Colby Bockwoldt is known in football for his speed, his solid hitting, his reliability and the interception he returned for a touchdown against San Diego State University earlier this season.
While all of these things are true, Bockwoldt didn't just appear out of the sky as a 230-pound outside linebacker, in his senior season and one of the top defenders in the Mountain West Conference. He worked hard to get to that point.
The 6-2 senior from Sunset, Utah, said one phrase describes him--hard-working.
"I have had to work hard for everything," Bockwoldt said. "Life is hard so you have to work hard."
Hard Work in Football: Colby's football roots run deep. His father played football in the 70s for Weber State University and then went on to play in the NFL. At the early age of five or six, Bockwoldt's parents enrolled him in football to carry on the family legacy.
"I really began playing because I looked up to my dad so much," Bockwoldt said. "But I actually wanted to quit when I was little. However, I never did because every time I wanted to my parents would tell me that I had to stick with what I started. Eventually I just kept getting more and more excited at the beginning of each season until I just loved football."
Despite his love for the game, Colby hasn't always been tagged as the largest football player or the fastest on the field.
"When I was a sophomore in high school I was actually slower than most of the guys on the team," Bockwoldt said. "My sophomore year I decided to join the track team to get faster for football."
Through the help of his track coaches, who doubled as his football coaches, he began to run and continue to improve.
"I improved enough to win the 5A state title in the 4X100 meter relay one year," Bockwoldt said.
Colby has continued to improve since that time and is now touted as one of the fastest players on the BYU team.
"Track helped me so much to be able to develop speed, endurance and coordination," Bockwoldt said. "I recommend every athlete do some track event for the sheer developmental aspects of it.
"I have always been smaller than the rest of the guys," he said. "I only weigh in at 230 where most of the guys that I play with are 240 or 250 pounds. That really puts a disadvantage on me when I am trying to play tough defense."
Although this could be a stumbling block to Colby, he doesn't see it that way. Instead, he loves defense and his position.
"I much rather prefer to play defense," Bockwoldt said. "On offense you actually have to worry about the ball and use strategy. On defense there isn't much thinking, just crazy recklessness. When that whistle blows it just gets crazy in there and that is what I like. That is why I play football."
As an Outside Linebacker: Despite Colby's speed and finesse as an outside linebacker, he began football not there, but as a middle linebacker.
"Coaches at BYU felt I would be able to contribute to the team more as an outside linebacker because of my speed and rush cover," Bockwoldt said. "It took a little to get used to it, but with practice it has worked out well."
Beside having to get used to the new position as an outside linebacker, Colby also had to deal with the ups and downs of the position.
"As an outside linebacker you don't really get any of the big attention and glory that many of the other guys on the team get," Bockwoldt said. "You just kind of learn to deal with it and make the best of the situation."
Making the best of the situation is what he did one particular football media day.
"Football media days aren't very exciting for guys like me," Bockwoldt said. "It seems the quarterbacks and coaches are the ones with all the excitement about them and they get the herds of attention.
"So to make it a little more exciting we began to pass the ball a little with some of the guys there," he said.
One of those guys there happened to be news reporter Kathy Aikin's young son Tanner.
"We got to talking with Tanner and his friend," Bockwoldt said. "Really it was a great experience for all the players who just did what we love with these kids."
From that day, on Colby and Tanner have developed a deep relationship.
"At Lavell's [Coach Edwards] last home game before he retired, Kathy came up to me and told me I was her son's favorite player because I was a fast football player," Bockwoldt said. "It is amazing how kids look up to BYU football players. It really is the greatest compliment."
Colby didn't just run into that situation, but took advantage of a boring football media day, turning it into a positive experience to bless the lives of others.
"You know, in life you learn to make the best of every situation," Bockwoldt said. "Sure that might take some work, but it means that really you are happier in the end."
Difficult Seasons and Transitions: In BYU football history, Bockwoldt will be known as one of the privileged few to play under both coaching legend Lavell Edwards and current football coach Gary Crowton.
"It truly has been an honor to play under these two men," Bockwoldt said. "Coach Edwards was a players' coach, while Crowton is a traditional football coach. But despite their differences I have been able to work hard with the two styles of coaching and learn from both of them."
Not only has Colby been there for the coaching transition, but he has also been there for the stark differences in seasons BYU football has experienced in the past few years.
Colby was there for the excitement and success of Lavell's last season in 2000. He was there for the record-setting 2001 championships season with Crowton at the helm and big names like Luke Staley and Brandon Doman. He helped the team in 2002 try to fill the big expectations of the year before and has desperately tried to help the team this season in its struggles to win.
Despite the ups and downs of the seasons, Colby said the greatest lesson he has learned is that you learn from the past, but you don't dwell on it, you move on to the present.
"You can't do anything about the games we have lost this season," Bockwoldt said. "Everyone does some things that aren't perfect, but you learn to move on and do something about it in the future."
Colby's goals this season have been to contribute to the defense of the game and to help the team win.
"When I play good defense, my team does so as well," Bockwoldt said. "It is like a ripple affect that eventually the team will play well, too."
Overall, Colby remains hard working.
"I personally have had some minor injuries, but you just don't mind getting hurt," Bockwoldt said. "Really, when you play long enough, you get hurt. I have just been extremely fortunate to not have gotten seriously injured yet."
In the game against Colorado State, Colby's leg split open requiring 23 stitches to sew it up.
"It really isn't that big of a deal," Bockwoldt said. "You learn to get hurt and just play and cross your fingers that it is not enough to keep you out of the game."
Colby has learned that lesson well. Despite his 23 stitches, he was in the game again the next possible series.
On and Off the Football Field: One of the most demanding things a student athlete has to face is finding the balance between being a full- time student and a full-time athlete.
"Sure it is hard to be an athlete and a football player but I think it makes me more focused and makes me use my time better," Bockwoldt said. "Every day is very structured between school, football and spending time with my wife, and you just learn that balance."
In addition to his hard work on the football field, Colby is also hard working in other aspects of his life.
"I really am not the smartest kid," Bockwoldt said. "I have to work hard just as everyone else does to do well in school."
As a facilities management major, Bockwoldt works hard.
"The great part for me about being a student athlete is that I get to work hard in many different areas of life. I have learned to work hard where I am at the moment," Bockwoldt said. "When I step out on that football field I am there; it is all about the game."
Colby said he values his time off the field as much as on it.
"I have learned that school and the relationships I have with people are just as important as the things I do on the football field," Bockwoldt said. "Those things are what you are going to have when football is gone."
Because of this belief, Colby works hard to develop the relationships he has with other people, particularly his relationship with his wife.
"One of the best things I have ever done is marry my high school sweetheart, Ashley, in July 2002," Bockwoldt said. "It is so great to be married. My wife and I dated for five years before we actually got married."
Although this life sounds easy, Colby said he had to win her hand even after five years.
"I had to work hard to first keep her as my girlfriend and then to convince her to marry me," Bockwoldt said.
Colby said one of the best things about playing football married is he gets to go home to a beautiful wife.
"Really focusing on developing the different aspects of my life off the field only contributes to my success on the field," Bockwoldt said.
In an effort to instill that principle, this spring the football team tried something new. In addition to regular practices and training this summer, the team participated in a team triathlon.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be competing in a triathlon," Bockwoldt said.
Together the team trained to swim, bike and run their way to the finish line.
"To finish that was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life," Bockwoldt said. "Together as a team we learned what it meant to not only finish, but finish strong."
Colby swam, biked and ran with fellow starting linebacker Mike Tanner.
"You can imagine these big football players all trying to compete in this event," Bockwoldt said. "It could almost be comedy. But it taught us what hard work was. We just focused on finishing. And finish we did, eight hours and 30 minutes later."
For Colby, this was a highlight of his football career at BYU.
"You know this was off the field, but it prepared me for the field and really for this season to come," Bockwoldt said. "This was a great memory because it made me work hard. By working hard I appreciated so much more the joy of being on top of Sundance, finishing what I started."
Life After Football: For Colby, tonight he will finish what he started at BYU. This is the last regular season game of his college career. But because of his hard working character, there is life after football.
"Yeah, I plan to move to the next level," Bockwoldt said. "I feel like I have to at least try and really there is not going to be any other time in my life where I would be in this physical state to play."
But for Colby, not getting a stint in the NFL would not be a big deal.
"I have worked hard to prepare well," Bockwoldt said. "I have my education and the relationships I have worked to build with others to fall back on, and so I am not worried. No matter what situation I find myself in, I will work hard and it will all work out right."