Memories of Former BYU Football Players that are in Super Bowl XLV

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By: Mitch Harper (Twitter: @Mitch_Harper)

Three former BYU Football players will be a part of the upcoming Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brett Keisel, DE (Steelers), Chris Hoke, DL (Steelers), and Brady Poppinga, LB (Packers)

Both Keisel and Hoke will play for the Steelers while Poppinga will not be participating for the Packers.  Poppinga was placed on Injury Reserve back on Week 9 of the season with a knee injury.

Here at the Cougar Center, we have memories of all former players who have donned the blue & white on Saturdays in the fall.  So I thought I would take the time to share some of my memories of these fine players times at BYU.

– Chris Hoke, #58 (BYU Number); Santa Ana, California. Years at BYU: 1997-2000.

Hoke was always a bright, fun personality on the Cougar squad.  I remember at the 2000 Watermelon Bust (meet-the-team day back in LaVell era), Hoke was crackin jokes along with Setema Gali Jr. about LaVell (his final season) and having a great time.

Hoke was a solid 2-gap Defensive Tackle, who also had a knack for getting in the backfield and getting sacks.  Hoke’s Junior season at BYU (1999) he recorded 6 sacks on the year.  Not bad for a DT.

In the 2001 NFL Draft, Hoke was not drafted by anyone.  Signed a Free Agent contract with the Steelers and has been with their franchise ever since.  He’s been a career back-up in Pittsburgh but has seen time at nearly every position on the D-Line and done a nice job.

– Brett Keisel, #93; Greybull, Wyoming. At BYU: 1997-1998; 2000-2001.

Not many people know this but Brett Keisel originally came to BYU as a Quarterback out of Greynull High School in the Cowboy State (Wyoming).  His redshirt season in ‘97 saw some time on Scout time Quarterback.  In ‘98 switched to defensive end and saw limited playing time in a back-up role.  The starters in ‘98 were studly in Byron Frisch and Ed Kehl so there wasn’t much opportunity that season.

Had some academic issues thus making him transfer to Snow College for a year.  Usually, players that end up doing that never come back to BYU.  But Keisel did.  Keisel was back at BYU starting alongside Setema Gali on the ends.

Keisel started his final two years at BYU and became an Honorable Mention on the All-Mountain West team in 2001.

Loved watch Keisel play at BYU.  Loved the neck brace he sported, always a great look for a defensive end.  Once Keisel left BYU it felt like he was just scratching the surface on his potential at Defensive End.  The position was fairly new to him still and had a lot of upside.

Keisel’s upside landed him a 7th Round Draft selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002.  Keisel has been a starter for the Steelers since 2004 and has been a key contributor in the Steelers getting two Super Bowl wins and now participating in another one.

This season, Keisel was a Pro Bowl selection for the AFC squad.  The first of his career.

And don’t forget the gnarly beard that Keisel has been sporting this season.  It truly is the stuff of legends.  It even puts our Cougar Center host, Bean Mace’ beard to shame.  And when that happens you know its a great beard.

– Brady Poppinga, #49; Evanston, Wyoming. At BYU: 2001-2004.

Right off the bat the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brady Poppinga’s days at BYU was his “tell it how it is” kind of attitude, and always believing in the team.

Poppinga received a lot of brash criticism from people in the state of Utah, mainly Ute fans but BYU fans as well for when he talked about the 2003 season saying this team could have been a 8 or 9-win team had a few bounces went our way.  Obviously that 2003 squad was a 4-8 team, and was one of the worst offensively that BYU Football had ever seen, but there was a lot of close games that season, that could of went BYU’s way.  Including a game against the eventual National Champion USC Trojans.

But needless to say, Poppinga had a awesome attitude and was always a joy to listen to.

Poppinga’s play on the football field was no shortage of a joy as well.  Poppinga was a hybrid DE/LB in his days at BYU playing both positions often.  Once Bronco Mendenhall took over the defense in 2003, Poppinga’s play went through the roof and one of the best if not the best defensive player the Mountain West had in 2003 and 2004.  Poppinga earned 1st Team MWC honors in both the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Poppinga was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2005 Draft in the 4th Round.  Poppinga has had a decent career.  The biggest issue has been injuries for Poppinga which have caused numerous setbacks.

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Here at Cougar Center, we are proud of these three former Cougars in the Super Bowl, and proud of all the other former BYU football players who are dotted along NFL rosters throughout the league.

What are some of your favorite memories of Hoke, Keisel, and Poppinga?

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