In team sports, the number you wear carries significance. In high school (and even now in church ball) a frenzy occurred when it came time to choose a jersey. In hoops, it was always a melee for #23.
Stop for a second. I know if you are reading this, you definitely have a preferred and favorite number.
It's on the short list of weird questions that 6th graders ask adults because they don't know how to have a concrete conversation yet. What's your favorite food? What's kind of cars do you like? What's your favorite number?
There are a lot of reasons people prefer certain numbers. But it is clear that a jersey number influences the way a player looks and serves as their first identifier during a game. A number is even the way the special ones are immortalized for their play -- a retired number, a tribute that is made to indicate that no matter how many other talented athletes walk onto campus, no one should have to play under the immense gravity of the greatness that has been thrust upon that number.
If, for example, a BYU freshman were to step onto the Marriott Center floor wearing #22, the weight of that number with those colors at this school would likely cause their kneecaps to explode.
With the incoming freshmen in mind, I wondered what number they would be choosing. I thought that if I were to pick a number, I'd try to pick one that I could own so that when people thought of that number, they would think of my career and accomplishments. I'd pick a number that doesn't cast a large shadow. This is just another reason, of many, why I never made it to collegiate athletics.
So, I began a BYU sports fan pet project. The goal was to decide which BYU player gets to stake their claim at being the all-time best to ever wear that number across all the sports, male and female.
As a disclaimer, I must admit that I am weaker in my knowledge of some sports than others. However, I tried to make adjustments for this knowledge deficit by researching and investigating individual accolades awarded to athletes in all sports with assigned numbers. If you feel injustice has occurred. I'm genuinely eager to listen to arguments via the comment section.
Without further ado:
#00 Eric Mika
Eric Mika is my kind of guy! He has selected a number that NOBODY else has ever worn in any sport at Brigham Young University. He's very talented. He has 1 season in the bank and is currently perfecting Italian. He's also the greatest to ever were double zero.
Unless, of course, you'd like an anthropomorphized animal in this list. In that case, it is clearly Cosmo's number. Cosmo is an awe inspiring athlete at times, who must practice poppin' and lockin' somewhere near Mount Timpanogos.
#0 Brandon Davies
Davies, at the end of his career, was Top 10 All-Time in career points, rebounds, steals, and blocks. Pretty impressive.
#1 Omarr Morgan
New Year's Day, 1997, Omarr Morgan made the game sealing interception to help BYU collect one of the Top 5 victories in the history of the football program. Morgan was a very good, talented player and making that big play tips the scales in his favor. However, he is challenged by a few other players.
Brian McDonald was an accomplished tailback and Todd Watkins was a speedy wideout. Charles Abouo was a key member of the Sweet 16 2010-11 team and Chase Fischer could work into the mix going into his senior season as a Cougar.
Outside of Abouo, the #1 has been a good fit for players transferring to the Y.
#2 Cody Hoffman
BYU's all-time leader in catches, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. All this done with Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson, James Lark, and Taysom Hill throwing him the football. Those guys aren't really who you think about when you talk about QB U.
Travis Hansen wore #2, and at the end of his BYU career had won more games in the Marriott Center than any other player in history. He went on the have a successful professional career. He has a good claim to the number, but ultimately I gave the nod to the record-breaking receiver.
Another #2 of note is BYU Softball sensation Gordy Bravo, she's an All-American, just hit .444 this season and was named 2015 WCC Player of the Year. She has one more year of eligibility.
#3 Tyler Haws
There hasn't been another player in the history of the earth to score more points at BYU than Tyler Haws. In fact, only 19 people in the history of the earth have scored more points in the college game than Tyler Haws.
Before I gush any further, I know some, or a lot, of you are screaming and pulling out your hair because 'how could this not be Kyle Van Noy.'
Welcome to the hardest decision to make on any of the numbers I have examined.
Kyle Van Noy put in what I consider to be the greatest individual game performance in the history of BYU Football at the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl. Van Noy is fourth all-time in sacks, and 1st all-time in forced fumbles with a whopping 12 (averaged 1 every 4 games!), even his 7 INTs put him T-24th all time.
Here's the weirdest part about these two wonderful players. Both of them have holes in their BYU resumes. Tyler Haws in the only player in BYU's top 26 all-time career scorers to never win a conference championship. Kyle Van Noy has the notoriety of being BYU's best player to never beat Utah despite getting 4 cracks at it.
Both players sit among the elite in their sport at the Y, yet you wouldn't argue they were THE best.
The main difference between the two as players is that Haws would almost lull fans to sleep with his consistency. His game was so beautiful and natural. He scored 28 freaking points against San Diego in his final appearance in the Marriott Center and while I was walking back to my car, I didn't hear anyone buzzing about the amazing night Haws just put in. It was so expected. So counted on. Haws carried out his business within the flow of the overall picture of the game.
Meanwhile, Van Noy was so disruptive. There was never a need for a color guy to point out KVN with a telestrator. Everyone watching at home knew where he was. Always. Nothing about the way Kyle carried himself on the field blended in. Fans loved KVN because he was a lightning bolt. The excitement and possibilities of what he would do next was electrifying. A player with a knack for HUGE game-winning plays. Van Noy single-handedly flipped two games in his career from losses to victories. It was heroic stuff.
Haws had his share of heroics too. Its just, when he would hit a game-winning shot, people anticipated he would do it. No one could ever see what was coming next as KVN attacked the edge.
Even the way these players entered the university follows these trajectories. Tyler Haws, son of the BYU great Marty, was about as bankable a prospect and fit for BYU that you could imaging. Wholly stable. KVN came in with uncertainty about his fit at BYU and ultimately left a better person from his experience at the Y. A dynamic shift.
This is what will ultimately define who you deem is BYU's #3. You either appreciated the beautiful, expected wizardry of Tyler Haws or the destructive, unpredictable magic of Kyle Van Noy.
I chose Tyler Haws because I felt that his sitting atop the leaderboard in the most relevant category in his sport is a more impressive accomplishment then having a mind-boggling game against San Diego State.
#4 Michael Smith
The 6'10" Michael Smith was a stretch 4 before that term existed. Smith, a two-time All-American, is one of two players to average 20 points per game in 3 seasons. The other to do so is Tyler Haws. Smith shot a career 43% from 3 and 87.7% from the stripe, while averaging 19 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game.
Jackson Emery is BYU basketball's greatest perimeter defender. The perfect running mate to enable Jimmermania.
Taysom Hill has a career that has been hallmarked by lots of enticing potential and even more injuries. He has one more chapter to write.
Jernaro Gilford was an interception maven and hero of the 2001 Holy War.
#5 Kyle Morrell
Morrell was the goal-line hero against Hawaii in the most dramatic moment in BYU's only undefeated season -- which saved the National Championship. He was named a 1984 All-American and appeared on Bob Hope's All-American special (click on his name for the link).
The number 5 is populated with a lot of terrific players. Derwin Gray is BYU's last drafted defensive back in 1993, Kyle Collinsworth is the walking triple double, Jennifer Hamson led BYU Women's Hoops to the Sweet 16 and is the greatest female athlete in the history of the school, Mariliisa Salmi was named the CVCA National Player of the Year in 1986 for being the top collegiate women's volleyball player, Wally Joyner was a MLB All-Star and winner of a Home Run Derby, Carlos Moreno was named AVCA National Player of the Year as a setter, leading the Cougars Men's Volleyball team to a National Championship.
Again, a ton of worthy candidates, but the best defensive player from the 1984 National Championship team, who also had the most amazing play in BYU Football history, and perhaps the most important moment in BYU Athletics history leads me to give Morrell the nod.
Before you say, "YOU'RE CRAZY! YOU JUST SAID JENNIFER HAMSON IS THE GREATEST FEMALE ATHLETE IN BYU HISTORY!" I'll just beg you to be patient.
More numbers coming Friday!