BYU trio earn Sporting News pre-season honors

The Sporting News has announced junior kicker, Matt Payne has been selected as a 2003 preseason second-team All-American. In addition, TSN selected Lombardi Award candidate, Brady Poppinga, as the 19th ranked defensive end in the nation, along with junior safety, Aaron Francisco, as the 17th best safety in college football.

Payne, who is also listed as the second-ranked punter in the nation, is a 2002 first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, and earned All-America honorable mention honors as a sophomore.

He concluded the 2002 season as the second-ranked punter in the nation, averaging 47.6 yards per punt, including a 76-yard boot in the Cougars' victory over San Diego State. Payne also had punts of 70 yards (vs. Syracuse), 72 yards (vs. Nevada, 64 yards, (vs. Hawaii) and a 63-yarder (vs. Wyoming).

In addition, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound native of North Ogden, Utah, pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 11 different times during the season. Following his performance against New Mexico, Payne was honored as the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week. The All-Academic MWC performer averaged 44.4 yards per pun, and recorded three field goals. In addition, Payne demonstrated his ability to run the ball, picking up a 28-yard gain for a crucial first down against the Lobos.

In the field goal department, Payne was a perfect 8-for-8 from 20-29 yards, posted a mark of 4-for-6 from 40-49 yards, and was 27-of-30 on point-after attempts.

Payne, who is married to the former Amanda Lindley, is the son of Gordon and Mary Payne. His younger brother, Mitch, signed with BYU in 2003, and will look to take over for his older brother once returning from a Church mission.

Poppinga, a junior from Evanston, Wyo., led the Mountain West Conference with eight sacks as a sophomore, earning first-team All-MWC honors. The 6-3, 240-pound Lombardi Award and All-America candidate earned academic all-league honors in 2001 and 2002, and was selected by the BYU coaching staff as the top defensive lineman last season.

Poppinga was credited with 49 tackles on the season, including 14 takedowns for a combined loss of 66 yards. He forced three fumbles and had three hurries in addition to his league-leading eight sacks. Poppinga was credited with a season-high three sacks in the Cougars' 34-10 win over San Diego State, helping to limit one of the nation's top-producing offenses to just 246 yards of total offense. He is the son of Dennis and Vicki Poppinga.

Francisco, known for his punishing hits as well as his keen sense for the ball, earned All-Mountain West honorable-mention honors as a sophomore after ranking second on the BYU roster with 99 tackles.

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Laie, Hawaii, Francisco earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors last season. He was credited with a team-leading 51 solo tackles, and tallied one interception, five pass deflections and three tackles for a loss. He is the son of James and Lisa Francisco.

The Sporting News's 2003 College Football Preview edition will hit the news stands on or around June 5.

Copyright © 2003 TotalBlueSports.com


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