BYU has produced some of the biggest names in the world of football, like Steve Young and Chad Lewis. I often ask myself, if all of the great former Cougars got together to create one team, who would make it?
I have answered that question by putting together a BYU "Dream Team." 11 offensive players, 11 defensive and a special teams unit, along with a coach. If I missed anyone, or if you disagree with my selections, feel free to let me know.
Quarterback: Ty Detmer
Running Backs: Luke Staley, Harvey Unga
Wide Receivers: Eric Drage, Austin Collie
Tight End: Gordan Hudson
Linemen: Moe Elewonibi, Matt Reynolds, Bart Oates, Evan Pilgrim, John Tait
This was easily the hardest position to choose. After all, BYU is known as the "Quarterback Factory," producing play-callers from Gary Sheide, to Jim McMahon, to Steve Young. But it's hard to go wrong when selecting the 1990 Heisman winner and and a two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner.
Ty Detmer may not have the size of an average quarterback, standing at barely six feet tall, but he sure has an arm. Detmer finished his junior year with 5,188 yards passing and 41 touchdowns. In one game against top-ranked Miami, he threw for 406 yards.
By the time that Ty Detmer left BYU, he had broken 59 NCAA records and tied three others. He was the Western Athletic Conference's Offensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991.
Luke Staley finished his three-year career at BYU with 2,498 rushing yards, along with 1,000 receiving yards. During his junior season, his average of 8.1 yards-per-carry led the nation, and he received the Doak Walker and the Jim Brown awards. Staley was selected as a consensus first-team All American, and although he was selected in the 2002 NFL Draft, he suffered a knee injury in training camp that ended his professional career.
Harvey Unga holds the record for the most career rushing yards and attempts at BYU, and is the second Cougar to reach 3,000 career rushing yards (the other being Curtis Brown). His junior year, Unga led the team in touchdowns (12) and led the MWC in attempts and yards. An All-MWC First Team selection, he was named the Honorable Mention National Running Back of the Week twice by College Football Performance Awards. Unga currently plays for the Chicago Bears.
Eric Drage finished his Cougar career with 3,065 receiving yards along with 29 touchdowns. His sophomore, junior and senior years he led BYU in receiving, along with leading the Cougars in scoring his sophomore year. He was an Academic All-American his junior and senior years, along with being a member of the All-WAC first team.
A 2008 All-American, Austin Collie was named to the CBS Sports.com First Team, Associated Press Second Team, Sporting News Second Team, SportsIllustrated.com Second Team and Rivals.com Second Team. He holds the BYU records for receiving touchdowns and most 100-yard receiving games in a season, along with career receiving touchdowns and 100-yard receiving games. He also has the most receiving and all-purpose yards as a junior at BYU. Collie is currently a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts.
Gordon Hudson is the current NCAA record-holder for the most receiving yards gained by a tight end in a single game and the average per game during a career. With 259 yards in a 1981 game against Utah and an average of 75.3 yards per game, those records could be kept for a while.
Hudson finished his career with 2,484 total yards in 31 games. During his senior season, he earned a consensus All-America award, as well as being on the All-WAC first team.
Gordon Hudson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Matt Reynolds (left)
Moe Elewonibi was the 1989 Outland trophy winner, an award given to the most outstanding interior lineman in college football. Elewonibi was also a consensus All American and All-WAC first team that year.
John Tait made the All-WAC first team in back-to-back years (1997 and 1998). In the NFL, Tait played in 148 games and started 139 of them.
As a center, Bart Oates protected quarterback Jim McMahon during the early 1980's. As a senior, he was second-team All-American behind Nebraska's two-time Outland Trophy winner Dave Rimington. He was later voted to the WAC All-Decade Team in the 1980s. Oates won three Super Bowls in the NFL.
Evan Pilgrim started at guard his sophomore and junior seasons, before being halted by an ankle injury. In 1993, he was on the Honorable Mention All-WAC team, and in 1994, he was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-WAC player.
Matt Reynolds finished his career at BYU in December, and is one of the greatest tackles the Cougars have ever seen. A four-year starter, he was on the Outland Trophy Watch List, was a Lombardi Award Candidate, and a Lowe's Senior Class Award Nominee. Although he did not win any of those awards, Reynolds was a member of the Phil Steele All-Independent First Team, Yahoo! Sports All-Independent Team, and the FBS All-Independent Team. He is a current member of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL.
Linebackers: Shay Muirbrook, Rob Morris, Shad Hansen, Kyle Whittingham
Defensive Linemen: Jason Buck, Mike Morgan, Brady Poppinga
Defensive Backs: Kyle Morrell, Dave Atkinson, Brian Mitchell, Derwin Gray
Shay Muirbrook was the 1996 WAC Defensive Player of the Year and the Defensive MVP in the '96 Cotton Bowl. In that game, Muirbrook set the NCAA record for the number of sacks in a single game (6). That record has been tied, but not broken. He finished his Cougar career with 345 tackles.
Rob Morris was the WAC's Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, and led the Cougars in tackles in '97 and '98. He was on the All-WAC first team in 1998 and 1999, and and a second-team All American in his senior year.
Shad Hansen holds the BYU record for the most tackles in a career (408). He led the Cougars in tackles his junior and senior seasons, and was the WAC's Defensive Player of the Week twice. He was on the All-WAC first team his senior season.
Kyle Whittingham was the WAC's Defensive Co-Player of the Year his senior season, and was a member of the All-WAC first team. He was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. Whittingham was named Sports Illustrated's Defensive Player of the Week for a performance against SDSU that included ten unassisted tackles, eight assisted and four sacks.
Jason Buck recorded 112 tackles and 24 sacks in only two seasons at BYU. In 1986, he won the Outland Trophy and was on the All-WAC first team. In 1995, Buck was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-WAC First team player.
Mike Morgan holds the record at BYU for most sacks in a career with 38, and led the Cougars in sacks in 1982. Morgan was on the All-WAC first team his senior season.
Brady Poppinga currently plays linebacker in the NFL, but during his BYU days, he was a defensive end. He finished his Cougar career with 27 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles, and led BYU in sacks his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Kyle Morrell helped lead BYU to the 1984 National Championship with 232 career tackles and eight interceptions. He was named the WAC's Defensive Player of the Year in 1984, along with being named to the All-America first team and the All-WAC first team. He is widely remembered for his front-flip tackle against Hawaii.
Dave Atkinson set interception records at BYU with nine in one season and 20 in his career. He led the Cougars in interceptions his junior and senior seasons, and was named to the All-WAC first team his senior year.
Brian Mitchell left BYU with 171 tackles and 13 interceptions. During his junior year, he led the Cougs in interceptions and was named to the All-WAC Second Team. He was named to the first team his senior season. He coached defensive backs at BYU, and then later, Texas Tech.
Derwin Gray led BYU in interceptions his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He was one of the few players to be named the WAC Defensive Player of the Week. Gray was named to the All-WAC first team during his senior season.
Punter: Lee Johnson
Kicker: Justin Sorensen
Kickoff Returner: Vai Sikahema
Lee Johnson led the WAC in scoring his sophomore year, and led BYU his junior. He was named to the All-WAC second team both seasons. He holds BYU records for the longest punt in a game, the highest punt average in a game and best punting average in a season and in a career.
It's hard to name somebody to this list that's only played two seasons of college football, but Justin Sorensen is the kind of player that deserves it. He was on last year's Phil Steele All-Independent first team, a two-time FBS Independent Player of the Week and was an FBS Independent honorable mention player. Sorensen set a school record going 48 for 48 on PAT's last year. He also made eight 30+ yard field goals, and five 40+ ones.
Vai Sikahema was ranked seventh in the nation in kickoff returns as a junior, along with being named special teams player of the game against Tulsa and UTEP. As a senior, he was named the Hartford-ESPN MVP in games against UCLA and Hawaii. Also during his senior year, he was named to the All-WAC second team. Sikahema had a successful NFL career, being named to two Pro Bowls and setting the NFL Pro-Bowl single-game punt return record with seven returns in one game. He is currently the anchor and sports director for NBC's channel 10 in Philadelphia.
This is really quite the no-brainer. LaVell Edwards is one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football, and is ranked fifth in all-time wins with 257. He coached his team to a National Championship in 1984, 21 bowl games and 19 conference championships. Edwards installed an "Air Raid" offense at BYU, which produced quarterbacks including Gary Sheide, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer, Steve Sarkisian and Brandon Doman. His offenses passed for over 57 miles while he was the coach.