kaufusi said with a smile. "Just knowing that I can be physical, and knowing I can use that physicality on the basketball court and not get pushed around, I think that helps out when I'm underneath."
"He's really physical, sometimes a little bit too physical," added Davies, who goes against Kaufusi in practice. "But he makes me better personally, and it makes the team better."
After struggling to get off the bench early in the season, Kaufusi has seen some playing time lately. He has played in 10 games this season, and scored a total of 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting.
"At first when he came in, you were really impressed by his size, his speed and his lateral quickness," said Rose. "The last month or so, he's practiced everyday, and he's developed a nice little skill set."
Kaufusi played both basketball and football at Timpview High School, but playing two sports at BYU is a whole different level.
"I just love helping the guys prepare for games," Kaufusi said. "And I don't go easy on them either."
Kaufusi has NFL-caliber potential, but he doesn't think playing basketball will hurt his football future.
"I actually think it will help me," Kaufusi said. "There are a lot of things in both (sports) that you can use in the other. They both complement each other. I love them both."
But what happens March 4th when the basketball team is getting ready for the West Coast Conference Tournament and the football team opens spring football practice? Where will Kaufusi be?
"I'll have to find out," he said. "Who knows? I haven't really talked about that with anyone."
He'll have to make a decision soon.