BYU's upcoming season just got a lot more interesting. BYU's all-time leading rusher, will not return for his senior season, and will most likely attempt to enter the NFL supplemental draft. It is far too past the deadline for Unga to submit his name for the NFL draft, which takes place in a week.
This definitely comes as a true shock to BYU football. Unga was the school's all-time leading rusher after three years of play. Besides QB Max Hall, he was by far the most valuable player on the field last year.
This year expectations couldn't have been higher for Unga. Fans expected him to have a healthy, career year, and carry the team through the transition to their next QB. I for one thought he'd establish himself as a top ten caliber college football running back.
Unga's departure puts much more pressure on Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson or whoever is taking snaps under center for BYU this next fall.
The true nature of Unga's honor code violation(s) have not been released to the public. And I think that's good. Harvey Unga is a great guy and a true class act. He was the one who made the decision to withdraw because of his actions. That takes a lot of guts.
I'm thankful to Harvey for his excellent three years at BYU. Even without playing his senior season, he is still, arguably, the best running back in BYU history.
All who attend BYU are required to sign the Honor Code, which bans use of illicit substances, alchohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, and any pre-marital sexual relations.
But, I refuse to speculate on the specifics of the what, when, and how of the honor code violation(s); out of respect for what Harvey has done for three years on and off the field.
Everyone makes mistakes, it takes a true and brave human being to come forward and publicly admit that you have made a major one, and accept the consequences.
“I fully support Harvey and his decision regarding his personal situation,” BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “The possibility of not having Harvey on the field in the fall would certainly have an impact on our team, but my main concern right now is in supporting Harvey.”
On the field, BYU will likely turn to Brian Kariya, JJ DiLuigi, and incoming freshman sensation Joshua Quezeda. All are solid, but none of them are the reliably consistent game changer that Unga is.
This announcement should temper expectations for BYU. With tough road games at Florida State, TCU, Air Force, and Utah; and a tough season opener against Washington, a 7-5 season is not out of the question. BYU fans should be prepared for that.
But with Bronco Mendenhall at the helm, BYU has gone 10-2 for four straight seasons. If Heaps or Nelson can live up to their potential, they still have a chance, however small, to reach that mark again.
Keep in mind, that Harvey Unga was out with injury in BYU's biggest win last season; when BYU defeated Oklahoma 14-13.
Unga will be sorely missed, on and off the field. It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the team responds come September.