Tune In: A Saint remembers Frank Gansz

Thomas Morstead with the George Halas TrophyFormer SMU kicker Thomas Morstead had an NFL rookie season to remember: As a breakout punter for the National Football Conference Champion New Orleans Saints, he will play in Super Bowl XLIV Feb. 7, 2010 in Miami. Cox Sports TV has created a video profile of Morstead in which he talks about his friendship with the late SMU Special Teams Coach Frank Gansz, who died a day after Morstead was drafted by the Saints. Watch the video. video

(Left, Morstead, holding a photo of Gansz, with the George Halas Trophy presented to the NFC championship team.)

Hot Links: Special-teams coach Frank Gansz dies at age 70

Frank GanszSMU Assistant Coach Frank Gansz passed away on April 27, 2009. He was 70. Considered perhaps the top special-teams coach in NFL history, he was starting his second season on the Hilltop.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my good friend,” said SMU Head Coach June Jones. “Frank has been a second father to me for the past 30 years and he has touched the lives of many, both at SMU and throughout the National Football League. I was lucky to have known Frank, and not only was he a wonderful person, but he was a father to everyone he has ever coached. He will live on with us.”

Gansz was a veteran of 38 seasons of coaching, 24 in the NFL and 14 in the collegiate ranks. “He was the guru of special teams,” former Kansas City Chiefs Vice President Lynn Stiles told the Kansas City Star. Gansz coached for the Chiefs throughout the 1980s and was special-teams coach for the St. Louis Rams during their Super Bowl-winning season in 1999. Read more.

Lauren Longbotham MeisnerThe No. 23 women’s tennis team will face No. 38 Texas A&M in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Championships at 11 a.m. May 9 at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco. The Mustangs received an automatic bid for winning the Conference USA title. Head Coach Lauren Longbotham-Meisner (left) was named Conference USA Coach of the Year after leading SMU to its best season in program history First-year player Marta Lesniak was named Freshman of the Year and C-USA Singles Player of the Championship, as well as Outstanding Doubles Team of the Championship with freshman partner Aleksandra Malyarchikova. Read more.

Men’s golf team members Kelly Kraft and James Kwon have been selected as All-Conference USA performers for the 2008-09 season. Kraft was named to the first team for the second consecutive year, while Kwon was selected for the second team and the All-Freshman squad. The awards were voted on by the league’s 11 head coaches. Read more.

SMU punter Thomas MorsteadSenior punter Thomas Morstead (right) was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the 5th round of the 2009 NFL Draft April 26. Morstead becomes SMU’s first NFL draft pick since 2007, when Justin Rogers, now with the Dallas Cowboys, was chosen by the New England Patriots. As the 164th overall selection, Morstead is SMU’s highest draft pick since the Saints took SMU linebacker Chris Bordano 161st overall in 1998. Read more.

Hot Links: Mustang Club kicks off 2009 Morgan Campaign

SMU tennis player Natalia BubienThe SMU Mustang Club, the official fundraising organization of SMU Athletics, kicked off the 2009 Morgan Campaign Fund Drive with a reception at the DoubleTree Hotel Campbell Centre Feb. 17. More than 70 volunteers, led by Campaign Co-Chairs Jeri Jessee and George Shelburne, will work on this year’s drive, which will run from Feb. 17 to March 31. Donors who pay a pledge in full by May 1, 2009 will receive a chance to win a weekend travel package for two to the SMU-Washington State football game Sept. 19. Read more.

Senior punter/kicker Thomas Morstead is among the players invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine – the “job fair” for prospective new NFL players – this week in Indianapolis, Indiana. For 6 days at Lucas Oil Stadium, players are put through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel including head coaches, general managers and scouts. The 2009 NFL Draft is scheduled for April 25-26 in New York City. Read more.

Senior tennis player Natalia Bubien (right) was named Conference USA Player of the Week Feb. 16, 2009 after helping the No. 75 Mustangs (11-2) to a 3-1 record over the weekend, including a 7-0 win against Conference USA opponent Memphis. She also earned a singles victory over No. 122 Monika Hadvigerova of UT-Arlington. Read more.

Hot Links: Fall 2008 honors for athletes

Junior offensive lineman Mitch Enright and sophomore linebacker Pete Fleps have been named to the Conference USA All-Academic football team. Enright earned a 3.99 G.P.A. as a management major in SMU’s Cox School of Business and is pursuing his M.B.A. after graduating with an undergraduate degree in three years. He is a two-time member of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Football Team and was a two-year starter and member of the Rimington Trophy Watch List.

Fleps is a marketing major in the Cox School with a 3.54 G.P.A. He made 23 tackles in one game at Navy, which ranks as the fourth-most ever in a game by a C-USA player, and led SMU with 106 tackles in 2008. Read more.

SMU wide receiver Emmanuel SandersJunior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (left) has been named a second-team All-Conference USA performer. He picked up 958 yards and nine touchdowns in 2008 and ranks as SMU’s all-time leader in touchdown catches with 27. He also holds University records for career 100-yard-receiving games with 10 and for season 100-yard games with six (2008). He is the first player in SMU history to record three 600-yard receiving seasons.

Also recognized were senior punter Thomas Morstead and sophomore wideout Aldrick Robinson, who were each named honorable mention All-C-USA. Read more.

Sophomore Silje Fjortoft has been named the Conference USA Cross Country Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season. She became the C-USA women’s individual medalist after running a 5K course-record time of 16:46 and beating her closest contender by 57 seconds. She also was named to both the All-C-USA First Team and All-South Central Region Team. Her 40th-place performance at the NCAA Championships led SMU to a conference team-best finish of 20th. Read more.

Hot Links: Cross country team takes C-USA title

SMU golfer James KwonThe cross country team won the 2008 Conference USA women’s championship Nov. 1 at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis. It is the first C-USA title for the Mustangs, who toppled the two-time reigning champion Rice Owls. In addition, SMU sophomore Silje Fjortoft won the individual title, defeating defending champion Alex Becker of Tulsa. Read more.

Senior punter Thomas Morstead and junior offensive lineman Mitch Enright have been named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Football Team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Both were first-team selections on the 24-man squad. Read more.

First-year player James Kwon (left) was named Conference USA Golfer of the Week for the week of Oct. 29, 2008. Kwon won the individual title at the Baylor Intercollegiate after shooting a one-under-par 212 (74-69-69) in the two-day tournament. Read more.

Senior Candace Blackman was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week Oct. 28, 2008. It is the second time Blackman has received the honor and her first of the 2008-09 season. Blackman took three first-place honors in a dual meet against Arizona State, helping the 400-free relay team win in 3:24.14 and capturing individual titles in the 100-free (50.65) and 200-free (1:48.78). Read more.

Hot Links: Two football players earn All-Conference Academic honors

Zach Sledge and Thomas MorsteadSenior wide receiver Zack Sledge (top left) and junior punter Thomas Morstead (bottom left) were among 13 student-athletes named to the 2007 Conference USA Football All-Academic Team Nov. 30. Read more.

Morstead also has been named first-team 2007 All-Conference USA by the league’s 12 coaches. In addition, first-year defensive end Justin Smart was selected to the All-Conference USA Freshman Team. Read more.

The men’s basketball team came from behind to defeat TCU 71-65 in the State Farm DFW Duel Dec. 5. Read more.

First-year runner Silje Fjortoft caps a semester of honors with her selection as Conference USA Cross Country Newcomer of the Year. Read more.

Hot Links: An Iron Skillet and a Mustang Olympian

SMU kicker Thomas MorsteadSMU meets TCU in the State Farm DFW Duel – Battle for the Iron Skillet at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 in TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth. The football game will be broadcast nationally on CSTV as well as online. Read more from Coach Phil Bennett‘s TCU Week press conference.

Junior kicker Thomas Morstead (left) has been named to the watch list for the 2007 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation’s top collegiate punter, as announced by the Greater Augusta Sports Council Sept. 18. With a 47.3-yard average in 2007, Morstead ranks second in the nation and first in Conference USA. Read more.

Former Mustang swimmer Laura Reback Bennett (’97) has qualified for the first spot on the U.S. Olympic triathlon team and is scheduled to compete at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Read more from SMU Athletics and USA Triathlon.

Hot Links: Coaches in the spotlight, Players of the Week

Bruno GuardaHead Coach Phil Bennett talks football at the next Lunch with the Coach at noon Sept. 24 (UTEP Week) in the Hall of Champions, third floor, Loyd All-Sports Center. The cost is $12 for Mustang Club members, $20 for nonmembers. RSVP to Hayley Shalley, 8-2582. Read more.

The Friends of SMU Soccer present the 3rd annual Schellas Hyndman Golf Extravaganza Sept. 24 at Hackberry Country Club in Irving. Register online or call 8-4084 for more information.

Junior placekicker Thomas Morstead has been named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance during SMU’s victory over North Texas Sept. 8. Morstead punted five times for 278 yards, giving him a 55.6 yard punting average, the fourth-highest single-game average in SMU history. He also had a career-long 72-yard punt, which ties for the 10th-longest at SMU. Read more.

Junior midfielder and captain Bruno Guarda (right) has been named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week in men’s soccer. Guarda scored a goal and was credited with an assist in the No. 8 Mustangs’ 5-1 defeat of No. 3 Virginia Sept. 7 in the first round of the SMU Mi Cocina Classic. Guarda also was named Tournament MVP. Read more.