Commentary: BYU's 15 greatest wide receivers of all time

Published: Monday, July 8 2013 3:42 p.m. MDT

BYU’s college football legacy lies with its quarterbacks. Numerous All-Americans, Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh winners, and a Heisman Trophy winner have walked the halls of BYU throughout its football history.

These are all great accomplishments for the school and its quarterbacks, but none of it would have happened without great wide receivers, tight ends and pass-catching running backs. In this three-part series, I have taken a look back to analyze these players at each of these positions in order to determine who the best of the best in Cougar history are.

Going through the all-time list of Cougar wide-outs made me realize how many great receivers BYU has had. Since this is only the top 15, numerous quality wide-outs did not make the cut. Among the players who just missed out are Bruce Smith, Casey Boyett, Lloyd Jones, Bryce Doman, Ben Cahoon, K.O. Kealaluhi and Michael Reed.

Here's my list of the 15 best wide receivers to ever play for BYU.

Note: These rankings are based solely on what each player did while at BYU. Junior college or NFL success has not influenced these rankings in any way. The stats presented herein also include bowl games.

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Austin, TX

No Ben Cahoon?

U 90
Corona, CA

Besides Collie, did any of these guys play in the NFL? Honest question, I don't know the answer.

I have a ton of respect for Boyce, I played against him when he was at Olympus.

Overton, NV

Watkins and Mahe both played in the NFL.

Frisco, TX

Will Hoffman move up to #1 if he has another season like his Sophomore or Junior season?

Utah, UT

Bellini and kozlowski both played in the nfl. Both made mid level qbs look like all americans. Oh wait they were all Americans. Two greats playing at the same time. That was byu football at its finest.

Wilsonville, OR

Ben Cahoon never made it to the NFL, but he was CFL MVP a couple of times. The thing I remember about Ben at BYU was his dependability. If he could touch the ball, he always caught it.

Provo, UT

It's amazing just how quickly you forget how good a player really was. Austin Collie was a once in a generation talent for BYU. Never will see another quite like him.
No disrespect to Cody Hoffman as he is about to break Austin's records, but let it be understood that Collie played for just 3 years at BYU and had he stayed for his senior campaign, his records would be absolutely untouchable.
Great list. No disagreements here.

Mt Laurel, NJ

lets have a 15 top University of Utah receivers list as well.

Stansbury Park, ut

@jersey they gotta win the pac 12 south division first...lol

Orem, UT

Does anyone know who holds the record for average yards per catch for a single season? I believe it's one of the earlier players back at the start of the Cougars vaunted passing legacy. A kid named George Harris averaged 27.3 yards per catch for the entire season. That's impressive at any level, in any era. He wasn't very bright - became an attorney - but he sure had good hands!

Layton, UT

Chronister was awesome. Great hands and could jump!

Tooele, UT

As you look at Collie's records, we must remember that he had really good quarterbacks throwing to him. Same in the NFL. Just think what could have been if Hoffman had a really good quarterback throwing to him.

Bountiful, UT

when you factor in that Hoffman had sub-standard QB's to work with all 3 yrs his totals look even MORE amazing. Imagine what Hoff's numbers would look like if he had John Beck or Max Hall throwing to him all 3 yrs? They'd be off the charts!

Bountiful, UT

"No disrespect to Cody Hoffman as he is about to break Austin's records, but let it be understood that Collie played for just 3 years at BYU and had he stayed for his senior campaign, his records would be absolutely untouchable."

No disrespect to AC but he had 2 of the all-time great QB's in BYU history throwing to him all 3 of his seasons in Provo (although it was still early in Beck's career when AC was a frosh). Hoff hasn't had that advantage of having NFL QB's chucking the ball to him. Both Beck and Hall were masters of the BYU passing offense and incredibly accurate.

Hoff has had a true freshman QB and an undisciplined and inaccurate QB who was very erratic and inefficient. The fact that Hoff has been able to accomplish all that he has with such terrible Quarterbacking is a testament to his ability. Imagine Hoff playing in an offense with John Beck and his laser-beam precision putting the ball perfectly on the mark every time? He'd have 100 receptions and 1000+ yds every year.

Bountiful, UT

a couple of my favorite AC moments are from the 2007 Utah game where he tied Bryce McCain up in knots on so many occasions that the utes had to bring Sean Smith over to help cover. Both McCain and Smith ended up getting drafted into the NFL and it took 2 NFL corners to cover AC in college. It was McCain that bit on AC's fake and blew the coverage on that 4th and 18 pass that bailed BYU out of a huge hole.

Another favorite moment was his tearing UCLA corner Alterraun Verner (another future NFL corner) up for 10 catches and 100+ yds. Verner was all over AC and yet he made difficult catch after difficult catch under tight coverage all game long. AC had Verner crying by the end of the game.

"The Chow"
Sandy, UT

That is quite a list of wide receivers that have come through BYU over the years. There is nothing like opening the game up early with a long ball to one of them and getting on top of your opponent early. Makes for an exciting afternoon of football.

Salt Lake City, UT

How is Van Der Wouden better than Miller when it took him 4 healthy years to catch 110 passes and Miller caught 100 in ONE SEASON then suffered injury?

Salt Lake City, UT

Reno would've had more catches but he ran out of gas...

Gary Kinney
Huntington Beach, CA

Anybody ever hear of a guy named Golden Richards. He played for the Dallas Cowboys for a number of years. One of my favorite receivers was Matt Braga who made a spectacular catch from Jim McMahon in the SMU bowl game in 1980. To this day I wonder if he really caught that ball or just did a fantastic sell job. Either way it was good for 6.

Salt Lake City, UT

I remember Van Der Wouden warming up in a beanie instead of a helmet at Utah in 1978 and Utah coming back from 16 down in the 2nd half to beat a Cougar team that seemed a bit arrogant, having already clinched the WAC title and having beaten the Utes 6 in a row -- and this from a BYU fan.

Enid, OK

Gee, where are all the BYU haters?, you know, like Chris B?



Because they know who would be at the TOP of this list and they know they have NO POWER to discredit the talent that Austin Collie has.

4th and 18, baby!

And here's hoping that some NFL team is smart enough to sign Austin so he can keep torching DBs in the NFL for years and years to come.

Go Cougars!

Salt Lake City, UT

How are Bellini and Kozlowski clear back to ninth and tenth?

Las Vegas, NV

I would have liked to see Clay Brown on the list. He may not have been the best WR, but he arguably had one the most important catches in your history.

I agree with airliner. Kozlowski was a beast, and always played hurt. Should be higher than he was ranked.

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