With Zac Dawe having earned a scholarship, there is nothing for him to prove right now. However, that didn’t stop him from suiting up and spending the day with his future position coach Steve Kaufusi, an opportunity he was looking forward to on Junior Day.
“It was a blast and I had so much fun,” said Zac. “It was awesome because I got a chance to spend the day with Coach Kaufusi and his brother Jason. They taught me so much on how to be a better defensive lineman and that was just a great experience. It was a lot of fun talking about football and life and everything. It was just awesome!”
“Zac went down and did the one-on-ones and then did a foot race and [was] keeping up with some of the veteran kids who run a 4.8 or 4.9 forty,” said Zac’s father Ian. “I think Coach Kaufusi was excited his weight up was but that he was keeping his speed up. Every time we would get around Coach Kaufusi, he’s always done a great job of trying to develop a great relationship with Zac.”
Zac comes in at 6 feet 4 inches and 275 pounds, and he runs a 4.8 forty, squats 430 pounds, and cleans about 280. Considered one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the country, he has received quite a bit of attention from his future college coach.
“The coaches were working with me and showing me stuff,” said Zac. “Coach Kaufusi is awesome and just knows how to practice. He’s really laid back and doesn’t scream at you but is really hands-on and knows what he’s doing. It was just a great opportunity for me to learn from someone like him because he’s such a great coach.”
“Zac is extremely coachable and just tries to endear himself to coaches, and when you have a coach like Coach Kaufusi who is so good and open about what he does, I think there’s a lot of development that can take place,” said Ian. “Some coaches think, ‘Well, he still a recruitable kid so I can’t teach him everything I know.’ But, with Coach Kaufusi he just wants to help any kid grow who is open-minded about being coached.
“If Coach Kaufusi can take a kid like Ezekiel Ansah, who had no skill development at all, and make him a first-round draft pick, then he’s molding that type of defensive lineman. Then you take a look at a kid like Bronson Kaufusi and you see where he’s at in his development after coming off of his mission. I mean, Coach Kaufusi is not just some nice guy who holds a position as an assistant coach. He has some credentials behind him to really develop talent into top-notch defensive talent. We’ve talked to Boise State, Utah, Utah State and the coach from Nebraska, and none of them have the tenure that Coach Kaufusi does. I think Zac’s thing is he knows that Coach Kaufusi has the knowledge base and has such a good coaching style that there’s a lot to offer that he can benefit from.”
Although Zac was the only defensive lineman with a scholarship at the camp, apparently there wasn’t a shortage of talent.
“There were some really good d-linemen there,” said Zac. “There was one from Arkansas that was there, and Austin Kruger – who is the cousin of Paul, Dave and Joe Kruger – was there. He’s a stud d-lineman from Lone Peak and he was doing really well. There is also a Polynesian kid from Timpview who will be a junior next year. He’s around 6’4” and he was doing really well too.”
The Dawe family sat next to the Herring family as the boys ran through their drills. Zac spoke to new BYU commit Chandon Herring for quite a while following the activities and came away very impressed.
“Yeah, I talked with him for about an hour,” Zac said. “He’s a complete stud. He’s very coachable and very respectful. He’s just a stud. That’s the word I’d use to describe him. He’s super kind, respectful and super athletic. I'm really excited about him now that BYU has offered.”
One aspect of BYU’s Junior Day that Zac enjoyed was listening to Coach Mendenhall address the camp participants. It was enlightening, refreshing and inspirational.
“What I really liked was that the coaches at BYU really told you what their program was about and didn’t sugarcoat anything,” said Dawe. “They let us know that football isn’t number one at BYU. It’s number five with faith, education and family being some of the things that come before football. Coach Mendenhall said, ‘If you’re not going to be a guy who is a leader here or a guy who can’t obey the standards here, then there are other schools you can go to.’ He didn’t try to butter everyone up and was just straightforward about what’s expected. That’s one thing I really like about Coach Mendenhall, because he expects the best and makes no excuses for anything else. It was great. The coaches are just super nice and never change. They’re all just great men.”
Recently, Zac was selected to wrestle for the state of Utah’s all-star wrestling team and compete for a national title. Although he doesn’t compete in any offseason wrestling tournaments, ASICS has rated him the No. 12 heavyweight wrestler in the nation, which means during the season he scoring more points than most other wrestlers do all year round.
“USA wrestling allows each state to comprise an all-star wrestling team in all of the weight classes they have to field the best team they can to go against the best of the best from all around the country,” said Ian. “They have three All-Americans other than Zac on the team. One is a folk-style All-American named Jed Mellon from Payson High School and took first place at the Reno Tournament last year, the same tournament that Zac won the national title at. I think he won it at about 132 pounds, where Zac won the national title in the heavyweight bout. The other is Grant Lamont who is also an All-American and is out of Mapleton, Utah, and then Roy Nash is the other All-American and will be going to Worlds this year. They believe with Zac on the team, the Utah all-star team will be among the top three in the nation, and the most complete group of wrestlers they’ve ever had.”