TUCSON, Ariz. — A year ago, BYU tight end Matt Bushman had a homecoming of sorts when the season opener against Louisiana State was moved from Houston to New Orleans due to Hurricane Harvey.
Bushman grew up in New Orleans before moving to Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 9, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
At Sabino High in Tucson, Bushman became a football and baseball star. Then he signed with the Cougars and serving a mission to Chile.
When BYU opens the 2018 season Saturday at Arizona, he’ll be returning to his other hometown of Tucson.
“It’s really exciting. The stadium is 20 minutes from my house. Last year, I got to play in New Orleans,” Bushman said. “Two seasons and two home openers pretty much. I’m really excited. There are a lot of people that are sending me messages saying they’re excited to watch me and see me perform in front of family and friends. It’s going to be a really fun experience.”
Bushman caught 49 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns last season and was named a Freshman All-American last season.
Arizona fans were “understanding” that Bushman ended up at BYU.
“I really considered U of A because they offered me pretty quickly after my sophomore season. I always went to their games. I was on the front row,” he said. “They expected BYU to be high up on my priority list. I felt like some people were disappointed but understanding also. They weren’t hard on me or anything like that. They understood why I chose BYU.”
What does Bushman think about Arizona fans?
“They really love Arizona football, especially when there are kids from the hometown, they really hype those guys up,” he said. “I’m on the opposing team but there’s still excitement that there’s going to be a kid from Tucson that they’ll be playing against. It’s going to be a fun game.”
KJ HALL STEPS AWAY FROM THE GAME: Based on his limited action on the field the past two seasons, it appeared KJ Hall was poised for a bright future as a BYU running back.
But after suffering a knee injury last season, Hall didn't participate in spring ball or fall camp.
Wednesday night, Hall announced on social media that his football career is over.
"You’re never ready to move on past something that you love and have committed so much of your life to," Hall wrote. "But, I don’t want anyone to be confused, I have chosen to leave the game at this point for reasons unrelated to my physical health. That being said I want to wish my brothers luck this week and year as they go to battle and right the ship!! #builtnotborn"
Hall finishes his career, which was beset by injuries, with 390 rushing yards on 65 carries and three TDs. He caught 15 passes for 189 yards.
THE SERIES: BYU and Arizona will be meeting for the 24th time. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 12-10-1. The two teams met frequently in the 1960s and 1970s when they were members of the Western Athletic Conference.