PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU hast not had more than five players drafted in the 7-round era of the NFL Draft.
But this year, they could approach or even surpass that total.
Quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive lineman Brady Christensen are locks to get drafted. But with defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, wide receiver Dax Milne, defensive back Chris Wilcox and tight end Matt Bushman, BYU could be very well represented in the draft.
That is a goal head coach Kalani Sitake had when he took over in 2016.
“It’s been a priority from day one,” said Sitake, who led the Cougars to an 11-1 record in 2020. “If you look at the years past when we’ve been trying to develop our program, I’ve said it before that I want to get guys into the NFL. That’s a priority for me. I think the league needs our guys, and I think we have guys that can go out there and have success.”
To put it in perspective, BYU has had just seven players total drafted in the last 11 years, while Utah had seven players drafted just in 2020.
So, is BYU in the process of turning into an NFL factory, or is this a one-time aberration?
“I don’t know how many guys we’re going to have every year or even this year,” said BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. “But it’s definitely part of our recruiting strategy. We are trying to recruit players who have NFL ability and who have NFL goals, especially in the quarterback room. I’m not interested in any quarterbacks who don’t at least want to get there.”
From 1972 to 1989, BYU had multiple players drafted every year, with seven players being selected in 1981 and 1986. The Cougars hope the program is making a return to the glory days.
“I love this program,” said Christensen, a Bountiful High product. “Watching it growing up as a kid and seeing the success they had, it was awesome to have the year that we had. Hopefully it just springs it forward so they can have a lot of successful years ahead of them.”
“It’s a great class,” added Bushman. “I hope to either play with or against these guys for a long time. It will be awesome seeing them in the league, and hopefully we can do those jersey swaps and keep that relationship going.”