PROVO -- Senior forward Eric Nielsen has been named the 2002 recipient of the Floyd Johnson Service Award. He was honored April 3 at the annual Cougar Club Athletic Awards Banquet.
The personal recipient of nearly four years of service rendered by the late Floyd Johnson -- BYU's longtime equipment manager and the name-sake of the Cougar Club's service award -- Eric understands as well as anyone the positive influence "Brother J" had on those around him. It is fitting that Eric be given tonight an award honoring Floyd Johnson because Eric truly is the kind of individual that exemplifies what Brother J preached and believed in.
Called "E" by his teammates and coaches, Eric has more in common with Brother J than just a single-letter nickname. Like Brother J, "E" showed up every day and diligently fulfilled his responsibilities and assignments. And every day Eric seemed to find a way to have a positive influence on those around him. This year Eric and his teammates wore a black stripe on their uniforms to honor Brother J after he passed away during the season.
Eric is one who quickly earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. For the past two seasons, Eric has been selected as a team captain.
Always sporting a smile, even when his lip is swollen, his eye is black and blue and his nose is broken, Eric is often found signing autographs for anxious young fans long after a game is over. He has been involved in the community, speaking and interacting with kids, and in programs such as the Children with Cancer Christmas Fund. Eric has never undertaken a service opportunity to draw attention to himself; rather, he has taken the time to pay attention to others.
As a player, Eric participated in all 122 games his team played over his four seasons. He started during all four seasons and finished his career among the top-10 field goal percentage shooters in school history. While many other top shooters made their living very close to the basket, Eric took a major portion of his attempts on mid-range jumpers. For Eric, a 12-foot jumper was nearly as automatic as was a layup to most others.
This season Eric was honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference. He was third on the team in scoring at 10 points per game and was second in rebounding at 5.1 rebounds per game. He provided two of the year's biggest highlights with his career-best 29 points in BYU's upset victory over defending Pac-10 champion and No. 13-ranked Stanford at the Las Vegas Showdown, and his game-winning jumper to defeat Utah in the Marriott Center.
A civil engineering major with a 3.26 GPA, Eric is a Cougar Club Scholar Athlete and an Academic All-MWC student. This year Eric was one of five players named to the Verizon Academic All-District VIII team. Eric, a 6-foot-9 forward from Fremont, Calif., is married to former BYU All-American volleyball player Anna-Lena Smith.