As a senior in 1984, senior David Mills appeared to be keeping the tight end seat warm for someone else to become the next great Brigham Young Cougars tight end. Three-year starter, and future College Football Hall of Fame member Gordon Hudson had just graduated. Little did anybody know that Mills would do something not even Hudson--a two-time consensus All-American--had done.
Hudson was the reason that before 1984 nobody had even heard of Mills. As Hudson's backup in 1981, Mills caught a measly 6 passes for 64 yards. Nearly half of those yards (31) came on one play. Mills redshirted the following season, and came back to log just 3 receptions as the third string tight end in 1983.
BYU faced a lot of turnover on the offensive side of the ball in 1984. Besides replacing Hudson at tight end, the Cougars would put a new starting quarterback under center, and replace the top three running backs. Where BYU did return some experience was at wide receiver. Glen Kozlowski had over 500 yards receiving the year before, and Adam Haysbert had 167 yards with three touchdowns. These two figured to be new QB Robbie Bosco's top two targets.
In game one, this was the case. Haysbert racked up 141 yards and caught the game winning touchdown, while Kozlowski was second on the team with 82 yards receiving. Mills, however, held his own, and started finding a role on this team. He made five receptions for 60 yards.
Mills' breakout game came the following week. In the home opener against Baylor, Mills led BYU in both receptions and yards with 6 for 115. Two of those catches were for touchdowns.
The Alta High product continued to be a steady contributor as the season continued. Over the next three games, Mills had at least 47 yards each game. At Colorado State, Mills had a 63-yard grab.
Mid-October Mills was at his finest.
He came up big in a shootout against Wyoming. On the first drive of the game, he caught a 44-yard touchdown. Wyoming took the lead in the third quarter, but BYU took the lead right back with a 31-yard TD catch by Mills. Going into the fourth quarter Wyoming was back in front. Mills caught his third touchdown of the game to give BYU the lead for good. Mills finished the game with 7 receptions for 136 yards.
The next week, BYU traveled to the Air Force Academy. In the snow, Mills hauled in 10 receptions for 225 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown. It was the fourth most receiving yards in a game in school history (currently 8th most).
A few weeks later against San Diego State, Mills had his fourth 100-yard receiving game (101). In the season finale against Utah State, Mills led the team in receiving yards for the fourth time.
In the Holiday Bowl against Michigan with the national championship on the line, Mills was solid. He caught 11 passes for 103 yards.
Mills is, perhaps, the poster boy for the 1984 BYU National Championship football team. Before the season, the Cougars were not on anybody's radar. Unranked and unexpected to be a force like in years past. In the end they were the best in the land. Mills was unheralded and unknown before the season started. When all was said and done, he was honorable mention All-American (Football News, Associated Press) and first team All-American by Athlon.
Mills was BYU's team leader in receptions and receiving yards for 1984. The receiving yards were the second most in a single-season by any BYU football player. The receptions were tied for sixth most all-time.
1984 stats: 60 receptions, 1023 yards, 7 TD
1981-83 stats: 9 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TD
Top 10 One Hit Wonders
10. Ray Crandall (1971), Jon Kormylo (1978)
9. Shane Hunter (2010)
8. Reynaldo Brathwaite (2003)
7. Ezekiel Ansah (2012)
6. Ben Cahoon (1997)
5. Ryan Hancock (1992)
4. Ethan Pochman (1996)
3. Ted Nelson (1970)
2. David Mills (1984)
1. Jay Miller (1973)
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at email@example.com