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What is BYU’s best sport?

BYU’s Felipe de Brito Ferreira, celebrates after a point as BYU and Pepperdine play in the finals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship, at the Smith Field House in Provo on Saturday, April 24, 2021. BYU won in straight sets.
BYU’s Felipe de Brito Ferreira, celebrates after a point as BYU and Pepperdine play in the finals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship, at the Smith Field House in Provo on Saturday, April 24, 2021. BYU won in straight sets.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

This week’s NFL draft will feature Zach Wilson projected as the No. 2 player taken, going to the New York Jets. If there are four or more Cougars taken, it will be the most in years, perhaps in history.

By at least one matrix, BYU has seven potential players on the draft board and that would be as high as any season in memory. It is more likely that just three are drafted, Wilson, OT Brady Christensen, and cornerback Chris Wilcox. But defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, receiver Dax Milne and offensive guard Tristen Hoge and tight end Matt Bushman could also be drafted.

The Deseret News has had extensive coverage of Wilson and other BYU stories leading up to this draft. Our work includes the following stories just in the past week:

Behind scenes of making a top NFL QB draftee (Jay Drew)

Why did Wilson pick the brains of former Jets QBs? (Brandon Judd)

What Norm Chow thinks Wilson’s success does for Roderick (Dick Harmon)

Meet the men who helped Zach Wilson a 1st-rounder (Jay Drew)

Does it really matter who Wilson played against? (Dick Harmon)

Kavika Fonua played six positions, will it help? (Jay Drew)

Wilson: It’s all about the family (Doug Robinson)

Cougar Insider Predictions

Question of the week: Is BYU a volleyball school?

Jay Drew: Diehard BYU fans may consider this blasphemous, something akin to taking the names of LaVell Edwards or Stan Watts in vain, but it is becoming more and more apparent that the school’s best sport isn’t football or basketball.

It is volleyball.

Year after year, the men’s and women’s volleyball programs at BYU succeed, both on a local level, and national level. In a strange convergence due to the pandemic moving the women’s season to the spring, both programs took center stage the past few weeks — and neither program disappointed.

The women got a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and swept UCLA before running into a No. 1 buzzsaw in Wisconsin.

The men won their conference tournament last weekend, sweeping Grand Canyon and Pepperdine. They are the No. 2 seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament, and are looking to win their first national title since 2004.

Yes, volleyball is the most successful sport at BYU. And it really isn’t that close. The cross-country teams are probably in second place.

Dick Harmon: There is no question volleyball is red hot at BYU. It drew capacity crowds in non COVID-19 years. It is exciting. The sport is led by outstanding coaches who are at the top of their profession and it has been this way for decades.

The men’s team is on track to win a national championship and has been at the cusp for many years, making it to the finals or semifinals. You can make the case that BYU is indeed becoming a volleyball school based on its success and well-deserved praise.

But football and basketball — even in up and down years — is far more visible. Football has been the defining welcome mat on the porch of the university for years. It collects the most attention, press, media, money, ticket sales and national television exposure. It pays all the bills. But that should not take away from the fact, which Jay makes very well, it is volleyball that is making it to the top echelons of its sport, not football or basketball.

Cougar Tales

BYU’s men received the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, and will automatically be placed in the semifinals. The Cougars are 18-3 and are led by a world-class server Gabi Garcia Fernandez. You can read more about the skill and acumen of Garcia Fernandez in this piece by Jay Drew.

BYU’s women’s soccer team earned a berth in the NCAA championships and will also get a bye into the second round of play.

In golf, BYU’s women lost a final-round, two-shot lead and faded in the WCC championships in Henderson, Nevada. BYU’s men will play its WCC tournament championship this week at the same venue in Henderson, Reflection Bay. This past Saturday BYU’s Carson Lundell tied for medalist honors in the annual Ping Cougar Classic with a 13-under par card.

BYU center Kolby Lee explains why he transferred to Dixie days before he announced his landing spot in this piece by Jeff Call.

From the Archives

From the Twitterverse

Jesse Wade announces retirement (@Jessewade10)

Kolby Lee signs with Southern Utah (@Krlee21)

Zach Wilson’s first Nike ad released (@usnikefootball)

Jets’ podcaster praises Wilson pick (@tydunne)

Mural of Wilson going up in Provo (@DailyUnivSports)

Breakdown of how Wilson was scouted (@RapSheet)

Extra Points

  • How Zach Wilson went from journeyman NFL player to QB guru (NBC Washington)
  • BYU’s Allysha Mae Mateo wins WCC player of the year (Daily Herald)
  • What Norm Chow thinks Zach Wilson’s success does for Roderick (Deseret News)
  • BYU football adds another Wilson (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers:

Jealous Utah fans are all talk, but no walk, when it comes to comparing QBs.

Utah QBs threw as many interceptions in Utah’s first game, as Zach threw in TWELVE games.

Only a delusional Utah fan would try to attribute that solely to SOS.

There are many reasons why Zach will be the 2nd player selected in the 2021 NFL Draft that have absolutely nothing to do with BYU’s 2020 SOS,

Yet that’s the only explanation the jealous ankle biters can come up with.

That said, I’m laughing at the jealous hysteria every Zach article generates on the hill.

— BlueCoug

Up Next

April 29 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | St. Mary’s College | Provo

April 29-May 1 | TBA | Men’s golf | WCC Championship | Henderson, Nevada

April 30 | 6 p.m. | Baseball | St Mary’s College | Provo

April 30 | TBA | Track and field | Fresno State Invitational | Fresno

April 30 | 2 p.m. | Softball | Loyola Marymount | Los Angeles

May 1 | 1 p.m. | Baseball | St. Mary’s College | Provo

May 1 | TBA | Track and field | Texas A&M | College Station, Texas

May 1 | TBA | Soccer | NCAA 2nd round | North Carolina

May 1 | Noon | Softball | Loyola Marymount | Los Angeles

May 1 | 2 p.m. | Softball | Loyola Marymount | Los Angeles

May 3-4 | TBA | Track and field | Weber State Invitational | Ogden

May 4 | TBA | Baseball | Utah Valley | Orem

May 4 | 3 p.m. | Softball | Southern Utah | Cedar City

May 6-8 | TBA | Men’s Volleyball | NCAA tournament | Columbus, Ohio