The Cougars have been loaded with talented special teams contributors for more than 50 years. Players who could change field position, make the big kick or find the end zone on a return. They have had top-notch punters and kickers as well as plenty of fantastic return men. There have been all-conference and All-American honorees to go along with national leaders and even some NCAA record holders.
Here is my list of the best special team performers in BYU history.
Statistical information, school records and honors from BYUCougars.com and Sports-reference.com
H.M. O’Neill Chambers, returner (2008-2010)
While he was a solid receiver, Chambers made his biggest impact for the Cougars as a returner. One of his best years came in 2009 when he had a 25.6 yard average on 19 kick returns and also returned 22 punts for 132 yards.
For his BYU career, he returned 69 kicks for 1,611 yards for an average of 23.3 yards per return to go along with a 6.4 yards per return average on 37 punt returns.
H.M. Rich Adams, punter (1967-69)
Adams was very busy during his three years as the Cougar punter. He had more than 80 punts during each of his last two seasons. One of his best seasons came in 1968 when he averaged 40.9 yards on 81 punts.
For his BYU career, he averaged 40 yards on 201 punts.
H.M. Homer Jones, returner (1979-1980)
Jones had a great all-around career during his two seasons with the Cougars. His best season on special teams came in 1979 when he averaged 26.3 yards on 22 kick returns to go along with 13 punt returns for 95 yards.
For his BYU career, he averaged 24.7 yards per kick return and 9.0 yards on 31 punt returns.
H.M. Ethan Pochman, kicker (1992-93, 1996)
Pochman only started for one year, but it was a very special season. In 1996, he was named second-team All-WAC by the coaches after he set a school records with 20 made field goals and 123 points.
H.M. JD Falslev, returner (2009-2013)
Falslev was a terrific punt returner during his time in Provo. He was named a first-team All-Independent return man three times by Phil Steele. One of his best season came as a junior in 2012 when he had 26 punt returns for 247 yards and 11 kick returns for 286 yards to earn All-Independent first team honors.
For his BYU career, he returned 89 punts for 856 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 23 kick returns for 484 yards.
25. Justin Sorensen, kicker (2008, 2011-2013)
Sorensen was the main kicker for the Cougars for three seasons. His best season came in 2013 when he hit all 45 extra point chances and was 21-for-26 in field goal attempts. His 108 points were good enough for the fourth highest single season total in BYU history and earn him honorable mention All-Independent honors.
For his BYU career, he missed just three extra points and hit 65.2 percent of his field goals.
24. Jaron Dabney, returner (1997-1999)
Dabney was an explosive return man during his two years on the field at BYU. His best season came as a freshman in 1997 when he averaged 24.5 yards on 26 kick returns. He also had 27 punt returns for 10.1 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers were good enough to earned second-team freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
For his BYU career, he averaged 24.2 yards per kick return and 7.6 yards per punt return.
23. Jared McLaughlin, kicker (2002-06)
McLaughlin had two really good seasons as the starting kicker. His best year came in 2006 when he led the Mountain West Conference in scoring with 100 points and hit 14 of his 18 field goal attempts.
For his BYU career, he hit 104-of-110 extra points and 75.7 percent of his field goal attempts and finished with 188 points.
22. Cody Hoffman, returner (2010-13)
Hoffman was a big asset for the Cougars in the return game as well as being one of the best receivers in school history. One of his best years as a returner came in 2011 when he returned 36 kicks for 879 yards and a touchdown. Two years later, he showed off his ability as a punter returner with eight returns for 69 yards.
for his BYU career, he returned 53 kicks for 1,331 yards and a score with an average of 25.1 yards per return.
21. Aaron Edmunds, punter (2000-01)
Edmunds spend two seasons as the Cougars punter and had a very successful career. His best season came as a junior in 2000 when he led the Mountain West Conference with 43.6 yards per punt. Those numbers were good enough to earn first-team all-conference.
For his BYU career, he averaged 42.1 yards on 113 punts.
20. Alan Boardman, punter (1993-96)
Boardman led the Cougars in punting all four years as a Cougar. He was named first-team freshman All-America by The Football News after he finished ninth in the nation with an average of 43.13 yards per punt. He followed that up by being named second-team All-WAC as a sophomore.
For his BYU career, he set a school record with 204 punts for an average of 42.3 yards.
19. Mitch Payne, kicker (2006-2010)
Payne handled the kicking duties all four seasons on the field with the Cougars and had great success. He led the team in scoring his last two years. One of his best years came as a senior in 2010 when he led the Mountain West Conference with 17 made field goals.
For his BYU career, he finished as the All-time leading scorer in school history with 334 points while converting on 74.6 percent of his field goals.
18. Austin Collie, returner (2004, 2007-08)
As well as being an elite receiver, Austin Collie was also a great kick returner. His best year as a returner came in 2007 when he led the Mountain West Conference in kick return yards (723) and finished second in average per return (25.8).
For his BYU career, he had 49 kick returns for 1,277 yards for an average return of 26.1 yards.
17. Earl Kauffman, kicker/punter (1988-1991)
Kauffman started for two seasons as the kicker and three years as the punter with the Cougars. His best season came in 1990 when he was first-team All-Western Athletic Conference kicker after he led the team in scoring with 91 points. He also had a solid punting year with a 43.3 yard average in 42 attempts.
For his BYU career, he scored 159 points and had a 41.7 yard average per punt.
16. Mike Rigell, returner (1998, 2000-01)
Rigell was a was great as both a kick and punt returner. His best season came in 2001 when he led the MWC in punt returns (36) and return yards (299) while finishing second in the nation in kick return yards (865). His 26.2 yards per kick return was good for second in the conference.
For his BYU career, he returned 65 kicks for 1,625 yards and a touchdown for an average of 25 yards. he also returned 65 punts for 494 yards.
15. Mike Mees, punter (1978-1982)
Mees was the starting punter for his last two years and earned All-WAC honors each year. His best season came in 1982 when he earned All-WAC first-team after he led the conference with an average of 45.6 yards on 40 punts.
For his time at BYU, he averaged 42.8 yards on 97 punts during his two seasons as a starter.
14. Adam Hine, returner (2011-current)
Hine has been a great kick returner for the Cougars the last two years. He finished 10th in the nation in kick return yards (843) in 2013 to earn first-team All-Independent kick returner. He followed that up by averaging 24.5 yards per kick return with a touchdown in 2014.
For his career, he has 53 returns for 1,383 yards and a score. His 26.09 yards per return is the highest average of any independent players since 2000, according to Sports-reference.com.
13. Don Bushore, returner (1946-49)
Bushore is one of the best punt returners in school history. He is tied for the school record for punt returns in a game with eight. His 22.9 yards per punt return in 1948 is also a school record for a season.
12. Leonard Chitty, kicker (1986-87)
Chitty had two really good seasons kicking for the Cougars. He led the team in scoring and earned All-WAC honors each season. His most decorated season came in 1987 when he was an AP honorable mention All-American and a first-team All-WAC performer after he hit 97 percent of his extra points and 18-of-26 field goals.
For his BYU career, he scored 166 points while hitting 72.3 percent of his field goals.
11. Golden Richards, returner (1970-71)
Although he didn’t finish his college career in a Cougar uniform, Richards was a great player during his time in Provo. His best year came in 1971 when he was first-team all conference after he took four punts back for touchdowns, including two in one game against North Texas. His 624 punt-return yards is still the most in a single season in school history.
10. Vai Sikahema, returner (1980-81, 1983-85)
as well as being a solid running back, Sikahema was outstanding in the return game. His best year came in 1984 when he was an honorable mention All-WAC performer after he had 51 punt returns for 472 yards and two touchdowns. He added 15 kick returns for 376 yards. A year later, he was second-team All-WAC with 54 punt returns for 441 yards and another score.
For his career, he holds the BYU records for punt returns in a career (153) and yards (1,312). He was inducted into the BYU hall of fame in 2002.
9. Owen Pochman, kicker (1996-2000)
Pochman was the Cougars starting kicker all four seasons in Provo and earned all-conference recognition each year. After three straight seasons a the second-team all-conference kicker he finally made the first team in 2000. That season, he was perfect on extra points and made 79.2 percent of his field goals.
For his BYU career, he finished with 333 points while hitting 97.1 percent of his extra points and 72.5 percent of his field goals.
8. Clay Brown, punter (1976-1980)
Along with his remarkable exploits as a tight end, Brown was also an all-conference punter during his time as a Cougar. His best season came in 1979 when he was a first-team All-WAC performer after he led the nation with 45.3 yards per punt.
For his BYU career, he averaged 41.8 yards on 118 punts. He was inducted into the BYU hall of fame in 1999.
7. Riley Stephenson, punter/kicker (2009-2012)
Stephenson was the Cougars starting punter during all four of his seasons in Provo. His best year came in 2012 when he punted the ball 59 times for an average of 45.4 yards per punt. Those numbers were good enough to be named AP and SI.com second-team All-American.
For his career, he had an average of 42.9 yards on 200 punts.
6. Pat Thompson, punter (1986-88)
Thompson was the Cougars starting punter during all three seasons. He led the conference in punting average two straight years. His best year came in 1988 when he averaged 44.8 yards per punt to earn first-team All-WAC. Those numbers were also good enough to be named a first or second-team All-American by five different publications.
For his BYU career, he had an average of 43.1 yards on 177 punts.
5. Lee Johnson, kicker/punter (1980-84)
Johnson had a tremendous career as a kicker and punter with the Cougars. One of his best seasons came in 1984 when he led the team in scoring with 74 points while hitting 13-for-17 field goal attempts to earn All-WAC second-team honors. He was also an AP All-American honorable mention with a punting averaged of 45.5 yards.
His 47 yards per punt is still the highest average in school history.
4. Matt Payne, kicker/punter (2000-04)
Payne is one of the most decorated players in school history. He was a great kicker and punter and could also make a huge tackle or two. He was a three-time first-team all-conference punter and led the team in scoring and punting in three straight seasons. One of his best seasons came in 2004 when he was named first-team All-American punter by The Sporting News.
For his BYU career, he finished with 312 points and a punting average of 45.4 yards. That average is the highest in MWC history and the third highest in the NCAA since 2000.
3. Chris Farasopoulos, returner (1968-1970)
Farasopoulos was fantastic as a punt and kick returner. He had two of the top 10 kick return seasons in school history. One of his best years came in 1969 when he led the nation in punt returns and set the NCAA record for combined punt and kick return yards for a season with 1,075.
His 27.27 yards per kick return is still the top mark in BYU history.
2. James Dye, returner (1995-96)
Dye was a dynamic play-maker during both of his seasons on the field for the Cougars. He was a two-time first-team All-WAC selection as a returner and tied the school record with four punt return touchdowns. In 1995, he was WAC special teams player of the year after he led the nation with 21.9 yards per punt return.
For his BYU career, he has a school record 19.8 yards per punt return. He also averaged 25.7 on 23 kick returns with another touchdown.
1. Paul Allen, returner (1959-61)
Allen was a special teams legend during his time with the Cougars. His best year came in 1961 when he returned three kicks for touchdowns and set an NCAA record in average yards per return.
His 40.1 kick return average in 1961 is still the top mark in NCAA history today.
One thought on “BYU football: Ranking the best players on special teams in school history”
John Denney in his 13th season, just finished his 202nd consecutive game as the long snapper for the Miami Dolphins. Last time I checked LS was a special teams position..