Creating a threshold for what was a minimal contribution was a little tricky. I had to use my best judgement. Marcus Whalen was a candidate for one hit wonder status with 918 yards rushing in 2002, but no more than 209 his other seasons on the team. However, against Utah State in 2000, Whalen was BYU's leading rusher with 91 yards and carried the ball 10 times.
This year's top 10 is actually eleven players (tie for number 10) comprised of five offensive, five defensive, and one special teams player. Their playing careers span from 1970 to 2012. Some are well know record setters, and others are complete unknowns with their impressive one-year body of work being overshadowed over the decades by consistent two, three, and four year performers.
One obstacle that this particular top 10 presented was the availability of statistics from several decades ago. Finding accurate defensive stats was particularly difficult. Official stats for tackles were not kept for many years. Schools tallied them, but they did so under their own guidelines. In the early 1990s statistics for tackles drastically changed.
According to CougarStats.com, BYU has had 68 players register 100 or more tackles in a season. In the last 20 years, the Cougar defenders who reached the century mark did so by making close to half of their tackles unassisted (or solo).
Rob Morris (147 tackles in 1998, 114 unassisted) is the only player after 1992 in the top 30 (118) for most tackles in a season. Between 1970 and 1991, BYU had 20 players make 130 tackles or more in a season. That is nearly one per season. However, five of these players (25%) had less than 40 solo tackles, which means less than 31 percent of their tackles were solo tackles.
It appears that in 1992, BYU statisticians became a lot less liberal about how they awarded assisted tackles, which resulted in much fewer tackles for Cougar defenders.
What does all this have to do with the two players tied for number 10?
These two players could have been higher on the list, but their low percentage of solo tackles was glaring. Clearly, they were highly involved in the BYU defense, otherwise they wouldn't have been credited with so many tackles. However, should their larger total tackles put them above other defenders who played at BYU in the past five years and were held to a higher standard for being credited a tackle?
(Are your still with me?)
In the end, using by best judgment, having these two players tied for number 10 seemed the best place for them.
10. Ray Crandall (1971) and John Kormylo (1978)
Position: Left Defensive Tackle
In the matter of a few months, Ray Crandall went from expecting to be drafted into the U.S. Armed Forced to serve in Vietnam to cutting wood for a summer job to starting defensive lineman. The BYU defense needed to replace some starters on the defensive line for the 1971 season. Crandall was a "definite starter" his junior year according to the media guide for that season, but his contributions were not expected to be as much as Keith Rivera. In the season outlook, the media guide specifically mentioned Rivera and Earl Burrell as replacements who would "strengthen [the defense] with each game."
Crandall had been at BYU since 1969. He redshirted in 1969 and was considered a semi-regular in 1970. While his play in 1970 helped earn him a starting spot the following year, the 6-foot-3, 225 pound left defensive tackle didn't do enough to inspire confidence that he could fill the void left by Gerald Meyer or Mike Jacobsen--at least not like 6-foot-2, 217 pound outstanding freshman Rivera.
By season's end, Crandall had 121 tackles (35 solo) and 8 tackles-for-loss. He was third on the team for tackles and tied for third in TFL. Rivera had 53 tackles (12 solo) and 8 TFL. Crandall was a key piece of a defense that finished the season second in the WAC in stopping the run.
Position: Left Defensive Tackle
Kormylo was a senior in 1978. It was his second season at BYU. He transferred to the Y after his church mission to Italy. Before then he played at Colorado University. Despite starting on the Junior Varsity team in 1977, Kormylo was listed second on the depth chart at the start of the 1978 season behind sophomore Dennis Webb.
The 6-foot-3, 250 pound Kormylo quickly became the starter. By season's end, he was one of the team's leaders in several defensive statistical categories. He was fifth in tackles with 98 (11 solo), tied for first in fumble recoveries (4), and second--one shy of tied for first--in quarterback hurries (11). Kormylo also had 2 sacks, 6 TFL, 3 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles.
By clogging up the middle, Kormylo helped the '78 Cougar D lead the WAC in scoring defense (14.7 points per game), finish second in the WAC in rush defense.
Top 10 Schedule
10. Ray Crandall (1971), John 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)
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