Former Woods Cross High standout Josh Larsen was seemingly on his way to a productive football career at BYU on Sept. 24, 2022.

“I think it would be kinda hard to still be ‘one foot in, one foot out,’ with my situation. Because I am really sad that it is over.” — former BYU defensive lineman Josh Larsen, who is medically retiring

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive lineman got his first career start that night, against Wyoming, and was definitely seen as a key piece for the defense moving forward. But the redshirt freshman suffered a Grade 3 medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear during the Cougars’ 38-24 win, and for all intents and purposes, his college career was over.

Larsen tried to return during spring ball last March, after having had full reconstructive surgery on one knee and patellar tendon surgery on both, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Larsen medically retired shortly after spring ball ended, determining with new defensive line coach Sione Po’uha that it was best for his long-term health that he move on.

What we learned about BYU from its first trip to Big 12 football media days
Tom Holmoe on his future, his legacy, and his prediction for first season in the Big 12

“Right after spring ball ended, we had our exit interviews, and me and coach Po’uha talked, and they had reservations about my health and durability with my knees since the beginning,” Larsen told the Deseret News Wednesday. “We kinda both decided that they need healthy guys going into the Big 12, and it would be good for me to step aside from it.”

Larsen, 21, said BYU will honor his scholarship until he completes his degree in construction management, with a minor in business. He’s got about three semesters left.

For now, he’s making a clean break from football, rather than stay on the team in some capacity as others who have medically retired have done in an effort to stay involved.

“I think it would be kinda hard to still be ‘one foot in, one foot out,’ with my situation,” he said. “Because I am really sad that it is over.”

Besides, Larsen recently got married (to Jacquelyn Mengel, a University of Utah student from Santa Maria, California) and he’s landed a nice job as a construction project manager for Dirty Dough Cookies.

“It is definitely not easy. I miss it. I miss the guys. I miss going in there every day,” Larsen said. “But I have had a better transition than a lot of other people. … All these big events are kind of helping the transition go forward.”

Larsen’s father, Jim, played baseball for BYU in 1990 and 1994 and his mother, Liz, was a Cougarette.

“I told my wife that if she wants tickets to the BYU football games, she has to cheer for the Cougars,” Josh said. “She changed sides pretty quickly.”

Other scholarship Cougars also moving on

Larsen isn’t the only Cougar taking a medical retirement due to lingering injuries. Linebacker Micah Wilson, brother of New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, has also medically retired, joining another Wilson who was a member of the BYU football team in 2022 (linebacker Josh) on the sidelines.

Scholarship linebacker Kyle Vassau of Carlsbad, California, a returned missionary, announced April 14 via his Instagram account that he is no longer in the program.

“College football is a business and unfortunately I had some variables stacked against me but that’s just how life goes sometimes,” Vassau wrote.

‘Unfinished business’: Why Ryan Rehkow returned for 2023 season despite graduating last spring
Some of Cougars’ Big 12 guests this season are eager to see Provo — and some are not

New Mexico Bowl offensive MVP Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters (converted from quarterback to running back this spring), receiver Kyson Hall (brother of NFL-bound quarterback Jaren Hall) and offensive lineman Lisala Tai are other scholarship players who are not on the current roster, for various reasons.

Of the three, Maiava-Peters is probably the most likely to get back on the playing field for the Cougars.

Transfer portal losses

At least 20 players who were listed on the spring roster are not on the new roster released in conjunction with Big 12 football media days last week, including the six players previously mentioned.

The most recent departures to the transfer portal include linebacker Logan Pili (Utah State), offensive lineman Vae Soifua (Weber State), defensive back George Udo (Cincinnati) and kicker Cash Peterman (Arizona).

Scholarship players who hit the transfer portal post-spring ball but who have yet to publicly announce their next destination include defensive tackle Mac Aloisio, defensive end Zoom Esplin, safety Dean Jones and defensive tackle Brooks Maile.

View Comments

Here are some walk-ons from spring ball who are not on the current roster. They could be added to the final, 123-player roster when school begins: receiver Alex Anderson, tight end Kyle Hester, receiver Tanner Holden, linebacker Lamese Patterson and cornerback Jack Skidmore.

True freshmen on 2023 roster

Because so many BYU signees go on church missions before enrolling and playing, it is always interesting to see which new guys show up on the roster as true freshmen. 

This year, that group includes tight end Jackson Bowers, linebacker/defensive end Siala Esera, linebacker Miles Hall, running back LJ Martin and receiver Josiah “JoJo” Phillips.

When spring ball concluded, offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick was asked which true freshmen have a chance to contribute right away and he mentioned Bowers, a four-star recruit from Mesa, Arizona, as being a player to watch in that regard.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.