BYU-UConn: Cougar football begins long year of travel at UConn

2014-08-29T06:00:00Z 2014-08-29T09:52:05Z BYU-UConn: Cougar football begins long year of travel at UConnDarnell Dickson Daily Herald Daily Herald
August 29, 2014 6:00 am  • 

Ross Apo needs a roommate who isn’t a slob, Solomone Kafu snores and Tomasi Laulile apparently requires a chaperone.

You’ve seen the hashtag #firstworldproblems? This would be #collegefootballtravelproblems.

BYU opens the 2014 season in Connecticut, the first leg of a season-long 22,000-mile journey brought on by independence and a desire to play in every region in the country.

Only Hawaii and Idaho will travel more.

Around 100 players, coaches and staff will make the trek east, one made smoother by a travel staff that has this cross-country thing down to a science: Bus to the airport in Provo, get on a charter plane with a box lunch, land in Connecticut, bus to the hotel, secure rooms for players as well as meeting and dining rooms, walk-throughs … it’s a never ending loop of planning and preparation.

“I like going to a new environment and you grow as a team,” BYU senior offensive tackle De’Ondre Wesley said. “I like seeing the country and getting to compete against different teams. You get to know you’re teammates better and you find out their strengths and weaknesses.”

Last year, Wesley found out Kafu, a fellow offensive lineman, is louder than a freight train while sleeping.

“That dude is a snorer,” Wesley said.

So after the Middle Tennessee State game, Wesley ended up with guard Kyle Johnson as a roommate.

Ah, much better.

“He’s a sound sleeper,” Wesley said. “I need my sleep before the game.”

As much sleep as possible, he said, as well as time playing on his iPad and listening to music.

“Whatever I’m in the mood for,” Wesley said.

Apo, a senior, said he roomed with Cody Hoffman the past four years and had to constantly remind BYU’s all-time leading receiver to pick up after himself.

Now, Apo has newcomer Jordan Leslie as a road roomie.

“It took me four years to train Cody, so I told Jordan to learn fast,” Apo said.

According to Apo, the hardest thing about traveling is the uncertainty of the weather – Exhibit A is last year’s Virginia monsoon in the opener – but added that he and other players look forward to road trips.

“I hate to say it but sometimes it’s more fun than playing at home,” Apo said. “You’re in another stadium, all the odds are against you and you have that much more to play for. We have our own airplane, and when we get there the police escort us to wherever we’re going to go, so it’s great.”

The Cougars left a day earlier than last year’s trip to Virginia.

“Personally, I’m just excited to get to a game, you know what I mean?” BYU junior defensive end Remington Peck said. “I feel like with fall camp we’ve been here for three months.”

Peck, voted a captain by his teammates, chose Laulile, a sophomore, as his road roommate “just to watch after him and take care of him, make sure he gets to his meetings.”

That’s a very captain-y thing to do.

The long road trips are not likely to go away as BYU works within the constraints of independence and tries to make an impression outside the Power 5 Conferences.

“As an independent, what I want is to do is play the best teams, with the most exposure on the biggest stages, and as many as we can play,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “We’re willing to travel in order to do that. We’re still struggling to get people to come here. They like neutral sites but coming to Provo isn’t so appealing to them. So under the current circumstances, to play our way into national prominence and consideration under the new alignments, I think it’s a necessity.”

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