Ty Detmer was the first college quarterback to pass for more than 15 thousand yards over the course of his career, and the first of those two to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
He is not, however, the first BYU Cougar to be so inducted.
The lineup of inductees is not surprising for a school that carried the moniker of "Quarterback U" for the better part of three different decades. Of the Cougars that have been inducted, five are quarterbacks and none are defensive players.
With his selection into the Hall of Fame, Detmer joins some significant figures in BYU Football lore. Read on to see all seven BYU Football College Hall of Fame inductees and a brief summary of their careers.
The Cougars really struggled at the beginning of the 1975 season. For the first three games, Nielsen was a sophomore backup quarterback and the Cougars lost three in a row. He came off the bench against New Mexico and got the Cougars their first win of the year by a single point, 16-15. Nielsen started every game the rest of the way and every game for the next two years afterward.
Nielsen passed for 3,192 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior, setting 13 WAC records. He was also named an All-American. Perhaps more significanly, Nielsen was the Quarterback that was driving the BYU ship when the Cougars got their first national ranking in program history. Perhaps more importantly to the Cougars and their fans, Nielsen never lost to Utah. He was also, however, unable to finish his senior season due to injury.
After BYU, Nielsen played for the Houston Oilers for six seasons and afterward became a sportscaster. Nielsen retired from KHOU-TV's Sports Director position in 2009.
Marc Wilson subbed in for Gifford Nielsen partway through the 1977 campaign, and his career began. The 571 yards and seven touchdowns for which he passed against Colorado State the next game turned heads, as did the final scoreline of 63-17.
Wilson set 10 NCAA records during his career at BYU and finished third in the Heisman balloting in 1979. That season, he was fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, his passer rating was 147.1 and BYU didn't lose a regular season game. Wilson was also the Offensive MVP of the 1979 Holiday Bowl, despite losing to Indiana by a single point.
After BYU, Wilson went to the Raiders and was part of the 1980 and 1983 Super Bowl championship teams. He also played for the Packers and the Patriots.
As impressive as Wilson was, McMahon actually supplanted him in the 1978 season as the starter after Wilson got injured. He solidified himself as a starter in the second half of a game against Oregon when he led BYU to a come-from-behind win.
McMahon is known for his exploits both on and off the field, but is probably best remembered for the 1980 "Miracle Bowl." Down by 20 points to the "Pony Express" SMU Mustangs with less than four minutes remaining, McMahon led the Cougars back to a 1-point victory, scoring the winning points on a hail-mary touchdown pass.
McMahon finished third in the Heisman balloting, but won the Davey O'Brien Trophy, the Sammy Baugh Award and Utah Sportsman of the Year. He also has been inducted into the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame.
After BYU, McMahon played on six different NFL teams, but is most recognized as the "Punky QB" that won the Super Bowl as starter of the Chicago Bears alongside Walter Payton and Mike Ditka.
Edwards was a coaching icon. During his 29-season career at the helm, BYU went 257-101-3.
It's impossible to understate how important Edwards was to BYU's success. Prior to Edwards' tenure, BYU won a single WAC title. In 20 of his 29 years at BYU, Edwards' teams won championships. His 257 wins are the sixth most in college football. Edwards coached a Heisman winner, two Outland trophy winners, for Davey O'Brien winners and 32 All-Americans. Edwards also led BYU to its only Football National Championship in 1984.
Edwards received numerous coaching awards, among which were Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 1979, the AFCA Coach of the Year in 1984, and the State of Utah's Coach of the Century award. Edwards is also a member of the State of Utah Sports Hall of Fame, and the stadium in which he coached for nearly three decades now bears his name.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Young is the great-great-great-grandson of BYU's namesake, Brigham Young. In 1982, he went from the bottom of the depth chart to starting quarterback.
Like most of the other College Football Hall of Fame inductees, young was a decorated QB. He was runner-up in the Heisman ballot, was the 1983 WAC player of the year, a two-time All-WAC selection, and was chosen as a Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete. He also won the Dale Rex Memorial Award and was given a 1984 NCAA Top Five Award and postgraduate scholarship when he left BYU in the spring of 1984. Young eventually earned a law degree from the J. Reuben Clark school of law in 1984.
After BYU, Young signed a multi-million dollar contract with the USFL's Los Angeles Express and played there for two seasons. Following the USFL's collapse, Young was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent to seasons in Florida, and then went to San Francisco to back up Joe Montana until Montana moved to Kansas City. He led San Francisco to victory in Super Bowl XXIX. Young currently works for ESPN as an NFL analyst.
Hudson earned the starting tight end job as a sophomore in 1981 and started every year thereafter until graduating in 1983. He still holds several NCAA receiving records, including most passes caught per game by a tight end in a career (5.4), most career yards per game by a tight end (75.3) and most yards in a single game by a tight end (259).
Hudson earned consensus All-America honors as both a junior and a senior, and at the beginning of his senior year was the nation's leading receiver that was returning to his team.
Hudson's career was cut short eight games into his senior season, but he managed to set the NCAA record for career reception yards by a tight end against Wyoming. In that game, he caught seven passes for 100 yards, and for his 2.5-year career, Hudson amassed 2,484 yards.
His career receiving single game record came against Utah in 1981. Jim McMahon was the quarterback.
Detmer is BYU's only Heisman winner. He also won the Maxwell Award, two Davey O'Brien Awards, and set 59 NCAA records as a BYU quarterback. During his junior year, he threw for 5,188 yards and 41 touchdowns. By the end of his career, Detmer had passed for 15,031 yards and gained 14,665 yards in total offense, both NCAA records.
Detmer was drafted in 1992 by the Green Bay Packers and backed up Brett Favre until he left for the Philadelphia Eagles. He threw for 2,911 yards and 15 touchdowns in 1996 as the Eagles' QB. Before ending his career, Detmer also played for the 49ers and Browns.
Detmer's best-remembered victory in a BYU uniform came against then No. 1 Miami in Provo. Against the Hurricanes, Detmer threw for 406 yards and earned National Player-of-the-week honors.