Provo • Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints, Daniel Sorensen of the Kansas City Chiefs and Bronson Kaufusi of the New York Jets — all former BYU players — were among the onlookers as the Cougars held their annual Pro Day on Friday.
Unfortunately, the two BYU players who most of the 30 or so professional football scouts came to see mostly just watched as well.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki let stand his numbers from the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis and only performed in a couple football-specific drills for the scouts — 31 representing NFL teams, one representing an unspecified Canadian Football League team and one representing the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football.
As soon as the workout ended, the 6-foot-1, 238-pound Takitaki — most likely the Cougar with the best chance of being drafted next month — was whisked away by scouts for private interviews and was not available for comment.
BYU’s second-best professional prospect, 6-foot-9, 278-pound defensive end Corbin Kaufusi, said he decided Thursday after consulting with his brother, Bronson, and his agent, Bruce Tollner of Rep1 Football, to sit this one out because he’s not quite back to 100 percent after having three different surgeries since the regular season ended in November.
“I was putting up pretty decent numbers, but I know I could do so much better given another week or two, or three weeks,” Corbin Kaufusi said. “So you don’t want to give the impression that you are good, when you know you can be great. You don’t want to look mediocre when you know you got a lot more in you. So that was the final decision.”
Corbin Kaufusi said it was “a hard thing to do, but the right thing to do” after he spent lots of hours the past few months preparing for this day. He had surgeries on his ankle, triceps and pinky finger since playing hurt in the 35-27 loss to Utah on Nov. 24.
“That strength in my legs isn’t quite back,” he said. “That was one of the things that helped make the decision. It was like, ‘you still have a couple weeks to get that strength back and move the way you can move.”
The former BYU basketball player said he has some visits and private workouts scheduled but is “keeping [the specific teams] under wraps” at their request. Scouts and agents have told him his strengths are his 6-9 frame — “There aren’t a lot of guys my size out there” — his high motor and the fact that he has improved every season at BYU.
With Takitaki and Kaufusi sitting out and punter/kickers Rhett Almond and Andrew Mikkelsen only doing kicking and punting drills, it was probably the smallest overall group of participants since BYU began holding a Pro Day.
The only guys who did all the drills were running backs Squally Canada, Matt Hadley and Brayden El-Bakri, receiver Dylan Collie, defensive back Michael Shelton and quarterback Tanner Mangum.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mangum said. “It is an amazing opportunity to be out here, showcasing our talents in front of the scouts. Everyone is in great shape. Everyone is feeling good, and excited to show what they have. And I felt like it was a great day overall for a lot of us. A lot of us had [personal records] and showed what we wanted to show.”
Magnum, who started in 27 games and played in 33 during his four-year injury-plagued career and threw for 6,262 yards and 39 touchdowns, said he is receiving “some interest” from NFL teams even though he ended his career as a backup to freshman Zach Wilson.
“I will be grateful to go anywhere,” he said. “I believe in myself. I am confident in my abilities. So wherever I end up, I will make the most of it and give it the best that I have.”
Canada, who played in 34 games and averaged 5.03 yards per carry but sat out the final few games with a concussion, said he stumbled at the beginning of one of his 40-yard runs or he would have posted a 4.56 or so instead of a 4.59 and a 4.75. The San Francisco 49ers have scheduled a private workout with the 1,438-yard rusher.
El-Bakri, who also had an injury-riddled senior season, turned some heads with his pass-catching ability Friday and said the day went well for him, too.
“A little slower in here on the long turf, but it is what it is,” he said. “You just have to stick with your numbers and be happy about it.”
Collie and Hadley were also pleased with their showings and credited former BYU linebacker Jordan Pendleton and his company, Pendleton Performance, for their improved strength and conditioning.
BYU’s 2019 Pro Day Participants
• Rhett Almond, kicker/punter, 6-4, 205
• Squally Canada, running back, 5-10, 208
• Dylan Collie, receiver, 5-9, 180
• Brayden El-Bakri, fullback, 6-0, 245
• Matt Hadley, running back, 5-11, 205
• Corbin Kaufusi, defensive lineman, 6-9, 278
• Tanner Mangum, quarterback, 6-2 1/2, 208
• Andrew Mikkelsen, kicker, 6-0, 215
• Michael Shelton, defensive back, 5-8, 180
• Sione Takitaki, linebacker, 6-1, 238