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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Flashback: Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

Several of the current Brigham Young Cougars wide receivers literally stand head and shoulders above many of their predecessors. One of those predecessors might not have been as tall as the players today, but his production was head and shoulders above the rest.

It was 45 years ago in 1967 that Phil Odle finished his BYU career as the most outstanding wide receiver the school had ever seen, and it wasn’t even close. In his very first season in Cougar blue, 1965, Odle set school records for receptions (46), receiving yards (657), and touchdown receptions (11) in a single season. Not only was it enough to get Odle into the record books, it helped BYU win its very first conference championship. Amidst other honors, Odle was named the WAC lineman of the year.

He was just getting started.

The next year, as a junior, Odle finished fourth in the nation in receiving yards with 920 on 60 receptions. Along the way, he set school records for most receptions in a single game (14) and most receiving yards in a single game (242) as the Cougars crushed Texas Western (now known as UTEP). With one year to go, Odle held all the major career receiving records for BYU.

With quarterback Virgil Carter gone, what would Odle do for his swan song in 1967? How about break his own records, yet again, for most receptions in a season (77) and most receiving yards in a season (971). The receiving yard total was good enough for fifth in the nation. Odle also set a school record for most games in a season with at least 100 yards receiving (5).

Odle earned All-American citations, and was a wanted man. All of the post-season collegiate games wanted him. He played in three: East-West Shrine Game, Hula Bowl, and Coach’s All-American Game. His 183 career receptions were the second most in college football history.

Phil Odle was, indeed, a special football player. He was, figuratively, head and shoulders above the rest. His impressive stats weren’t the result of fortunate timing from coming in on the front end of a college football revolution. Odle’s stats were way better than any BYU player who had come before. Then, his records withstood the test of time.

Odle’s successors didn’t continue to post numbers comparable to Odle. It took over a generation (23 years) for Odle’s career receptions and receiving yardage records to be broken. In 22 more years, he still ranks near the top of every statistical category. A complete list of Odle’s BYU records is included below. Where Odle’s marks currently rank is included in parenthesis.

Phil Odle played in a class of his own. As a testament to Odle’s being a cut above the other players of his era, February 18, 1968, was declared “Phil Odle Day.”

Phil Odle's School Records
Most receptions in a single game: 14 vs. Texas Western (UTEP), 1966 (2nd)
Most receptions in a single season: 77, 1967 (6th)
Most receptions in a career: 183 (4th)

Most receiving yards in a game: 242 vs. Texas Western, 1966 (3rd)
Most receiving yards in a season: 971, 1967 (16th )
Most receiving yards in a career: 2,548 (6th)

Most 100-yard receiving games in a season: 5, 1967 (6th)
Most 100-yard receiving games in a career: 10 (5th)

Most TD receptions in a season: 11, 1965 (7th)
Most TD receptions in a career: 25 (3rd)

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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