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Potential is there for Jaren Hall, Chris Brooks and Puka Nacua to be BYU’s next terrific trio

Seasons in which the Cougars thrived often included three playmakers that made the team go. Will this trio step up for BYU in 2022?

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BYU Cougars wide receiver Puka Nacua goes high over Idaho State Bengals defensive back Jayden Dawson for a touchdown.

BYU wide receiver Puka Nacua catches a touchdown pass against Idaho State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Nacua and the Cougars usher in a new season Saturday at South Florida.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

In horse racing, correctly picking the first three finishers in a race is called a trifecta. When a hockey player scores three goals it’s called a hat trick. When BYU has three high-producing players on offense, it’s called a successful season.

Quarterback Jaren Hall, running back Chris Brooks and receiver Puka Nacua, surrounded by a reservoir of supporting talent, represent a three-headed headache for the South Florida defense. If history is any indication, those three hold the keys to happiness for Cougar Nation.

BYU’s statistical records show “three” is a common denominator for winning. Some of these trios didn’t play their entire careers at the same time, but when they were on the field together, at quarterback, running back and receiver, they scored a lot of points and won a lot of games and their combined production speaks for itself.

Here are a few of them.

Gary Sheide, Jeff Blanc, Jay Miller: This quarterback/running back/receiver trio, who got things started for LaVell Edwards in the early to mid-’70s, combined for 9,226 yards of total offense and 68 touchdowns. Miller set an NCAA single-game record with 22 receptions during game at New Mexico in 1973.

Brandon Doman, Luke Staley, Reno Mahe: Operating with a spread-option attack, these three, in limited time together, produced 11,937 yards of offense (including Mahe’s punt and kickoff returns) and 113 touchdowns.

Steve Young, Eddie Stinnett, Gordon Hudson: This combination turned out 12,744 yards of offense and 103 touchdowns. Hudson, who played like a receiver, caught 23 touchdowns at tight end and remains the all-time leader at BYU.

Zach Wilson, Tyler Allgeier, Dax Milne: Most recently, these future NFL players contributed 13,842 yards of offense and 119 touchdowns. Allgeier set the regular-season rushing record at BYU in 2021 with 2,470 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Robbie Bosco, Lakei Heimuli, Glen Kozlowski: In addition to winning the 1984 national championship with a 13-0 record, these three combined for 14,841 yards of offense and 124 touchdowns.

Jim McMahon, Scott Phillips, Danny Plater: These three amassed 15,171 yards of offense and 138 touchdowns. Phillips and Plater, along with a slew of others, helped McMahon set 70 NCAA records.

John Beck, Curtis Brown, Todd Watkins: Under coach Bronco Mendenhall, this trio combined for 17,305 yards and 131 touchdowns. Brown remains No. 3 all-time in rushing.

Taysom Hill, Jamaal Williams, Cody Hoffman: With a mixture of speed, toughness and soft hands, these three former Cougars turned in 17,827 yards and 144 touchdowns. Hill became the school record holder for rushing yards as a quarterback (2,815) and Williams finished as the all-time rushing leader in program history (3,901).

Ty Detmer, Jamal Willis, Andy Boyce: To no surprise, Detmer’s gang topped everybody at BYU with he, Willis and Boyce combining for 186 touchdowns and 19,928 yards of combined production. In the middle of his BYU run, as a junior, Detmer won the Heisman Trophy in 1990.

Max Hall, Harvey Unga, Austin Collie: This three-headed monster was a touchdown-producing machine. The three combined for 20,714 yards of total offense, including Collie’s punt and kickoff returns, and 176 touchdowns. Along the way, Hall became BYU’s all-time winningest quarterback with 32 victories. Unga remains No. 2 at BYU in rushing.

Those numbers may seem ominous to Hall, Brooks and Nacua, especially considering Brooks, a Cal transfer, has never carried the ball at BYU and Hall and Nacua have never played a complete season due to injuries.

In addition, this will be the only year the three will take the field together. Brooks is already graduated and has one season of eligibility remaining. Hall and Nacua are juniors but may look to the NFL if they have a successful fall.

What matters most to Kalani Sitake is that all three are on the field together this season. The head coach is kicking off his sixth season and he doesn’t care about a trifecta or a hat trick. He just wants a win and with those three in the game, history is on his side.

For the superstitious, Hall will take the field wearing No. 3.

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host of “After Further Review,” “Countdown to Kickoff,” “The PostGame Show,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall delivers a pass to receiver Neil Pau’u for a touchdown against Virginia in Provo.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall delivers a pass to Neil Pau’u for a touchdown during game against Virginia on Oct. 30, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News