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BYU football: Kurtz will play at the stadium in San Diego where he once worked

Published December 16, 2016 10:03 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The BYU Cougars aren't strangers to postseason competitions in San Diego, having played in the city's Holiday Bowl 11 times and the Poinsettia Bowl in 2013, beating San Diego State 23-6 behind a dominating defensive performance by Kyle Van Noy.

Several Cougars are also familiar with the city and Qualcomm Stadium, but none more than senior receiver Nick Kurtz.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Kurtz grew up in the San Diego area (El Cajon, Calif.), played at Valhalla High and Grossmont College, and even worked a couple years at the stadium in the food and drink service areas.

Kurtz will have about 20 friends and family members at the game, although his father, Scott, moved to Utah County a few years ago and now calls the state of Utah home. He joked Tuesday that he must not be loved as much as Jamaal Williams, because the running back's mom noted on Twitter a while ago that their family will have more than 100 people in attendance to support Jamaal and the Cougars.

"We are looking forward to going to my hometown. It is going to be nice and warm and we will enjoy the weather a little bit. But most importantly we will be focused on Wyoming and going out there and trying to get a victory and ending on a high note," Kurtz said.

He even offered to give tours of the stadium.

"I haven't played there, but I actually worked at Qualcomm for a couple years. So I know the ins and outs of that stadium. So if you guys want some hot dogs or something, I will tell you where to go," Kurtz said. "I started off like a server. They have a lot of bar areas, so I was serving. And then I got promoted and I was a bar back. Not BYU stuff, but I was there. .. You just help out the bar tender and stuff. Deal with some fans."

Kurtz watched his brother who his two years older than him play at Qualcomm, but has not played on the field himself. The Warner brothers, Troy and Fred, have played there in the 2013 county championship game.

Kurtz joked that the San Diego natives have divvied up the tour guide responsibilities next week.

"My area is around the stadium. I will take that. If you guys need it, I will show you everything. … SeaWorld is going to be fun. I'm all in. That's going to be great for me. I'm happy. SeaWorld and the Zoo."

Kurtz didn't have as big of a season as he would have hoped, but still led the Cougars in receiving with 46 catches for 482 yards and two touchdowns. He caught 10 more passes than the next highest guy, Colby Pearson.

Naturally, he would like to play in the NFL some day, and believes a good showing in the bowl game can be a springboard to that.

"Yeah, that is definitely what it is," he said. "It is the last chance for a lot of us, if you are trying to go to the next level, But it is also our last game, and we haven't won a bowl game in a while so we want to win first. That's what we are trying to do first, is get that victory and end on a high note because it isn't good to lose your bowl game. We have been trough that the last three years or something like that. It would be good for us to go out there and execute, and that will help with that next level when we go play."

With Tanner Mangum under center instead of Taysom Hill, the Cougars will probably throw more, although Ty Detmer said they will look to establish the run first with Williams and Squally Canada.

"You have to feel bad for a guy like Taysom," Kurtz said. "We love him so much. To see him go through what he has had to go through is tough. Hopefully he just keeps pushing along and staying involved."

Kurtz actually was at the game the last time BYU played at Qualcomm, that win over SDSU when the offense sputtered but the defense (Van Noy) scored twice.

"All I knew about BYU back then was Mormons. I didn't know anything else. I went to that game and saw, I think they whupped on them. That's how I got introduced to BYU," he said.

Kurtz will stay in San Diego after the game, and probably won't be back in Provo until Pro Day in March. He plans to train for the NFL draft in Southern California.

"I am sure it is going to be really emotional," he said. "Senior Night was emotional, but I still knew I would have another game, so I wasn't like sad yet. But I am sure after this game it is going to be tough. This new coaching staff that we had, they take care of everyone and it has been a blast to play for them and to play for BYU. So it has been a great experience. I am done with school, too. Yesterday was my last final. I am done. I have graduated. It feels awesome to be done with that."






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