At least 14 former BYU Cougars are going to get NFL opportunities this summer, which has to be some sort of record for the program coming off a sparkling 11-1 season in coach Kalani Sitake’s fifth year.
In addition to the five players who were drafted the past three days, led by Zach Wilson to the New York Jets with the No. 2 overall pick, more than a half-dozen more signed free agent deals Saturday night.
Leading the way was tight end Matt Bushman, one of the top pass-catchers in school history. Bushman, who decided to return for a senior season last year after a sensational junior campaign, sustained a season-ending Achilles injury a few days before the opener at Navy.
Bushman signed a free agent deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. He caught 125 passes for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns in three seasons.
Other BYU free agent signings:
• Safety Zayne Anderson signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, coached by former BYU lineman Andy Reid. Anderson made 41 tackles and broke up two passes last season.
• Linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Kaufusi led the Cougars in tackles with 83 in 2020 and had five sacks and five interceptions in his career.
• Offensive lineman Chandon Herring is headed to the Tennessee Titans. Herring appeared in 49 games for the Cougars after returning from a church mission.
• Offensive lineman Tristen Hoge will join Wilson in the Big Apple, having agreed to terms with the Jets. A transfer from Notre Dame, Hoge battled pneumonia and COVID-19 in 2020 but still played in eight games. He appeared in 26 games for the Cougars.
• Safety Troy Warner signed with the Los Angeles Rams, rivals of his brother Fred Warner’s San Francisco 49ers. Troy Warner made 16 pass breakups in an injury riddled four-year career.
• Defensive lineman Zac Dawe signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Dawe, a former state champion high school wrestler from Pleasant Grove, had an outstanding senior season with 43 tackles and two sacks.
Also, former BYU receiver Micah Simon, who last played in 2019, signed a free agent deal with the Carolina Panthers last month after showing well at BYU’s pro day. He will be reunited in Charlotte with BYU offensive lineman Brady Christensen, who was taken in the third round Friday.
On Sunday, BYU announced that another player, linebacker Kavika Fonua, will also have the opportunity to join an NFL team. The former Syracuse High star received a mini camp invitation from the Panthers.
In addition to the BYU players, another Utah tie is getting an NFL shot. Alani Pututua, who played at South Sevier High and Snow College, signed a free agent deal with the Falcons.