This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When running back Jamaal Williams announced in late July of 2015 that he was withdrawing from school and wouldn't play for the BYU Cougars in 2015, the spotlight naturally fell upon his primary backup from the previous season, Algernon Brown.
The Skyline High product delivered, leading the pass-oriented Cougars in rushing last year with 709 yards.
With Williams returning this season, coaches asked Brown to add some pounds and play fullback. He delivered on that request, too.
"I feel like I did OK for changing positions for the first time," Brown said Monday. "I had done a lot of blocking before, and I feel like I made a good transition. I feel like I did pretty OK this year."
Heading into Wednesday's Poinsettia Bowl against Wyoming (7 p.m. MST, ESPN), Brown has just 16 carries for 43 yards. He's got six passes, for 67 yards.
Basically, the senior had to sacrifice his personal stats for the good of the team, and he did it willingly. He even had to watch his understudy at fullback, Brayden El Bakri, rush for a touchdown in the opener against Arizona. El Bakri had five receptions for 88 yards, almost identical to Brown's pass-catching numbers.
Being used as a battering ram for most of the season took a toll on Brown, and he suffered a bone bruise against Southern Utah that limited what he could do the final two games of the season against UMass and Utah State.
"It was mostly a matter of how much I could tolerate the pain, so I mostly played through it," he said.
Brown is totally healthy now, and plans to make an impact in the bowl game, then turn his attention to the NFL draft. He has just one semester left before graduating, but will take the next one off and prepare for the draft, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I am definitely looking at playing agh the next level, finding the next opportunity to do whatever I can," he said. "I will work out a lot and go through Pro Day and see what happens."
Brown said it has been enjoyable blocking for Williams this season and will be proud to say he helped pave the way for the fellow senior to break the school's rushing yardage record.
Kalani Sitake spoke to the Utah media on Tuesday for the last time in Provo. His next interviews with us local guys will be on Saturday in San Diego (Monday for me, since I will be in Chicago covering the BYU basketball game Saturday night).
"The guys are ready to go," Sitake said. "They are excited to go play the game. I think they are excited to get into some warm weather and just have fun. We are going to have a good time. I think right now they are overwhelmed a little bit with finals and classes and everything. Just finish strong there, and then we will go and try to finish strong with our football team. Everyone is just looking forward to it, so it is going to be a lot of fun."
Sitake said the Cougars should be fully healthy at least the players who didn't suffer season-ending injuries along the way guys like Travis Tuiloma, Taysom Hill, Austin McChesney and Merrill "Meti" Taliauli. McChesney, injured in the Cincinnati game, served his mission in San Diego, so that's a bummer for the freshman from Lone Peak High.
"We should [be healthy]," Sitake said. "I mean, knock on wood, depending on how we practice. We will keep working hard and keep going through our prep, and take advantage of the extra time. But also knowing that getting in the week before the game, we can go back to our normal schedule as far as preparation from the week before."
Here are a few more of Sitake's comments from Tuesday:
On what impresses him about Wyoming:
'If you look at their head coach [Craig Bohl], and what he has done in the past, they are exactly what he does. They are consistent, they play great defense, and they can do so many things on the offensive side. They have a really good running back. Their O line doesn't get enough credit. They are big and physical, and they can run power at you, and can also spread you out and run the spread game a little bit. The quarterback has a good arm. So he is young and has a lot of poise in the pocket. Obviously, it is going to be a challenge for our defense and for our offense. We are looking forward to it. I like the way they play the game. Just like us, they have a lot of sportsmanship on the field, and they handle themselves with class, so we are looking forward to sharing the field with them."
On his memories of BYU-Wyoming games when he played:
"Oh, I loved it. I liked going up to Laramie and playing them because they have fans who are passionate and love their program. I think it gets overshadowed some times, with the elevation, because it does hit you. I am glad the game is in San Diego. I just like going to different places where fans love their team. It is a cool experience as a college football player. So, our guys don't know know much about the rivalry and being in the same conference with Wyoming in the past. But we've watched them play and we saw them beat Boise and we saw them in the championship game against San Diego State in Laramie, which was a huge accomplishment by coach Bohl and his staff and program. We know they are a great team and we are looking forward to playing them."
On how much of bowl practice is developing younger guys, and how much focusing on vets:
"Most of our developmental stuff has been in our weight room. We actually have had a lot of time to develop them, in our individual time and stuff. I was careful not to do too much scrimmaging with our younger guys. Right now, injuring a developmental guy, a guy who is redshirting, would be hard for his progress. Seeing that we start spring football a lot earlier than other places. So that's been the change in our part. We have hit the weight room a lot harder with them than we have in the past, and focus more on the fundamentals and technique of the game, rather than have them put on their helmets and scrimmage each other. We used to do that quite a bit in the past, and we are not going to do that as much here, because of the timing.
I have been able to see it. Our scout team gets a physical scrimmage every time they go against the ones, so I don't know if you are a redshirt O lineman on our scout team, going against our D line every day, it is physical enough. We will keep working with our guys, especially focusing on the fundamental part of the game."