Five Returned Missionaries To Watch For In 2023

PROVO, Utah – One of the distinctive points of roster development for BYU soccer is returning missionaries.

When assembling a recruiting class, it may be straightforward to neglect prospects which were gone for 2 years serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU’s teaching workers, nevertheless, hasn’t forgotten these gamers.

Most returned missionaries in Kalani Sitake’s program both grayshirt or redshirt of their first 12 months again from serving. Primarily because of the truth that these gamers who select to serve missionaries don’t take part in soccer or coaching in any respect throughout their missions.

However, now that the Big 12 is right here and there are such a lot of new faces on the roster and training workers, there are extra alternatives for RM’s to make an impression in 2023.

Who might be these gamers that make a distinction this season? Here are 5 that it is best to look ahead to.

Raider Damuni, Safety

The significance of Raider Damuni to BYU sooner or later was on show at Salt Lake City International Airport final month. Damuni arrived residence from his Latter-day Saint mission in San Francisco. Awaiting the 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete was BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill exterior the revolving doorways on the safety exit.

Damuni is an all-around athlete who may play numerous positions in his collegiate profession. We’ll say he traces up in Jay Hill’s safeties room for his first 12 months. But he is athletic sufficient to play at a handful of positions.

The former Timpview standout stayed loyal to BYU all through his dedication. He dedicated to the Cougars six years in the past within the winter of 2017. For context, Damuni dedicated to BYU earlier than the Cougars 4-9 season in 2017. He navigated a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and remained loyal to BYU.

In this point in time of individuals speaking in regards to the Transfer Portal and student-athletes not being loyal to groups, Damuni stayed dedicated via many ups and downs for the BYU program.

Damuni completed his prep profession with 82 tackles, 11 interceptions, and 35 go deflections.

Jake Griffin, Offensive Line

Griffin was a part of BYU’s 2020 recruiting class. A 3-star prospect from Mesa, Arizona, Griffin earned excessive reward from former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes as a future standout at offensive deal with.

In highschool, Griffin was listed at 6-foot-6, 265 kilos. One of the challenges for returned missionaries alongside the offensive line is weight. For instance, Clark Barrington misplaced 75 kilos when he was on a mission.

BYU’s offensive line in 2023 has some query marks concerning its depth. Griffin has the potential to be a two-deep participant in 12 months one.

Nukuluve Helu, Running Back

BYU has a pleasant trio of working backs in Hinckley Folau Ropati, Miles Davis, and UNLV switch Aidan Robbins. But a reputation to control is freshman Nukuluve Helu from Tooele High School.

Helu grayshirted final season after serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints within the Philippines. During his senior 12 months at Tooele, Helu was the most effective working backs in Utah, speeding for 1,178 yards and eight touchdowns.

BYU working again coach Harvey Unga thought-about letting Helu compete for taking part in time final 12 months. But finally, the endurance is rewarded as Helu now has 5 years to play 4, all of which will probably be within the Big 12 Conference.

Ace Kaufusi, Linebacker

Another Kaufusi is becoming a member of the fold at BYU. This time it is Ace Kaufusi from Kahuku High School in Hawaii. He’s a cousin to former BYU linebackers Isaiah and Jackson Kaufusi.

A 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker, Kaufusi grayshirted final 12 months after serving a mission in San Jose, California. He picked BYU out of highschool over curiosity from Utah, Stanford, Utah State, and UCLA.

BYU’s linebacker place has misplaced a whole lot of key contributors. Ben Bywater and Max Tooley are on the prime. Still, there ought to be some intriguing competitors to spherical out the depth chart after them. Kaufusi may doubtlessly issue into that dialog.

Bentley Redden, Tight End

BYU has a star tight finish from San Clemente, California, in Isaac Rex. Could Bentley Redden comply with in Rex’s footsteps?

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight finish from San Clemente High was one of many prime recruits in BYU’s 2021 recruiting class. He held presents from Tennessee, Nebraska, Virginia, Arizona State, and elite educational universities equivalent to Harvard and Yale.

Redden is a legacy BYU recruit. His father, Matt, performed at BYU as a defensive finish from 1992-1995. He was a teammate with Kalani Sitake for one season in 1994.

BYU’s tight finish depth chart seemingly consists of Isaac Rex and Ethan Erickson. But after that, there ought to be a whole lot of competitors for Steve Clark’s tight ends.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s protection of BYU shifting to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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