Best "Firework" Players in BYU Football History

Fourth of July, a day that folks across America devour hot dogs –hopefully not 69 in 10-minutes like Joey Chestnut-, swim in pools, soak up the sun, and of course light fireworks.

Do you remember the scene from the movie, The Sandlot, where those kids on July 4th each year would play under the firework lights?  That’s America right there at it’s finest and leaves a lasting memory.  Along with The Sandlot, here at we feel that BYU Football is as American as the taste of sweet apple pie.  The memories that BYU Football has given Cougar Nation over the years, goes on for generations.

So to celebrate the 4th of July and give you your BYU Football fix in the midst of summer, here’s a list of the Best “Firework” Players in BYU Football History.

When I say “firework players, these were players that epitomized making game-changing plays that led to Cougar victories.  When these guys stepped on the field, you knew something special would soon ensue.

  • Kyle Van Noy, LB, 2010-PRESENT

Van Noy has yet to complete his career wearing the blue & white but he has already etched his name as one of the best playmakers in BYU Football history.

Recording a statistic in every major NCAA defensive statistic the past two seasons –the only player to lay claim to that in College Football- whenever BYU has needed a momentum changing play, Van Noy always delivers.

Just look at the Poinsettia Bowl from last season as a prime example of Van Noy’s versatility.

Heading into 2013, Van Noy is a consensus pre-season All-American by many publications. The sky is the limit for this future pro.

  • James Dye, KR/WR, 1995-1996

“You Punt, You Dye!”  When you think of a player that was always a threat to blow off the lid of a game, James Dye instantly comes to mind.

Led the country in punt return yards in 1995.  Had a total of four punts returned for touchdown’s in his Cougar career along with a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD against UTEP

James’ son, Trey Dye is a commit to BYU as part of the 2014 class.  Maybe we will be seeing more fireworks from a Dye in the near future.

  • Luke Staley, RB, 1999-2001

BYU hosted Colorado State in a nationally televised game on ESPN in 1999.  Analyst Lee Corso said, “I want to go to battle with this guy!” That guy he was talking about was True Freshman Luke Staley.  Staley came onto the scene as a fresh-faced diaper dandy from Tualatin, Oregon, and instantly he had a knack for getting into the end zone.  In his Cougar debut against Washington, Staley had two touchdowns.

Staley racked up 41 touchdowns in his three years with the Cougars.  Whenever he touched the ball he was a threat to go the distance and get a TD.   The big play ability from Staley led to the man with the biggest calves in human history to win the Doak Walker Award in 2001.

  • Steve Young, QB, 1981-1983

A man who needs no introduction to BYU fans, Steve Young was the Fran Tarkenton of his era, Young was a versatile QB before it became the trend in football today.

Accounted for 74 touchdowns in his BYU career.  18 of those came on the ground.  The lefty QB from Greenwich, Connecticut came to BYU as the seventh string QB and left as a Heisman finalist.

Young’s fireworks at BYU led to him being the #1 pick in the USFL, signing a $25 million contract.  The biggest contract in pro football at that time.  After the USFL folded Young went on to the NFL for the Buccaneers and the 49ers. Led the 49ers to a Super Bowl XXIX victory and eventually became a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

The 1983 BYU offense led by Young is still to this day, one of the best offenses in program history.

  • Reynaldo Brathwaite, RB, 2003

This might be a pick that raises eyebrows to some Cougar fans.  Braithwaite only played one season at BYU.  But in that one season replacing injured Marcus Whalen as the starter at RB, Brathwaite had runs that put him in the BYU Football record books.

Brathwaite had an 89-yard run against New Mexico, which was a school record.  Three weeks later, Brathwaite broke his own record with a 95-yard TD run against San Diego State.

Brathwaite’s game-changing abilities were short lived for Cougar fans.  He was suspended prior to the rivalry game against Utah, and never saw the field again at BYU.  But when he was there, he was one of the few bright spots from a terrible 2003 season.

  • Vai Sikahema, KR, 1980-1981, 1983-1985

With James Dye on the list, we also have to give credit to Vai Sikahema for his return game heroics.  Vai led the country in return yards in 1984.  One of the more decorated players to have played at BYU, Vai had a captivating personality and was a key component in BYU building their Polynesian pipeline.

Vai went on to have an NFL career with the Cardinals and Eagles.  Currently a sports anchor with an NBC sports affiliate in Philadelphia.

Happy 4th of July Cougar Nation! Share your thoughts on who you think were some of the better “firework” players in BYU Football History.

Tags: James Dye Kyle Van Noy Luke Staley Reynaldo Brathwaite Steve Young Vai Sikahema

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