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.
Years at BYU: 1985-88
Cutler makes the list because of his dominant senior season in Provo. He caught 64 passes for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. That placed him in the top five of every major receiving category in the WAC in 1988, 10th nationally in receiving yards and seventh in receiving touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 1973-76
Like Cutler, Miller only had one really good season as a member of the Cougars. Miller’s great year came as a sophomore when he caught 100 passes for almost 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns.
During his 1973 season, Miller had a game against New Mexico where he caught 22 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The number of catches and yards from that game are still all-time Cougar bests.
Beyond the 1973 season, Miller caught 14 more passes for the rest of his BYU career due to injuries.
Years at BYU: 1978-81
Plater had one catch for 17 yards as a freshman, but every other season at BYU finished top 10 in the WAC in receptions and receiving yards.
By the time he was done in Provo, Plater had finished with 126 receptions for 16 touchdowns and more than 2,000 yards.
Years at BYU: 1974-77
During his career as a Cougar, Van Der Wouden caught more than 110 passes for almost 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 1976-78
Chronister led BYU in receiving in two different seasons. As a senior he also led the WAC in catches and receiving yards. Chronister finished his BYU career with more than 120 receptions for more than 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 1981, 1983-85
Kozlowski’s best season in Provo came for the 1984 national title season, when he led the WAC in receiving touchdowns with 12. He was also second in the conference in receptions and receiving yards while finishing third in yards per reception.
For his career, Kozlowski caught 139 passes for almost 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 2004-05
Watkins spent two years in Provo after transferring from junior college but made the most of his time as a Cougar. In each season at BYU, Watkins finished in the top 10 of the Mountain West in receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception and touchdowns.
Watkins left BYU with 101 receptions for 1,720 yards and 15 scores.
Years at BYU: 1982-86
Bellini came to Provo as a walk-on but left as one of the Cougar all-time greats at wide receiver.
In 1985, Bellini led the nation in touchdown receptions and the WAC in receiving yards. During his career at BYU, Bellini caught 152 passes for 2,554 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Very impressive, especially when you consider that Bellini didn’t catch any passes as a freshman.
Years at BYU: 1998-99, 2001-02
Mahe had two stints in Provo playing for the Cougars. As a freshman, Mahe was a successful running back before leaving school because of an Honor Code violation.
When he returned, he did so as a wide receiver. In his two years as a wide-out, Mahe caught 150 passes for just fewer than 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
His best season came as a junior. He led the MWC in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Not bad for a converted running back.
Years at BYU: 1984, 1987-90
Boyce was Ty Detmer’s favorite target during his Heisman trophy winning season in 1990. That season, Boyce caught 79 passes for 1,241 yards and 13 touchdowns, which placed him second nationally in receptions as well as third in receiving yards and touchdowns.
In his two-year career in Provo, Boyce caught 126 passes for 2,080 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 1996-2000
Hooks was BYU’s best receiver during their transition from the WAC to the MWC. He led the Cougars in receiving yards three straight years, finishing atop the MWC charts as a junior.
For his career, Hooks caught 189 passes for 2,841 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 1989-93
Drage was the first BYU receiver to catch passes for more than 3,000 yards. As a sophomore, Drage finished eighth in the NCAA in receiving yards, ninth in touchdowns and third in yards per catch. Drage’s average of 18.9 yards per reception is still fourth all-time in WAC history. Drage finished his Cougar career with 162 receptions for 3,065 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 2009-13
Hoffman still has one season remaining in Provo, so it’s not too far of a stretch to think he will be at the top of this list by the time his BYU career is over.
In his first three seasons as a Cougar, Hoffman has caught 203 passes for 2,713 yards and 28 touchdowns. Hoffman’s best season so far came his junior year when he caught 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 scores.
Years at BYU: 1965-67
Odle was BYU’s first truly great wide receiver. He left BYU with the second most receptions in NCAA history (at the time). He also set the WAC scoring record during his time as a Cougar.
For his career, Odle caught 183 passes for 2,548 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Years at BYU: 2004, 2007-08
Collie finished his Cougar career as the BYU and MWC all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 30. He is also on top of BYU’s chart for yards as a receiver with 3,255.
Collie’s best season was his final season as a Cougar, when as a junior he caught 106 passes for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was first nationally in receiving yards, third in receptions and fourth in receiving touchdowns.
Just imagine how impressive Collie's numbers would have been had he returned for his senior season.