Kalani Sitake is entering his sixth season at the helm of the BYU football program. A lot has happened during his tenure and numerous talented players have shuffled in and out of Provo in that timeframe.
In the first five years of Sitake’s career as head coach, several receivers have stood out among the rest. 2020 was a special season that saw playmakers rise to the occasion.
Let’s take a look at the five best receivers of the Sitake era at BYU.
5. Talon Shumway (2015-2019)
Shumway slowly worked his way into the lineup over the years. By 2019, he was the second-best receiver on the team. His best game came in 2018, however. Against Utah State, he caught five passes for 110 yards, his only 100-yard game of his career. Over the four seasons, he caught 93 passes for a total of 1,204 yards and four touchdowns, the former being the fourth-most among receivers in the Sitake era.
In 2019, he caught two touchdowns against Idaho State and racked up 92 yards with a score against San Diego State.
4. Micah Simon (2015, 2017-2019)
Simon started his career in the last year of the Bronco Mendenhall era. However, he made almost all his hay under Sitake. He was rather quiet in his first three seasons, totaling just 493 yards. In 2019, he burst onto the scene. Who could forget his clutch catch against Tennessee? Zach Wilson found Simon deep down field in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter to set up a game-tying field goal. The Cougars would end up winning the game in overtime. When the dust settled, Simon’s stat sheet read seven catches for 127 yards in that victory at Rocky Top.
For his career, he totaled 1,109 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He also added two rushing touchdowns on 54 rushing yards.
3. Aleva Hifo (2016-2019)
Hifo came up big in multiple moments over his BYU career. In 2017, he was one of the lone standouts on offense in an abysmal year. Against East Carolina, he hauled in nine passes for 148 yards, a career high. In 2018, he made one of the best plays of the year in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Western Michigan. He caught a long pass from Zach Wilson and made a flurry of moves on his way to the end zone for a long 70-yard touchdown, one of the longest touchdowns in BYU bowl history.
He was also a factor in the running game with trick plays and jet sweeps. He ran for 45 yards and even passed for a touchdown in the upset win over Wisconsin in 2018. He had two rushing touchdowns in 2019, one against Utah State and the other at UMASS’ expense. Hifo was involved in the offense in a host of different ways, even collecting 53 passing yards over his career. Over four seasons, he collected 118 catches for 1,336 yards and seven touchdowns, both ranking second among receivers under Sitake’s regime.
2. Gunner Romney (2018-Present)
This is the lone BYU Cougar that still has a chance to climb the list. In fact, with a strong 2021 campaign, expect Romney to take over the No. 1 spot on next year’s list. As far as talent goes, Romney is probably the best among receivers Sitake has had during his time at BYU. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he is a force to be reckoned with. The 2020 squad exploded onto the scene and the offense was firing on all cylinders most of the year. Romney was the benefactor of Zach Wilson’s strong season, turning in four 100-yard games in one year.
Romney is third in receiving yards in the Sitake era and he needs just 240 yards in 2021 to overtake the top spot. He will likely be featured in the offense more this season than he was in 2020. He current sits at 83 catches for 1,306 yards and six scores in three seasons, both are third among Sitake era pass-catchers.
1. Dax Milne (2018-2020)
Milne was a player that came out of nowhere. After starting his career as a walk-on, he scored his first touchdown in 2018 in the Potato Bowl and his career took off from there. He collected at least one catch in 10 games in 2019, catching touchdowns against USC and USF.
2020 is where everything came together. Milne had a knack for getting open and catching the ball in tight spots and he formed an excellent rapport with star quarterback Zach Wilson. He ended up with six 100-yard games including a massive nine-catch, 184-yard contest against Houston, along with three touchdowns. Over the season, he finished with 1,188 receiving yards, which was the most by a BYU receiver since Cody Hoffman collected 1,248 yards in 2012.
Through three seasons, Milne amassed 1,542 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, both of which are the most in the Sitake era.