Share this story...
Right: Scott Winterton, Deseret News Left: Tom Smart, Deseret News
Latest News

Former Ute, Cougar Debate Greatest Player From Each Program

Right: Scott Winterton, Deseret News Left: Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s easy for a former BYU player to talk about the great Cougars of all time and same goes for a former Ute, but can they pick the best players from the rival school? On the Rivals podcast, co-hosts Scott Mitchell, a former Utah quarterback, and Jason Buck, a former BYU defensive end, gave it a shot.

Greats like Alex Smith, Steve Smith, Ziggy Ansah and Kyle Van Noy were a few of the names that got thrown around in the conversation.

“It’s tough, both schools have had so many great players,” Mitchell concluded.

Utah’s Best?

Jason Buck, co-host of Rivals and former BYU defensive end and Outland Trophy winner, began with a disclaimer.

“The best athletes are on the defensive side of the ball, so that eliminates any offensive players,” said Buck.

He mentioned if he was picking quarterbacks Alex Smith and Brian Johnson would be high on the list, intentionally (and jokingly) leaving out Mitchell.

He went on to give Mitchell credit for “turning the entire program around and beating BYU for the first time in years.” That game was in 1988.

Buck listed Eric Weddle, a free safety who had a productive career with the Baltimore Ravens and now plays for the Los Angeles Rams, and Steve Smith, a receiver who had a successful, 16-year NFL career.


Mitchell brought up an important point. Is the duo judging “the best” by the career they had after college or only what they did while playing college football? Buck admitted to weighing both factors in his choices.

“Steve Smith didn’t have a great career at Utah,” Mitchell pointed out.

In the end, Buck said he will remain faithful to his co-host because he broke the mold at Utah.

“It’d be a real toss up between you and Alex Smith,” Buck concluded.

To which Mitchell responded, “Come on, don’t pick me, I know you are just playing the politics.”

Some other names that were thrown around in the conversation of the greatest Utes included Luther Ellis, Larry Wilson and Marv Fleming.

BYU’s Best?

The first name Mitchell threw out was Ziggy Ansah, who spent six seasons with the Detroit Lions and recently signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks, because he was a “freak talent.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Buck yelled.

The only consensus All-American player in BYU history is Buck.

“I’ll admit, in your time at BYU you made it happen,” said Mitchell.

In the end, Mitchell picked Jim McMahon, from a “purely talent perspective.”

Buck wasn’t thrilled.

Subscribe to the Rivals podcast wherever podcasts are found or on the KSL Sports app.



  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings