The National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame, located in South Bend, Indiana, has honored seven of BYU’s football greats, including six players along with lengendary head coach LaVell Edwards.
Most recently, former Cougar quarterback Ty Detmer was selected as part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012, becoming the fifth BYU quarterback to enter the Hall of Fame, the most quarterbacks from the modern era of any university.
BYU's only Heisman Trophy Winner, Detmer is BYU's seventh inductee into the Hall of Fame. Detmer also won the Maxwell Award, two Davey O’Brien Awards and set 59 NCAA records in his tenure. Twice named a consensus All-American, Detmer won national player of the year awards from organizations such as UPI, CBS, Scripps Howard and the U.S. Sports Academy. His 15,031 career passing yards and 121 touchdowns were NCAA bests at the time, and the gunslinger still holds nine NCAA records. A three-time First Team All-WAC performer, Detmer led College Football Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards’ teams to three conference championships, four bowl games, three AP top 25 finishes and a 28-21 win over top-ranked and defending national champion Miami on Sept. 8, 1990. The NCAA Today’s Top VI Award recipient still holds 10 school records, including the season and career marks for total offense, passing yards and 400-yard games. A ninth round selection of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Detmer played 14 seasons in the NFL. The founder of the Ty Detmer Charitable Foundation, he regularly holds the Ty Detmer Youth Football League in Grants, N.M. He remains involved in the Davey O’Brien Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network, and he makes yearly appearances at numerous fundraising events for youth organizations. A 2000 inductee of the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame, Detmer is currently the head football coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.
Tight End: 1980-1983
Hudson is the sixth former Cougar to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Legendary coach LaVell Edwards was inducted in 2004, while former BYU quarterbacks Gifford Nielsen (inducted 1994), Marc Wilson (inducted 1996), Jim McMahon (inducted 1998) and Steve Young (inducted 2001) are also College Football Hall of Famers. Hudson is the first non-quarterback to represent BYU as a player in the Hall. A consensus All-America First Team pick in 1982 and 1983, Hudson is still the NCAA FBS record holder for most passes caught per game by a tight end (5.4) in a career, most career yards per game by a tight end (75.3) and most yards in a single game by a tight end (259). Hudson helped BYU win four conference championships (WAC) and earn four Holiday Bowl invitations during his career from 1980-83. He totaled 2,484 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns during his All-American career.
One of the greatest collegiate quarterbacks of all time, Steve Young was consistently at the top of all the nation’s statistical categories for quarterbacks en route to setting 13 NCAA records. As a junior, he averaged 318.8 yards per game of total offense, earning All-Western Athletic Conference recognition and Conference Player of the Year honors. In his senior season, he repeated as a first-team All-WAC selection, completed 306-of-429 pass attempts for an impressive .713 percentage and led BYU to its second straight Holiday Bowl. His .713 completion percentage, 3,902 yards passing, 4,346 yards of total offense and 33 touchdowns all led the nation. Few rival Young’s career totals. He completed 592-of-907 attempts for a .653 average, threw for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns and his 8,817 yards of total offense in only 31 games is among college football’s all-time greatest career numbers. A unanimous All-American and academic All-WAC selection, Young was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and received a National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Award in recognition for his excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community -- a tradition he maintains today with the successful Forever Young Foundation. Young retired after 15 seasons in the NFL, where he earned two MVP awards, seven trips to the Pro Bowl and led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl Championship in 1995, earning Most Valuable Player honors. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2005.
Head Coach: 1972-2000
A coaching icon whose success and longevity are paralleled by few, Edwards guided BYU to heights never before reached in the program’s history. Edwards posted a record of 257-101-3 (.716) over a span of 29 seasons at BYU. From 1972 until his retirement following the 2000 season, Edwards roamed the sidelines at BYU--a tenure that ranks fifth all-time among coaches at one school. In 20 of those 29 seasons, the Cougars claimed the league title. Guiding BYU to 22 bowl game appearances, including a streak of 17-straight, Edwards reached the pinnacle of coaching success in 1984 by winning the National Championship. His 257 wins rank him sixth in NCAA Division I history, and he has more victories than every other coach in BYU history combined. At the helm, Edwards compiled a program best .716 win percentage, coached one Heisman Trophy winner, two Outland Trophy recipients, four Davey O’Brien Award winners and 32 All-Americans–not to mention countless players who went on to professional careers in the NFL. BYU’s success didn’t come without personal reward for Edwards either. He was named NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year eight times, the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 1979 and AFCA National Coach of the Year in 1984. Named the State of Utah’s Coach of the Century, Edwards is a member of the State of Utah Sports Hall of Fame. “A spectacular choice,” Steve Young said. “When you think of the Hall of Fame, you think of longevity, excellence, leadership and quality. In my book, Hall of Fame and LaVell Edwards go hand in hand. He is definitely a worthy recipient of this honor.”
In 1998 Jim McMahon (1977-78, 80-81) joined former BYU quarterbacks Gifford Nielsen and Marc Wilson, who were inducted into the National Football Foundation Collegiate Hall of Fame in 1994 and 1996, respectively. McMahon set 75 NCAA records at BYU, was a 1981 First Team All-American by Kodak (Coaches), College & Pro Weekly, Associated Press, UPI, Football Writers Association of America, and second team NEA. In 1980 he earned First team All-America from the FWAA. McMahon balloted third place for the Heisman Trophy in 1981 and fifth in 1980. In 1981, he won the Davey O’Brien Trophy, the Sammy Baugh Award, the Utah Sportsman of the Year and the NCAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year with Marcus Allen (Pigskin Club of Wash., D.C.). He led the NCAA in pass efficiency (155.0) and total offense (345.8) in 1981 as well as pass efficiency (176.9) and total offense (385.6) in 1980. He set 29 Western Athletic Conference records and was three-time WAC Player of the Year and first team all-league. He broke 23 school records, was MVP of the 1980 and 1981 Holiday Bowls and has been inducted to the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame. McMahon passed for 9,536 yards, threw 84 touchdowns and completed 653 of 1,056 passes during his career at BYU. McMahon played for the Chicago Bears from 1982-88 (1985 Super Bowl Champions, 1985 Pro QB of the Year, and Pro Bowl); San Diego Chargers in 1989; Philadelphia Eagles from 1990-92; Minnesota Vikings in 1993; Arizona Cardinals in 1994; and Green Bay Packers from 1995-96 (1997 Super Bowl Champions).
One of the most celebrated quarterbacks in Cougar history, Marc Wilson earned consensus All-America honors in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Dec. 10, 1996. In Wilson’s first game as a starter, he was 15 of 25 for 332 yards with seven touchdowns in a 63-17 triumph over Colorado State and was consequently named Sports Illustrated’s Offensive Player of the Week. In Wilson’s career at BYU, he set ten NCAA records. The 6-5, 204 pound quarterback ranked fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 147.1 rating in 1979. That same year, Wilson finished third in the Heisman balloting, led his team to an undefeated regular season, and was named the Holiday Bowl’s Offensive MVP. A true student-athlete, Wilson was the recipient of the NCAA Top Five Award and its Post Graduate Scholarship. A first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders, Wilson played eight seasons before finishing his career with the New England Patriots.
Nicknamed the “Mormon Rifle,” Gifford Nielsen became BYU’s first Hall of Fame inductee in 1994. His prolific passing career began when he came off the bench in the third game of his sophomore season to lead the Cougars to a 16-15 come-from-behind win by completing 10 of 12 passes. “From that point on,” Nielsen said, “everything clicked, and it’s just amazing what happened.” As a junior in 1976, Nielsen really made fans sit up and notice. He passed for 3,192 yards and 29 touchdowns, set 13 WAC records and made All-American. Next season promised even more. He threw five touchdown passes against New Mexico, six against Utah State and was twice named Player of the Week. For the first time, a BYU football team was nationally ranked. “It was like a little dream world,” said Nielsen, a product of Provo High School. “The numbers were just mind-boggling. Everything you could ever dream of as a kid in Provo, Utah, was in the palm of my hand.” On Oct. 8, 1977, his season and college career ended when he suffered a serious injury. Over three years Nielsen averaged an astounding 243 yards passing per game. Nielsen played six years with the Houston Oilers and was the last quarterback to lead the Oilers to the AFC finals.