Ranking the best running quarterbacks in BYU history

Published: May 21, 2018

BYU football was made famous by a tremendous passing game, but the Cougars have also had quarterbacks who could do plenty of damage with their legs as well. In fact, many of the quarterbacks who were under center during the early days of the Cougars were as successful on the ground as they were throwing the ball.

Here is the list of the best-of-the-best of those quarterbacks – the former Cougar signal callers who did the most damage in the running game.

Honorable mentions

Jim McMahon (1977-81)

While his overall rushing stats don’t jump off the page, McMahon made some big plays in the ground game for the Cougars, including 10 rushing scores during his sophomore and junior seasons.

Riley Nelson (2009-12)

Nelson was a consistently good rusher who could be counted on to make plays with his legs when the pocket broke down. His best year on the ground came as a junior when he carried the ball 88 times for 392 yards.

5. Brandon Doman (1998-2001)

Doman did his best work on the ground during a terrific senior year when he netted 456 yards and eight scores. His best rushing game came in a 56-34 win over Colorado State when he had 18 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

4. Steve Young (1980-83)

Before he was one of the best running quarterbacks in NFL history, Young was a dynamic rusher at BYU. He totaled six games with multiple rushing touchdowns, including a three score performance against Air Force. His best season on the ground came as a senior in 1983 when he totaled 444 yards and eight touchdowns on 102 carries.

During his time at BYU, he carried the ball 269 times for 1,084 yards and 18 touchdowns.

3. Virgil Carter (1963-66)

Carter was one of the first dual-threat quarterbacks at BYU. Along with leading the WAC in touchdown passes twice, he finished top 10 in the conference in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns three times. His best season on the ground came in 1966 when he led the WAC with nine rushing scores while landing in the top 10 in both rushing yards and yards per attempt.

During his three seasons on the field in Provo, he totaled 1,225 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing.

2. Eldon Fortie (1960-62)

Thanks to the structure of the BYU offense during his time as a Cougar, “The Phantom” ran the ball much more than he threw it. And it work out well. Fortie had his best season during 1962 when he won WAC Offensive Player of the Year and finished 10th in the Heisman voting after carrying the ball 199 times for 1,149 yards and 14 touchdowns.

During three seasons playing in the Western Athletic and Skyline conferences, he rushed for 1,624 yards and 17 scores.

1. Taysom Hill (2012-16)

Hill was one of the most elite athletes to ever wear a BYU uniform. He was a threat to produce a big run whenever he broke the pocket. His best year came in 2013 when he carried the ball 246 times for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns.

During his time in Provo, he totaled 534 carries for 2,819 yards and 32 touchdowns.


7 thoughts on “Ranking the best running quarterbacks in BYU history

  1. This ranking is only slightly more meaningful than ranking the best blocking wide receivers at BYU. The only reason Steve Young is not ranked higher is that he actually learned how to be a passing quarterback while at BYU.


  2. Remember playing football in the street with my high school buddies older brother Virg Carter. There also was Phil Odel, Perry Rodriguez and Curt Belcher….I was in the 8th grade…it was awesome…
    Jerome Badura


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