When people think of the 2020 BYU Cougars football team, it usually starts and ends with quarterback Zach Wilson, and rightly so. After throwing for 3,692 passing yards with 33 touchdowns to just three interceptions, he was selected second overall in the NFL Draft by the New York Jets last month.
Now with spring ball and the draft behind us, attention shifts to what is ahead for the 2021 college football season and who will actually be donning the navy and royal in Provo once again. We are now in the long stretch between the draft and fall camp, which will likely start sometime in late July or early August.
Despite losing their star quarterback, BYU has plenty of optimism heading into the 2021 season and that starts on offense with their running backs, led by Tyler Allgeier. His 2020 campaign was the very definition of a breakout season. After rushing for just 168 total yards in 15 games in the previous two seasons combined, and starting out his BYU career as a linebacker, Allgeier exploded onto the scene last year with 1,130 rushing yards, good enough for eighth in the entire nation, along with 13 touchdowns, which ranked 10th.
With several running backs who accumulated more yards than him in the 2020 season now gone to the NFL, including Najee Harris and Michael Carter, one might assume Allgeier is in the mix among the top returning running backs for this upcoming season.
Based on the national buzz, you would assume correctly.
Pro Football Focus ranked the top 10 returning running backs for the 2021 season and Allgeier made the list at No. 9. They gave him a 93.1 rushing grade, the second-highest grade in the country last season.
His status as one of the nation’s top backs was cemented when he made one of the covers of the 2021 Athlon College Football Preview, in the Mountain West region, joining Colorado linebacker Nate Landman and Utah’s tight end Brant Kuithe.
Among the 14 running backs who ran for at least 1,000 yards last season, Allgeier is one of the 10 that are returning for the 2021 season. Given his size, 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, if he puts together another season like he did in 2020, he will get some serious draft buzz.
While he may not be a blue chip prospect, Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 10th-best running back prospect for the 2022 draft, citing his power and explosiveness. That list will certainly fluctuate as the season plays out.
Given that BYU will be breaking in a new quarterback, whomever it is, the BYU offense will likely lean heavily on Allgeier in the run game to start the season. BYU has not had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons from a running back since Harvey Unga in 2008 and 2009. Allgeier could be in esteemed company if he can pull that off in 2021 and he now has the nation’s attention.