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BYU Football: Cougars All-Decade Team

BYU Football: Cougars All-Decade Team 2020

BYU Football: Cougars All-Decade Team 2020

The BYU Cougars charted a new and unexpected course in football during the 2010s. The program opted to leave the Mountain West Conference and become an FBS independent in 2011, shortly after Utah bolted the league to join the Pac-12. It flew in the face of conventional football wisdom at the time.

Life as an independent has been turbulent at times for BYU in the decade since leaving the Mountain West. From 2010 to 2019, BYU averaged 7.7 wins per season and posted just one 10-win campaign. Still, the Cougars reached nine bowl games in that span and recorded memorable victories over a wide spectrum of Power 5 opponents.

Before we close the door on the 2010s for good, here are Athlon Sports' picks for BYU's all-decade team:

QB: Taysom Hill (2012-16)

RB: Jamaal Williams (2012-16)

RB: Algernon Brown (2013-16)

AP: Aleva Hifo (2016-19)

WR: Cody Hoffman (2010-13)

WR: Jordan Leslie (2014)

WR: Mitch Mathews (2012-15)

TE: Matt Bushman (2017-present)

OL: Tejan Koroma (2014-17)

OL: James Empey (2018-present)

OL: Matt Reynolds (2008-11)

OL: De’Ondre Wesley (2013-14)

OL: Braden Hansen (2009-12)

DL: Ziggy Ansah (2010-12)

DL: Bronson Kaufusi (2012-15)

DL: Corbin Kaufusi (2016-18)

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DL: Khyiris Tonga (2017-present)

LB: Fred Warner (2014-17)

LB: Kyle Van Noy (2010-13)

LB: Sione Takitaki (2014-18)

DB: Kai Nacua (2013-16)

DB: Daniel Sorensen (2011-13)

DB: Michael Davis (2013-16)

DB: Dayan Ghanwoloku (2016-19)

K: Trevor Samson (2014-15)

P: Riley Stephenson (2009-12)

RS: Adam Hine (2012-15)

Toughest Position: Defensive Backs

Persistent injuries in the secondary meant that numerous BYU defensive backs have made key contributions during the independent era. Players who ultimately had the greatest impact, like Kai Nacua and Daniel Sorenson, were ones who also seemed to stay relatively healthy over four years, so they could maximize their talents.

Deepest Position: Linebacker

Some of BYU's biggest game-changers on defense in recent years have played at linebacker. Standouts like Fred Warner and Kyle Van Noy have gone on to have successful NFL careers. They first emerged as disruptive playmakers during their time with the Cougars.

Weakest Position: Wide Receiver

The emergence of Jamaal Williams and Taysom Hill as dynamic running threats reduced the role that the receivers played in the offense. Offensive struggles following their graduation made receivers stand out even less. No BYU receiver has had a 1,000-yard season since Cody Hoffman accumulated 1,248 yards in 2012.

Key Stat: 250-plus yards

Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams are the only BYU teammates to each run for at least 250 yards in a single game. Williams ran for a school-record 286 yards against Toledo in 2016. Hill rushed for 259 yards against Texas in 2013.

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.