Brett Pyne | Posted: 28 Apr 2018 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

UPDATED: Seven additional Cougars receive NFL opportunities following draft

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Balderree, Tanielu and Brown join Hanneman, Koroma, Trinnaman and Laulile with NFL free-agent opportunities 

PROVO, Utah (April 28, 2018) — In addition to linebacker Fred Warner being drafted in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday, seven other former BYU football players signed NFL deals or received minicamp invitations as undrafted free agents following the draft.

“I’m happy for these guys,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We strive to help our players achieve their goals, and I’m excited they have earned opportunities to pursue their dreams of playing in the NFL.”

Wide receiver Jonah Trinnaman signed with the Arizona Cardinals, defensive back Micah Hannemann inked a deal with the Browns, and former defensive lineman Tomasi Laulile, who was a member of BYU’s 2016 team, agreed to a contract with the Indianapolis Colts. All-American center Tejan Koroma accepted minicamp offers from Tennessee and Kansas City to demonstrate his talents before signing a free-agent deal with the Chiefs.

Tight end Tanner Balderree accepted a minicamp invitation from Cleveland, where he joins Hannemann. Additional former Cougars to receive minicamp invites were defensive lineman Handsome Tanielu and running back Algernon Brown, who both joined Koroma with offers in Kansas City. Brown last played for the Cougars in 2016 and received this opportunity after last year signing as a free agent with the Seahawks and Jets. 

Historically, BYU has had 186 former players receive NFL opportunities as undrafted free agents in addition to Warner becoming the 141st Cougar selected in the annual draft.

This story will be updated as any additional signings and free-agent invites for other former BYU players are announced. Read more below about the former Cougars receiving free-agent opportunities this year.

Micah Hannemann

A versatile athlete, Hannemann was a three-year starter in BYU’s defensive backfield. The 6-foot, 190-pound native of Alpine, Utah, started two years at safety and one season at cornerback for the Cougars. He played in 44 games overall during his career at BYU (2012, 2015-2017), including 22 starts at safety and 13 at cornerback. 

In 11 games this past season, Hannemann had 48 tackles, including 28 solo tackles.  He also returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown.  Over his career, Hannemann totaled 123 career tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack.  He also made four interceptions and 14 pass breakups and contributed on the field as a punt returner with 13 career punt returns.

Tejan Koroma

An All-American center, Koroma started all 51 games in which he played over his career from 2014-2017.  Consistently graded as the team’s top offensive lineman, Koroma began his college career by earning recognition on five different Freshman All-America teams in 2014 before concluding his playing days in Provo with Pro Football Focus All-America Second Team honors in 2017.

A three-time Rimington Trophy watch list honoree, Koroma was not only named an All-American by Pro Football Focus in 2017 but also ranked by PFF among the top four centers as a junior in 2016.  He helped BYU’s offense average more than 200 yards a game on the ground in 2016 while blocking for BYU’s all-time rushing leader Jamaal Williams, now with the Green Bay Packers. Known for his strength, leverage and reach, the 6-foot, 300-pound native of Allen, Texas, was a three-time Phil Steele Independent Team selection while also being recognized on Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award and Earl Campbell Award watch lists during his career. 

Jonah Trinnaman

Jonah Trinnaman started 20 of the 26 games he played for BYU in 2016 and 2017 after transferring from Snow College. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound wide receiver caught 52 passes for 626 yards the past two seasons with the Cougars. He also added 345 yards on 18 kick returns, including a long of 45 yards. With 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash and 40.5-inch vertical leap, Trinnaman has elite-level speed and explosive athleticism. His career-long reception at BYU was a 75-yard catch for a touchdown.

Prior to coming to BYU, Trinnaman was a first-team all-league receiver and return specialist representing Snow College in the Western States Football League. From Highland, Utah, Trinnaman was also a 2015 NJCAA All-America First Team honoree as a return specialist. He averaged 33.9 yards per return, taking one to the house, while totaling 47 receptions for 803 yards and eight touchdowns as a wideout.

Tomasi Laulile

Laulile played in 33 games with three starts playing for the Cougars from 2013-2016. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman totaled 47 tackles, including 28 solo takedowns, with six sacks and 10 tackles for loss. 

From his position in the trenches, Laulile regularly used his strength and athleticism to make plays that don’t show on a stats sheet.  From Westlake, California, he also found ways to make big plays, blocking a kick, recording an interception, forcing a fumble and recovering two fumbles, including one he returned 37 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the half in BYU’s 2015 win at Utah State.

Tanner Balderree

Balderree played in 35 games over his BYU career from 2014-2017. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound tight end came to Provo as a defensive end before switching to the offensive side of the ball as a sophomore. He became a significant contributor with 13 starts over his final two seasons as a strong blocker while also totaling 15 receptions and 182 receiving yards with two touchdowns. 

A native of Sherwood, Oregon, Balderree averaged 12.3 yards per reception for the Cougars. He had a career-best 62 receiving yards in BYU’s 55-53 win over Toledo in 2016, including a career-long 27-yard reception against the Rockets. He took a pass from quarterback Taysom Hill, now with New Orleans Saints, 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown in a double-overtime victory over Mississippi State in 2016.

Handsome Tanielu

Tanielu transferred to BYU for his final two seasons and was a significant contributor as a defensive tackle for the Cougars. The 6-foot-2, 325-pounder played in 25 games with 12 starts to help anchor the center of BYU’s defensive front. He started 11 games as a senior, making 30 tackles with 13 solo stops and 1.5 tackles for loss.  Overall he totaled 41 tackles with one fumble recovery, a quarterback hurry and one pass breakup for the Cougars.

From Waianae, Hawai’i, Tanielu played a strong role in the trenches that often wasn’t reflected in statistics. Prior to his 2016 and 2017 seasons in Provo, Tanielu played at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, where he was the No. 3-rated defensive tackle in the junior college ranks.

Algernon Brown

Brown played both fullback and running back for the Cougars during his 46-game career with over 1,300 rushing yards. He was a member of the Cougar squad from 2010, 2013-2016.

In 2016, Brown plowed the road for all-time leading rusher Williams after switching over to fullback. As a junior in 2015, Brown was the primary ball carrier, leading BYU with 709 rushing yards on 127 attempts and had 11 rushing scores. A solid pass catcher as well, Brown had 35 career receptions for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

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