Men's Football Blog

New Mexico Pregame Fireside

Nov 14, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:09 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Last night's fireside featured talks from senior linebacker Coleby Clawson and senior running back Manase Tonga.

Coleby centered his talk around one of his ancestors, Moses Clawson. After discovering Moses' handwritten autobiography in the Special Collections area of the BYU Harold B. Lee Library, Coleby has learned valuable lessons on discipleship. Moses was baptized into the Church in 1835 after getting an original copy of the Book of Mormon.

After joining the Church he wrote, "Persecution raged immediatley with unrefuted anger."

"Being a disciple has never been easy," said Coleby. "There are always things to throw us off the path."

He went on to relate how Moses crossed the plains and eventually settled parts of southern Utah. While experiencing many trials, he never lost his faith or dedication to the Gospel.

"We all have weakness and trials," said Coleby. "But if you ask yourself, 'Do you believe these things,' you'll be able to overcome some of those weaknesses."

He ended his talk expressing gratitude for his father's great example of discipleship.

"I'll always remember those acts of love and service," he said. "I've learned a lot through the examples of others."

The musical number that followed featured four wide receivers, McKay Jacobson, BJ Peterson, Brett Thompson and Spencer Hafoka. They sang the hymn "Ye Elders of Israel".

Following the musical number Manase opened his talk by expressing his appreciation for the team firesides. He was present in 2005 when Bronco Mendenhall held the team's first fireside in Albuquerque. BYU has held a fireside before every game since then.

After being removed from the football program for 16 months following the 2007 season due to academic reasons, Manase returned this past August. He told of an experience he had with Mendenhall upon his return.

"I went to see him in his office and the first question he asked me was, 'What got you in that situation in the first place,'" recalled Manase. "I couldn't pinpoint an exact moment, but I did know that it started with one bad decision."

He said that while he was gone from BYU he kept in close contact with his position coach, Lance Reynolds.

"He would always tell me something that LaVell Edwards always said, 'The most important things in life are options,'" recalled Manase. "Options come by way of making good decisions. If you chose to make bad decisions, like quicksand, you'll slowly begin to sink."

Manase closed by sharing a poem entitled "I'd Rather See a Sermon" by Edgar Guest.

I'd rather see a sermon

than hear one any day;

I'd rather one should walk with me

than merely tell the way.

The eye's a better pupil

and more willing than the ear,

Fine counsel is confusing,

but example's always clear;

And the best of all preachers

are the men who live their creeds,

For to see good put in action

is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it

if you'll let me see it done;

I can watch your hands in action,

but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lecture you deliver

may be very wise and true,

But I'd rather get my lessons

by observing what you do;

For I might misunderstand you

and the high advice you give,

But there's no misunderstanding

how you act and how you live.

San Diego State Pregame Fireside

Oct 16, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 9:53 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Offensive lineman Marco Thorson was the first speaker at tonight's fireside in San Diego. He opened by sharing an experience he had while on his mission to Rancagua, Chile. After accepting a call from his mission president to serve as a local branch president, Thorson was put in a difficult situation, asking members to stretch their faith.

"It was really hard, but when you're a disciple of Christ, you start looking out for the welfare of others," he said. "You want them to experience the blessings of following Gospel principles."

Thorson went on to compare that situation to one he experienced just a few months ago. Before this season he hadn't played a single down in a collegiate game--ever. He was worried about how steep the difference would be between performing in practice versus a real game.

"What I realized as soon as I got in to play in my first game was that even though circumstances may be difficult, the choices are easy," he said. "When you prepare in practice and are then put into a challenging situation, things just click."

Following Thorson's talk a group of 10 defensive backs stood to sing "Come, Come Ye Saints." The group included Robbie Buckner, Landon Jaussi, Brian Logan, Scott Johnson, Travis Uale, Carter Mees, Andrew Rich, Craig Bills, Corby Eason and Zeke Mendenhall.

The second speaker was senior quarterback and tight end Brenden Gaskins. He opened by sharing his testimony.

"I feel very strongly about this Gospel because of the blessings it has given to me and my family," he said. "I love the opportunity we have to change and always become better."

Since marrying his wife, Lindsey, back in November of last year, Gaskins has gotten very close with his in-laws and extended family. He said that he's spent some time with his wife's grandfather, who is not a member of the Church, including golfing.

"Even though he is not a member of our faith by baptism, he is a member by action," shared Gaskins. "He is a great example to me on being a disciple of Christ."

Gaskins shared two things that will help us become more like our Savior in our quest for perfection: baptism and a knowledge of our divine potential.

"We must know that we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who gave his only begotten son in the flesh, giving us the opportunity to return to live with Him."

Brett Thompson: This Is the Place For Me

Oct 15, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:08 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

What are you looking forward to most about playing at BYU?

I am looking forward to becoming a better football player as well as receiving a great education. BYU will give me the opportunities to give service and represent this University.

What made you decide to sign with the Cougars?

I've always wanted to go on a mission and BYU gives me the best opportunity to do so. Most schools do not understand how important missions are and do not have a program like BYU for missionaries. When I first was on the BYU campus I had such a good feeling that came over me and it made me realize that this is the place for me.

What was it like playing in your first game as a Cougar?

The feeling of running out of the tunnel was overwhelming and took my breath away. Running out onto the field with my teammates side by side was amazing.

What have you enjoyed most so far about playing football at BYU?

What I have enjoyed most about playing football for BYU is the opportunities it gives me to meet new people. I love the Thursday's Hero program and how our team takes the time to recognize true heroes.

What are your goals this season?

My goals include contributing to the team as much as I have to offer. I want to get better everyday and work for a national championship.

Visit Brett's bio page here.

UNLV Pregame Fireside

Oct 09, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 11:21 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Tonight's pregame fireside was held at the Green Valley Stake Center.

Redshirt freshman defensive back Robbie Buckner opened the fireside with his talk on discipleship. He shared one his favorite scriptures, John 14:15.

"If ye love me, keep my commandments."

"The way we show our love is through charity--the strongest form of love," said Buckner.

He went on to share a point in time on his mission to Mozambique when he was feeling particularly frustrated. During companionship study he and his companion were reading from Preach My Gospel. They came across the section that taught specifically about charity. From that point on Buckner made an effort to become more charitable to those he met.

Elder Gene R. Cook said, "As we increasingly think and act like Him, the attributes of the natural man will slip away to be replaced by the heart and the mind of Christ. We will become like Him and then truly receive Him."

Buckner shared another mission experience he had during a Christmas visit to a local orphanage. He spent time playing with a young boy who seemed sad. It was only later that Buckner learned that the boy had been dropped off at the orphanage the day before.

"I'm grateful I could show love to him," he said. "It taught me a lot. I know that if we show love to others we will truly become disciples of Christ."

Following Buckner's talk Jeff Bell, Travis Uale and Zeke Mendenhall sang "I Am a Child of God" in both English and Spanish. Linebacker Matt Bauman accompanied them on the piano.

Freshman defensive back Craig Bills was the next speaker. His talk focused on inviting others to come unto Christ.

"The most important invitation we can extend is for someone to come unto Christ," he said. "It is also the most important invitation we can accept."

Bills shared a personal experience involving his grandfather, who recently joined the Church about five years ago. After years of family members talking to his grandpa about joining the Church and setting good examples, he finally decided to be baptized.

"My grandma was truly a witness of Jesus Christ during that time," said Bills. "She was very diligent--going to the temple regularly, fulfilling her callings and many other things. I am grateful for that example."

He closed his talk by sharing a quote by President Henry B. Eyring.

"When you give your heart to inviting people to come unto Christ, your heart will be changed. You will be doing His work for Him. You will find that He keeps His promise to be one with you in your service. You will come to know Him. And in time you will come to be like Him and “be perfected in him.” By helping others come unto Him, you will find that you have come unto Him yourself. If you want to be near Him, to feel His peace, you can do it best in His service."

Thursday's Hero

Oct 08, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 6:01 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Today's Thursday's Hero was Oscar, a 10-year-old boy from American Fork, Utah.

Oscar was put under the care of child protective services at the age of five after suffering abuse which resulted in him leaving the hospital wearing a full body cast.

For the past four years he has been living with a new family, but still lives with the effects of the abuse those years ago. He has a permanently dislocated hip causing him to walk with a slight limp.

After practice today the team gathered around Oscar as defensive back Landon Jaussi presented him with a bag of BYU gifts. Senior captain Scott Johnson then knelt down next to Oscar and asked him to sign the team flag which is carried onto the field prior to each game.

"We want you to become part of our team--one of us," said Johnson.

Fireside Reminder

The team will hold a fireside tomorrow night at the Green Valley Stake Center at 7 p.m. PT. Here is the address to the stake center:

410 North Valle Verde Drive

Henderson, Nevada

Riley Stephenson: No Better Way to Start My College Career

Oct 08, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:03 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

What are you looking forward to most about playing at BYU?

To be able to play at this great university and be able to have another chance to further my kicking career.

What made you decide to sign with the Cougars?

After visiting other colleges there wasn't a college that had the same peaceful respectful feeling that BYU had. I think that's what set it apart from other colleges I visited. That and coach Mendenhall had turned the program around. This was also the only college that work with me on serving a mission.

What was it like playing in your first game as a Cougar?

The first game I was able to play in was in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium versus the Sooners! I can't think of a better way to start your career playing at BYU than that! The first kick I had in that game was five yards deep in our own end zone. Right from the beginning I had to start with a kick like that which is not the easiest thing to do, especially when it's your first kick of your college career. It was awesome though, no pressure. Ha ha!

What have you enjoyed most so far about playing football at BYU?

Just having the opportunity to be able to play as a freshman and being around the football players and coaches is great, along with being able to play under the direction of coach Mendenhall

What are your goals this season?

My first goal is to stay healthy, second is to maintain a good punting average and hopefully be able to get my kickoffs to go deep into the end zone consistently! I want to be able to perform the best I can when called on in the game.

Visit Riley's bio page here.

Utah State Pre-Game Fireside

Oct 02, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 12:17 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Quarterback Riley Nelson and defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen were the two players who spoke at last night's fireside at the Provo Tabernacle.

Nelson, a transfer from Utah State, centered his talk around the principle of persistence. He shared an experience from when he returned from his mission earlier this year. While playing around with his brother and younger players from Logan High School, Nelson realized that being away from the game of football for two years definitely took its toll. Frustrated, he questioned whether or not he'd made the right decision to serve a mission and return to play at a Division I program. A quote by President Heber J. Grant helped him wade through his frustrations.

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do—not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”

Nelson went on sharing other examples of times in his life he felt overwhelmed, including learning to play the piano and preparing for the ACTs in high school.

"Sometimes it feels like we've done all we can," he added. "If we call on our Heavenly Father, he will send help, whether it be through another person, a song or a feeling from the Spirit."

He closed by bearing his testimony and stating his love for the Savior.

"Every person owes our Savior for his persistence," said Nelson. "We should try in every way to be like him and emulate his servants who we have the privilege of hearing from this weekend during General Conference."

Jorgensen followed with a talk on humility. He began by addressing the antithesis of humility--pride. The following is a quote from C.S. Lewis:

"Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone."

Turning to humility, Jorgensen quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell when he said, "The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we 'give' are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us."

Jorgensen then addressed two ways our humility is tested: hardships and success.

"Often times we don't think of successes as a test," he said. "But who do we attribute our successes to? We should say, 'The Lord, not me.'"

Robbie Buckner: Best Experience of My Life

Oct 01, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:14 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

How do you feel heading into the 2009 season since returning from your mission to Mozambique?

Serving a mission was the best experience of my life. We all do many things but serving a mission will top them all. It teaches you discipline, hard work and helps you come closer to your Lord and Savior. Heading into this season will be something great. Of course I have to shake off the mission rust, but it will be a great experience to improve and will be a great challenge. One of my greatest challenges that I had was on my mission. Just serving where I served was something difficult because of the difference in culture there and the way of life that I had to adapt to. I'm looking forward to this year so that I can just improve to help the team any way I can.

Visit Robbie's bio page here.

Last Night's Fireside

Sep 26, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 1:53 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Last night's pregame fireside was at the American Fork Tabernacle. Offensive linemen Jason Speredon and Terrance Alletto spoke on discipleship, followed by Holly and Bronco Mendenhall.

Speredon addressed three points that help lead to discipleship: the Spirit, the Word and love.

Starting with the Spirit, he read Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

"Many times we have righteous desires but we cannot communicate that to our Heavenly Father," said Speredon. "That is what the Spirit is for--to help us with that."

Moving on to the Word, Speredon shared that after suffering a season-ending injury during fall camp, he wasn't sure if he should continue with football.

"After praying, it's amazing what our Heavenly Father knows about us," he said. "When we're in the thick of our trials our minds aren't always in the right place. Sometimes taking a step back is taking a step forward."

Speredon closed on the topic of love, sharing Moroni 8:25-26, scripture he says spells out a recipe for love.

"And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins. And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God."

Following Speredon's talk freshman offensive lineman Tui Crichton sang "Love at Home."

True freshman Alletto was the next speaker. He read a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the topic of discipleship.

"Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God's will rather than ours.

Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, 'spectator discipleship' is a preferred if not a primary way of worshipping."

After sharing several examples he looks to as disciples of Christ, including Nephi, his older sister and his teammates, Alletto reiterated the importance of forsaking our sins and heeding the words of President Uchtdorf.

"We have to continuously try and become disciples of Christ," he said. "We must practice what we preach. Discipleship is not a spectator sport."

Thursday's Hero

Sep 24, 2009 - Posted by Carey Hoki at 5:48 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Today the team recognized Jana Nelson as its Thursday's Hero. Jana is the older sister of BYU outside linebacker Grant Nelson.

A native of Sewickley, Penn., Jana suffers from a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. She lost her vision at the age of two and by five-years-old had lost the majority of her hearing ability.

Jana graduated from high school with assistance from a full-time translator who communicated with her by doing sign language in the palm of her hand.

She was introduced to the team after today's practice by her brother, Grant. He signed to Jana for a few moments before senior linebacker Terrance Hooks presented her with a bag of BYU goodies. Then Grant and his mother helped Jana sign the team flag which is run out onto the field prior to kickoff each week.

Fireside Reminder

Don't forget about the team's traditional pregame fireside tomorrow night at the American Fork Tabernacle. The fireside is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.