Dennis Pitta: Greatest BYU Tight End?

With his fourth of five receptions last Saturday, Dennis Pitta surpassed Gordon Hudson to become BYU’s all-time leader in receptions for a tight end. Pitta currently trails only Hudson and Chris Smith in receiving yards for tight ends. He is also behind only Jonny Harline and Clay Brown in touchdown receptions for tight ends. By the end of October, Pitta could very well possess all these records. Here’s a breakdown:

Player, Years Rec. Yards. Receptions Yards/Catch TD Rec.
Gordon Hudson, 1981-83 2,484 178 13.96 12
Chris Smith, 1987-90 2,367 137 17.28 8
Dennis Pitta, 2004, 2007-Present 2,328 180 12.93 14
Jonny Harline, 2005-06 1,788 121 14.78 17
Itula Mili, 1991, 1994-96 1,763 125 14.10 11
Tod Thompson, 1976-78 1,722 84 20.50 15
Clay Brown, 1978-80 1,691 88 19.24 17

In summary, after this season, the former Cougar with likely the best argument for being better than Pitta will be Hudson. Hudson was recently inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame. Hudson still holds NCAA records for most passes caught per game by a tight end (5.4), most career yards per game by a tight end (75.3) and most yards in a game by a tight end (259 vs. Utah). He was also a unanimous All-American twice (1982, 1983).

Pitta, meanwhile, will almost certainly make his third All-MWC 1st team in 2009. He was a Rivals 3rd Team All-American last season and an Honorable Mention All-American by both Sports Illustrated and College Football News. Not bad for a former walk-on, with no scholarship offers out of high school in Moorpark, California.

Prior to this season, The NFL Draft Scout rated Pitta as the sixth-ranked tight end available for the 2010 NFL Draft. They projected him as being selected in the 3rd or 4th round.

Smith's best argument would be that his yards per catch average was far greater than both Hudson and Pitta - but he scored far less and was playing with the greatest quarterback in school history. Harline's best argument might be that he amassed his totals in just two seasons. Mili? Had to share touches with Chad Lewis. Thompson? Highest yard/reception average AND a fantastic mustache. Brown? Perhaps the first truly phenomenal tight end in Provo - and he punted!

Still, Pitta's recent productivity is undeniable. We should continue to recognize his tremendous contributions to the program just as BYU fans did with Austin Collie in 2008. It doesn't get much better than this.

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