San Diego • When BYU football star Bronson Kaufusi showed up at a practice a few months ago, the idea that the 6-foot-7, 260-pound defensive end would ever make an impact for the Cougars' basketball team seemed far-fetched.
Kaufusi has not only done that, but he's also gotten minutes ahead of scholarship players such as Ian Harward and Agustin Ambrosino.
Heading into Thursday night's game at San Diego, Kaufusi had appeared in eight of the 10 games in which he was available to play. In the game against San Diego, on Jan. 19, he played a career-high seven minutes. He scored field goals in his first two games, against Loyola Marymount and San Francisco, but hasn't scored since and has never attempted more than one shot a game.
"He just continues to learn every day," basketball coach Dave Rose said. "Physically, as far as how he plays, I think he is getting better. I think he is getting a lot more comfortable in our system. The minutes that he gets in a game, I think he is making good use of them. Hopefully we can increase them as we continue to move through here."
Football coach Bronco Mendenhall talked about the situation on Wednesday.
"It is great as long as he doesn't get hurt. Bronson is really valuable to our [football] team," Mendenhall said. "And when he first approached me with it, I just simply educated him what the risk was, what the development half would be [like], now that he is home from a mission, as his goal is to go on and play professional football ... every offseason is so important for the conditioning."
Mendenhall said he and Rose "talked a long time" about the basketball team "borrowing" Kaufusi after career-ending injuries to Stephen Rogers and Chris Collinsworth left it thin inside.
"Bronson has turned out to be good on the basketball team," Mendenhall said. "At this point, he's still healthy, and his weight is holding, that is good for us. Whether it will be long term, I would doubt it, but for this point, it is OK. And I wouldn't say this would set a precedent going forward. I would say this is the exception."