BYU football seniors discuss lessons learned from Cougar experiences
The conclusion of the college football season is marked with some definitive final opportunities for seniors: final home game, final regular season game, final practice and final game overall.
With BYU seniors preparing to take the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium one final time on Saturday against New Mexico State (8:15 p.m. MST, ESPN2), now is as good a time as any for the Cougars to reflect on what they have learned from their time playing football for BYU.
Here are some of the lessons the Cougar seniors feel they have gained:
Corbin Kaufusi, defensive lineman
“The biggest thing I think I’ve learned is that you can do whatever you want if you believe in yourself. If you believe you can do it, then you can get yourself in the position to do it.”
Sione Takitaki, linebacker
“I’ve learned tons of stuff, like maturing and handling myself off the field. On the field, I’ve learned taking care of my body. I’ve learned how to be a complete athlete. I still have a lot left to improve but I’ve improved on those things.”
Butch Pau’u, linebacker
“I’ve learned how to be grateful for every opportunity you get. I didn’t think I was going to have the opportunity to play with my brother, and I’m grateful that I’ve had two years to play with him. I always dreamed, but the reality was that not many people were going to give me the opportunity to play at this level, so I’m grateful for the opportunity that Bronco Mendenhall and Kalani Sitake gave me to even play. I’ve just been really grateful for my time here at BYU and have enjoyed every second of it. I’m going to continue to enjoy it through these next three games.”
Matt Hadley, running back/linebacker
“I’ve learned a lot of lessons, a lot of huge life lessons. Some of them can’t even really be put into words. I think one of the biggest things I’ve taken away is persistence. You just have to keep going no matter what you’re doing in life, you just have to keep going. I think that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned here through injuries and in position changes. I think a lot of players can probably say the same thing is just you know, you have to keep going.”
Tanner Jacobson, safety
“I’ve learned to make the most of every situation. There’s always going to be positives and negatives. There’s always plays you wish you could relive and plays you wish you could get back. Choosing to move forward from whatever hand you’re dealt has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned. It hasn’t been easy. Things aren’t always going to go your way. There’s only so much that you can control. It’s important to focus on what you can control.”
Adam Pulsipher, linebacker
“It’s hard to wrap everything up in one sentence but if I had to pick maybe two lessons, the first would be overcoming adversity. I think each one of us have a story, each one of us have obstacles that we’ve faced, injuries we’ve overcome, decision we don’t agree with. You just have to push through with a positive attitude. The second lesson would be the power of brotherhood and team. The senior linebackers have been together for four or five years and we lean on each other. We’ve picked each other up when we’ve been down and we’ve celebrated the successes together.”
BYU assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Ed Lamb will see a significant number of guys who have been under his tutelage be recognized on Senior Night (six linebackers and at least four specialists). He said seeing them grow is the best part of his job.
“From the outside looking in, I don’t know the players,” Lamb said. “These guys are all humans. Our best players have failures in life and on the field. Some of the players who don’t play very much have very interesting successes going on in their lives. It’s the coolest feeling to get to know them as humans and help them realize their value as a football player is something to cherish and strive for — but it’s not their biggest value as a person.”
The Cougar seniors know that the clock is ticking, so they do think about wrapping up their collegiate careers — but they also want to take advantage of the time they have left.
“It’s saddening that it’s all coming to an end, saddening that I won’t have the opportunity to be here again,” Pau’u said. “I won’t be here for spring ball, the grueling workouts, not have the opportunity to put on a helmet and the jersey at LaVell Edwards Stadium, so we are going to make the most of it.”