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In fact, so entrenched is Alisa now, so respected by his teammates, who watched him work and climb from those nether regions of obscurity into his current state of promise and prominence, and by his coaches, it caused much more ballyhooed running back Josh Quezada to transfer out of Provo, on account of the presumed prospects of diminished playing time.
"Everyone around here respects Mike," said Joe DuPaix, BYU’s running backs coach. "He’s earned that respect. He’s smart and talented, and he’s still learning. The future is bright for him."
Alisa last season was nowhere near as complete a back as he’s being groomed to be this time around. He caught only five passes for 55 yards.
"We’ll throw to him," DuPaix said. "He’ll run it. He’ll pass protect. He’ll do a lot of everything."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior is not particularly elusive, but because he has good vision and runs with the aforementioned passion and power, Alisa has landed that broad berth for himself. He’s a kind of poster boy for Bronco Mendenhall’s ideal for what BYU football players should be.
Although ... Mendenhall seemed less than pleased near the end of Tuesday’s practice, when Alisa countered a hit put on him by defensive teammate Daniel Sorensen with a punch to the defender’s helmet. It sparked the beginnings of a brawl that caused Mendenhall to call off the session. But not before he forced his players to repeatedly run through and over an obstacle course, followed by belly-flops into a couple of ice tubs.
DuPaix was only slightly bothered and more amused, actually, pleased to see the aggression that burns within his running back. It was the same stubborn emotion that enabled Alisa, against the flow of everyone else, to make the transition from defense to offense in the first place.
Nobody in BYU’s camp sees Alisa as a linebacker anymore. No longer is he misplaced or displaced.
He’s the Cougars’ lead runner. He’s found his home.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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