BYU is in need of greater depth at linebacker as it prepares for its first season in the Big 12 Conference, and some of those concerns were calmed Friday when former Utah State linebacker AJ Vongphachanh committed to the Cougars.

Vongphachanh, a three-year starter for the Aggies, announced last month that he had entered the NCAA transfer portal as a graduate transfer.

The Deseret News’ Jay Drew reported earlier this week that Vongphachanh has been spotted at several practices this spring.

“Hopefully we are going to get a couple other guys, whether they be freshmen or transfers, coming in here to shore up our linebacker position,” BYU linebackers coach Justin Ena told Drew on Wednesday.

While BYU returns Ben Bywater, Max Tooley and Chaz Ah You at linebacker, all are coming off offseason surgeries. Beyond those three, the Cougars are thin at linebacker.

What concerns remain as spring camp winds down?
What AJ Vongphachanh said about transferring from Utah State

That’s why the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Vongphachanh’s presence and experience will help.

He twice led Utah State in tackles over the past three seasons, including last year when Vongphachanh finished with 101 tackles. He’s played more than 2,500 snaps during his college career, and that includes starting 33 of 37 games he played for the Aggies.

The Pasco, Washington, native had 223 career tackles, 21 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles in his four seasons at Utah State.

“The process has been hectic,” Vongphachanh told 247 Sports’ Chris Hummer earlier this week, about the recruiting process going into the portal. “I wasn’t super recruited out of high school, so it was pretty new on trying to balance all of the information.”

Vongphachanh visited BYU, Minnesota, South Carolina and Washington State during the process, according to Hummer.

Ena, who joined the BYU coaching staff this offseason, was an assistant coach at Utah State during the 2019 and 2020 seasons when Vongphachanh was starting his career in Logan. 

Vongphachanh explained why each team made his final four, and what he was looking for in a new school.

“They all had a need,” Vongphachanh told Hummer. “Washington State has former coaches and close to home. BYU has former coaches, too. South Carolina and Minnesota were two schools that interested me because of the conferences they play in and had good seasons previously. And above all, I developed good relationships with the coaches at those schools as well.”