It’s easy for BYU football fans to remember seeing quarterback Zach Wilson throwing a pass to wide receiver Dax Milne while offensive linemen Brady Christensen and Tristen Hoge block, or watching defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga take on blockers while defensive back Chris Wilcox covers downfield and linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi moves in to make a tackle.
When those athletes stepped up to perform at Friday’s Pro Day, it was the expected display of players who just completed their collegiate careers and are looking to move on.
It was a little different for guys like Aleva Hifo, Micah Simon, Austin Lee and Beau Tanner, however.
Those athletes haven’t been in a Cougar uniform since the end of the 2019 season but there they were at Pro Day, trying to show that they deserve another chance to be in the NFL.
“It’s always good to be around these guys and it’s good to be back at BYU,” Hifo said in a teleconference on Friday. “We’re fortunate that the free agents like myself and a couple of other guys get to have an official Pro Day. With BYU going all out like this and with the class that were able to have, it definitely helps a lot.”
Efforts to slow the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in BYU canceling its Pro Day in 2020, so that group of players didn’t get the same experience even though they had been preparing for three months leading up to the nationwide shutdown.
That made Friday’s opportunity all the more special to that unique group as they each seek to show they belong at the next level.
“It’s definitely good trying to connect with them on this journey,” Hifo said. “It’s something that we’re all chasing, something we’re all grinding for. We all knew that this opportunity was kind of something that we all needed to make sure that we take advantage of because being realistic this could have been our last opportunity. We understand that and we know football doesn’t last forever, so we’re trying to give it our all just to try to get that opportunity again.”
Hifo got the chance to be in the Kansas City Chiefs organization last year but he admitted there were some tough situations.
“I believe I was the first player in the whole NFL to test positive for COVID-19,” Hifo said. “That’s not a good thing to make headlines for. It was something that was very unfortunate. I was able to get a feel of how the offseason virtual stuff was and I was able to go back thankfully to the Chiefs and experience a little bit of what camp was like. It was definitely good experience and I hope to continue that.”
Hifo, Simon, Lee and others all had some nice moments at Pro Day, both in the measurable portion and in the drills.
Simon ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, the second fastest time registered at the event behind Wilcox’s 4.31 seconds. Hifo has been seen millions of times hauling in a deep pass from Wilson that got a lot of attention.
Hifo explained that he had worked with Wilson during the last few months and that helped them develop some timing.
He wants NFL teams to know that he can make a difference if he gets the chance.
“I believe I can do really good things with the football,” Hifo said. “I believe I’m explosive with it. I believe I’m a little different than other receivers in terms of yards after the catch and being able to make people miss. I feel like that’s some of the ways I could help separate myself.”
He said he hadn’t heard from many teams leading up to Pro Day but he’s hopeful that will change.
“I hope that some of the things that I did today were able to catch the attention of at least somebody out there,” Hifo said. “My whole goal was to just get one person’s attention. I had to try to take advantage of the opportunity and we’ll see how it works out in the next couple of weeks.”
He said he’s learned the importance of being persistent and looking at all the options.
“With football, the door is always open,” Hifo said. “Whether that’s with the NFL or the CFL, there are a lot of football playing opportunities out there and like I said I’m just trying to get somebody to give me an opportunity.”