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Why the BYU NIL agreement really is such a big deal

When BYU found a way for all football players to sign an NIL deal, it was a landmark accomplishment

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A Built logo adorns the practice helmet of a BYU football player at the school’s practice facility in Provo, Utah.

A Built logo adorns the practice helmet of a BYU football player at the school’s practice facility in Provo, Utah.

Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo

This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

In the dead heat of August, a video depicting BYU walk-on football players getting a NIL contract from Built Brands took the sports world by storm. That unique, groundbreaking development caught the imagination of pundits and college experts around the nation and within days the video clip had nearly 4 million views.

Here is our coverage of that big story that received global attention because of its unique approach and what it means for the 30-some players on BYU’s roster who will now receive more than $3,000 to help with tuition and other expenses.

  • New NIL deal with Built hits from bottom up (Dick Harmon)
  • Why the new NIL deal is a life-changer for walk-ons (Jay Drew)
  • New deal draws national attention (Ryan McDonald)
  • Every BYU football player now has an NIL deal (Ryan McDonald)

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: In BYU’s first big scrimmage of fall camp, the defense came out on top. Is that a surprise?

Jay Drew: Reporters were not allowed to watch BYU’s first scrimmage of 2021 preseason training camp last Saturday, but reports have trickled in that the defense more than held its own against the offense. By some accounts, the defense was clearly superior, keeping the offense out of the end zone until late in the scrimmage.

To me, that’s a big surprise. I’ve been saying for eight months that the defense will sorely miss the guys who graduated, guys like Khyiris Tonga, Chris Wilcox, Isaiah Kaufusi and Troy Warner. 

However, it appears that defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki will have his guys ready to make everyone forget the aforementioned once the season begins on Sept. 4.

That’s a positive development for Cougar fans because the defense — especially upfront — was supposed to be a weakness for BYU. Only time will tell, but after one scrimmage, it sounds like the Cougars will have another solid defense in 2021.

Dick Harmon: News that the defense was stout, made plays, took the ball away and thwarted drives is good news. Why? Because that is what happens on good football teams where the defense can react and attack and the offense is stuck on trying to execute its plays with timing and chemistry. That is the normal progression of a football team. On good teams, it is an ebb and flow during camp but generally the defense comes out smoking.

I remember in one of Gary Crowton’s first scrimmages, he kept his offense on the field for more than 100 plays against Bronco Mendenhall because Mendenhall’s defense was frustrating his offense. That is nature. I do think BYU’s corners and coverage will be much improved this year and will surprise people. I also think the addition of an additional coach on the defensive side (taken away from the offense) has had an impact with Kevin Clune (linebackers) added to that side of the ball. Now it is the offense that must respond. I think sharing reps with three QBs will be pared down to just Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney taking most snaps. Freshman Jacob Conover did not get much action at all in this scrimmage, according to reports. That signals Aaron Roderick is saving him through a redshirt year and has to whittle down the reps to two who will be expected to start and back up the other.

Cougar tales

Dax Milne is taking reps in the NFL during camp and remains with Austin Collie as one of the best route runners in BYU history. I asked receiver coach Fesi Sitake if he had anyone as good as Milne at running routes. His answer surprised me as he showered praise on one of his stars. Here is his answer in a piece written to highlight his move to pass game coordinator.

Zach Wilson completed 6 of 9 passes during two series with the Jets in a win over cross town rivals the New York Giants. That set Jets fans afire with their praise of what they saw in his arm strength, velocity and poise. Here is a breakdown of NFL rookies in their debut by Touchdownwire, which gives Wilson a grade of A-. 

From the archives

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Extra points

Up next

Aug. 19 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. Ohio State | @Provo

Aug. 21 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. Auburn | @Provo

Aug. 26 | 7 p.m. | Women’s soccer | vs. USC | @Provo

Sept. 4 | 9:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Arizona | @Las Vegas

Sept. 11 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | vs. Utah | @Provo