PROVO, Utah - The BYU football team honored its 2011 season senior class along with former player Chad Lewis and longtime football secretary Shirley Johnson at the annual Senior Tribute Banquet on Thursday.
Each honored with a personal video tribute, a total of 18 seniors were presented with a framed jersey and their BYU helmet, with one side of the helmet maintaining the camouflage look worn in the team’s 24-21 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl victory over Tulsa.
The seniors spotlighted included center Terence Brown, running back JJ Di Luigi, cornerback Corby Eason, tight end Matt Edwards, defensive end Hebron Fangupo, outside linebacker Jameson Frazier, receiver Spencer Hafoka, receiver McKay Jacobson, running back Bryan Kariya, middle linebacker Aveni Leung-Wai, receiver/holder Matt Marshall, outside linebacker Jordan Pendleton, defensive end Matt Putnam, offensive tackle Matt Reynolds, safety Steven Thomas, offensive guard Marco Thorson, safety Travis Uale and outside linebacker Jadon Wagner.
Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall also took time to recognize the many players who have already graduated as well as the contributions of the team’s four senior captains: Matt Reynolds, Bryan Kariya, Jameson Frazier and Travis Uale.
Mendenhall spoke of each captain’s path to BYU and said it was no accident the team was successful as each of the captains provided leadership in their own way to help the team to a 10-3 season and fifth bowl victory in the last six years. With their bowl victory in Dallas, the Cougars became one of only six programs in the nation to achieve five double-digit victory seasons in the last six years, joining Virginia Tech, Boise State, Ohio State, Oklahoma and TCU.
Each of the captains took time to address their teammates and share heartfelt feelings. All spoke of how they will miss the association of being part of the team next year as their teammates prepare for the 2012 season.
Reynolds, who is expected to move on to the NFL as one of the nation’s best offensive linemen, said he had no words that could adequately express how much he appreciates his experience at BYU. “I’m honored to have played here and been part of the brotherhood of BYU football,” Reynolds said.
Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards presented former BYU All-American and NFL Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Lewis currently works in the Athletic Department as the associate athletic director for development.
Edwards also spoke on behalf of the football program to honor football secretary Shirley Johnson, who first joined the program under Edwards and just completed her 32nd season overall with the program.
Event emcee and former player Alema Harrington spoke highly of Shirley while representing the many former Cougars she has helped influence over the years.
Mendenhall thanked all those who contribute their talents to the program and specifically expressed appreciation to LaVell Edwards for his continued participation and support. He also shared his appreciation for the many successes, both on and off the field, of the quality young men that make up the team.
“As a dad, it’s a great experience to have my boys be around players in our program,” Mendenhall expressed. “They look up to you and want to be like you. It’s a real blessing in my and Holly’s life.”