BYU freshman OL Sione Veikoso dies unexpectedly during holiday break

BYU offensive lineman Sione Veikoso (72) with offensive line coach Darrell Funk during fall camp in August. Veikoso died unexpectedly during the holiday break, the Cougars confirmed late Friday night. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

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PROVO — The BYU football team is in mourning the night before New Year’s Eve.

Sione Veikoso, a 6-foot-7, 305-pound offensive lineman who played in one game in 2022, died unexpectedly during the holiday break, BYU Athletics confirmed late Friday night.

The freshman transfer from Kailua, Hawaii, by way of Arizona State, was beloved on the team since transferring from Tempe, Arizona, last year and worked into the offensive line room that included NFL draft-bound linemen Harris LaChance and Joe Tukuafu, a sixth -year senior from East High who is a cousin.

“We are extremely saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of our brothers, Sione Veikoso,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said in a statement. “His passing is heartbreaking to all of us. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his family as we share in their grief. Our love for you is forever, Sione.”

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe also expressed his condolences to Veikoso’s family.

“The BYU football family mourns the passing of our dear teammate and fellow Cougar, Sione Veikoso,” Holmoe tweeted. “May his family and friends feel our love and faith at this most sacred and difficult time. Peace be with you now and forever, Sione.”

On behalf of the entire BYU Football family, our thoughts and prayers are with Sione’s family and friends during this extremely difficult time.

Rest in Love Sione. God be with you till we meet again.

— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) December 31, 2022

“(Veikoso) came to work everyday with a positive attitude and went hard EVERYDAY literally, but more than that he was a great human being,” added former BYU graduate assistant DJ Williams, who recently took his first collegiate job as cornerbacks coach at Northern Colorado. “Prayers out to all his loved ones. Don’t take this life for granted. Tell your people you love them.”

The manner of Veikoso’s unexpected death could not be confirmed at the time of this writing, but early reports indicate he had left campus during the winter break for employment. BYU students were set to report back for winter semester classes on Monday.

Veikoso served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manauas, Brazil, from 2018-20 and returned to Arizona State upon his return. He played in just one game while redshirting the 2021 season before transferring to BYU in July of this past year with four seasons of eligibility remaining. After playing in one game, a 52-26 win over FCS Utah Tech in the regular-season home finale, Veikoso was expected to compete for a starting spot with the departures of LaChance and Tukuafu, transfers of Campbell and Clark Barrington, and expected departure of left tackle Blake Freeland to the NFL draft.

He was listed on the two-deep depth chart behind Freeland for the Cougars’ New Mexico Bowl game against SMU, a game the Cougars won 24-23 before dispersing from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The son of Sione Veikoso and Wendy Kava had a cousin Sione Kava who played defensive tackle at Oregon in 2018-19, and another cousin Isi Sofele who played running back at Cal from 2009-12. A lover of anime and his faith, Veikoso was recruited by Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State prior to signing with the Sun Devils out of high school.

Speechless! We’d talk about our future here at the Y so many times. I love you and I miss you tokoua ! This next season for you! Ofa’s bro ! LL72😓💙🕊️

— Lisala Tai (@lisalatai58) December 31, 2022×

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.

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