If someone told Owen Pochman in high school that five years from then he'd be the all-time leading scorer in BYU football history he'd have thought you were crazy.
Of course, if you told him he would be doing some high-profile modeling in New York City, he might have believed you.
Or, if you told him that he would be writing a book about love for teenagers and giving relationship advice, he might have believed you.
And if you told him that he would have a tiger for a pet, that would have been easy to believe.
But football? It never crossed his mind.
"I didn't even think about football in high school," said Pochman, a promising high school soccer player.
"I remember in high school watching BYU beat Notre Dame. A lot of my friends were Catholic and the game was a big deal. The thought didn't even cross my mind that in a few years I would be playing football for them," said Pochman, of the memorable day in BYU football history.
Five years, one week, and one day after Owen and his friends watched that Notre Dame game, Pochman would be witnessing another memorable day in BYU football history, the day he set a new BYU kicking record. Pochman's leg was 100 percent on the evening of October 23, 1999, booting a record five field goals and two point after attempts (PAT) as he led the Cougars to a 29-0 win over UNLV.
So what do modeling, books on love and exotic cats have in common with a college football player? They are how Pochman spends his free time.
Forget the notion that football players are supposed to be big, insensitive brutes that can barely spell their names. Forget the idea that the only thing football players can do is run around and knock each other over. Football players are supposed to beat up kids like Pochman.
But, in this case, Pochman usually does the beating up, kicking opponents to death. Pochman became the all-time leading scorer in BYU football history with more than a year left to play in his career. He has pinned up 306 points against the opposition, more than any other player in BYU history - and he still has a few more games to be the bully.
In the meantime, Pochman has his other hobbies to keep him busy. For one, he has a fascination with cats, you know, tigers, panthers, cougars-your typical everyday kitten. For a long time he has wanted his own exotic cat, but has recently changed his mind.
"I've realized that it's probably wrong to take it out of its natural habitat," said Pochman. "By owning one, I would be adding to the problem, even if I had the best of intentions. I still have a fascination with them, but now I just want to donate to help take care of them."
When he's not occupied by his cat fancy, he may be wearing one. He also models-yes, models.
"I went to live in New York City for a summer to model, but it was too far from football," said Pochman. "I think of myself as a football player."
About his love life? Pochman is writing the book on love, literally. He has been working on a book about love, which is directed at helping teenagers understand and comprehend what love is.
"He definitely wants to write a love book," said Kevin Feterik, BYU's quarterback last season. Pochman was roommates with Feterik and offensive lineman Dustin Rykert last year. "When I had relationship problems he would give me some good advice. He is a deep thinker. Sometimes I think he thinks too much. He's really picky with his girls."
Pochman is also interested in being a public speaker.
"I really want to focus on teenagers and young college kids," said Pochman. "Their opinions on life are formed at that age. From my experiences, I can help them realize the things that really matter."
He's a Kicker
With all these hobbies, Pochman may not sound like the prototypical football player, and that's because he's not-he's a kicker.
"As a kicker, there's a stigma attached. But the guys that play football here are such cool guys it's great. Instead of a kicker, you're an equal."
"He's a sharp guy. He's not out in left field," said Feterik. "He's not like a normal kicker, he hangs out with the team."
Other things that Pochman likes to do for fun are watching movies and playing with his dog, which Owen affectionately named Otto.
"In my family we have two B's (Bob and Bobbi), two E's (Ethan and Erin), and now, with Otto, we have two O's (Owen and Otto)," said Pochman.
The Journey to BYU
According to Pochman, playing football for BYU was "almost by chance." BYU was just a stepping stone on the way to play soccer for Brown University or the University of Washington.
"In high school, I always thought that soccer was the ticket to college," said Pochman. "I always wanted to kick for the football team, but as a 95-pound high school freshman my parents thought I was too small. They didn't understand that kickers don't get hurt. My brother came to BYU to play soccer, but the soccer team has no scholarships, so he switched over. I thought, 'yea, I'm gonna try this too.' "
After high school, Pochman went to Nantucket and played soccer. According to Pochman, he was redshirting himself because he was too small. He then came to BYU, took some classes and started kicking with his brother on the football team.
"All they gave me was a pair of shorts and a tee shirt," said Pochman. "I didn't even have a locker. But once I found my niche in football, I've loved everything about it. Especially here, I've had such a great experience here."
Here is where Pochman has made his mark. He's almost forgotten about soccer, the sport he grew up playing with his family.
"I like football more," said Pochman. "Once I started playing football and kicking, I lost my passion for soccer. My family has turned into football fans, nobody watches soccer anymore."
National Award Candidate
The transition to football has paid off. Pochman now finds himself as a senior, kicking a football in front of 60,000 people every week and on the forefront of a possible career in the NFL.
"Obviously the NFL is something I would want to achieve," said Pochman. "I don't feel I've reached my potential. At the end of the year, whatever happens, I'll know I was the best I could be. If you're not trying to be the best you can be, you're wasting your time. Making it to the next level is a sign of your ability. But, I won't be devastated if it ends. "
Aside from his NFL aspirations, Pochman has been a superstar at the college level. He is the all-time leading scorer at a major college football program, with 306 points in nearly four years as a Cougar. A very impressive statistic, considering that BYU has traditionally scored points as often as LaVell flashes a frown.
This season, Pochman is a candidate for the Lou Groza Award, the annual award given to the best place-kicker in the nation. So far this year, Pochman has 59 points, including 23 of 23 PAT and 12 of 17 field goals. Pochman also has 25 touchbacks this year, which is over 50 percent of his kickoffs.
Maybe Ethan Pochman regrets bringing his younger brother Owen to football practice in the fall of 1996. Owen went on to break many of his older brothers' records. But with these brothers, contrary to what many might believe, there is not much of a sibling rivalry.
"People make a lot out of breaking his records and sibling rivalry, " said Owen Pochman, "but I'd rather have our names equal."
Thanks to Rob Morris, Owen almost had his wish. In a game against New Mexico on November 7, 1998, with BYU leading by 26 points, Morris intercepted a pass, ran 51 yards, and with nobody around, made a diving leap for the end zone. The celebration by Morris drew a yellow flag, scooting the PAT back another 15 yards. One kick after Owen beat his brother Ethan's record for consecutive PAT, Owen missed the unusually long PAT to halt his streak at 62; one PAT better than Ethan's old record.
"I'd rather have had Rob get that celebration penalty on the kick before, so we would have tied for the record," said Pochman
Ethan is now at BYU working on a master's degree in business administration.
"I was always his biggest fan and he has been my biggest fan," said Owen of his older brother Ethan. "He's helped me not as just another kicker, but as a brother. It's been great having him around."
In a career with so many great kicking moments-pressure-packed overtime-winning field goals (Utah State-'99; Virginia-'00), game-winning field goals, record-preserving field goals (BYU's NCAA record of consecutive games without being shutout would have ended three times, except for a single Pochman field goal), and several broken kicking records-it is ironic that the highlight of Pochman's career was a play that put BYU up 22-0 against a low-profile, non-conference opponent.
"Throwing for a two-point conversion in the Murray State game," said Pochman. "The reason it has nothing to do with kicking is because I expect to make every kick, and if I don't, then I get down on myself. Throwing the conversion is a highlight because I consider myself as an athlete, kicking is routine."
Pochman graduates in December, and like many graduates, he waits to see where life will take him. If it happens to take him to the NFL or to a career in public speaking, no one knows. One thing Pochman does know is that anything is possible.
"Sometimes I think to myself, 'You're the all-time leading scorer at BYU' and it blows me away, it just blows me away. Who am I? I know it's a cliche, but you really can do anything," said Pochman.
BYU's Brothers' Connections
Owen Pochmanis not the only player to have a brother who played football at BYU. In fact, 14 other players on this year's team have had brothers on previous Cougar teams. They are:
* Isaac Herring-Eli (1987, 1991-94) *Eli is referred to in the current Sunday School Manual. It tells the story of his decision not to play on Sundays in the NFL. * David Christensen-Steve (1987-93) *father, Stephen, played at BYU-brother, McKay, signed at BYU to play football, but was drafted in the first round by the California Angels and now plays baseball for Chicago White Sox. * Brandon Doman-Cliff (1996-99), Bryce (1988, 1992-94), Kevin (1985-86) * Jason Kukahiko-Tyler (1999) now serving a mission in England. * Tevita Ofahengaue-Kelepi (1996) * Andrew Ord-Jon (1989-92) * Corey Ramage-John (1977, 1980-81) *father, Tom Ramage, is the current defensive line coach. * Gabriel Reid-Spencer (1994-97) * Kalani Sitake-T.J. (1999-present) * T.J. Sitake-Kalani (1994, 1997-present) * Luke Staley-Dustin (1995-present) * Dustin Staley-Luke (1999-present) * Tyson Smith-Cody (2000-present) * Jim Young-Steve (1981-83), Mike (1987), Tom (1992-94)
As a note, LaVell Edwards also played on the same team as his brother at Utah State. LaVell was an Aggie from 1949 to 1951 and his brother Lewis Edwards was an Aggie from 1951 to 1953.