Greg Pitts took his time to join the Brigham Young Cougars football team following an outstanding prep career at Timpview High School in Provo, UT. He graduated high school in 1987, but missionary service in New Jersey prevented him from joining the team until 1990. Pitts redshirted that season. No wonder Pitts was superb when he finally got his chance to play in 1991.
The BYU defensive line was decimated following the 1990 season. Five of the six players on the two-deep roster that year were seniors. This created a huge opportunity for Pitts and the other Cougar D-linemen in 1991. When the depth chart was posted for game one, Pitts found his name at the top.
Pitts’ reward for earning the starting spot was the gauntlet of no. 1 Florida State, no. 23 UCLA, and no. 12 Penn State. All three games would be played away from Provo. It was a baptism by fire for Pitts. A forced fumble against UCLA was his big highlight during this stretch. However, what mattered most was he played well enough to remain the starter when the Cougars returned home to host a 4-0 Air Force squad.
BYU beat Air Force and Pitts went on to start every game that season.
The BYU defense had been embarrassed by Hawaii in 1989 and 1990. Pitts was determined to do what he could to make 1991 different. The Cougar D limited Hawaii to 18 points, and Pitts was named the defensive lineman of the game by the BYU coaches.
Pitts continued to improve as the season wore on. On Halloween night, and on national television, he registered seven tackles against the Colorado State Rams. He did one better the next week with eight tackles against the Wyoming Cowboys.
Pitts and the Cougars got a chance to show just how far they had come that year in the Holiday Bowl against no. 7 Iowa. After allowing over 38 points per game against the two teams now ranked just ahead of Iowa (no. 5 Florida State and no. 6 Penn State), the Cougar D gave up just 13 points, including zero in the second half.
Why number 9?
Pitts started every game as a freshman. He also had 61 tackles. That is a lot for a defensive lineman, even as a senior. (For perspective, BYU’s leading tackler on the defensive line in 2010 was senior Vic So’oto with 45, and in 2011 it was junior Eathyn Manumaleuna with 33.)
Why not higher?
All Pitts did was tackle. He didn’t make a lot of sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries, or other high impact plays.
Best game: Wyoming
Break out game: Hawaii
Season Stats, 1991
Tackles: 61 (16 Unassisted, 45 Assisted)
QB Hurries: 4
Forced Fumbles: 2
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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