BYU’s legacy where college football is concerned is with their quarterbacks. There have been countless All-Americans, Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh winners and even a Heisman Trophy winner. These are all great accomplishments for the school and their fantastic quarterbacks, but none of this would’ve happened without great wide receivers, tight ends and pass catching running backs. In this three part series, I look back and analyze the players at each of these positions to decide who the best of the best in Cougar history are.
PART 3: The Wide Receivers
Note: These rankings are based solely on what each player did while at BYU. I haven’t factored in Junior College or NFL success in any way. The stats also include bowl games.
Going through the all-time list of Cougar wide outs made me realize how many great receivers they have had. Since this is the list of only the top 15, numerous quality wide outs won’t make the cut. The players who just missed the top 15 are Bruce Smith, Casey Boyett, Lloyd Jones, Bryce Doman, Ben Cahoon, K.O. Kealaluhi and Michael Reed.
15. Chuck Cutler- Cutler makes the list because of his dominant senior season in Provo where he caught 64 passes for over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. That placed him in the top 5 of every major receiving category in the WAC in 1988. Those numbers placed him tenth nationally in receiving yards and 7th in receiving touchdowns.
14. Jay Miller-Like Cutler, Jay Miller only had one really good season as a member of the Cougars. Miller’s great year came as a sophomore when he caught 100 passes for almost 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns. During his incredible 1973 season Jay had a game against New Mexico where he caught 22 passes for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns. The number of catches and yards from that game are still all-time Cougar bests. Miller only caught 14 other passes in his BYU career due to injuries.
13. Dan Plater- Plater had 1 catch for 17 yards as a freshman, but every other season at BYU finished top 10 in the WAC in receptions and receiving yards. By the time he was done in Provo, Dan had finished with 126 receptions for over 2000 yards and 16 touchdowns.
12. John Van Der Wouden- During his career as a Cougar Van Der Wouden caught over 110 passes for almost 2000 yards and 18 touchdowns.
11. Mike Chronister- Chronister led BYU in receiving in two different seasons. As a senior he also led the WAC in catches and receiving yards. Mike finished his BYU career with over 120 receptions for over 2100 yards and 21 touchdowns.
10. Glen Kozlowski- Kozlowski’s best season in Provo came during the 1984 national title season, when he led the WAC in receiving touchdowns with 12. He was also second in the conference in receptions and receiving yards while finishing third in yards per reception. For his career, Glen caught 139 passes for almost 2300 yards and 24 touchdowns.
9. Todd Watkins- Watkins spent 2 years in Provo after coming from Junior College but made the most of his time as a Cougar. In each season at BYU, Todd finished in the top 10 of the MWC in receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception and touchdowns. Watkins left BYU with 101 receptions for 1720 yards and 15 touchdowns.
8. Mark Bellini- Bellini came to Provo as a walk on but left as one of the Cougar all-time greats at wide receiver. In 1985, Mark led the nation in touchdown receptions and also led the WAC in receiving yards. During his career at BYU caught 152 passes for 2554 yards and 23 touchdowns. Very impressive, when you consider that Bellini didn’t catch any passes as a freshman.
7. Reno Mahe- Mahe had two stints in Provo, playing for the Cougars. As a freshman, Reno was a successful running back before leaving school because of an Honor Code violation. When he returned, he did so with a new position as a wide receiver. In his 2 years as a wide out, Mahe caught 150 passes for just under 2000 yards and 11 touchdowns. His best season came as a junior when he led the MWC in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Not bad for a converted running back.
6. Andy Boyce- Boyce was Ty Detmer’s favorite target during his Heisman trophy winning season in 1990. That season, Andy caught 79 passes for 1241 yards and 13 touchdowns which placed him second nationally in receptions as well as third in receiving yards and touchdowns. In his two year career in Provo, Boyce caught 126 passes for 2080 yards and 16 touchdowns.
5. Margin Hooks- Hooks was BYU’s best receiver during their transition from the WAC to the MWC. Margin led the Cougars in receiving yards three straight years finishing atop the MWC charts as a junior. For his career, Hooks caught 189 passes for 2841 yards and 14 touchdowns.
4. Eric Drage- Drage was the first BYU receiver to catch passes for more than 3000 yards. As a sophomore, Eric finished eighth in the NCAA in receiving yards, ninth in touchdowns and third in yards per catch. Drage’s average of 18.9 yards per reception is still fourth all-time in WAC history. Eric finished his Cougar career with 162 receptions for 3065 yards and 29 touchdowns.
3. Cody Hoffman- Cody still has one season remaining in Provo, so it’s not too far of a stretch to think he will be at the top of this list by the time his BYU career is over. In his first three seasons as a Cougar Hoffman has caught 203 passes for 2713 yards and 28 touchdowns. Cody’s best season so far came his junior year when he caught 100 passes for 1248 yards and 11 scores.
2. Phil Odle- Odle was BYU’s first truly great wide receiver. He played in Provo from 1965 through 1967 and left BYU as with the second most receptions in NCAA history. He also set the WAC scoring record during his time as a Cougar. For his career, Phil caught 183 passes for 2548 yards and 25 touchdowns.
1. Austin Collie- Collie finished his Cougar career as the BYU and MWC all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 30. He is also on top of BYU’s chart for yards receiving with 3255. Austin’s best season came in his final year as a Cougar, when as a junior; he caught 106 passes for 1538 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those numbers placed him first nationally in receiving yards, third in receptions and fourth in receiving touchdowns.