|Austin Collie scores his first touchdown of 2008 at Washington (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)|
When Blue Cougar Football talked to Dylan Collie in March, he said this week was the week he would join the BYU Cougars in Provo. There is a lot of excitement about the arrival of this graduate transfer. Much of that excitement has to do with what his brother Austin did 10 years ago. Simply put: Austin was Awesome.
People may debate who is the greatest wide receiver in BYU history, but there is no question who had the best single season. That is Austin Collie, 2008.
Collie burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2004. He was an impact player that season, but took two years off to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He missed some time due to injury as a sophomore, but still led the team with 946 yards receiving. Going into 2008, everyone knew they could count on Collie to produce. Few, if any, expected him to produce as much as he did.
There weren't any signs the first couple of weeks, either, that this was going to be a legendary year for Collie. Quarterback Max Hall had 486 yards passing in the season opener against Northern Iowa, but just 80 of those were to Collie. He had even fewer receiving yards in game two. Collie totaled just 74 yards against Washington. More than half of those came on a 38-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
BYU exploded for 59 points in a route of UCLA in game three. That's when Collie had his breakthrough. He topped the century mark for the first time (110 yards), and he had double-digit receptions (10), and he had his first multiple touchdown game (2).
For the rest of the season, he would have at least 104 yards receiving every single game.
Hall had just 189 yards passing against Wyoming, but he connected with Collie for 122 of those yards. Collie caught eight passes that day, including two second quarter touchdowns (62 and seven yards) that pushed the BYU lead to 27-0 at halftime.
After a bye, Collie set the tone in Logan, and made it clear the week off didn't cause the Cougars to skip a beat. On BYU's third offensive play of the game, he caught a simple curl route and raced down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown. Along the way, he dished out a nasty stiff arm. Later in the game, he would haul in a 12-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 34-0 third quarter lead.
Collie finished the Utah State game with eight receptions for 132 yards, and the two touchdowns. His body of work that game was a pretty typical one for that season. Not only was he a reliable possession receiver, he could beat the coverage deep. At least once per game, he would have a long reception. In fact, he caught a pass of at least 30 yards in every game, except one, in 2008.
New Mexico was more of a challenge than expected, but Collie helped propel the Cougars to victory. His 58-yard catch in the second quarter sparked BYU, and led to its first touchdown. In the fourth quarter, it was Collie's eight-yard touchdown catch that put the game away.
TCU had the nation's number one defense that season. Collie still managed 116 yards receiving, including a 49-yard catch. He averaged 19.3 yards per reception that night; his highest of the season.
After a "routine" game against UNLV (seven receptions, 113 yards), Collie had his biggest game of the season at Colorado State. He started the game with an impressive one-handed grab while streaking down the sideline, which he took in for a 58-yard touchdown. He caught two more touchdowns in the first half to keep BYU in the game, 21-21. He finished the game with nine catches for a career high 156 yards.
When San Diego State was starting to get momentum with back-to-back field goals, Collie gave the Cougars control of the game again. First, he turned a short pitch and catch into a 61-yard touchdown. Then, he caught another touchdown on BYU's next possession.
BYU then went to play the Air Force Academy, a school the Cougars routinely beat pretty easy. At halftime, the Falcons led 14-10. Collie unleashed in the locker room.
"I told the team that we're a lot better than this," Collie said. "We're one of the best teams in the nation, we needed to start playing like it ... We needed someone to step up and get in the guys' faces and say, 'This isn't how we play football.'"
He didn't leave much time for head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
"I really didn't say a word. Austin Collie rallied the team," Mendenhall said.
Leadership on and off the field was part of what made Collie so great.
BYU went out and scored 21 straight points in the third quarter, capped by a six-yard Collie touchdown catch. However, Air Force wouldn't go away that easily. The Falcons pulled within a touchdown during the fourth quarter, but Collie was not all bark and no bite. He ran an excellent route to get open deep, and sealed the game with a 45-yard touchdown.
It was Collie's sixth game with two touchdowns or more. That brought his total for the season to 15, which tied the school record (Clay Brown, 1980). His career touchdown total was now 30, which was a new BYU record (Eric Drage, 29).
Collie's 130 receiving yards against Air Force gave him 1,315 yards for the season, which broke Andy Boyce's school record for most receiving yards in a season (1,241).
Both of Utah's cornerbacks would be selected in the next NFL draft, but not even they could stop Collie from his 10th straight 100-yard receiving game. He also broke Eric Drage's school record for most receiving yards in a career (3,066).
Collie's record setting ways weren't done yet.
In the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona, he caught 11 more passes to bring his season total to 106, which broke Jay Miller's school record of 100. His first reception of the game broke the tie he was in with Matt Bellini for most career receptions (204). Collie also recorded his 11th consecutive 100-yard receiving game to tie an NCAA record. In the game, he had a 36-yard catch that set up BYU's first touchdown.
Collie was such a great receiver, it is often neglected how good he was on kickoff returns. During the season, Collie returned 18 kickoffs for 495 yards. He had huge returns against UNLV (75 yards) and Utah (70 yards).
In addition to the kickoff return yards, Collie fielded one punt that he returned two yards, and was credited with 10 rushes for 77 yards that season. That gave him a grand total of 2,112 all-purpose yards, which was another BYU record.
Just how awesome was Austin Collie in 2008? Enough that on January 9, 2009, he announced he would forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. Rarely does a BYU player enter the draft early. It is unheard of for a BYU wide receiver.
Austin Collie's 2008 Receiving Stats
|San Diego State|
Austin Collie BYU Career Highlights
The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at email@example.com