Football players from Utah colleges drafted to the NFL in the 1980s

Published: Tuesday, April 23 2013 8:30 a.m. MDT

Since Ed "Red" Wade from Utah State was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1937 in the second NFL draft, the state of Utah has consistently produced NFL-caliber players. Some players were drafted but never played, while others went on to have long careers in the NFL. The 1980s saw football players from Utah make their mark in the NFL. Unlike previous decades, BYU produced some of its best NFL talent during this era:

Jim McMahon led the 1985 Bears to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl victory.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted quarterback Steve Young and, after considering him a bust, traded him to the San Francisco 49ers where he would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.

Running Back Vai Sikahema became the first NFL play of Tongan descent. Take a look at our previous list of Utah football players drafted in the '70s. In the coming weeks look for draft lists from the '90s and 2000s.

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Orem, UT

Maybe I missed them but I didn't see Jason Buck or Shawn Knight. Round 1 1987. I didn't see Trevor Matich either, Round 1 1985.

Provo, UT

No offense but Young only started in one Super Bowl, Montana started the other games...

Spanish Fork, UT

Out of the 71, BYU had 36. (add in Buck, Knight and Matich and that is 39/74= 52% with 4 universities named) My point... I don't understand Bronco saying placing players in the NFL is no indication of the success of the program. It was the 80s where BYU dominated so much and...they had a ton of players go on to the NFL. How can Bronco not see the correlation or am I missing something.

Springville, UT


Knight and Buck were both in there. 59 and 60 I believe.


I agree, NFL caliber players does indicate the success of the program. I kind of see Bronco's point, that you can have a really good team with players that may not get drafted, but it seems silly to deny that having more NFL-caliber players is not the goal. Of course you want to send players to the NFL. That attracts more quality players (LDS or not). If BYU were consistently producing NFL talent, maybe we wouldn't miss out on the cream of the LDS crop, like Manti Te'o, Star Lotulelei, Tony Moeaki, etc.

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Football players from Utah colleges drafted to the NFL in the 1980s

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT


(Sorry for above posting - cut-off accidentily.

As I was saying - I agree with your comments. When I saw the title of the article, I smilled. The Deseret News had to go back to the 80's to attempt to verify BYU's relevancy. The 80's was their era. What would the article look like if the 2000's period was selected? Isn't that more telling that a period 33-23 years ago? Obviously, so there must be a follow-up article for the decades of the 90's and 00's! Looking forward to reading those articles.

South Jordan, UT

Of course the DNews is going to do an article that puts one school in a better light. The eighties were awesome. Not as good after that decade.

Provo, UT

Google Alfred Pupunu Weber State. Super Bowl 1995 San Diego Chargers. 9 years in NFL

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