BYU Athletics Blog | 2008

Las Vegas: Day 4

Dec 19, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:23 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Today started off with the team walk-through at Bishop Gorman High School. It lasted for about half an hour. Afterwards, Duff Tittle, Mark Philbrick and I jumped in the van and waited for coach Mendenhall, Max Hall and David Nixon to change into their suits and ties before heading off to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the Las Vegas Bowl press conference. As soon as we reached the convention center we rushed upstairs to the press conference where the media was awaiting our arrival. Coach and the players were joined by Arizona head coach Bob Stoops, receiver Mike Thomas and linebacker Ronnie Palmer.

An hour later the rest of the team arrived for the traditional bowl luncheon. Holly Rowe hosted the event while former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann was the keynote speaker. Before the luncheon began, Duff and I were busy finding BYU players who speak foreign languages for ESPN who is putting together a short package for the bowl game about the 84 return missionaries on our team and the high number of them who speak other languages. The players were asked to share a holiday message in their chosen language. We had representatives who spoke Mandarin Chinese, Samoan, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Hawaiian.

Following the luncheon we all returned to the hotel to relax before the fireside at 7 p.m.

Walk-on defensive lineman Steven Fisher and running back Wayne Latu were the players who spoke at the fireside. Fisher started his talk by sharing the scripture Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."

"Christ always treated everyone with kindness," shared Fisher. "He spent his time seeking out the one and serving others despite being ridiculed and mocked by others. He truly was the perfect example of kindness."

He shared several examples of when others in his life showed kindness, including a friend he had in the fourth grade and his father.

"Because of my father's kindness I am a totally different man than I would have been otherwise," said Fisher.

Before he gave his talk, Latu joined Harvey Unga, Travis Uale and Michael Alisa to perform an a capella musical number, "Sweet Spirit".

Latu's message focused on the three ways we can become a living testimony of the Savior. First, we cannot represent Christ if we don't know him.

"We need to take an active part in making the Gospel a reality for us," he said.

Secondly, we must put the Lord first. Latu shared a recent personal experience when he and his wife had their second child back in August. Birth complications forced their daughter, Kina, to remain in the hospital for several weeks. Together with his wife, they spent many sleepless nights at their daughter's bedside.

"We love those of whom we serve, those we sacrifice for the most," said Latu. "That same principle is true with our relationship with the Lord. We love the Lord most when we put him first in our lives and sacrifice for him."

Lastly, Latu said we must forget ourselves and go forth and serve. After we apply these three principles, we can truly become living testimonies of the Savior.

Las Vegas: Day 3

Dec 19, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:32 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

It was another busy day for the Cougars here in Las Vegas, starting with an early morning visit to the local children's hospital. BYU's Nate Hartung, Dustin Graham, Victor Unga, Steve McFarland and Lawrence Pico joined several members of the Arizona team at the hospital, where they made the rounds and spread some holiday cheer with the young patients. Cosmo was also there and was a big hit with a lot of the children. One particular young boy entertained everyone in the hallway as he tossed his new BYU football around.

The team held its second practice at Bishop Gorman High School later in the morning.

Due to yesterday's snowy weather schools were canceled for the day, causing the team to cancel the previously planned service projects in the afternoon. Because of that, the players had several hours to spend on their own.

At 5:30 p.m. the team boarded the buses and headed to Fremont Street where Outback sponsored a buffet for BYU and Arizona. The players and their wives enjoyed steak, rice, chicken and salad while the DJ tried to convince some of the players to come up and dance onstage. Both Brandon Howard and Justin Sorensen shared their dancing skills with those in attendance.

Hopefully I'll get some photos from today posted tomorrow morning before the events of the day get in full swing. Stay tuned!

Las Vegas: Day 2

Dec 18, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:43 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

The team was kept busy on its first full day here in Las Vegas. It began with practice this morning at Bishop Gorman High School, home of the Gaels. We were all surprised at the cold and snowy weather, reminiscent of the climate we left behind in Provo.

Following a few hours of free time, the players and coaches boarded the buses again, heading to ESPN Zone located in the New York New York Hotel & Casino. Due to the poor weather conditions, the usual outdoor festivities were moved indoors. Following a few opening remarks from Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, players from both BYU and Arizona were free to eat and play games, while the media had chances to conduct interviews.

Cougars Brandon Howard and Brock Richardson competed in the "So You Think You Can Dance" contest against two Arizona players. While the Wildcats came out on top, BYU was victorious in the pie-eating contest as linebacker Jeff Bell was the first of six contestants to finish his pie first.

After arriving back at the team hotel, tickets to "Stomp Out Loud" were handed out and the entire team and their spouses filed into the theater to find their seats. Howard, Michael Reed, Terrance Hooks and Brandon Bradley were invited to stay after the show and join four Arizona players as the "Stomp" cast taught them a few moves. Keep an eye out for that on "Cougar Diaries". Trust me, you don't want to miss it.

With the day's official activities finished for the day, players enjoyed time relaxing in the hospitality room, where an ice cream stand serving BYU Creamery ice cream satisfied many of the late-night snack cravings.

Las Vegas: Day 1

Dec 17, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:33 pm | Permalink

So we all finally made it down to Las Vegas, hoping to escape the snow and cold weather but it seemed to have followed us. It's currently 36-degrees and snowing here at Bishop Gorman HS where the team is practicing.

The team got in later than expected last night, due to poor weather conditions and complications at the airport. Scheduled to fly out of Provo Airport, the team ended up leaving from Salt Lake. Upon their arrival, players and coaches ate dinner at the Spice Market Buffet, a complimentary buffet in our hotel, the Planet Hollywood.

The team had free time the rest of the night, with some of them opting to play video games in the hospitality room located in one of the hotel conference rooms.

Throughout our week here in Vegas Lane Olson and I hope to provide photos and tidbits of information so you can keep up with what the team's doing. Every evening we hope to have a new entry up. Enjoy bowl week!

Pre-Bowl Fireside Announcement

Dec 10, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 3:49 pm | Permalink

The team will hold its traditional pregame fireside on Friday, Dec. 19, the night prior to the Las Vegas Bowl. The fireside will begin at 7 p.m. at the Henderson Green Valley Stake Center. Coach Bronco Mendenhall, his wife Holly and volunteer team members will speak and provide musical numbers. Youth and adults are invited to attend.

Henderson Green Valley Stake Center

410 Valle Verde Drive

Henderson, Nevada 89014

Newcomer Questionnaire: O'Neill Chambers

Dec 08, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 2:41 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

During Fall Camp I sat down to talk with several of the newcomers on the 2008 BYU team, and asked them, among other things, why they decided to come to BYU and what they were looking forward to the most in the months and years to come.

O'Neill Chambers

Harmony, Florida

Wide Receiver

Where do you fall in your family?

I’m the second youngest. I have three sisters and two brothers.

What made you decide to come play here at BYU?

It was something new and they have a good program. They throw the ball a lot. I used to have dreams about coming here, so it’s something I wanted to do.

Do you know what you want to study here at BYU?

Mathematics and engineering.

Is there a veteran member of the team that you look up to?

Terrance Hooks.

What is your favorite football memory?

It would have to be my freshman year, playing in my first game and making my first catch on varsity.

Who has been your greatest football influence?

My mom and my dad. Professionally, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson.

What are you looking forward to the most as a BYU football player?

Coming out here and having fun. Hopefully accomplish my goals and the team goals, and get my degree here.

What’s your favorite movie and why?

“Love and Basketball” because basketball is my second sport. It has a lot of meaning to it and it comes to heart every time I watch it.

Pregame Fireside: Utah

Nov 21, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:36 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Tonight's fireside was held at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. It was only a short distance from the team hotel, so we walked instead of taking the buses like we normally do.

Junior linebacker Matt Bauman, who attended Skyline High School here in Salt Lake, was the first speaker. He recounted his first fall camp at BYU as a walk-on and how unprepared he felt. He compared that to a learning experience he had on his mission to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"Whether you're being beat up on the football field or on a spiritual field, those experiences help you become stronger," he said.

Bauman also addressed the importance of setting a good example for those around you. He used the example that it is easy to say you are going to be kind to someone, but actually putting kindness into action is harder to do.

"As we try and act like a disciple of Christ, that example shines through to others," said Bauman.

A group of players, consisting of Kellen Fowler, David Tafuna, Nick Alletto, Travis Uale, Coleby Clawson, Brenden Gaskins and Landon Jaussi, followed Bauman's talk by singing "Redeemer of Israel". Wide receiver Reed White accompanied them on the piano.

Junior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen was the second player to address those in attendance. He began by saying, "For us to experience eternal life we must know God. The meaning is simple, but to actually do that is a little harder."

The Helper, Utah native went on to ready Doctrine & Covenants 124:15 in which the Lord expresses his love for Hyrum Smith, brother of the prophet Joseph Smith.

"And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord."

Asking ourselves if we love that which is good is a good test to see exactly where we are in our quest to "know God". The simple things, like reading your scriptures daily and saying your personal prayers, are seemingly simple things that have a real impact.

"It is during those quiet times that you come to know your Heavenly Father the most," said Jorgensen.

He closed by reading a poem entitled, "Jake the Rancher" which illustrates the importance of knowing your Heavenly Father.

For a link to the poem, which was read in a 2002 BYU-Idaho devotional, CLICK HERE.

Thursday's Hero

Nov 20, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 5:42 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Tonight the team honored Kelly Edwards as this week's Thursday's Hero. In September of last year, Kelly was diagnosed with brain, liver and kidney cancer and was expected to have only two months to live. Shortly thereafter, he was called to serve as the bishop of the Spring Creek Ward in Lehi, Utah.

Last week Kelly and his family received the news doctors had discovered eight tumors requiring immediate surgery. Tomorrow he will undergo procedures to remove seven of the eight tumors--one of which cannot be removed due to its location on his brain stem.

Kelly was introduced to the team by freshman wide receiver Matt Marshall.

Fireside Reminder

Don't forget about the team's final pregame fireside of the regular season tomorrow night at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square at 7 p.m.

Travis Bright: The Sound of the Crowd

Nov 19, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:26 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

What do you enjoy most about being a BYU football player?

I think there are 2 things I enjoy most about being a BYU football player, first is the closeness of the team and second is the sound of the crowd on game day in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Playing in college obviously has the reputation of being more competitve than high school and having more separation between offense and defense with on and off the field involvement. But at BYU I have had the opportunity of having good friends on both sides of the ball. When we are either working out in the off-season, doing one-on-one drills with the defensive line or playing in the games we are all cheering each other on. I have had a great time being able to develop friendships at BYU that will be lifelong.

The the other thing that I love about being a BYU player is hearing the BYU fans erupt on game day when we run the flag out to start the game. It is a feeling that is hard to explain because you're excited, nervous, and pumped all in the same moment. I remember the first time BYU did the Haka and hearing the crowd go crazy when the player finished, that was a sound I will never forget. to be able to hear 65,000+ fans scream all at the same time does something to you inside that makes you want to go out and crush the opposing team more than ever. The BYU fans are incredible to have because when our defense is on the field their noise is like having a 12th guy on the field to distract the team with all that noise. As a player playing in another stadium where the crowd is loud it adds an extra element of difficulty, I know our fans are one of the loudest in the nation and you can tell by how well we do at home.

What do you enjoy to do besides football?

Some of the things that I enjoy doing outside of football is being with my family, going shooting or just working/playing on my truck.

My family is the most important thing in my life and I love to be with them whenever I get the chance. My wife Alison is my very best friend and we have a blast joking, teasing or just hanging out with each other. My son Bo is the coolest little guy and I just love playing with him when I come home for the day. Alison and I like to go to watch movies together, go on walks with Bo, go to the zoo or duck pond, anything to be together.

I also love to be outdoors being active and having fun, one of the things that I love doing outside is shooting my guns. I am always itching to go out and shoot any of my guns. I like to shoot clay pigeons with the shot-gun or target practice with one of my rifles or hand-guns. Alison says I have too many guns but I figure guns are like good friends, you can never have too many. But then if the weather isn't accomidating or if I am just bored I like to grab one of my guns and clean it again while I watch TV. So anytime I get to shoot, I'll take it!

Then finally I have a love affair with my other girl, my truck Betsy. I love my 1985 Ford F-150, I have so many memories with this truck that the sentimental value to me is prcieless! My dad bought it when I was about 7yrs and she's been in the family since. I just love taking a ride so I can listen to her engine rumble, working on the engine, or just tinkering on her. Betsy has been pretty loyal to me over the years exept for 2 transmissions and 1 engine replacement, but for having over 280,000 miles I think she's doing just fine. So one day I plan on doing a complete custom/restoration rebuild but until then I'll keep nursing her to get through the years.

Visit Travis' bio page here.

Pregame Fireside: Air Force

Nov 14, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 10:20 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Tonight’s fireside at the Colorado Spring Stake Center began with a talk by former BYU running back, and current student-assistant, Kelly Bills. Bills introduced the theme of his talk by posing the question, “Why is life so hard?” The official definition of the word “hard” states: difficult to manage, overcome and deal with.

“We often try to survive our problems, rather than endure them,” said Bills. “The difference is merely existing, as opposed to being obedient and following in faith. The key to life is to come unto Christ; going from where we’re currently at to where He is.”

Junior defensive lineman Brett Denney followed Bills’ talk by playing “I Believe In Christ” on his violin, accompanied by senior running back Wayne Latu on the piano.

Junior tight end Andrew George, who hails from Englewood, Colo., was the second player to speak. He focused on how we can recognize and fulfill our own personal life callings. George shared several examples of people who have strived to fulfill their life callings, beginning with the story of John Rowe Moyle and the trials he faced as he worked as a stone mason during the building of the Salt Lake Temple. George also shared Alma 29:1-6.

“Alma knew his calling,” reiterated George. “He was to preach the Gospel to the people, but he wanted to do it with a greater power than he could do himself. “

George closed his talk by reading Mosiah 18:8-9.

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.

“Everyone’s life calling is to stand as a witness of God,” said George. “We all have our own individual life callings, but they are all similar in that they revolve around family, striving to do what’s right and serving the Lord.”