Trajan Pili knows a thing or two about getting to the quarterback. The former defensive lineman accrued 6.5 sacks during his four years at BYU, in addition to his 62 tackles. Many BYU fans have complained about the overall lack of a pass rush in recent years, but Pili told Ben Criddle on Wednesday he believes junior defensive lineman Alden Tofa is ready to take the next step this season.
Tofa has been on the roster since 2017, but has only seen limited playing time, during which he has tallied eight total tackles and a fumble recovery. He played in 10 games last season — his best performance came against UMass when he recorded three tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Pili said he attributes Tofa’s lack of production to opportunity and thinks he has the talent to make a difference this season.
“I think it’s just opportunity,” Pili said. “I think this is his time to really take hold and take his future into his own hands. He has the ability to. He looks really cut compared to how he has been in the past.”
Khyiris Tonga and Bracken El-Bakri will continue to hold down the middle of the defensive line, but Tofa’s experience with the program will give him the chance to contribute in a big way this season.
“Physically, his attributes are ready for the season,” Pili said. “I think if he wants it, he can get there. He’s been there for three years, he really knows the stuff, so he’s prepped to do really well this season.”
Pili also talked about the progress his brother, sophomore linebacker Keenan Pili, has made and compared him to former Cougar and current San Francisco 49er, Fred Warner.
“When you talk about length, size and athleticism — he fits all of those categories,” Pili said. “I think he definitely has the IQ ability of Fred Warner when he was here. Ultimately, Fred Warner is the future of what linebackers are going to look like and I feel like Keenan fits that same mold.”
Written by Bridger Beal
Bridger is a student at Utah Valley University where he studies journalism and mass communication. He is the sports editor of the on-campus newspaper, The Review. Bridger is a life-long Cougar fan and college football enthusiast.