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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BYU center James Empey prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Zach Wilson during warmups in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018.

PROVO — BYU center James Empey was named to the 2018 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team on Monday.

Empey, an American Fork native, started all 13 games for the Cougars and was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 1 freshman center in 2018.

Empey is BYU’s 16th freshman All-American. Teammate Thomas Shoaf, also an offensive lineman, earned freshman All-America honors in 2016.

Empey’s predecessor as the Cougars’ center, Tejan Koroma, was also named a freshman All-American by the FWAA in 2014. Koroma was a four-year starter at BYU and currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last month, Empey told the Deseret News that he was grateful for the opportunity to receive so much valuable experience as a freshman.

“I’ve been happy to learn and grow this year and to figure things out,” he said. “It’s been a ride because I haven’t played football in a while with a mission and redshirting. It’s been a really fun season and I’m grateful to be here with such great guys.”

Empey said learning from Koroma last season helped his development.

“Last year was cool because I was able to be with Tejan and learn from him. He’s a good player and a great teammate,” he said. “It was cool to be able to step in and get a lot of help. There are a lot of guys that helped me out. There are a lot of guys on the O-line like Austin Hoyt and Tristen Hoge and Brady Christensen that are good leaders. It’s been nice to be able to step in and be a part of it.”

HOLKER MISSION-BOUND: BYU freshman tight end Dallin Holker is leaving to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his father announced on Facebook.

“This young man has decided to go on a mission!” Bob Holker wrote. “Very proud of his decision and the fact that he feels this is what’s best for him and his life at this point. We will miss watching him play, but know what a great experience he has in front of him.”

Holker, a Lehi High product, caught 19 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown in 2018 for the Cougars.

ARMSTRONG TRANSFERRING: BYU defensive back Isaiah Armstrong announced via social media that he is transferring.

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“The last three years I’ve spent playing for BYU have been nothing short of amazing,” Armstrong wrote. “I will always be grateful for Coach (Kalani) Sitake and Coach (Ed) Lamb for giving me an opportunity to play college football and earn a college degree. I will be graduating this April and will be eligible to become a graduate transfer for my senior season. I am not on the transfer portal and I am available to have contact with coaches from other universities. Thank you again to BYU, the coaches and all of my teammates. I wish you all the best.”

Armstrong recorded three tackles last season.