The annual BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL Top 10 list is here. The 2012 college football season marks the 40th anniversary of the NCAA lifting its ban on freshman playing varsity football. Therefore, this year BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL will count down the top 10 Brigham Young Cougars freshmen football players since 1972.
Each day, Monday through Friday, over the next two weeks, one freshman will be revealed until we reach number 1 on June 22.
A precise formula wasn’t used to arrive at the Top 10. Several criteria were evaluated in the judgment process. A lot of emphasis was placed on a player’s statistics, except for special teams stats. Freshmen, traditionally, play a lot on special teams. When they become upperclassmen and have an expanded role on offense or defense they are moved off of special teams. Therefore, a freshman could not make the top 10 solely on exceptional special teams play. The rule of thumb that I used was 2 kickoff/punt return yards = 1 rushing/receiving yard. Other factors considered included injuries, post-season honors, and whether the player was a redshirt freshman or true freshman.
On to number 10.
10. Cody Hoffman, 2010
Cody Hoffman came to BYU in 2009 from Del Norte High School in Crescent City, California. He redshirted that season and prepared for his debut in 2010.
Hoffman’s debut was not a highly anticipated event. It was overshadowed by another wide receiver—Texas prep star Ross Apo. Apo was supposed to be the instant impact newcomer who would join seasoned vets McKay Jacobson, O’Neill Chambers, and Luke Ashworth to create a formidable receiving corps. Hoffman was not expected to be a key player in that corps.
In 2010, expectations did not match reality.
Apo suffered a hand injury in practice following game one and missed the rest of the season. Chambers was suspended from the team twice and missed eight of the final ten games. Neither Jacobson nor Ashworth emerged as a go-to receiver. A door was opened for Hoffman.
Hoffman took advantage of the opportunities presented with each unrealized expectation. By the end of the season, Hoffman was first on the team in receiving yards (527), tied for first in touchdown receptions (7), and second in receptions (42, running back J.J. Di Luigi was first with 45). In four games, Hoffman was the team’s leading receiver.
Hoffman’s freshman receiving totals for touchdowns, receptions, and yards ranked second, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in BYU history, at the time. He did more than put up nice numbers. Hoffman displayed great body control and concentration to catch and stay in bounds on touchdown receptions against UNLV, New Mexico, and UTEP.
As impressive as Hoffman was as a receiver, he was equally impressive returning kickoffs.
Hoffman did not start the season on special teams. However, when Chambers was suspended from the team indefinitely after the TCU game, Hoffman assumed that role full-time. The very next week, Hoffman returned four kickoffs for 104 yards and was named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. The next game, Hoffman went 50 yards on his only return of the game. It was already apparent that Hoffman was an upgrade from Chambers who was second, all-time, in kickoff return yards at BYU.
Hoffman saved his best for last in 2010. At the New Mexico Bowl, Hoffman set season highs in all major statistical categories: 8 receptions, 137 yards, 3 touchdowns, 5 kickoff returns, 125 yards. Included in those 125 kickoff return yards was a season long 51-yard return in the first quarter. He totaled 262 all-purpose yards (8th most in BYU history, and most ever in a bowl game). He also tied the BYU bowl record for most touchdown receptions in a bowl game. Hoffman set or tied seven New Mexico Bowl records. If this was the Las Vegas Bowl, Hoffman would have been voted the game’s MVP.
Why number 10?
The seven touchdown receptions, and Hoffman’s dual role as a wide receiver and returning kickoffs.
Why not higher?
Hoffman was inconsistent. He had a mid-season slump with just 2 receptions for 10 yards over a three game span. His 12.5 yard average per reception and total receiving yards were good, for a freshman, but others have done better.
Breakout Game: Nevada (game four)
Best Game: UTEP (New Mexico Bowl)
2010 Game-by-Game Stats
Washington: 1 reception, 14 yards
Air Force: 3 rec., 37 yards*
Florida State: 5 rec., 17 yards, 1 TD*
Nevada: 4 rec., 74 yards*
Utah State: 6 rec., 46 yards
San Diego State: 1 rec., 3 yards
TCU: 0 rec., 0 yards
Wyoming: 1 rec., 7 yards
UNLV: 2 rec., 57 yards, 1 TD
Colorado State: 3 rec., 42 yards
New Mexico: 5 rec., 71 yards*, 2 TD*
Utah: 3 rec., 22 yards
UTEP: 8 rec., 137 yards*, 3 TD*
Totals: 42 rec., 527 yards*, 7 TD*
* = Team High
Washington: 0 returns, 0 yards
Air Force: 0 ret., 0 yards
Florida State: 0 ret., 0 yards
Nevada: 0 ret., 31 yards
Utah State: 0 ret., 0 yards
San Diego State: 0 ret., 0 yards
TCU: 0 ret., 0 yards
Wyoming: 4 ret., 104 yards
UNLV: 1 ret., 50 yards
Colorado State: 1 ret., 27 yards
New Mexico: 1 ret., 14 yards
Utah: 2 ret., 29 yards
UTEP: 5 ret., 125 yards
Totals: 14 ret., 380 yards
Top 10 BYU Freshmen
10. Cody Hoffman, 2010
9. Greg Pitts, 1991
8. Jamal Willis, 1991
7. Luke Staley, 1999
6. David Nixon, 2003
5. Mike Morgan, 1979
4. Austin Collie, 2004
3. Randy Brock, 1991
2. Ronney Jenkins, 1996
1. Harvey Unga, 2007
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