Before the pandemic shook the college football world, BYU tight end Matt Bushman made the decision to forego the NFL Draft and come back to Provo for his final season. COVID-19 threatened BYU’s schedule, but the Cougars have found a way to play.

But the season is over for Bushman.

BYU confirmed the senior would be sidelined this season on Tuesday.

“BYU senior tight end Matt Bushman suffered a season-ending injury in practice Monday and will miss the 2020 football season,” the press release said.

The senior tight end was carted off the field during practice with a lower leg injury, Jake Hatch of LockedOnCougars first reported on Monday. Tuesday morning, Hatch reported Bushman would undergo an MRI, but it was feared the senior had suffered a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon.

Having Bushman out for what could be 4-6 months will greatly change the Cougars’ plans as they are less than a week away from the season opener at Navy, Sept. 7.

In early August, offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said he had seen great improvement from Bushman.

“Guys that are coming back for their senior year, sometimes they improve a little and sometimes they take a big jump — and I’ve really been impressed with the jump that he’s taken,” Grimes said. “He’s had great ball skills since the day that he probably first touched the ball, so that’s never been an issue for him, but running good routes and becoming a consistent blocker have been two things that I can see he’s worked on a lot. He looks stronger to me. He looks more fluid. And I think he’s doing both of those things better.”

Bushman led the team in receiving yards each of the last three years and joined Gordon Hudson and Dennis Pitta as the only BYU tight ends with three consecutive 500-yard seasons. In 2019, Bushman posted 47 receptions, 688 yards and four touchdowns.

With Bushman out for an undisclosed amount of time, Isaac Rex will move into the starting position.

Senior Troy Warner, who sat out last season with his own injury, considers Bushman to be one of the greatest guys he’s met and one of the greatest players he’s played with. He and the rest of the team are doing “anything and everything” they can to help Bushman through this time.

“He’s huge to this family and I know that he’ll contribute any way he can this year,” Warner said.