Tyler Allgeier broke a lot of tackles the past two seasons as BYU’s top running back on a team that went 21-4 with the former walk-on joining quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall in carrying the Cougars’ offensive attack.

When he got the telephone call Saturday afternoon letting him know he had been selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft, he says he broke down crying.

Literally, as Allgeier likes to say.

“Tears started dropping,” he told Atlantafalcons.com.

“It is great to have you coming to Atlanta. You come from a great university in a great part of the country. We are excited to have you here.” — Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank to former BYU running back Tyler Allgeier

Allgeier was the 151st overall player drafted, and the 12th running back to come off the board. Having been projected to go anywhere between the third and sixth rounds, Allgeier watched the draft from the home of his mother and grandmother in Fontana, California, and was his typical low-key self when his name was called.

“It was such a surreal feeling,” he said.

Atlanta was said to be a team in search of running back help by pre-draft analysts, but the Falcons had not taken an RB before placing the call to Allgeier. At BYU’s pro day in late March, Atlanta running backs coach Michael Pitre paid particular attention to Allgeier, working him in individual drills, according to Brice Larson of ESPN 960 Sports radio.

Pitre is also from Fontana, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Atlanta took USC receiver Drake London in the first round (No. 8 overall), Penn State LB Arnold Ebiketie and Montana State LB Troy Andersen in the second round, Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder and Western Kentucky LB DeAngelo Malone in the third round.

The Falcons did not have a fourth-round pick.

Their current depth chart lists Cordarrelle Patterson as their starting running back, with Mike Davis at No. 2 and Damien Williams at No. 3. In March, the club re-signed Qadree Ollison, 25, who had split time between the practice squad and the active roster since Atlanta drafted him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft out of Pitt.

So Allgeier will have his work cut out for him to make the roster.

“With nine picks this draft, there’s a decent chance a running back has a shot to join the team,” wrote Falcon Report last month. “However, with Ollison on the roster, he becomes primary competition for the rookie-to-be running back.”

Allgeier, 5-foot-11, 224 pounds, was the first Cougar drafted this year after five were taken in 2021.

BYU has had at least one player drafted in six of the last seven years. It was the second-straight year that an NFL club took a former BYU walk-on, as Washington took receiver Dax Milne last year.

Allgeier took a preferred walk-on offer (PWO) from BYU in 2018 and redshirted that year. He was awarded a scholarship after the 2019 season and often had to work night shifts at the Provo Walmart, collecting shopping carts in the parking lot, to make ends meet and take the financial burden off his single mother, Ester.

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Allgeier, who set the school single-season rushing yardage record in 2021 with 1,601 yards, is the first BYU running back drafted since all-time leading rusher Jamaal Williams was taken in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by the Green Bay Packers.

A physical back who mostly played linebacker his second season in Provo (2019), Allgeier broke 50 tackles in 2021, according to Sports Info Solutions, the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“The Falcons are getting a fantastic football player and an incredibly humble and hardworking teammate with the physical versatility and football IQ to contribute in many different ways,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “He is the kind of person who will always succeed and improve. I look forward to following his NFL career.”

The last BYU player drafted by the Falcons was defensive lineman Travis Hall, in 1995. Atlanta took defensive back Brian Mitchell in 1991 and defensive end Stan Varner in 1976.

From video posted on the Falcons’ website, Allgeier talked to coach Arthur Smith and owner Arthur Blank via telephone and was welcomed to the team as the pick was made official Saturday afternoon.

“We are fired up to bring you down here,” Smith said. “Obviously we love the way you play and your makeup, and the way you finish runs, and really all the other stuff you bring to the table.”

Said Blank: “It is great to have you coming to Atlanta. You come from a great university in a great part of the country. We are excited to have you here.”

Allgeier’s favorite NFL team growing up was the Indianapolis Colts, because that’s the team his grandfather Robert cheered for. Monday, his mother told the Deseret News the family was hoping he would be taken by a team in the West so she, Allgeier’s grandmother and sister, Nalonie, could see him play.

But she really just wanted him to go where he was really, really wanted.

“I am just extremely happy and proud my son is going on to play at the next level,” Ester Allgeier said. “Tears of joy and happiness.”

Allgeier drew nationwide attention for a play he made against Arizona State that saved Hall from throwing a pick-six. After ASU’s Merlin Robertson intercepted a Hall pass, Allgeier tracked down the linebacker and punched the ball out from behind. Hall recovered the fumble, ending a play some pundits have said was the best in college football last season.

“He is a great teammate and a good person,” said BYU running backs coach Harvey Unga, who played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears. “He is a selfless person and the ultimate teammate when it comes to that. I think the film more than anything speaks for itself. You watch the way the kid plays the game, how he carries himself. … When it’s crunch time and we need a couple of yards or we are trying to run a four-minute drill, we knew we could count on him and call on him to carry the rock to win the game.”