Top 10 Polynesian Players in BYU history: #7 Glen Kozlowski

Glen Kozlowski was not just a great player, but one of the team's emotional leaders (Mark Philbrick, BYU).

In the very first game of his freshman season, Glen Kozlowski introduced himself to BYU Cougars fans with a diving touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone. The touchdown was called back on a holding penalty, so he had to settle on his first official reception being a spectacular diving catch for 49-yards. It didn't take a genius to know BYU had a special player on its hands.

Watch these and other BYU vs. Long Beach State highlights from 1981 here. (Kozlowski is number 25.)

Kozlowski's first collegiate football game was just 68 miles up the California coast from where he prepped at Carlsbad High School. He lettered in football three times, broke several school records, and earned first team All-CIF honors twice. After graduating high school early, Kozlowski came to Provo and participated in spring practice.

In 1981, BYU returned just one of its top eight receivers from the year before. Kozlowski seized the opportunity to contribute as a true freshman. After finishing second on the team with 85 yards in the season opener, he caught his first touchdown in the first half of the next game. He found the end zone in each of the next two games, as well.

Kozlowski missed some time due to injury, but returned when the Cougars returned to California, this time just 33.5 miles from his high school. In his second homecoming, he was second on the team in receiving yards, again, but this time his touchdown catch wasn't called back.

After sitting out the 1982 season, Kozlowski returned to the team in 1983, and started that season much like he did his freshman year. He was second on the team in receiving yards for the Baylor game, which included a 42-yard grab. He also continued his trend of standing out in return trips to southern California.

Like 1981, BYU had two games on the schedule within driving distance of Kozlowski's hometown. The first was in Los Angeles against the UCLA Bruins. The coaches picked Kozlowski as the receiver of the week. Three weeks later when BYU traveled to San Diego State, he had his best game of the season. He caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and finished the day with nine receptions for 188 yards.

Kozlowski came up with a key 20-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against Utah State, as the Cougars rallied for a last-minute, come-from-behind win. His 42-yard touchdown against UTEP was also key.

Heading into his junior season, the "Koz" was clearly one of the best players on the team. With his ability and experience, he naturally stepped into a leadership role. Before the season began, he was elected team captain. He also made the first big play of the season on offense for the Cougars. BYU used backup quarterback Blaine Fowler to throw a halfback pass on the first drive against Pitt. Kozlowski made a diving catch for a gain of 38 yards. Just like his freshman and sophomore seasons, he finished the game second on the team in receiving yards.

Kozlowski's leadership was on display again in Hawaii. The 1984 Hawaii game is widely remembered for the goal line stand made by the Cougar defense, highlighted by Kyle Morrell leaping over the center to thwart a quarterback sneak. What is often left out is that Hawaii still kicked a field goal on that possession to take a 13-12 lead. The Cougars needed to answer. Kozlowski was already having a fine game (he finished the day with nine receptions for 156 yards), but with the game on the line, he delivered. Koz got behind the defense. Quarterback Robbie Bosco saw him, and hit him in the end zone for the game winning 25-yard touchdown.

BYU's national championship hopes were kept alive.

As the season progressed and pressure mounted as the Cougars inched closer to the number one ranking, Kozlowski helped keep the Cougars rolling. In the New Mexico game, Kozlowski caught three touchdown passes, including the first score of the game. He caught the first touchdown the next game, as well.

Kozlowski had two more touchdowns in the following game against San Diego State. This year, the Aztecs traveled to Provo, but he still put up big numbers against the California school (six receptions for 108 yards). He also had big numbers in the game against Utah (eight receptions for 162 yards), and found the end zone one more time. When the ranking came out the following week, BYU was number one.
Courtesy 1985 BYU Media Guide

It wasn't until BYU returned to the Holiday Bowl in December that Kozlowski got to make a trip home in 1984. He had played in previous Holiday Bowls as a freshman and sophomore (five total receptions for 72 yards), but it was Holiday Bowl VII when Kozlowski would cement his place in Cougar lore.

Trailing 17-10 in the fourth quarter, Bosco turned to the captain. After driving inside the Michigan 10-yard line, Bosco dropped back to pass. Under pressure, he started scrambling to the right, and floated a pass to the back of the end zone. Bosco's intent appeared to be to throw the ball away. Kozlowski was there, however, and wouldn't let the ball go by without trying to catch it. He leapt as high as he could, and somehow came down with the ball for a touchdown to tie the game with 10:51 to play.

That amazing catch put BYU in a position six minutes later to start what would be the game-winning and national-championship winning drive.

Kozlowski finished that special season with a career-high 879 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns. He was first team All-WAC and honorable mention All-American (AP, UPI, and Football News), but he still hadn't played his best game. 

As the reigning national champions, BYU was invited to play in the Kickoff Classic to open the 1985 season. In that game, Kozlowski absolutely embarrassed Boston College. He was wide open all over the field. When the game finally ended, Kozlowski had the best game of his career: 10 receptions, 241 yards, 1 TD. The only time a Cougar receiver had more yards in a game than Kozlowski was Jay Miller (263 on 22 receptions against New Mexico in 1973) and Phil Odle (242 on 14 receptions against UTEP in 1966).  

Over the next three games, Kozlowski had another 195 yards receiving. He had caught a pass in 38 consecutive games. With nine games left on the schedule, Koz needed just 326 yards and three touchdowns to set new school records for a career. In order to do that, he would have needed to average a little over 36 yards per game and catch one touchdown every three games. He seemed destined to break both records.

That is until Kozlowski suffered a knee injury in the fourth game of the season. He tried to come back four games later, but reinjured the knee and was out for the season. To honor Kozlowski, Bosco wore number 7 for the Air Force game. Thanks to the heroics of another Polynesian higher on this list, BYU was able to beat the number four ranked Falcons without Kozlowski. One has to wonder, though, if he would have made a difference in tight losses to UTEP and Ohio State when the Cougar passing offense really struggled.

 Rush  Yards  Ave.  TD  Long  Rec.  Yards  Ave.  TD  Long 

Kozlowski's NFL Draft stock dropped due to the knee injury. Even though, the Chicago Bears took him in the 11th round of the 1986 draft. There, he was reunited with quarterback Jim McMahon. Koz played seven seasons with the Bears. After catching 15 passes for 199 yards and three TDs in just three games in 1987, he was mostly a special teams player.

He still played with great passion, which endeared him to the Chicago faithful. He finished his NFL career with 31 receptions for 471 yards and three TDs.

Top 10 Polynesian Players 
10. Mekeli Ieremia, DT, 1974-77
9. Kurt Gouveia, LB, 1982-85
8. Reno Mahe, WR/RB, 1998, 2001-02
7. Glen Kozlowski, WR, 1981, 1983-85
6. Aaron Francisco, DB, 2001-04
5. Vai Sikahema, PR/KR/RB, 1980-81, 1984-85
4. Kai Nacua, FS, 2013-16
3. Lakei Heimuli, RB, 1983-86
2. Harvey Unga, RB, 2006-09
1. Kyle Van Noy, LB, 2010-13

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