Junior Dennis Pitta led the nation in receiving at Saturday's football game against UNI. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The Top Performers of the Week feature highlights the top athletes of each sport currently in play. Check back each week to see which athletes are standing out in Cougar sports.
Dennis Pitta – Football – Junior – Moorpark, Calif.
As one of the top returning tight ends in the nation, BYU junior Dennis Pitta wasted little time picking up where he left off following the 2007 season. In the Cougars' 41-17 season-opening victory over Northern Iowa, the nation's top tight end totaled 11 receptions for 213 yards to not only lead the Mountain West Conference, but also to lead the entire nation in receiving. He also set a MWC tight end single-game receiving record and marked the third highest receiving yardage total by a tight end in BYU history.
"I have to give credit to Max (Hall) for doing such a great job of delivering the ball and putting it on target," Pitta said. "You also have to give credit to our offensive line for giving Max the time he needed. They did a great job all day long."
During the game against the No. 3 ranked (FCS) Panthers, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound native of Moorpark, Calif., did not drop a single pass, catching everything from the routine to the sometimes spectacular.
"I really wasn't thinking about that during the game," Pitta said. "I just focus on one play at a time and try to do everything I can to catch the balls that are thrown to me. It just turned out at the end of the day, I hadn't dropped a ball."
After racking up three receptions for 19 yards in the first quarter, Pitta piled on three more receptions for 89 yards in the second quarter. On third-and-seven at the Northern Iowa 27-yard line, quarterback Max Hall found Pitta on a 25-yard strike to give BYU a first-and-10 at the UNI two-yard line. On the next play, sophomore running back Harvey Unga punched it in from two yards out to give the Cougars a 20-3 lead.
On the Cougars' final drive of the second quarter, Hall found Pitta on a 46-yard completion, setting Unga up for his second touchdown run in as many drives.
With only one reception in the third quarter for 21 yards and a first down, Pitta was the hot target again in the fourth quarter with three more receptions for 70 yards. His final reception of the game was a 28-yard grab from Hall that led to another BYU touchdown three plays later, giving the Cougars a commanding 34-17 lead.
On the day, eight of Pitta's 11 receptions were good for first downs and four of his receptions were counted during three of the Cougars' six scoring drives against the Panthers.
Bryn Porter – Volleyball – Senior – Camarillo, Calif.
Senior outside hitter Bryn Porter earned BYU Molten Classic MVP honors for her efforts in helping the Cougars begin the 2008 season 3-0. Porter led the team in kills in all three matches and tallied her first double-double of the season against Missouri with 19 kills and 16 digs, both career highs. She also set a new personal best in blocks with six against Tulane less than 24 hours after tying her previous career high of five against Utah State. With BYU trailing 16-15 in set five against Missouri on Saturday night, Porter came up with a huge crosscourt kill to hold off match point and spark a 3-0 Cougar spurt that sealed the match, 17-15, for BYU. After the first weekend of play, Porter leads the team and is seventh in the MWC with 3.67 kills per set. She is also tied for seventh in the league in blocks (1.17 bps).
Katie Larkin – Soccer – Senior – Draper, Utah
Katie scored two goals against No. 18 Georgia and lead the Cougars to a convincing home-opening victory Aug. 29. Her second goal gave her 29 for her BYU career, and moved her past former All-American Aleisha Rose on the all-time goals list. Her first goal came in the eighth minute of the game, and got the team off to a fast start, which it would need facing Hermann Award candidate Carrie Patterson. Larkin’s second goal capped the scoring for the night and gave the Cougars a home-opening win.