PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – There is a lot of excitement surrounding the BYU football team in 2022.
Not only are the Cougars about to play its last season as an independent before moving on to the Big 12 Conference. But with quarterback Jaren Hall back throwing to the likes of Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney, a massive offensive line protecting him, and a ton of experience back on defense, BYU is virtually ranked in all the preseason top-25 polls.
However, at Media Day Wednesday, the Cougars say they’re not letting all the accolades go to their heads.
“I think that’s the maturity of this team, and we’ve done a really good job of doing that,” Romney said. “You don’t want to buy into the hype. You don’t want to build yourself up, get a big head and then have it get popped.”
“It’s cool for the fans,” added safety Malik Moore. “But as a player, it’s like, chill out a little bit. Let me just focus on my workout today so I can get better tomorrow.”
“The preseason stuff, it’s fun for sure,” said linebacker Ben Bywater. “Acknowledge it, recognize it, but you can’t believe it. The second you start to feed into that stuff, you feed into your downfall.”
“It’s something you laugh about, you smile about, but at the end of the day, it hasn’t happened,” Hall said. “It’s a fairytale as far as we know right now. So until the last play rolls around in December or January or whenever that is, none of that stuff matters.”
“Nothing last year is going to help us this year,’ added offensive lineman Clark Barrington. “So we’ve got to go out there and prove it again. We can’t take our foot off the pedal.”
With the Cougars about to embark on a new era as they move to the Big 12 in 2023, they want to build on the momentum from the past two years in which they’ve gone 21-4, including a 10-3 season in 2021.
“Yeah definitely, it’s huge,” said linebacker Payton Wilgar. “Especially leaving this independence era, we want to leave a good mark on it and go out with a bang. Going into a big power-5 conference like the Big 12, we want to do really well this year so we can carry that momentum.”
“Going out with a big bang in the independence era,” said linebacker Keenan Pili, who returns from a torn ACL. “You just always want to keep building on what you’ve already built. You don’t want itt to fall. So as long as we keep building, we’re going to be fine.”
“You can’t avoid talking about it because people are really excited about the entrance into the Big 12,” said head coach Kalani Sitake. “But for me as a coach, I need to keep our guys focused on what matters most, and that’s going into this 2022 season.”
The Cougars open the season September 3rd against South Florida.