The linebacker class of the 2021 NFL Draft is filled with big names from the top programs in the nation, which should give teams some solid value options after the first few rounds.
One such prospect could be BYU’s Kavika Fonua, who is used to overcoming adversity and silencing those who doubt his ability to play football at a high level.
An experienced player who first stepped foot on campus in 2014, Fonua had to work his way back from an unfortunate injury back in 2017. Fonua recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about a life-changing experience in Canada, what he loves about playing the linebacker position, and why an NFL team should use one of their draft picks on him.
JM: Before we get into football, I want to learn more about one of your off-field experiences. You actually served on a mission that traveled to Vancouver, Canada. Tell me about that experience.
KF: It was a great experience for a young man or woman. For me specifically, it was such a good opportunity. I got to learn a little bit more about my church. It taught me the whole dynamic about how we operate. It gave me a lot of life experience. I learned from it. I understand others better now. I went outside my bubble and went into the real world. It was a real eye-opener. It was a very cool experience.
JM: That’s great. How do you reflect on your career at BYU? You went through multiple position changes and battled through injuries. It was quite the ride.
KF: It’s tough to reflect on it. There’s a lot to unpack there, as you said. I have so much to reflect on. I went through some struggles. I battled through injuries. There were a lot of tough moments for me, but there were also many accomplishments. I moved around a lot and changed positions. Despite that, I was able to play at a high level at every position. It was a fun, but wild experience.
JM: You really settled in at linebacker. What’s your favorite part of playing that position?
KF: I love to tackle. That’s by far the best part about it. Whenever I make a tackle, that’s just the best feeling in the world (laughs). Don’t get me wrong, interceptions and pass breakups are also great, I don’t want to take anything away from that. But making tackles is just so much fun.
JM: How would you describe your play style?
KF: I have a knack for finding the ball. I can navigate through traffic, get off blocks and make tackles. I try to be around the ball as much as possible. The more guys you have around the ball on defense makes you tough to play against. That’s how you create turnovers.
JM: I love that. Who are some of the best players you went up against throughout your time at BYU?
KF: The wide receiver from Houston, Marquez Stevenson comes to mind. He’s very good, but we did a great job game-planning for him. We were ready for him and we stopped him. He’s going to be a good NFL receiver, though.
JM: We know that you love to tackle. As a linebacker, do you prefer to drop in coverage or to come downhill and make a stop in the run game?
KF: I like doing both. Playing in coverage is always fun. But I do love to hit in the run game. I’m very comfortable in both situations.
JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Kavika. In closing, why should an NFL team use one of their draft picks on Kavika Fonua?
KF: I’m willing to do anything to help the team. I can play on special teams. I’m a team-first guy. I just want to help put the team in a position to win a lot of football games.