BYU football: Cougar, 17, can’t vote, but can carry the football
BYU notes • Williams contributing to Cougs as a 17-year-old RB.
Published: September 8, 2012 02:17PM
Updated: September 6, 2012 11:47PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Freshman running back Jamaal Williams runs the ball for a touchdown during an Aug. 9 scrimmage.

Provo • Opposing coaches occasionally bring up the fact that BYU often has players a few years older than theirs, because a good portion of the Cougars’ football players have served two-year LDS Church missions.

BYU freshman running back Jamaal Williams is on the other end of the age spectrum.

Williams, who had six carries for 15 yards in his college debut last week, is just 17 years old. He will have to sit out the election in November, because he doesn’t turn 18 until April 3.

“Voting isn’t one of my priorities right now, anyway,” he laughed. “Most people call me Baby-J, because I am just a baby around here. I still haven’t found anybody younger than me, so I take it as a compliment.”

Williams, from Summit High in Fontana, Calif., will probably get even more carries on Saturday when the Cougars play host to Weber State (1 p.m., BYUtv) at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The 6-foot-1, 193-pound speedster’s mother, Nicole, ran track for UCLA and remembered competing at BYU when one of Williams’ high school coaches, former BYU player Tony Crutchfield, suggested the family send Jamaal’s film to BYU.

Williams is younger than most freshmen because he skipped second grade.

“I can’t describe the first time I heard my number called [to carry the ball],” he said. “It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating at the same time. I really loved it. Some people say a 17-year-old can’t play in college, so I was thrilled.”

Freshman Kaufusi coming on strong

Another freshman who should see some meaningful playing time Saturday is defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, the former Timpview High star who returned this summer from a church mission to New Zealand just three days before camp started.

“He’s just a real natural athlete, pass-rusher, with great speed-to-size ratio,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “He and Ziggy Ansah are probably the two best pass rushers right now. … Man, I have been really impressed. To think this is just the beginning, as a true freshman? He could be really special.”

Wildcats will be on the big stage in Provo

The largest crowd Weber State has ever played in front of is 55,083 in a game at Texas Tech. A crowd of 57,045 watched BYU down Washington State 30-6 at LaVell Edwards Stadium last week, so Saturday’s crowd could break a record for the Wildcats.

BYU averaged 60,265 fans per game last season, including 60,043 against another Big Sky Conference team, Idaho State.

Briefly

Receiver Cody Hoffman is likely to play after suffering a quad contusion against Washington State. The junior has caught a pass in 20 straight games. … Defensive graduate assistant Jason Kaufusi spent two years coaching Weber State’s defensive ends. … Former BYU quarterback Jason Beck served as WSU’s quarterbacks coach for three seasons, but is no longer on the staff

drew@sltrib.com