UPDATED | Four Cougars reach NFL agreements as free agents on Saturday
UPDATE (May 13, 2014): Former BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel accepted a minicamp invitation from the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, adding to the list of Cougars receiving NFL opportunities.
PROVO, Utah (May 10, 2014) – In addition to All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who was drafted Friday in the second round by the Detroit Lions, four other BYU players from the 2013 team have reached agreements with NFL teams as free agents on Saturday night. Additional signings could still be announced.
BYU player with confirmed free-agent deals include wide receiver Cody Hoffman with the Washington Redskins, safety Daniel Sorensen with the Kansas City Chiefs, defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna with the New York Giants and linebacker Spencer Hadley signed with the New Orleans Saints.
"I'm proud of what each of these young men have accomplished,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I'm grateful for their many contributions to BYU and our football program and excited they have earned these opportunities with the NFL."
Hoffman is a 6-foot-4, 223-pound receiver who set BYU career records for receptions (260), receiving touchdowns (33), receiving yards (3,612), all-purpose yards (5,015), and games with more than 100 receiving yards (18) while also setting the single-game mark for receiving touchdowns in a game (5). An SI.com All-America honorable mention in 2012 when he made 100 catches for 1,248 yards, Hoffman is a reliable finisher with great hands who concluded his Cougar career with 43 consecutive games with at least one reception.
Known for his size and ability to make plays, the Crescent City, California, native played big in big games for the Cougars, highlighted by his play in the postseason. Helping BYU go 3-1 in bowl games, Hoffman totaled 137 receiving yards and 262 all-purpose yards with three touchdowns in the bowl game his freshman year, contributed 122 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the bowl as a sophomore, led BYU with 114 receiving yards in the bowl as a junior and tallied a game-high 167 receiving yards in his final game this past season.
“Cody had an amazing career at BYU," Mendenhall said. "He's a great young man and he makes plays. I'm looking forward to following his continued success."
Sorensen is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety who played in 51 games as a three-year starter at BYU, where he tallied 211 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, one sack, 23 pass breakups, eight interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick. A 2013 defensive captain and two-time All-Independent selection, Sorensen also excelled on special teams at BYU where he was regarded as one of the nation’s best gunners on punt coverage. His brother Brad, a quarterback, plays for the San Diego Chargers after being selected in the seventh round of last year’s draft.
A native of Colton, California, Sorensen participated in the NFL Combine this year and not only turned in the fastest 3-cone drill by any defensive back but also the top time by any player at any position in the entire combine. His time of 6.47 seconds was also the fastest time recorded at a combine since 2006 by a safety, the second-best time among all defensive backs including corners, and the fifth-fastest performance from any position overall in that timeframe. He also played in the East-West Shrine Game after finishing his senior year at BYU.
"Daniel is one of the best football players I've coached," Mendenhall said. "He has exceptional character, works hard, plays physical and is completely trustworthy. He has all the tools to be a great contributor both on defense and special teams in the NFL."
Manumaleuna was a four-year starter who played both nose tackle and defensive end in a BYU-record 56 games played. The 6-foot-2, 296-pound lineman started in 51 games, including the first four games of the 2012 season before a knee injury allowed last year’s No. 5 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, to assume the starting role for the remainder of the year. Manumaleuna moves well as a versatile lineman known for his strength, balance and body control in the trenches.
The Anchorage, Alaska, native, totaled 144 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries, two blocked kicks, one forced fumble, four pass breakups and one interception as a Cougar. Manumaleuna, whose uncle Frank and cousin Brandon also played in the NFL, blocked a field goal as a true freshman to seal BYU’s bowl victory over UCLA. He was named to both the FBS and Phil Steele All-Independent First Team after being on the Outland Trophy watch list in 2013.
"Eathyn is a great leader and an excellent football player who does all the little things right to make your team successful," Mendenhall said. "He's extremely reliable and consistent and well-deserving of this opportunity in the NFL.”
Hadley is a 6-foot-1, 232-pound linebacker who played both inside and outside linebacker in 43 games at BYU. Highly competitive with excellent agility, the Connell, Washington, native recording 149 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions, five fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown during his career with the Cougars.
As a sophomore in his first career start, Hadley had a team- and career-high 12 tackles against the Texas Longhorns. A two-year starter, he tied that career number in 2013 against Boise State, highlighted by seven solo takedowns.
"Spencer plays hard and is extremely tough and productive," Mendenhall said. "I'm happy for Spencer and proud of the way he has worked to put himself in this position."
Having signed as free agents, the players will take part in upcoming team minicamps and workouts looking to make their respective team's final roster.
Historically, BYU has had 154 former players sign as free agents with NFL teams in addition to those drafted by the NFL. Van Noy became the 140th Cougar to be drafted after being selected with the 40th overall pick of this year’s draft by the Detroit Lions.
BYU football wrapped up its first week of fall camp with its fifth practice on Saturday morning.