Sampson enjoying the ride

Cornerback Joe Sampson had other opportunities where he could have played football, but in the end he chose the Cougars of BYU. As he prepares to face Utah State on yet another Friday game, Sampson's short time at BYU so far has been fulfilling and everything he thought it would be.

Joe Sampson had intended to arrive at BYU prior to last spring camp, but there were some eligibility issues that hadn't been cleared up, and he missed all of spring ball.

Nevertheless, he was eventually able to join the Cougar program.

"It's been a long road," Sampson said. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity I have. I went through a lot just to get here. It's definitely been fulfilling."

Even though he and his teammates endured a terrible defeat at the hands of their rival Utah, a team he could have chosen over BYU, Sampson feels his decision to come to BYU was the right one.

"There's no other place where you can have this family setting with the emphasis of faith on top of that, so it was definitely a big factor for me to decide."

And BYU fans are happy he made that choice as well. Last Friday, Sampson intercepted a fourth-quarter Central Florida pass near the goal line that preserved the win for the Cougars. It was an exciting moment for the first-year Division I cornerback, who credits his faith in God for his success.

"It was a great feeling," Sampson said. "It's a blessing to be out there. God just put me in the position to make plays.

"It was a big sigh of relief at the end of the game to have a game-winning interception. It was a good experience."

The Cougar crowd erupted in cheers in celebration of Sampson's first-ever interception as a Cougar.

"That was a great experience right there," Sampson said. "In junior college is the most I've ever played in front of, and that was around 8,000 people. It's been crazy. It's fun and exciting."

There was one person, however, that was probably the most excited and probably cheered the loudest following his interception. That person was his cousin, former Cougar cornerback Brian Logan.

"He was excited," Sampson said. "He came up into the locker room and picked me up and said, ‘Hey, I'm proud of you.'

"He points out the negatives first, so it's funny. He was talking about a different play. He was like, ‘Aw, you should have hit him higher.' We just started laughing."

Outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy had complimented Sampson for falling down following his interception rather than trying to advance the ball further.

"It was late in the game and I guess that was a good decision in the end," said Sampson. "I know that I just wanted to keep the ball secure."

After the previous week's performance, the UCF victory was a much-needed win to help build up the emotional state of the Cougar nation. Nothing wipes away the taste from a loss better than coming back with a victory.

"The victory builds more confidence and you're more confident in yourself and your teammates going into next week," said Sampson. "When you lose you feel like you have a chip on your shoulder and you have to gain it back, come back and perform."

This week the Cougars will face the Aggies of Utah State. BYU hasn't lost a home game to the Aggies in 15 consecutive games at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"I think they're a good opponent and we're going to have to be as prepared as possible to win," Sampson said.

Despite the season not panning out as planned, Sampson isn't shy about sharing his thoughts and feeling about his overall BYU experience.

"Oh, I've had a great experience," Sampson said. "I like it and there are good people out here. Everybody's nice and they treat you right. We all have common goals.

"I like the emphasis of faith. That's a big factor for me. Everybody has strong beliefs like I do, so that's one of the main factors. I'm happy with my decision to come here."

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