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Best BYU athletes by jersey numbers: #56-79

From #56 to #79, which BYU Athlete is the best to ever wear that number?

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John Tait.
John Tait.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

I began a BYU sports fan summertime 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. 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.

For all parts of the series, click here.

#56 Travis Hall

Travis Hall was a monster on the defensive line and on special teams. Hall blocked kicks including a Holy War punt which he recovered for a touchdown to seal away the 1992 victory over Utah. Hall was drafted in the 6th round by the Atlanta Falcons where he played 10 seasons, starting in 6 of them including the Falcons Super Bowl XXXIII appearance team in 1998. He finished his career with a single season in San Francisco.

Hall is likely the only BYU player in history to have a blocked punt and field goal, sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble recovery, and a fumble returned for a touchdown during their career. (Kyle Van Noy is very close here, but I don't think he ever blocked a field goal.)

After Hall graduated, Ed Kehl immediately took over the #56 and when on to have a fine career with the Cougars. He was famously the player who gave Omarr Morgan the slant read prior to Morgan's 4th quarter game winning interception where he jumped the slant route.

One to watch: Tejan Koroma

Koroma was named to the Freshman All-American team as BYU's starting center. Tejan has been labelled as the strongest player on the team. His aggressive play helped anchor the offensive line. It also led to his receiving several personal fouls 15-year penalties, a game ejection, and even a post-game brawl.

#57 Robert Anae

Anae isn't just a successful offensive coordinator. He was a good offensive lineman. He played guard for the 1984 National Championship team and was honored as 2nd team All-WAC that season. He served as the long snapper for the 1984 team.

#58 Chris Hoke

An All-MWC 2nd Team selection as a senior, Hoke totaled 135 tackles, 13 sacks, and 39 tackles for loss during his career as a Cougar. The defensive tackle was undrafted, but played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 11 seasons winning 2 Super Bowls.

Steve Kaufusi had 74 tackles, 9 sacks, and an INT. The linebacker also had one rush in his career. He ran the ball for 10 yards. Kaufusi played two seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1988-89.

#59 Kyle Whittingham

Before becoming BYU Football's public enemy #1, Kyle Whittingham was an All-WAC performer for the Cougars as a linebacker. Whittingham started at BYU as a running back. In 1978, he rushed 9 times for 25 yards and a poor 9-yard kick return. For his final 3 seasons, Kyle moved to linebacker and flourished. His senior season was particularly special as he recorded 132 tackles, 7 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles and 2 INTs.

Rich Kaufusi was a junior college transfer that was productive from the defensive line during his two seasons with the Cougars. 115 tackles with 14 sacks. Not bad at all. Plus, his name really stands out in the Tysman rap.

#60 Terence Brown

Terence Brown is the 3rd best player with the surname Brown in BYU Football History trailing only Clay and Curtis. A versatile offensive lineman.

Also of note, The Tidwell's: David, Randy, and Scott. This family has always worn 60.

#61 Gary Kama

Maybe. There is a number discrepancy here. Kama is listed as both #61 and #37. Either way, he's the best player to wear either number. That being said, I think Kama wore 61. Gary Kama played linebacker from 1975-79. 215 career tackles, most of which (139) came during his senior year when the Cougars went undefeated in the regular season before losing by one point in the '79 Holiday Bowl. He also scored a safety vs. Kansas State in 1978. He received 1st team All-Conference honors in '79.

Matt Meservey also has mystery surrounding his jersey number. He's listed as both #61 and #69. The offensive tackle was lucky to have suffered a concussion in the 1995 matchup against Utah, as it probably led to him saving the life of his 16-month-old son.

Doug Rawlinson definitely wore #61. He was more accomplished as a wrestler than he was as a lineman. Rawlinson held the Oklahoma state record in high school for 47 (47!) consecutive pins and was the top ranked prep heavyweight wrestler in the country. Rawlinson took 2nd in the WAC in the Heavyweight division in 1985.

#62 Larry Moore

Moore, a JC-transfer, was a 2-time 1st team All-WAC performer on the offensive line. As a guard, Moore played 8 successful seasons on the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, and Cincinnati Bengals.

Danny Hansen was a 1st team All-Conference lineman on that excellent 1979 football team.

Matt Johnson was 1st team All-WAC in 1999. He was drafted in the 5th round by the Colts, however, he never played.

#63 Calvin Close

Calvin Close was named an AP All-American Honorable Mention in 1980 and a 2-time All-WAC player. A force on the offensive line, Close played in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Colts.

Brian White was a 1st team All-WAC offensive tackle in 1988.

#64 Mohammed Elewonibi

Outland Trophy winner, Consensus All-American, and a junior college transfer from Snow College, where he was taught to play football. The Nigerian offensive lineman would go on to play 3 NFL seasons.

Andy Reid wore #64 and the JC transfer still had his trademark mustache during his time in Provo. He played offensive line. However, his coaching career has been more storied.

#65 Dallas Reynolds

Dallas Reynolds was an All-American Honorable Mention offensive lineman in 2008 and was twice All-MWC. His first All-Conference honor came has a tackle. His second came from the center position. An ironman, Reynolds played 50 games at BYU without missing a single one. Reynolds is currently with the New York Giants and has played 34 NFL games with the Eagles and Giants.

Ben Archibald finished his junior season a 2nd team All-MWC offensive linemen. He was poised to have a monster senior year, but he broke his leg 13 days before the season. Archibald has played in the NFL for 5 seasons, NFL-Europe, and the CFL. In 2010, Archibald was named the CFL's best offensive lineman.

Lloyd Fairbanks, an All-Conference performer for the Cougars in 1974, played 17 seasons in the CFL and was named a CFL All-Star 5 times.

#66 Ianeta Le'i

Ianeta Le'i was a complete first baseman for the BYU Softball team. Le'i dominated during her career as she was All-American Honorable Mention as a sophomore, All-American 2nd Team as a junior, and All-American 1st team as a senior. Her senior campaign saw Ianeta hit .413 with 20 bombs and 82 RBI. Her 82 RBIs are tied for 17th All-Time for a single season RBI total. During Mountain West Conference play Le'i claimed the MWC Triple Crown hitting a blistering .541 with 11 homers and 38 RBI. A 2-time MWC Player of the Year, and 4-time All-MWC selection, the number 66 easily belongs to Le'i

Le'i is now an assistant coach for BYU Softball.

Tom Bell and Mike Empey were both All-Conference selection as offensive linemen.

#67 Roger Dupaix

Dupaix was an offensive linemen back in 1960-62. He was the key blocker for the legendary Eldon Fortie. He and Fortie were the first All-Conference selections for BYU Football in 1962.

Garry Pay was also an All-Conference selection as a center in 1992.

#68 Jason Scukanec

Scukanec anchored the 2001 offensive line as the All-MWC 1st Team Center in the nation's number one offense. That O-Line opened up holes for Luke Staley on his way to winning the Doak Walker Award.

#69 Aaron McCubbins

The number 69 is full of, well, guys with names that sound like they were made up in one of the Anchorman movies with Walt Manwill winning the coolest name competition. His bio indicates that he was able to play in half of the game during his final season. Manwill also had one tackle during his college career. Not bad for an O-lineman. Plus, he had a nice mustache.

Dean Gardner played way back in 1939-42. There aren't any stats recorded to back up his performance, but he was a fullback. He also played on the Men's basketball team where he wore number 17. It is likely from a stat standpoint that Gardner may be the choice here.

Leaving us with a player whose favorite quote from his head coach, Gary Crowton, was "Who are you?" A player who's pre-game ritual is eating wild salmon. He was from Kenai, Alaska after all. A player who played football only because the cheerleaders couldn't lift him. A player who said his nickname is "Honky." (No, seriously.) A player who by looking at his BYU Athletics bio picture you can tell that he thought (thinks?) it was totally hilarious to wear the number 69.

Aaron McCubbins.

On a more serious note, McCubbins did start all 14 games on the 2001 12-2 team with the national top offense. He played every offensive line position during that season. He was All-MWC Honorable Mention.

Plus, he correctly felt that the best cereal is Cinnamon Life.

#70 Evan Pilgram

When Evan Pilgram played, there wasn't an IHOP in Utah County. There didn't need to be one. Pilgram was serving up enough pancakes for everyone. Pilgram was named AP 2nd-Team All-American in 1994. He went on to enjoy 6 seasons in the NFL.

Matt Reynolds was twice honored as an All-MWC selection and a Freshman All-American.

#71 Scott Brumfield

Scott Brumfield was undrafted after his time as a Cougar. He worked his way onto the Cincinnati Bengals roster. During his fourth season with the Bengals, Brumfield was throwing blocks in front of Garrison Hearst in the red zone during the 3rd quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. During the play Brumfield collided with teammate Tony McGee and suffered a severe spinal cord injury leaving his legs paralyzed.

Brumfield rehabbed his way back to his feet only able to walk using the aid of crutches for months and eventually worked his way back onto a NFL field, even starting games again.

Morris Unutoa also made it into the league as a center. He was rostered for 7 seasons.

#72 Nick Eyre

"The Bear" Nick Eyre was a consensus All-American in 1980 that finished 3rd in Outland Trophy voting. Eyre is 2-time All-WAC performer. Eyre was drafted by the Houston Oilers, but his NFL career was cut short by his diagnosis of cancer. Thankfully, Eyre's cancer is in remission.

Wayne Baker was a 2nd team All-American in 1974. A season that saw Baker collect 82 tackles with 10 sacks. He played 1 season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Brian May gave Ty Detmer time in the pocket in 1991 and was an All-WAC performer.

#73 Jake Kuresa

When John Beck drives, he never check his blind spot. He knows Jake Kuresa has him protected. For good reason too. Kuresa was a 2nd-Team All-American and 1st-Team All-MWC in 2006.

Keith Rivera's work on the defensive line earned him All-WAC honors. Rivera finished his career with 121 total tackles (21 for loss), 5 sacks, and 12 QB hurries.

At 6'7" 285 lbs, offenive lineman Eric Bateman, coming off a 2nd-Team All-WAC junior season, was enticed by the NFL Draft forgoing his senior year. Bateman was drafted in the 5th round by the New York Jets, but never played in the NFL. Instead he had a stint in NFL Europe and in the XFL for the Las Vegas Outlaws.

Bateman, while in college, was busy co-authoring a 14-volume LDS Book series called The Prophets Have Spoken.

#74 Paul Linford

Paul Linford was All-WAC 1st Team from 1972-74. 201 tackles, 7 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, and he forced 4 fumbles.

Travis Bright was referred to as the SMOC during his time on the team, referencing his being the "Strongest Man On Campus." Bright was a solid offensive lineman earning a 2nd-Team All-MWC honor.

#75 John Tait

A dominate offensive tackle, John Tait destroyed all unlucky defender tasked with lining up across from him. Tait played 3 seasons with the Cougars starting every single game. Tait work at left tackle earned 1st-Team All-WAC twice and 1st-Team All-America in 1998. He elected to forgo his senior season and was rewarded as the 14th by the Kansas City Chiefs. He also played for the Chicago Bears making an appearance in Super Bowl XLI, and totaling 10 NFL seasons.

Tait is now pursuing a career in documentary filmmaking.

#76 Eli Herring

Forever referenced everywhere during Sunday School lessons on Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, Eli Herring famously turned down the Oakland Raiders 6th round draft pick because his convictions kept him from playing on Sunday. Instead, Herring went on to be a 6'8" 335 lbs fleet-footed Math teacher.

The number 76 is loaded with tons of players who earned All-Conference honors and went on to play in the pros. Including offensive linemen Ray Feinga, Gordon Gravelle (2-time Super Bowl Champion), and Neal Fort.

Glen Titensor played on the defensive side of the ball. He transferred to BYU from UCLA and thrived. 2-time All-WAC and 2-time All-American Honorable Mention on his way to an 8 season NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.

#77 Shawn Knight

Shawn Knight was a 3rd-Team All-American in 1986. A feat that lead to his being selected 11th overall in the 1987 Draft. He played 3 NFL seasons in New Orleans, Denver, and Phoenix.

Offensive guard Keith Uperesa was an All-American Honorable Mention in 1977. Uperesa is still involved with college football as he is the Director of Player Personnel at the University of Hawaii. He also had stints as a position coach at USC, Utah, and UNLV.

Mike Morgan was 1st-Team All-WAC in 1982 as a DL with 63 tackles, 5 sacks, and 21 QB Hurries.

#78 Brad Oates

Brad Oates was named 2nd-Team All-American by the AP in 1975, while twice being All-WAC. A 3rd round pick in the 1976 NFL Draft, Brad suited up for 5 NFL rosters. Bart Oates' older brother, Brad set the example for Bart as he too graduated law school.

Brad and Bart Oates are the only brothers to own a number on my list.

A trio of All-WAC offensive linemen also wore 78, Paul Howard (1972), Chuck Ehin (1982), and Dave Wright (1985).

#79 Bill Rice

Rice was a terrific defensive lineman. His best season came on that very good 1975 team as Bill recorded 128 tackles and 5 sacks. He earned 1st-team All-WAC and All-American honorable mention honors.

During his career with the Cougars, Rice totaled 252 tackles and 18 sacks.

Now we journey out of lineman land! The list ends tomorrow with numbers 80-99 and 127.