More than a year after transferring from BYU, left defensive tackle Devin Kaufusi’s old clothes may not fit anymore. But he appears to be fitting in quite well at Utah. 

Kaufusi, who stands 6-foot-7, was listed at 257 pounds during his final season as a Cougar in 2019, now weighs about 290 pounds as he’s moved from defensive end to defensive tackle.

“Man, that guy got here last year at 240 pounds. Now, he’s 295 pounds. He’s been awesome,” said defensive line coach Lewis Powell. “The weird thing is, he hasn’t lost any of his explosiveness or his athleticism. He is a force out there.”

For Kaufusi, packing on pounds has been a process. 

“It was hard for sure. I love working out but so is finding enough food for me,” he said. “Utah does a great job of feeding us here, which is awesome.”

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Changing from blue to red has been a process as well. 

Devin’s older brothers, Bronson and Corbin, starred for the Cougars and his dad, Steve, played for BYU and was a longtime assistant coach for the Cougars. Devin’s mother, Michelle, is the current mayor of Provo and a former Cougarette.

Devin’s cousins, Isaiah and Jackson Kaufusi, were his teammates at BYU in 2018 and 2019. His uncle Rich played at BYU while uncles, Jeff, Henry, Doug and Jason, played at Utah from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. 

“I remember a similar thing happening to my uncles. They were all pretty skinny guys but as soon as they got to Utah and had the cafeteria available to them, they all put on weight and became the players they were. I was at 295 at the start of camp. I’m around 290 right now. Hopefully, I’ll break 300 between this offseason and fall camp.” — Devin Kaufusi

When it comes to adding weight, “I remember a similar thing happening to my uncles. They were all pretty skinny guys but as soon as they got to Utah and had the cafeteria available to them, they all put on weight and became the players they were. I was at 295 at the start of camp. I’m around 290 right now. Hopefully, I’ll break 300 between this offseason and fall camp.”

One factor that has helped him in his transition from BYU to Utah is being reunited with his childhood friend — and longtime teammate, through their time at Timpview High — Ute wide receiver Britain Covey

Utah receiver Britain Covey, shown here during Utah’s spring camp, and defensive end Devin Kaufusi were childhood friends and teammates at Timpview High. After Kaufusi transferred to Utah from BYU, both players often got a laugh at seeing Kaufusi decked out in Utah red. | University of Utah Athletics

“It’s been just like little league, back to flag football days. The funniest part was, probably for the first six months I was here, he and I were still freaked out about seeing me in red in the building,” Kaufusi said, laughing. “I’d walk into the meeting room for roll call and he would just look at me and be like, ‘I can’t believe you’re still here!’ I was like, ‘I know, man!’ When it was our first game, when I was in a Utah uniform, all dressed up, we were just like kids. ‘We’re on the same team again!’ It’s so fun.”

Part of the family

Kaufusi and Covey spent so much time together as kids that Devin felt like he was part of the Covey family.

“I always joked that I was kind of like ‘The Blind Side kid’ from the movie ‘The Blind Side.’ Growing up, it was the Coveys at a family reunion or the Coveys had an activity and there was Devin,” he said. “Britain and I would say, ‘Yeah, we’re brothers.’ I’m so grateful for him and all that he’s done for me. He’s excited and ready to have a great season.”

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Covey loves playing on the same team with Kaufusi again. 

“We’ve been best friends since we were 7 years old. It’s so fun. Devin is like my brother. My parents consider him to be a son. I think about the number of times that he slept at our house. Or drive our car,” Covey said. “Devin and the whole Kaufusi family is so close with the Coveys. His older brother Corbin was my brother Christian’s best friend. Michelle and Steve are good friends with my dad and mom.

“When Steve was coaching at BYU, Devin and I used to roam the practice fields during practices and go into the locker room. We did things like that. It’s like having your childhood best friend with you at all times. He’s doing great. They made him put on weight here so he complains about that. But he’s doing really well. It’s just like growing up.”

Kaufusi extolled Covey’s attributes. 

“Brit is an outstanding guy. One of a kind. I’m so lucky to have him as a friend. It’s crazy that we’ve seen each other through all phases of life and through sports, especially through football,” he said. “He’s a big reason why I fell in love with the game. When you have a teammate like him, since you were little, and you have as much fun as you do, and you go through some hard times and learn a lot of lessons and have someone to lean on, I’m so grateful for Brit and his family.” 

From blue to red

Of course, moving to the rival school has required an adjustment period, particularly during a pandemic. 

“Last year was crazy for everyone. For me, I was able to make it into a great opportunity. I was coming off a shoulder surgery that year in January,” Kaufusi said. “I was able to have more time to recover from that and I was able to contribute last year. With the inside move to tackle, there’s definitely been a learning curve. Coach (Sione) Po’uha has a high standard, which I’m super grateful for. I’m super grateful that he’s able to push me and really work with me to reach a high standard and my potential. All coaches called me in and wanted to make the move (to defensive tackle). I’m just happy to help out where I can.”

BYU defensive end Corbin Kaufusi, left, puts him arm around his brother, Devin Kaufusi, following the Cougars’ 45-10 win over New Mexico State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in the team’s home finale. | Brandon Judd, Deseret News

So why did he decide to leave BYU, a place where he had so many connections? 

When he signed with the Cougars, his dad was an assistant coach at BYU. Steve Kaufusi stepped down after the 2017 season, about the time that Devin returned home from his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Alpine-German speaking mission. 

“There were a lot of factors, not just football-related factors. Before my mission, I was committed to a different staff. While I was on my mission, the staff changed. I got home and I was talking to my brothers and my dad,” Devin recalled. “They were saying ‘BYU is still a great place. It’s been really good to our family.’ I was able to do the first year and then the second year, I felt like it wasn’t the right fit.

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“With that, and other off-field factors, it was in my best interest (to leave). My family agreed with me that transferring somewhere else would be better. Utah seemed like the ideal fit for me … It was crazy. I was in the transfer portal a week before the pandemic hit. But Utah has been a perfect fit so far. I’ve been loving it — the guys and the coaching staff and the support staff have been an absolute dream to work with.”

Devin’s cousin, Isaiah Kaufusi, a linebacker who finished his BYU career in 2020, said he was surprised when he found out Devin was leaving Provo. 

“For me, I want to say I was shocked. To me, Devin kind of was ‘the BYU guy,’ you know? And so to see him leave was unfortunate. But he knows that I love him.” — Isaiah Kaufusi

“For me, I want to say I was shocked. To me, Devin kind of was ‘the BYU guy,’ you know? And so to see him leave was unfortunate. But he knows that I love him. He knows that in our family, football is so big ... It’s been a huge part of our family,” Isaiah said last year. “We’ve had cousins go to different schools. I think that we just support each other. Having Devin leave and go to Utah, knowing that was the best thing for him, I can get behind that 100%.

“I really can’t wait for him (to play). He’s got a lot of potential. I’m really excited about him going to Utah,” Isaiah Kaufusi continued. “They produce really good D-linemen and they have a great D-line coach and they have a great defensive coordinator and great head coach. I’m just really excited for Dev. It’s all love and he knows that. I’m just excited for him.”

In the pandemic-affected season in 2020, Devin Kaufusi played in five games, recording six tackles. He also had a fumble recovery and he batted down two passes. In his two seasons at BYU, Kaufusi recorded 15 tackles. 

Entering the 2021 season, Utah’s defense is looking forward to Kaufusi’s contributions. 

“Him and Big ‘V’ (Viane Moala) in the middle, we call them the Twin Towers, both being 6-7 and being agile and able to bend, and do what we ask of them,” Powell said. “We love how (Devin) has developed in a short amount of time.”

During a relatively short amount of time, Devin Kaufusi has become a Ute, he’s been reunited with a close friend, and he’s tipping the scales at about 290 pounds. 

This fall, he’s poised to make a weighty impact on Utah’s D-line.