Gunner Romney never chose to be a wide receiver. The position naturally chose him.
The BYU junior grew up playing football with his brothers in the backyard and the three of them had each of their respective positions fall onto them: Gunner catching passes from older brother Baylor and younger brother Tate playing defensive back.
The trio has come a long way since playing backyard football in Mexico. Gunner and Baylor are both currently on the BYU football team and Tate committed to the Cougars back in February, but is serving a church mission before enrolling at BYU.
And while all three have made headlines for their performance on the field, Gunner is currently lighting up stats in the FBS.
The Cougar wide receiver is currently ranked fourth in receiving yards with 453. Romney also leads the FBS in receptions over 20 yards (10), 30 yards (7) and 40 yards (5).
The hard work was further recognized Wednesday when Romney was added to the 2020 Biletnikoff Award Watch List by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club.
NO. 14 BYU AT HOUSTON
When • Friday, 7:30 p.m. MT
TV • ESPN
BYU coach Kalani Sitake calls Romney a “quiet guy,” but one who has always worked hard. If anything, Romney worked a bit too hard as a true freshman and had to be reeled in.
“If you look at where his family comes from and their background, that’s a family of hard workers,” Sitake said. “That work ethic carries over to what he does on the field. It’s not very often you, as a coach, you have to tell a kid to slow down a little bit. … I’ve seen a lot of players, but very, very few have the same work ethic as Gunner and his brother Baylor.”
The reason why Romney has put so much into his football career is because football has always been there for him.
Each move, each new school, making new friends — football helped him navigate it all.
Having grown up in a small colony in Mexico, the Romneys — distant relatives of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney — moved to El Paso when Gunner was 12. After a few years, the family moved to the Phoenix area, where Gunner played his last two years of high school at Chandler.
“I really think that’s one of the main reasons why it made it so much easier to move was because of football,” Romney said. “You go to a place and you join a football team and you’re automatically friends with 90 guys. That’s where all of my best friends have come from, from football and other sports teams. But I think that’s something that people all over the country have in common, is that love for the game, the love for sports.”
The love of sports was also an important part of the Romney family. Most of what they did revolved around sports with the four kids.
They could never go on family vacations because one or more of the kids always had a game. Gunner and his brothers were involved in football, basketball and track, and their younger sister was also involved in multiple different sports.
Having that camaraderie, both at home and with each team, has been important for Romney. And it’s led to his growing success in a Cougar uniform.
Growing chemistry within the team was one of the main priorities over the pandemic-stricken offseason. While players couldn’t gather in large groups — or at all at times — it forced them to find other ways to connect.
For the receivers group, the guys focused on connecting on Zoom.
But it also helped that Romney lived next to starting quarterback Zach Wilson and the pair were able to squeeze in some workouts together.
“Every day in the off season ... we’ve been trying to get that chemistry down, especially on the deep ball because that’s something that BYU’s been needing is a deep threat receiver,” Romney said. “We’ve really been working on that in the offseason, so it’s finally coming to fruiting this year.”
With this season being a free-for-all after the NCAA decided the fall season wouldn’t be counted against eligibility, Romney could play two more years at BYU. However, he’s not really focused on that.
Romney is unsure if he’ll take advantage of the opportunity. In all reality, he hasn’t given it much thought. Instead, he’s just taking it day by day. But he does know where he eventually wants to find himself: in the NFL.
And in order to reach that dream, Romney is ready to do whatever is asked of him on the field.
“I just want to help out the team the best I can and just play my role to the best of my abilities,” Romney said. “If that means blocking all game long just to get a win, then that’s what I’m going to do. If that means catching 10 balls a night, then that’s what I’m going to do. But really just try to step up and be a playmaker whenever my name is called and when it’s not, just try and be the best teammate that I can be.”