BYU defensive back Kyle Morrell was honored as an alumni flag bearer and led the team onto the field before BYU’s matchup with Liberty Saturday.
It was a special moment for Morrell, who is battling ALS and is limited in his mobility, as he was joined in a cart with teammates Jim Herrmann, Glen Kozlowski, Jay McDonald and Robbie Bosco while his daughters followed carrying the alumni flags in his honor.
“It’s fun for me to come down here and have my kids with me and experience the environment down here,” Morrell said. “Just to be out on the field and see how big guys are, they couldn’t believe that I used to come out here and play.”
Morrell was voted AP All-American in 1984 and totaled 232 career tackles as a Cougar. He was known for his aggressive play and bone-breaking hits during his time on the field and played a key role in the team’s undefeated National Championship run.
“Kyle was pound for pound the hardest hitting guy I’ve ever seen play,” former teammate and BYU quarterback Bosco said. “He was just amazing. I’m glad he came to BYU. He was such an integral part of the success we had here.”
The two connected with other teammates including BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe earlier this week and reminisced about the good-old-days.
“We were up to my house this last week and we were laughing and giggling for a few hours,” Morrell said. “Those guys said I would get about five penalties nowadays for flagrant hits. I didn’t know any other way to play though.
“LaVell told me one time when I came off the field, ‘Kyle you gotta be a little careful on those tackles or you’re going to get in trouble.’”
The opportunity to reconnect with former teammates at a place that was so special to their development as men is something that Bosco says he can’t appreciate enough.
“Being with my teammates and doing that together and doing that with Kyle and the hardship he’s going through now, it’s been fun,” Bosco said. “For us to come back 35 years later and represent BYU and still be part of this great tradition. It means a lot to all of us.
“That’s one thing about being in a team sports and doing something great, we could talk about this until we were 100 years.”
Like father like son
Sophomore defensive back, Shamon Willis, changed his number from 32 to 29 to match the number his father, Jamal Willis wore the number from 1991-94. Cougar starting center, James Empey, also wears the same number of his father, Mike Empey (1987, 91-93) — 66. Of the 12 players with fathers who played at BYU, these are the only two to wear the same number as their father.
Micah Simon recorded his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter when the Texas native connected on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Matt Bushman.
Simon is the fourth BYU player to throw a touchdown this season, and the 75th different player to throw a TD pass in BYU history. It’s Simon’s second pass completion of the season, and now holds a 504.4 QB rating for the season.
The senior wide receiver scored BYU’s first touchdown on a 2-yard reception on the Cougar’s first drive of the game. Four other BYU players have recorded a receiving touchdown and passing touchdown in the same game. Byron Rex, 1992 vs. Utah; Eddie Stinnett and Steve Young in the 1983 Holiday Bowl.
BYU won the coin toss, so the Cougars are now 6-5 on coin tosses this year, including overtime coin tosses. BYU deferred and Liberty got the ball first. The Flames were forced to punt on their first possession ... BYU captains for Saturday’s game were Micah Simon (Sr. WR), Matt Bushman (Jr. TE), Dayan Ghanwoloku (Sr. DB) and Khyiris Tonga (Jr. DL) ... Carrying the BYU alumni flags for the game were members of the 1984 national championship team. Kyle Morrell, who is battling ALS, rode in a cart carrying a flag and was joined by former teammates Jim Herrmann, Glen Kozlowski, Jay McDonald and Robbie Bosco. The U.S. flag was carried out by freshman wide receiver Tevita Ika, while freshman linebacker Drew Jensen carried the flag of the State of Utah... the announced attendance at the game was 54,683.