Top 5 BYU things that lived up to the hype
- Jimmer Fredette’s Senior season
Jimmer’s senior season lived up to the hype and then some. Jimmer had just helped BYU advance in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.
Fredette was selected as a pre-season 1st team All-American. Not only did Jimmer play his way to being a 1st Team All-American selection, he was honored as National Player of the Year.
In fact, Jimmer played such good and entertaining ball at the beginning of the 2010-11 season that the hype train just got bigger and bigger. Jimmer and company just continued to respond and justify the hype. It was amazing.
2. Kyle Collinsworth’s ACL recovery
By and large, the BYU fanbase is full of people who believe in miracles. Even still, most of us still can’t believe how well Kyle Collinsworth bounced back from his blown ACL.
Collinsworth tore his ACL in his right knee during the 2nd half of the West Coast Conference Championship game against Gonzaga on March 11, 2014.
That fall, on November 14, 2014, Collinsworth started the Y season opener against Long Beach State. Collinsworth would collect a NCAA record 6 triple doubles as a Junior. He would match that total his Senior year with 6 more triple doubles. 12 in total — a NCAA record.
Perhaps most amazingly, Collinsworth finished his career 2nd all-time in BYU history in minutes played with 4,330 minutes. HE HAD AN ACL INJURY DURING HIS COLLEGE CAREER!
3. Tanner Mangum’s Freshman season
The MVP of the Elite 11 QB camp. Just coming off his mission. Tanner Mangum is set to become the next great quarterback at QBU. He’s thrown into his freshman year following another Taysom Hill season ending injury. He finishes off Nebraska. He wins against Boise State. Mangum went on the break all the freshman passing records. Mangum became the first BYU QB to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the first time since 2009 — ending the longest drought in BYU history without a 3,000 yard passer since 1974 (the first time BYU had a 3,000 yard passer).
The other part about Mangum’s freshman season that was remarkable was how reliant everything was on Tanner’s play. Remember the East Carolina game? Tanner Mangum was hurt. He went out of the game for a few series. BYU stalled out. The Cougars looked completely deflated without the highly-touted freshman. The injured Mangum came back into the game and took control driving the Y 75 yards in 3 minutes to take the lead with 19 seconds left in the game.
By Mangum’s 5th start, the success of the BYU Football team was on his shoulders. Not only that, Tanner proved that he could take over a game and will his squad to victory.
4. The 2014 Wide Receiver recruiting class
The 2014 wide receiver recruiting class had 3 major additions to the BYU Football family. Jordan Leslie was joining as a Senior graduate transfer from UTEP. Devon Blackmon and Nick Kurtz were joining the team from the junior college ranks. All 3 were presented as game breaking wide outs with the skill to put up real production for the Y.
Jordan Leslie was productive in his one and only season. Leslie struck up chemistry with Christian Stewart who was called into action following another Taysom season-ending injury. Leslie caught 55 balls for 779 yards and 6 TDs. Leslie also rushed for 30 yards and a TD.
The speedy Devon Blackmon caught 56 passes for 799 yards.
Nick Kurtz brought in 88 catches for 1,119 yards and 5 TDs.
All told, the 2014 Wide Receiver class brought in 199 receptions for 2,697 yards and 11 TDs.
That level of production justified the hype around the recruiting haul.
5. Kalani Sitake’s likeability
The number one thing that was sold to BYU fans about Kalani Sitake was that he would be a great unifier.
Bronco Mendenhall, for various reasons, had struggled to be a figure that was likable to fans, boosters, players, former players, and administrators. After 11 seasons, he had earned a general divisive opinion about his work as BYU head coach. It was mostly a tolerable arrangement. No one should have been super out on Bronco, nor should they have been “fully invested.”
We are now 18 months removed from Bronco Mendenhall’s era and it feels like a lifetime ago.
Sure, BYU is just technically exiting the honeymoon phase with Kalani Sitake. But, Sitake has earned the heart-eyes emoji from Cougar faithful because he feels right. BYU fans don’t like him because of gimmicks and antics. The gimmicks and antics are gone and over. Sitake naturally feels like what BYU is and ought to be. It isn’t forced.
When Kalani joined the student section for a couple basketball games, his dancing and cheering felt honest. When he does cameos for James The Mormon rap videos, it feels true. These public relation choices don’t seem calculated. I doubt that they are. Sitake is just having fun by making the most of the opportunities his new job title affords him. It is really hard to dislike somebody that is having a ball.
A lot of people have tried to conflate Kalani’s style with LaVell. It is often said that he is bringing back the LaVell Edwards culture. Maybe that’s true. On the other hand, it seems to me that Kalani has very much been his own man. Kalani is certainly doing things his way. He carries himself on the sidelines much differently than Edwards. Sitake interacts with his fans in a different manner.
The similarity between the two seems to be driven by their genuine interest in making people smile and be better. They both react in ways that seem authentic. They seem guided by their personalities rather than the management books they’ve read.
Sitake answers questions candidly rather than canned.
When asked about drinks with caffeine, Kalani responds:
"I'm a believer in caffeinated beverages"-Kalani Sitake— ESPN960Sports (@espn960sports) June 23, 2017
I was at a Cougar Club meeting where Kalani spoke to the boosters. He urged everyone to start praying for victories. “It is okay to pray for wins. I do. I was just told no 4 times.”
See, easy to like this guy.
To read the list of the Top 5 Overhyped BYU Sports phenomena of the last 10 years, click here.