This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Last week, we attempted the impossible/foolish by naming starters on the all-time-greatest basketball team made up of guys, by position, who played for top schools in the state of Utah.
This time, we're blowing past impossible/foolish, turbo-jacking the whole thing straight to ill-advised and harebrained by naming starters on the all-time-greatest football team.
Just like last time, consideration does not limit players to what they did while in college, rather by what they did in the totality of their playing days, on their overall ability.
Here goes …
Defensive end: Jason Buck, BYU. Could have gone with Utah's Dave Costa or Manny Fernandez or Utah State's Rulon Jones or Phil Olsen here. Went, instead, with the Outland Trophy winner.
Defensive end: Ziggy Ansah, BYU. It's early, yet, but he's one of the most amazing football stories ever. Who comes to college out of Africa, runs track, tries out for the basketball team, gets cut, tries football, has to learn to put on the pads, and then becomes one of the best rush ends in the NFL? Ansah is the answer.
Defensive tackle: Merlin Olsen, Utah State. The greatest football player to come out of Utah. Period. Strong acting skills, as well, starring in "Little House on the Prairie" and "Father Murphy."
Defensive tackle: Luther Elliss, Utah. Played rugged, upfront defense on the hill before it became a matter of routine for that to happen. Set the tone for the Ute defense for years to come, a tone that remains today.
Linebacker: Rob Morris, BYU. When Morris was a Cougar, he was flamboyant. He once jumped off a third-story balcony into a pool. He hammered an alligator over the head with a stick while visiting the Everglades. He painted his toenails pastel colors and once said he wanted to dress up like a woman. Why? "Just because," he said. He played better football than he gave quotes, headlining at BYU and playing eight seasons for the Colts.
Linebacker: Bobby Wagner, Utah State. One of the best interior 'backers currently in the NFL.
Linebacker: Kyle Van Noy, BYU. Ridiculous talent for the Cougars. Go back and watch what he did to San Diego State in the 2012 Pointsettia Bowl. Redefined the position at BYU. Still waiting to emerge as a pro.
Defensive back: Eric Weddle, Utah. The man who could do anything, and darn-near did everything, for the Utes. Terrific NFL career, too.
Defensive back: Cornell Green, Utah State. Didn't play football for the Aggies, played basketball. He was a basketball All-American. Quite remarkably made the transition to football as a pro, playing for 13 seasons, making five Pro Bowls, on some legendary Dallas Cowboy teams.
Defensive back: Larry Wilson, Utah. Anybody who argues this pick never saw Wilson play. He prospered for 13 seasons in the NFL and was an eight-time All-Pro safety. Made Pro Football's Hall of Fame in 1978.
Defensive back: Sean Smith, Utah. He was tough at Utah and has stayed tough through a seven-year career in the NFL, four in Miami and three in Kansas City. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Smith lacks speed, but his technique and strength are difficult for receivers to beat.
Wide receiver: Roy Jefferson, Utah. Another old-timer special. Played both offense and defense for the Utes. Jefferson was one of the top targets in the NFL during his 12 years. Had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the Steelers, won a Super Bowl with the Colts, and went to another Super Bowl with Washington. After retirement, most notably, he starred in the low-budget 1976 film "Brotherhood of Death."
Wide receiver: Steve Smith, Utah. Smith was a beaut when he was a Ute, saying all kinds of colorful things, such as: "No team in our conference respects our passing game, and they're going to pay for it," and, "My favorite way to score is whichever makes the defense look stupid," and, "We just wanted to whack [our opponent] across the field for four quarters." He's gone on in the NFL to whack opponents, catching 961 passes for 13,932 yards and 76 touchdowns.
Tight end: Todd Christensen, BYU. Yeah, yeah, he was a running back in Provo, but went on to five Pro Bowls with the Raiders, and had the best vocabulary in the all of football. He was assiduous, sedulous and loquacious.
Offensive line: Jordan Gross, Utah. Fantastic at Utah, fantastic with the Panthers all those years. Wound up as an All-Pro and one of the highest-paid tackles in the NFL.
Offensive line: Bart Oates, BYU. Center who won three Super Bowls, two with the Giants and one with the 49ers. Prior to joining the Giants, he also won two USFL titles with the Philadelphia Stars. Was a five-time Pro Bowler.
Offensive line: John Tait, BYU. All-American tackle for the Cougars, played five years for the Chiefs and five for the Bears.
Offensive line: Chris Kemoeatu, Utah. While with the Utes, Kemoeatu was named an All-American, despite a painful kidney condition. Went on to play for the Steelers as his kidney deteriorated. When he needed a transplant, his brother, Ma'ake, who also played for the Utes and Baltimore, donated one.
Offensive line: Donald Penn, Utah State. Was going to go with Utah's Zane Beadles or BYU's Mo Elewonibi here. Beadles is NFL good and Mo was a first-team All-American and won the Outland Trophy. But … Penn was great at USU and, though undrafted, has done more than stay in the NFL over the past decade, with Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Oakland. He made the Pro Bowl.
Running back: Jamal Anderson, Utah. His numbers at Utah don't compare with some others, Anderson having run for only 1,275 yards. Guys like Eddie Johnson and John White IV had more than double that. But Anderson blossomed as a pro, rushing for 5,336 yards for the Falcons, and got another 1,645 receiving yards. He gained nearly 2,000 yards in a single season, leading the NFC in rushing and leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl. Bonus: Everyone remembers his touchdown dance known as the "Dirty Bird."
Running back: Devontae Booker, Utah. Hasn't yet ascended to the NFL and he'll definitely prosper there but here's what anyone who watched Booker run at Utah knew: He was the most valuable player on the field, every week.
Quarterback: Steve Young, BYU. Jim McMahon was better in college, but Young was a two-time NFL MVP and MVP of a Super Bowl during which he threw six touchdown passes. He is one of the most exciting players in college and pro football history, with his ability to run and throw. He won NFL passer-rating titles six times. His bust is in Canton.
Punter: Lee Johnson, BYU. Nearly went with Utah's Marv Bateman. Bateman was an All-American in the early '70s, averaging 47 yards a punt. In 1971, he set an NCAA record, averaging 48.1 yards. He punted for six years in the NFL, with a 41-yard career average. But Johnson's career was too good not to crown. After crushing punts at BYU, Johnson went on to spend 18 seasons in the NFL, hitting 1,226 punts and averaging 42.4 yards.
Kicker: Louie Sakoda, Utah. Didn't make it in the NFL, but Sakoda was absolute money at Utah, not just as a kicker but also as a punter. Sakoda was an All-American at both. In 2008, when he made 22 of 24 field goals and 56 of 57 PATs, the Utes went undefeated largely because of him. Quite appropriately, he gained a kind of cult following among the Utes.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.