BYU Athletics Blog | 2008 | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Athletics Blog | 2008

Thursday's Hero and Scott Johnson Update

Nov 13, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 6:16 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Thursday's Hero

The team recognized 22-year-old Jaren from Brigham City, Utah as this week's Thursday’s Hero. Jaren is a huge fan of BYU football and especially freshman linebacker Matt Putnum, who hails from the same city.

Jaren attended Utah Valley University and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil, but has recently been diagnosed with Sarcoma cancer. Sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that affects the soft tissue and various radiation and chemotherapy treatments have proven ineffective. Next month Jaren will undergo a new procedure to try and combat the cancer.

“You are around our age and we appreciate your sacrifice and your example,” said junior linebacker Jeff Bell as he presented Jaren with a Fui jersey, some hats and a signed team flag.

Freshman linebacker Spencer Hadley presented the team flag to Jaren, asking him to sign it. Senior linebacker Terrance Hooks also presented Jaren with the team coin, telling him that Coach Mendenhall wouldn’t ask him to do push-ups if he didn’t have it when asked for, like he does with the players.

Jaren graciously accepted all of the gifts and left the Cougars with some words of encouragement, explaining that he was very humbled and grateful for the opportunity he had to be at practice and share that special moment with the BYU football team.

Scott Johnson Update

After practice today I caught up with junior defensive back Scott Johnson to find out how the past couple weeks have changed since the season-ending double-groin injury he suffered against CSU.

“Nothing has changed much, schedule-wise,” he said. “I’m still around for the same amount of time. I’m not at a point where I can work out, but I still come to practice. My role is to help the guys who are filling positions to know exactly what they are supposed to be doing so we don’t miss a beat. I’m mostly here for moral support now.”

While Johnson admits he has more time to concentrate on his schoolwork now that he is off the official travel roster, he has high hopes of returning and contributing by the time bowl season rolls around.

“I’m not supposed to test [the injury] out right now,” he said. “It’s tough to say, but I’m going to say yeah I’ll be back for the bowl game to give whatever support I can—whether it’s to play or practice.”

BYU’s secondary has taken several injury hits over the past couple weeks, forcing younger players like Andrew Rich and Brandon Bradley to step up and fill those roles.

“Those guys are doing a great job,” said Johnson. “There’s a lot more emotion out there and everyone's fitting into their positions. We haven’t lost anything with guys coming in and playing different positions.”

Fireside Reminder

For those who will be in the Colorado Springs area this weekend, don't forget about the team's weekly pregame fireside. This week's fireside will be held at Colorado Springs Stake Center located at 155 Pine Ave. The program will begin at 7 p.m.

Player Journals

One last thing, make sure you check out the "Player Journals" section of the website. I have contacted several of the players and will periodically add more entries to that section. The newest entry to be added is by senior punter CJ Santiago who writes about the life lessons he has learned since playing here at BYU under Coach Mendenhall.

CJ Santiago: Seeing a Greater Purpose

Nov 13, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 2:35 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

I feel that the most important lesson that I've learned from Coach Mendenhall is how unimportant football is compared to other aspects of our lives--starting with faith, our education, family and friends. I think what Coach Mendenhall has really done is put things in perspective on the importance of life. What many young athletes don't think about is even the best football players don't play more than fifteen or twenty years, while the majority of us don't play past the collegiate level.

Coach Mendenhall is preparing us for a life that has nothing to do with football. By helping us succeed in the classroom first, he is helping us paint a picture of our future. It's not always the clearest picture, but it is a start, and it is definitely pointing us in the right direction.

What's funny is I am starting to realize that by spending more time on faith, education and with family, that it is improving our quality of life, which in turn has been leading to success on the football field.

It is said that one of the greatest fears among young adults is the fear of the unknown, and that is one thing that this program is trying its best to eliminate. With such a strong emphasis on education here, along with the help of our advisers and guidance counselors I feel that fear of the unknown isn't a huge problem. The majority of us know what we want to do and are taking the necessary steps to attain these goals.

I think one reason Coach Mendenhall has been able to get more out of us as a team is because we are starting to see a greater purpose in what we are doing. He says that our success in football is just a vehicle to drive a more important message. It is more than just football. He is pushing us to succeed in life as businessman, teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, fathers, sons, husbands, etc. And I think it is when we see that clear vision of our future--and we know it is within reach, and we get that sigh of relief, that moment of joy--that nothing seems impossible.

It is times like these when we can work harder than we ever thought, exceed expectations, overcome any obstacles, and play football because we love the game. So basically, what I have learned and what I'll never forget is to remember what's important in life, to find your passion, and let it fuel a fire that can never be put out.

Visit CJ's bio page here.

Thursday's Hero

Nov 06, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 8:05 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

The BYU football team honored seven-year-old Andrew Felsted as Thursday’s Hero, giving him the coveted signed “Y” flag, Fui Vakapuna jersey and team coin. Andrew also signed his name on the team flag that is carried out onto the field each game day.

One year ago, Andrew had brain surgery to remove medulla blastula cancer. After his surgery he also had 36 days of radiation and a few rounds of chemotherapy. For any age, this would be quite the ordeal to overcome, but this six-year-old fought through it all, and is now expected to live a long and healthy life.

The Cougars applauded this young cancer survivor as Wayne Latu, Vakapuna and Isaac Taylor presented him his gifts.

Fireside Reminder

Don't forget about the Cougars' pregame fireside tomorrow night at 7 p.m. This week's fireside will be hosted by the Springville West Stake. The address of the chapel is:

996 W. Center Street

Springville, UT

Come support the team! And don't forget to come watch BYU's final home game of the season at home in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. WEAR BLUE!!!

Newcomer Questionnaire: Iona Pritchard

Nov 04, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:14 am | 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.

Iona Pritchard

South Jordan, UT


What made you decide to come play here at BYU?

It’s a good place with good people that have the same standards of me.

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

I don’t know yet, I’m not sure. I’m planning to go on a mission after this season, so I’ll figure all that out after.

What is your favorite football memory?

Just playing the game. The game is fun.

Who has been your greatest football influence?

My dad. He taught me how to play and taught me a lot about that game. That’s probably why I’m so passionate about it.

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

I’m looking forward to fall camp and getting ready to play ball. I want to work hard and see where that gets me. That’s my goal for right now.

What’s your favorite movie and why?

“Dark Knight” for right now. It’s a good movie and better than all the other ones I have seen recently.

Pritchard has seen playing time in all of BYU's nine games so far this season, recording 10 tackles, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. He has also seen a few reps on the offensive side of the ball.

Pregame Fireside: Colorado State

Oct 31, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 9:54 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Tonight’s fireside in Fort Collins featured talks by freshman linebacker Jadon Wagner, freshman defensive back Blake Morgan, head coach Bronco Mendenhall and BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson.

Wagner, who served his mission in the Colorado Denver North mission from 2004-06, started the night by reading Matt. 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In relation to missionary work, Wagner shared a personal experience when he was not prepared and chose not to share the gospel with an acquaintance.

“I regretted not sharing the Gospel, but now I understand why I didn’t,” he said. “It wasn’t my treasure at the time. Through prayer, daily repentance and use of the Atonement, the Gospel will become our treasure and we will have the power to share it.”

Following Wagner’s talk, defensive back Scott Johnson and linebackers Matt Bauman and Coleby Clawson stood to sing an acapella version of Hymn No. 335, “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.”

Morgan, who hails from Greeley, Colo., was the next to speak, pulling quotes from a talk entitled, “Discipleship” given by President James E. Faust during the October 2006 General Conference.

“The word for disciple and the word for discipline both come from the same Latin root—discipulus, which means pupil,” quoted Morgan. “It emphasizes practice or exercise. Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Jesus, as exemplified by Peter, James, and John, who indeed “forsook all, and followed him.”

“There have been times in my life when I’ve struggled to do what is right, as we all have at one time or another,” shared Morgan. “But discipleship is a price we should always be willing to pay. When we stand up for what’s right Heavenly Father rewards us.”

After the team’s traditional performance of “We’ll Bring the World His Truth,” Coach Mendenhall stood to speak. He described a true disciple as someone who is willing to take a moment, acknowledge someone else, put his or her arm around them and help emphasize what’s important.

Mendenhall pointed out that the Cougars started the 2005-2007 seasons with only one win and two or three losses. He expressed his appreciation for those situations because, “We were able to learn early who we were.” The team’s loss to TCU a few weeks ago, midway through the season, presented a much different challenge.

“We thought we were someone else,” said Mendenhall. “The adversary wants us to think the same way about ourselves. When we think we’re someone else, opportunities come and go and are missed.”

President Samuelson closed the fireside, sharing a brief message about the importance of institute and the power it has an effective missionary tool.

“The institutes of religion around the country are some of the greatest tools to share the Gospel,” he said. “We all have the blessing and responsibility to share the Gospel.”

To read Pres. Faust's talk referenced by Blake Morgan, CLICK HERE.

Pregame Fireside: UNLV

Oct 25, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:05 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

While sitting in the pressbox waiting for kickoff this afternoon, I'll try and summarize the talks shared at the fireside Friday night.

Last night the team held its traditional pregame fireside at the Colonial Stake Center in Provo. Players Tana Uyema and Jason Speredon joined Coach Mendenhall and his wife as speakers.

Uyema, a senior defensive back from Honolulu, Hawaii spoke of how we can become disciples of Christ thru service.

"Service is something I love to do," he said. "If I'm having a bad day, simply saying hello to someone really helps. As a football player here at BYU we have a great opportunity to be disciples and good examples to those around us."

A trio of players followed Uyema's talk with a special musical arrangement of "Lead Kindly Light."

Speredon, a member of the offensive line from West Valley shared some great examples of disciples of Christ in his personal life, including his wife. He also focused on key principles of discipleship, including: being anxiously engaged, beliefs demonstrated in behavior and focusing on what we are becoming.

"It's easy to focus on what we are, but it's not so easy to see what we are becoming," he said.

Chat Is Still On...Tomorrow

Oct 22, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:37 pm | Permalink

O'Neill got caught up finishing some school work this afternoon and was unable to make it to the player chat. We have rescheduled for 1:15 p.m. tomorrow. We still have the questions you've all submitted so come back to see his responses tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

Newcomer Questionnaire: Michael Alisa

Oct 21, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:08 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.

Michael Alisa

Provo, UT

Outside Linebacker

Do you have any nicknames?

In high school they called me “Big Mike” but that doesn’t really work anymore because I’m one of the smallest guys here.

What made you decide to come play here at BYU?

I’ve always wanted to come here to BYU. I went to look at a couple other schools, but when I came to BYU and talked with the coaches, I knew this was someplace that I wanted to go to. The coaches are all really good men and great examples to me of strong priesthood holders. This is the place that I want to become a man at.

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

I really want to get my MBA in business. BYU has an excellent business program so I’m excited to pursue that.

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

Definitely my brother-in-law Wayne Latu. He’s a good player, but the reason I look up to him the most is he’s a good man. He’s the kind of guy I want to be like.

What is your favorite football memory?

Definitely when Coach Mendenhall sat me down in his office and told me that he wanted me to come to BYU. It was like a dream. I walked out and started tearing up. I called my dad first and thanked him for everything, then called my mom. That by far was my favorite memory.

Who has been your greatest football influence?

My mom and my dad. They’ve always supported me, even with little things like driving me to practice every day and being there at all my games. They’ve always been there for me 100-percent, no matter that I do.

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

I’m hoping to help the team as much as possible. Our team has so much potential, we can do some great things as far as football goes, and also be good examples off the field. I’m just really excited to be a part of it and to be a part of where the program is heading.

Alisa has seen playing time in five of the first seven games of the 2008 season, recording six tackles and one blocked kick.

Events for This Week

Oct 21, 2008 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:01 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink


Our player chat for this week is with wide receiver and return specialist O'Neill Chambers. The freshman will hold a chat tomorrow, Wednesday, at noon.

In his first season as a collegiate football player, O'Neill has seen significant time on kickoff returns for the Cougars. Averaging 24.5 yards per return, he ranks 42nd nationally.

Submit questions for O'Neill HERE.


This week's pregame fireside will be held at the Colonial Stake Center in Provo at 7 p.m. The address for the stake center is: 1625 South Slate Canyon Dr.

Thursday's Hero on Tuesday

Oct 15, 2008 - Posted by Jackie Johnson at 11:27 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Because of Thursday’s game against TCU, the BYU football team celebrated their “Thursday’s Hero” Tuesday at practice. Two young men, Trent Duval and Kyle Sorenson were honored as Heroes of the BYU football team.

Duval is an 8-year-old boy who has AML Leukemia and has been in the hospital 11 of the last 15 months. Originally Duval was supposed to be honored later on in the season, but because he only has days or weeks to live, he was able to see his Cougars practice and get some great gifts as well.

Sorenson is a 12-year-old Cougar football fan who got in a car accident eight years ago with his whole family. Everyone survived, but Sorenson was left a quadriplegic, having to use a breathing tube.

Defensive lineman, Jan Jorgensen, presented the gifts.

“Trent, you’re a stud,” said Jorgensen. “You have no idea how happy we are to have you out here. We know that you are a big BYU fan, and we want you to know that you’re our hero. There are not a lot of people that get to come out here and do this, but we want you to know that you’re a part of our BYU football team. To show our love for you, we have a bag full of goodies for you.”

Duval and Sorenson both received hats, signed flags and a Fui Vakapuna jersey. When presented the Vakapuna jersey, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “You’re probably faster than Fui right now!”

Russell Tialevea presented the team flag and asked them each to sign it, while Ian Dulan and Brock Richardson both presented the boys the team coins.

“This coin is what we represent,” said Dulan. “We must carry it with us at all times, and if Coach Mendenhall asks us to present the coin, we must present it or we will have to run!”

Duval and Sorenson were accompanied by their families, all totaling over 41 men, women and children at the Cougar practice.