Ranking the best tight ends in BYU history

The quarterbacks get the notoriety, the fame and the legendary status, but they have had plenty of help from great tight ends. Until the last few years, the tight end was a huge weapon in the Cougar offense – and for good reason. The Cougars have had numerous all-conference selections and more than a handful of All-Americans honors.

Here is my list of the best tight ends in BYU history.

H.M. Gabriel Reid (1999-2002)

Even though Reid didnt have a ton of catches during his time as a Cougar, he was great at finding the end zone. He finished in the top 10 in the Mountain West in touchdown receptions in his last two seasons. His most productive year came in 2002 when he caught 18 passes for 192 yards and five touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 27 receptions for 321 yards and eight scores.

H.M. Marcus Mathews (2010-13)

Mathews split his time at BYU between wide receiver and tight end, but deserves mention because he did most of his damage at tight end. His most productive season came in 2011 when he led all BYU tight ends with 27 receptions for 299 yards and a touchdown.

For his BYU career, he caught 38 passes for 460 yards and a touchdown.

H.M. Carlos Nuno (1997-99)

Nuno had two solid seasons on the field for the Cougars. His best statistical season came in 1998 when he had 13 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 24 receptions for 342 yards and three scores.

25. Steve Harper (1982-83)

Even though he played along side some really good tight ends, Harper found the field enough to do some nice things for the Cougars. His best year came in 1983 when he caught 26 passes for 366 yards and three  touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 29 receptions for 401 yards and four scores.

24. Kaneakua Friel (2007-08, 2011-13)

Although Friel played during a time where the Cougars didn’t use the tight end very much, he still had a couple of nice years. His best season came as a junior in 2012 when he had 30 catches for 308 yards and five touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he caught 48 passes for 491 yards and seven touchdowns.

23. Dan Bowers (1968-1971)

Bowers was a very valuable part of the passing game during his three years on th field with BYU. His most productive statistical season came in 1969 when he caught 17 passes for 242 yards and two scores.

For his BYU career, he had 36 receptions for 482 yards and two touchdowns.

22. Terence Saluone (1992-93)

Saluone spent two seasons with the Cougars and was a nice option in the passing game. His most productive season came in 1993 when he caught 25 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns while playing for the WAC co-champs.

For his BYU career, he had 29 receptions for 417 yards and three touchdowns.

21. Devin Mahina (2010-14)

Though the Cougars didnt use the tight ends much during his time, Mahina made solid contributions during his time in Provo. His best season came as a senior in 2014 when he caught 20 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns to be named FBS all-Independent team honorable mention.

For his BYU career, he had 46 receptions for 554 yards and five touchdowns.

20. Mike Pistorius (1971-73)

Pistorius played a big part in the passing game all three of his seasons on the field at BYU. His most productive year came in 1973 when he finished second on the team with 37 receptions for 457 yards and two touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he caught 62 passes for 908 yards and five touchdowns.

19. Spencer Nead (2001-02)

Nead had two very productive seasons for the Cougars. He earned honorable mention all-MWC as a junior after he caught 22 passes for 266 yards and five touchdowns. A year later, he had 40 receptions for 449 yards and another score.

For his BYU career, he had 62 catches for 715 yards and six touchdowns.

18. Dustin Johnson (1991, 95-98)

Johnson had two really good seasons for the Cougars as a fullback/tight end. One of his best seasons came in 1997 when he earned second-team all-WAC after he caught 33 passes for 394 yards and a touchdown.

For his BYU career, he had 66 receptions for 883 yards and four touchdowns.

17. Tevita Ofahengaue (1997-2000)

Ofahengaue had three very solid seasons on the field for the Cougars. One of his most impressive seasons came in 2000 when he earned second-team all-MWC after he caught 22 passes for 305 yards.

For his BYU career, he had 62 receptions for 853 yards and four touchdowns.

16. Brian Billick (1974-76)

Billick spent three seasons playing for BYU after he transferred from Air Force. One of his best seasons came in 1976 when he earned first-team all-WAC and Honorable mention All-American after he caught 20 passes for 338 yards and a touchdown, according to the 1977 BYU media guide.

For his BYU career, he had 46 receptions for 627 yards and three touchdowns.

15. Daniel Coats (2002-06)

Coats was great as a blocker and at catching passes during his time as a Cougar. His most productive season came in 2003 when he eared Sporting News freshman All-American after he caught 30 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 86 receptions for 966 yards and nine touchdowns.

14. Doug Jolley (1997-2001)

Jolley had good hands and was a very key contributor at the goal line. His best season came as a senior when he earned all-MWC first-team after he caught 32 passes for 492 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to place second in the conference in receiving touchdowns and eighth in yards-per-reception (15.4).

For his BYU career, he had 52 receptions for 768 yards and 11 touchdowns.

13. Andrew George (2005-09)

Although he played with one of the best tight ends in school history, George was too good to keep off the field. His best season came in 2009 when he earned second-team all-MWC after he caught 30 passes for 408 yards and five touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 70 receptions for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns.

12. Darren Handley (1985-88)

Handley was a very consistent performer during his time with the Cougars. His most productive season came in 1987 when he led the team with 52 receptions for 636 yards and three scores. Those numbers placed him seventh in the WAC in catches and 10th in receiving.

For his BYU career, he caught 97 passes for 1,244 yards and five touchdowns.

11. Tod Thompson (1974-78)

Thompson was one of the first huge offensive threats from the tight end spot at BYU. His season came as a junior in 1997 when he had 37 catches for 602 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up in ’78 be placing in the top four in the WAC in receiving yards (560), yards-per-reception (16.5) and receiving touchdowns (five).

For his BYU career, he caught 87 passes for 1,452 yards and 16 touchdowns.

10. Chad Lewis (1993-96)

Lewis was a big-time target for Cougar quarterbacks from the moment he stepped on campus. He was named all-WAC first or second-team each of his last three years. One of his best years came in 1995 when he had 31 catches for 456 yards and two touchdowns to earn UPI All-American honorable mention.

For his BYU career, he caught 111 passes for 1,376 yards and 10 touchdowns.

9. Byron Rex (1986, 1989-1992)

Like many of the other Cougars on this list, Rex was a two-time first-team all-WAC performer. His most productive year came in 1992 when he was named UPI second-team All-American after he caught 45 passes for 612 yards and five scores.

For his BYU career, he had 87 receptions for 1,209 yards and seven touchdowns.

8. Itula Mili (1991, 94-96)

Although he played with a pair of other great tight ends during his time as a Cougar, Mili still managed to put up some monster numbers. His best year came as a senior in 1996 when he American Football Coaches Association first-team All-American and first-team all-WAC after he caught 46 passes for 692 yards and three touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 125 receptions for 1,763 yards and 11 touchdowns.

7. Trevor Molini (1985-86)

Molini was the next in a long line of Cougars tight ends from the 1980s who earned All-American honors. His most productive season came in 1985 when he was third-team Football News All-American after he caught 63 passes for 849 yards and three touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 105 receptions for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns.

6. David Mills (1979-1981, 83-84)

Mills only saw significant time during one season at BYU (thanks to the depth the Cougars had at tight end), but it was a memorable one. He led the Cougars in catches (60) and receiving yards (1,023) while adding seven touchdowns during the run to the national championship. Those numbers were good enough to earn first-team all-WAC and Athlon magazine first-team All-American.

For his BYU career, he caught 69 passes for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns.

5. Jonny Harline (2004-06)

Harline was a first-team all-MWC performer twice during his time as a Cougar. His best year came as a senior in 2006 when he was named first-team All-American by five different publications. That season, he caught 58 passes for 935 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to lead the conference and finish seventh nationally in receiving touchdowns. He also led the MWC in receiving yards.

For his BYU career, he had 121 receptions for 1,788 yards and 17 touchdowns.

4. Clay Brown (1976-1980)

While a lot of fans remember him for just one play, Brown was a dominant force as a tight end. He was first-team all-WAC two straight seasons as a tight end and also a very accomplished punter. His best year came in 1980 when he caught 48 passes for 1,009 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to lead the nation in touchdowns, finish third in receiving yards and ninth in yards-per-catch (21)

For his BYU career, he had 88 receptions for 1,691 yards and 17 touchdowns.

3. Chris Smith (1987-1990)

Smith had two legendary seasons during his time in Provo. His was a two-time, first-team all-WAC selection who earned All-American honors during his junior and senior seasons. His best year came in 1990 when he was a consensus All-American after he broke the NCAA record in receiving yards for a tight end (1,154), according to BYUCougars.com.

For his BYU career, he caught 137 passes for 2,367 yards and eight touchdowns.

2. Dennis Pitta (2004, 07-09)

Pitta was an extraordinary offensive weapon during his time as a Cougar. He was a three-time, first-team all-MWC selection and a consensus All-American in 2009. His best statistical season came in 2008 when he caught 83 passes for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 221 receptions for 2,901 yards and 21 touchdowns.

1. Gordon Hudson (1980-83)

Hudson produced for the Cougars no matter who was throwing him the football. He was a two-time, first-team all-WAC selection and a two-time consensus All-American. One of his most impressive statistical seasons came in 1981 when he caught 67 passes for 960 yards and 10 touchdowns.

For his BYU career, he had 178 receptions for 2,484 yards and 22 touchdowns. He ended his time as a Cougar as the all-time NCAA leader in receiving yards by a tight end, according to BYUCougars.com. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

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