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BYU Football’s 100 Greatest Players Of All-Time: Nos. 51-75

May 8, 2024, 9:00 AM

BYU Football, Greatest Players, All-Time...

Continuing the countdown of the greatest BYU football players of All-Time with numbers 51-75. (Photos courtesy of BYU, Getty Images)

(Photos courtesy of BYU, Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football will kick off its 100th season in 2024.

In honor of BYU hitting the century mark, KSL Sports is rolling out our ranking of the 100 greatest players in BYU football history.

Throughout May, we will release 25 players in the countdown to the number one BYU player of all time.

  • May 1: 76-100 (Link to list)
  • May 8: 51-75
  • May 15: 26-50
  • May 22: 1-25

Here’s installment number two of the countdown with players 75 to 51 on the ranking.

To capture the nostalgia of BYU football, subscribe to the “A Century of Cougar Football” Podcast. The podcast will feature interviews with former BYU stars and an analysis of the rankings uploaded throughout the month.

BYU Football, Tom Holmoe

75. Tom Holmoe

Defensive Back 

Hometown: La Crescenta, California 

Years Played: 1978-1982 

Once a quarterback in high school, Tom Holmoe, a non-LDS athlete at the time, committed to play defense for BYU. 

What seemed like an unlikely pairing became a great fit for Holmoe as he emerged as a star in BYU’s secondary. Of course, he has established himself as one of the best athletic directors in BYU sports history. 

Holmoe finished with 13 interceptions in his three years as a starter for BYU.  

Some of his notable interceptions were pick-sixes against Washington State in the 1981 Holiday Bowl and at Georgia in 1982. 

Along with being a defensive back, Holmoe was the holder for BYU during field goals and PATs.

BYU Football, Chris Farasopolous

74. Chris Farasopoulos

Defensive Back/Return Specialist 

Hometown: Torrance, California 

Years Played: 1968-1970 

Born in Greece, Farasopoulos was known as “The Galloping Greek.” An elite athlete, Farasopoulos was an MLB draft pick to the Baltimore Orioles before he decided to pursue a football career at BYU. 

Farasopoulos began his BYU career as a wide receiver, then switched to defensive back.  

He made a name for himself nationally in the return game. In 1969, Farasopoulos led the nation in punt return yards with 527 yards. He also led in kickoff return average at 32.2 yards per return.  

Jeff Blanc | BYU Football

73. Jeff Blanc

Running Back 

Hometown: Boise, Idaho 

Years Played: 1973-1976 

When Jeff Blanc’s BYU career ended in 1976, he left as the program’s all-time leading rusher. Blanc rushed for 2,766 yards and 21 touchdowns for a program that had begun turning its attention to passing the football.

The Boise, Idaho native, admits he didn’t know much about BYU when LaVell Edwards and his staff began recruiting him, and he was part of BYU’s first bowl team in 1974.

Jim Herrmann, BYU Football

72. Jim Herrmann

Defensive End 

Hometown: Hartland, Wisconsin 

Years Played: 1980-1981, 1983-1984 

 Herrmann was a star along BYU’s National Championship team in 1984. The Wisconsin native was an All-WAC performer and had 26 sacks in his BYU career.

BYU Football, Brandon Doman

71. Brandon Doman

Quarterback 

Hometown: Salt Lake City 

Years Played: 1998-2001 

Did you know Brandon Doman holds the record for most comeback victories among BYU quarterbacks?  

Doman led BYU to comeback victories in five of his starts at quarterback. 

The “Domanator” didn’t take off until the end of the of the LaVell Edwards era in 2000. He was named the starter in LaVell’s final home game against New Mexico, guiding BYU to a comeback victory. 

Then he capped off the LaVell era with a memorable comeback against rival Utah in 2000. 

Doman thrived in Gary Crowton’s “Crowball” offense, forming the Mountain West Conference’s best backfield with running back Luke Staley. 

Doman passed for 3,542 yards, and 33 touchdowns to only eight interceptions in 2001. On the ground, he rushed for 456 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Doman won his first 14 starts at quarterback for the Cougars.

Randy Brock, BYU Football

70. Randy Brock

Defensive End 

Hometown: Rexburg, Idaho 

Years Played: 1991-1994 

Brock was a freaky athlete who could run a sub-4.8 40-yard dash coming out of high school as a defensive lineman. BYU landed Brock’s commitment over offers from USC, UCLA, Nebraska, Tennessee, and others. 

When Brock arrived on campus in the early 1990s, there were high expectations, and he didn’t disappoint. 

Brock played defensive end for four consecutive years at BYU, recording 25 sacks and 175 tackles.

BYU Football, Mekeli Ieremia

69. Mekeli Ieremia

Defensive Line 

Hometown: Tarrytown, New York 

Years Played: 1974-1977 

Originally from American Samoa, Mekeli Ieremia moved to New York for a year and then continued his football career at BYU. At the conclusion of his four-year career, he became one of the best defensive tackles in program history.

Ieremia was an All-WAC first-team selection and earned Honorable Mention All-American recognition during his time with the Cougars.

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound Ieremia had 27 sacks and 257 tackles in four seasons at BYU.

BYU Football, Omarr Morgan

68. Omarr Morgan

Cornerback 

Hometown: Los Angeles, California 

Years Played: 1996-1997 

Omarr “The Blanket” Morgan was a star the moment he arrived on campus at BYU. Morgan was a JUCO All-American at El Camino JC. 

He immediately became a starter at cornerback for BYU’s storied 1996 team that won 14 games. 

Morgan’s most iconic moment at BYU was coming up with the game-winning interception in the 1997 Cotton Bowl on K-State’s Brian Kavanagh to cap off that 1996 season. 

In two seasons in Provo, Morgan had four interceptions and 18 pass breakups.

BYU Football, Dax Milne

67. Dax Milne

Wide Receiver 

Hometown: South Jordan, Utah 

Years Played: 2018-2020 

Milne arrived at BYU as a preferred walk-on, but by the time he left, he was an All-American. 

The former Bingham High product was one of Zach Wilson’s top targets during the 2020 season.  

Milne was a big play receiver for the Cougars in the COVID-impacted season. He finished with 1,188 yards on 70 catches and had eight touchdown grabs.

BYU Football | Pete Van Valkenburg

66. Pete Van Valkenburg

Running Back 

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah 

Years Played: 1969-1972 

Everyone associates the LaVell Edwards era of BYU football with the passing game. But in Edwards’ first season as head coach, the Cougars had the nation’s leading rusher. 

That was Pete Van Valkenburg. 

In 1972, Van Valkenburg rushed for 1,386 yards. He finished his BYU career with 2,392 yards and 24 touchdowns. 

His two biggest games were against in-state rivals. In 1970, against Utah State, he rushed for 176, and then, in his final game as a BYU Cougar, he ran for 158 in a win over Utah.

BYU Football, Shay Muirbrook

65. Shay Muirbrook

Linebacker 

Hometown: Norco, California 

Years Played: 1993-1996 

Muirbrook didn’t earn the recruiting hype he deserved because he was an undersized linebacker. But he played bigger than life during his BYU career. 

Muirbrook took over as a starting middle linebacker as a redshirt freshman in 1993 against Air Force; then he never looked back. 

His finest performance was in his final game at BYU, where he had six sacks against Kansas State in the 1997 Cotton Bowl. Muirbrook earned a Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame recognition for that game.

BYU Football, Clay Brown

64. Clay Brown

Tight End 

Hometown: San Gabriel, California 

Years Played: 1977-1980 

Whenever you bring up Clay Brown to a BYU fan, the first thing that comes to mind is the historic catch he came down with at the conclusion of the 1980 Holiday Bowl. 

On the game’s final play against SMU, Jim McMahon heaved a pass 41 yards downfield. 

The ball came down to a sea of hands. Brown’s hands outstretched them all as he came up with the touchdown grab to complete one of college football’s greatest comebacks of all-time. 

BYU was down by 20 points with four minutes remaining and came out top with a 46-45 win. 

Brown’s career goes beyond that one catch. 

In 1980, Brown earned Second-Team All-American recognition and had 1,009 receiving yards and 15 touchdown grabs in his senior year.

BYU Football, Brian Gray

63. Brian Gray

Cornerback 

Hometown: Hawthorne, California 

Years Played: 1998-1999 

Gray was a JUCO standout at safety. He signed with BYU and had no problem at cornerback. Gray was an All-WAC and All-MWC performer at cornerback. 

He finished his two years at BYU with five interceptions and was a lockdown cornerback. 

Gray had an impressive pick-six during a rainy, nationally televised game against San Diego State during his junior season.

BYU Football, Lakei Heimuli

62. Lakei Heimuli

Running Back 

Hometown: Laie, Hawaii 

Years Played: 1983-1986 

Heimuli was one of the most accomplished running backs out of Hawaii after his career at Kahuku High School. 

After a freshman season as a fullback, Heimuli took on a significant role in his sophomore season, which happened to be BYU’s National Championship team in 1984. 

Heimuli was the leading rusher for the National Champs. 

He increased his rushing yards total in each of the following seasons in 1985 and 1986. 

Heimuli finished with 2,710 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in his career.

BYU Football, Ronney Jenkins

61. Ronney Jenkins

Running Back 

Hometown: Port Hueneme, California 

Years Played: 1996, 1998 

Few true freshmen get mentions by TV announcers before they take a snap as a BYU Cougar. But that was Ronney Jenkins entering the 1996 season.

ABC’s Brent Musberger mentioned Jenkins in the pregame of the Pigskin Classic against Texas A&M because he set a record in high school.

The Port Hueneme standout rushed for 619 yards in a single game–beating a national record that stood for 21 years at the time.

Jenkins was a national recruit, but he signed with BYU after the pitch from Cougar coaches to become a star ball carrier in Provo.

It worked.

During his freshman season, he was in a star-studded backfield with Brian McKenzie, Mark Atuaia, and Dustin Johnson. Despite the stable of ball carriers, Jenkins carved out an immediate role rushing for 733 yards, including a 156-yard performance against Utah, that ended a three-game losing streak against the Utes.

Jenkins missed the 1997 due to violating the school’s Honor Code. He returned in 1998 and was one of the best running backs in college football.

During his sophomore season, Jenkins rushed for 1,308 yards.

BYU Football, Curtis Brown

60. Curtis Brown

Running Back 

Hometown: Palmdale, California 

Years Played: 2002, 2004-2006 

 At the time Curtis Brown’s career ended at BYU, he left as the program’s all-time career rushing leader. Brown had a breakout game as a true freshman in a comeback win over Utah State, where he rushed for 217 yards.

After a medical redshirt year due to injury in 2003, Brown was a three-year starter for BYU.

Brown racked up 3,221 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, as well as 1,309 yards receiving. Perhaps most impressive about Brown was his ability to take care of the ball. Rarely did he ever fumble the football.

Eric Drage

59. Eric Drage

Wide Receiver 

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona 

Years Played: 1990-1993 

 When people talk about the BYU receivers of the past who ran precise routes and caught everything in sight, Eric Drage is a prime example of that. Drage played with an attitude and he always performed at a high level for BYU’s potent offense.

When his career ended at BYU, he was the all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,065. His 97-yard grab against Utah is one of his highlight moments.

Wayne Baker

58. Wayne Baker

Defensive Line 

Hometown: Northwest, Montana 

Years Played: 1972-1974 

Baker was a star player under head coach LaVell Edwards in the early years. Growing up in Montana, Baker played eight-man football.

During his senior season in 1974, Baker had 10 sacks and was an instrumental player in getting BYU to first-ever bowl game that season.

Tim McTyer

57. Tim McTyer

Cornerback 

Hometown: Los Angeles, California 

Years Played: 1995-1996 

The former Los Angeles Southwest College star was one of the nation’s top JUCO recruits in the class of 1995. McTyer became an intsant starter in BYU’s secondary and was a two-year all-conference performer.

McTyer had seven interceptions in his BYU career, one of which took place in the Cotton Bowl against Kansas State. He had one pick-six against San Diego State in 1995.

Chad Lewis

56. Chad Lewis

Tight End 

Hometown: Orem, Utah 

Years Played: 1993-1996 

One of the greatest walk-ons in BYU football history, Chad Lewis was a star tight end for the Cougars.

Lewis walked-on after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Quickly, BYU coaches found a way to get Lewis a scholarship. In fours at BYU, Lewis totaled 1,376 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Long before the likes of Tayson Hill, Chad Lewis mastered the hurdle. Lewis’ hurdle over an Arkansas State defender is one of the iconic photos/moments in the program.

Aaron Francisco

55. Aaron Francisco

Safety 

Hometown: Laie, Hawaii 

Years Played: 2001-2004 

A four-year starter for BYU at safety, Francisco was an immediate performer in the Cougars secondary. Known for his hard-hitting ability, Francisco was a consistent bright spot in a difficult era of BYU football.

Francisco had 330 tackles in his four years at BYU.

Phil Odle

54. Phil Odle

Wide Receiver/Split End

Hometown: Elgin, Illinois 

Years Played: 1965-1967 

In an era that was dominated by ground attacks, even during the 1960s, BYU found success through the air. On the receiving end of those passes more times than not, was Phil Odle.

At the time Odle’s career came to an end at BYU, he was No. 2 in NCAA history in receptions with 183 and No. 3 all-time in receiving yards with 2,548.

Odle was a member of BYU’s first-ever WAC Championship team in 1965.

Ryan Denney

53. Ryan Denney

Defensive End 

Hometown: Thornton, Colorado 

Years Played: 1998-2001 

Denney was a prototype lineman at defensive end. What made him special was every week he delivered impact plays. In all but one of BYU’s games in 2001, he came up with at least one tackle for loss.

Denney finished his BYU football career with 16 sacks in four seasons.

Derwin Gray

52. Derwin Gray

Defensive Back 

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas 

Years Played: 1989-1992 

Wherever BYU football needed Derwin Gray in the secondary, he would produce. The San Antonio, Texas native, who had a connection to BYU kicker Earl Kauffman, was a standout defensive back for the Cougars for four years.

Gray had 14 interceptions, including a career-high six in the 1990 season. He was always willing to lay the hit stick with 283 tackles in his career.

Shawn Knight 

51. Shawn Knight

Defensive Line 

Hometown: Sparks, Nevada 

Years Played: 1982-1986

A multi-sport star in Nevada, Knight played a handful of sports, including wrestling, before settling on football. During his redshirt freshman season, he assisted on a key fourth-down tackle in the 1983 Holiday Bowl against Missouri.

Knight was a BYU’s 1984 National Championship team member while battling injuries. His role took off in 1985. In the final two years of his career at BYU, he had 104 tackles and 19 sacks.

Throughout his entire career, Knight had 23 sacks along BYU’s defensive front.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football’s 100 Greatest Players Of All-Time: Nos. 51-75