FORT WORTH, Texas For BYU seniors David Nixon and Michael Reed, Thursday night's game at TCU was a homecoming of sorts though, as it turned out, an unhappy one.
Nixon, a linebacker, and Reed, a wide receiver, both hail from Texas, and they had a lot of family and friends attend the contest at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Both players said before the game they were looking forward to returning to their roots. Nixon hails from College Station, while Reed is from Baytown.
Two years ago when the Cougars beat TCU, 31-17, Nixon and Reed played key roles in the victory. Nixon landed a blindside hit on quarterback Jeff Ballard that night, forcing a fumble early in the game that BYU recovered, halting a Horned Frog drive. Later, Reed caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from John Beck.
On Thursday, Reed was selected to carry out the Y flag onto the field prior to the game. A former Cougar defensive lineman and Texas native, Glen Titensor, who played for the Dallas Cowboys, carried the alumni flag.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall has praised Nixon and Reed for their contributions on and off the field to the program.
"I really rely a lot on David, not only for his day-to-day example as one of our captains, and through his work ethic, but I like his consistency," Mendenhall said of Nixon. "There's never a day where I have to worry if he's focus, if he's prepared, if he's doing his best, how he's influencing his teammates. It's just a real remarkable thing.
"He's not the only one, but he has been with me for one of the longest stretches of anyone on our team. There's no one on our team that I trust more. ... David is an outstanding person but he's also a great football player. He'll be one of those young men that whatever community he ends up in, he'll be a leader of the community. He has great things in store for him. I think he'll far surpass anything that myself or anyone on this football staff will do. He's just that kind of young man."
Of Reed, Mendenhall said, "I really think hard when I bring a young man to BYU who is not a member of the church, that isn't of this culture and isn't of this faith and isn't familiar with BYU. When you consider Mike Reed, none of those things were in place.
"Yet he had strong Christian values and a good work ethic and was very good person. When you consider those first days to now, that's a gratifying thing. That weighs much more on my mind than what happens on (game days)."
RECORD BROKEN: In the first half, Cougar defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen recorded a sack, the 21st of his career setting a new Mountain West Conference record for career sacks.
COWBOY CONNECTION: BYU wide receiver Reed White's father, Danny White, starred for the Dallas Cowboy years ago. Danny, who played collegiately at Arizona State and later became the head coach of the Utah Blaze Arena Football League team, made the Pro Bowl in 1982 and led the Cowboys to three straight NFC championship games from 1980-82.
The Cougars stayed in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday night, not far from Texas Stadium, home of the Cowboys. BYU quarterback Max Hall is Danny White's nephew.
COUGAR FANS TURN OUT AT TCU: BYU was well-represented in the stands at Carter Stadium, with fans journeying from places as far away as Utah and Louisiana."We are traveling as well or better than anyone that there is," Mendenhall said earlier this week. "What is really helping is the firesides that we do the night before the game. As those continue to generate interest and momentum, the church membership in the area in general then makes it a weekend and stays for the game, which I think has been really helpful."