Gifford Nielsen, 1975-77: Nielsen, a native of Provo, was a first-team All-American his junior year after leading the nation in TD passes (29) and finishing second in total offense (3,192 yds). His college career took off when he came off the bench as a sophomore to complete 10 of 12 passes to lead the Cougars to a come-from-behind win over New Mexico. His senior season was looking even more promising than his junior year after throwing for five TDs against New Mexico and six against Utah State, before an injury four games into the season ended his college career. He finished sixth in the 1976 Heisman Trophy balloting and in 1994 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, the first Cougar to gain that honor. In 25 games at BYU he threw for 5,833 yards and 55 TDs.
Nielsen (6-foot-4) was picked in the third round of the 1978 NFL draft by Houston and played six seasons for the Oilers, throwing for 3,255 yards and 20 TDs in his professional career. After his NFL career he was a sportscaster and sports director for KHOU-TV in Houston until retiring in 2009.
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