Former BYU star Kai Nacua dazzles in UFL opener

Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Kai Nacua (12) scores on an interception against Fresno in Provo, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. BYU won the game 52-10.

Just as he did at BYU, Kai Nacua is still making an impact on the gridiron.

The former Cougars safety — and older brother of NFL superstar Puka Nacua — proved dominant this past weekend for the UFL’s Michigan Panthers, recording a team-high 11 tackles with two stops for loss and a sack in a winning effort.

Nacua’s highlight of the day came on a first quarter sack of former Alabama quarterback and two-time national champion A.J. McCarron, who succumbed to Nacua’s pressure on a well-designed safety blitz.

This weekend marked the UFL’s inaugural showing, as the league was formed in December following a merger between the XFL and United States Football League.

The UFL is comprised of eight teams, all having previously competed within one of the two leagues prior to the merger. Nacua had been part of last year’s USFL Panthers squad, totaling 31 tackles over six games to earn an invitation back for UFL play.

Another Nacua, former Utah and BYU receiver Samson, was with the club during the preseason but has since been released.

Kai is the second of five Nacua boys. His older brother Isaiah was once a Cougars signee, while the aforementioned Samson and Puka caught passes in Provo together before Puka became a record-breaking, household name with the Los Angeles Rams.

The youngest Nacua, Tei, signed with BYU this past December to follow in his family’s legendary footsteps, as the Deseret News previously reported.

Kai Nacua spent four seasons as a Cougar, grabbing 14 interceptions with two touchdowns across 38 contests. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and has spent time with six different organizations — most recently the New York Jets in 2022 — before joining Michigan.