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Returned missionaries are popping up on more and more college football teams around the country, not just in Utah. For many, the two years away from the game don't seem to set them back. They hit the ground running and make a contribution on the gridiron. Often, they also make an impression because of the devotion that led them to the mission field.

Following is a sampling of some of those young men.

TYLER EKER

Michigan tight end Tyler Ecker celebrates his game-winning touchdown, on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Chad Henne, in the fourth quarter of their game against Minnesota Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ecker's touchdown and the extra point gave the Wolverines a 27-24 win.  (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Michigan tight end Tyler Ecker celebrates his game-winning touchdown, on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Chad Henne, in the fourth quarter of their game against Minnesota Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ecker's touchdown and the extra point gave the Wolverines a 27-24 win. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) Photo: AP

Tight end, University of Michigan; Texas Houston (Spanish speaking) Mission:

Eker made a big splash for the Wolverines when he caught the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining as Michigan beat Minnesota, 27-24, on Oct. 9. He has been featured in the media, speaking freely about the Church and his mission. The California native is a junior. One of his teammates and friends, sixth-year backup quarterback Spencer Brinton, also from California, served a mission in South Africa.

PAUL PETERSON

Boston College quarterback Paul Peterson (18) sprints out of the pocket as Notre Dame lineman Greg Pauly (77) gives chase during second quarter action Saturday,  Oct. 23, 2004 in South Bend, Ind. Peterson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez with 54 seconds left to give Boston College a 24-23 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame, the Eagles fourth straight win over the Irish. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
Boston College quarterback Paul Peterson (18) sprints out of the pocket as Notre Dame lineman Greg Pauly (77) gives chase during second quarter action Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004 in South Bend, Ind. Peterson threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez with 54 seconds left to give Boston College a 24-23 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame, the Eagles fourth straight win over the Irish. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond) Photo: AP

Quarterback, Boston College; Nicaragua Managua Mission:

Peterson began his collegiate-playing career at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. Ready to move on, he sent highlight videos to several NCAA Division 1 schools. One of them, Boston College, a Catholic school, came calling. He made a name for himself during the 2003 season, leading the Eagles to a 35-21 win over Colorado State in the San Francisco Bowl. (See January 10, 2004, Church News.) He remains the starting quarterback his senior season. One highlight was leading his team to a come-from-behind, last-minute 24-23 victory at Notre Dame on Oct. 23.

BEN DOUGHERTY

Ben Dougherty, Florida A&M University quarterback, photo by Ricky Roberts
Ben Dougherty, Florida A&M University quarterback, photo by Ricky Roberts Photo: Photo by Ricky Roberts

Quarterback, Florida A&M University; Nevada Las Vegas Mission:

The Tallahassee Democrat, a newspaper in Florida's capital city, ran a lengthy article in October focusing on Dougherty's missionary service. Bishop Kenneth L. Long of the Tallahassee 5th (Single Adult) Ward, Tallahassee Florida Stake, said Dougherty has continued his service while playing college football. The teacher of the gospel principles Sunday School class, he "isn't afraid to spread the gospel," his bishop said. Originally from Washington, Dougherty played at Iowa State before winding up at Florida A&M. Through nine games, Dougherty has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, 13 for touchdowns.

SCOTTY WILLIAMS

Scotty Williams of Penn. Photo by Stan Liu.
Scotty Williams of Penn. Photo by Stan Liu. Photo: Photo by Stan Liu

Defensive back, University of Pennsylvania; Canada Montreal Mission:

Williams was highly recruited coming out of Granite Bay (California) High School, but most of the universities, including Cal and Stanford, backed off because of Williams' intentions to serve a mission. Two-time defending Ivy League champion Penn wasn't bothered. Since returning from his mission, Williams has played as a nickel back and on special teams for 6-1 Penn which is ranked in the top 25 in NCAA Division 1-AA.

SEAN JOHNSON

UVa's Sean Johnson punts the ball Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, during Virginia's 56-24 win over North Carolina in Charlottesville, Va. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
UVa's Sean Johnson punts the ball Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, during Virginia's 56-24 win over North Carolina in Charlottesville, Va. Photo/Andrew Shurtleff Photo: Photo by Andrew Shurtleff

Punter, University of Virginia; Nevada Las Vegas Mission:

Just back from his mission, the sophomore from McLean, Va., has taken on the punting chores for the top-20 ranked Cavaliers. He has kicked for an average of about 35 yards and has done well pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line.

JOSH STORRS

Kick Josh Storrs at Northwestern State.
Kick Josh Storrs at Northwestern State. Photo: Courtesy Northwestern State

Kicker, Northwestern State; Mexico Tampico Mission:

A senior, Storrs is the power kicker for the Demons. When they need a long field goal, they send him onto the field where he has been successful on four of seven attempts with a long of 45 yards. The others have been 44, 43 and 24 yards. He is also the kickoff specialist for the NCAA Division 1-AA Demons who are ranked in the top 20. Storrs had a 4.0 grade point average last year at Northwestern State and is the clerk in the Natchitoches Ward, Alexandria Louisana Stake.

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