Facebook Twitter

‘Best to wear it’: Top Ute players to wear Nos. 40-59 — a Hall of Famer, a CFL top pick and the former mayor of Sack Lake City

SHARE ‘Best to wear it’: Top Ute players to wear Nos. 40-59 — a Hall of Famer, a CFL top pick and the former mayor of Sack Lake City
merlin_1620776.jpg

Utah defensive end Hunter Dimick catches Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell for a sack en route to Utah victory.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Editor’s note: Third in a series that pegs the best player to don every jersey number in Utah football history.

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s time for another installment of the noteworthy numbers for Utah football. This grouping covers numbers 40-59 and includes eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Larry Wilson and longtime NFL defensive back Norm Thompson.

No. 40: Larry Wall, defensive end

Before a lengthy and distinguished career as head coach at Bountiful High, Wall tallied 200 tackles for the Utes from 1974-76. Also considered: Tommy Hackenbruck, Kareem Leary.

merlin_831651.jpg

St. Louis Cardinals defensive great Larry Wilson receives a Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime during the Washington St. Louis game, Sept. 17, 1978 in St. Louis. Wilson was a Ute during his college days.

AP

No. 41: Larry Wilson, halfback

All-American was a two-way starter as a halfback and cornerback for Utah. He was also a skilled return specialist. Went on to become an eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the St. Louis Cardinals. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978. His professional No. 8 was retired by the franchise. Also considered: Koa Misi, Jared Norris.

No. 42: Charlie Smith, running back

Topped the Utes in rushing in 1967 with 588 yards. Went on to play in then NFL for the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, scoring 34 career touchdowns. Also considered: Mika Tafua.

No. 43: Norm Thompson, defensive back

Immediately made an impact in his first season with the Utes in 1969, setting NCAA records in interception return yards (258), average yards per interception (51.8) and interception return for touchdowns (3). Named an All-American in 1970, he was a first-round NFL pick and went on to have a successful pro career with the NFL’s Cardinals and Colts. Also considered: Anthony Davis, Kautai Olevao, Jack Steptoe.

merlin_2481158.jpg

BYU’s John Beck loses the ball as he is hit by Utah’s Joe Jiannoni in Salt Lake City, Utah Nov. 25, 2006.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

No. 44: Joe Jiannoni, linebacker

Racked up 218 tackles (11.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions) in a career highlighted by 92 stops as a junior in 2006. Also considered: Dave Kruger, Josh Savage.

No. 45: Banard Hafen, end

Excelled in both baseball and football. Played in the East-West Shrine Game twice and was drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions who he played for in 1949 and 1950. Also considered: Jack Cross, Herb Nakken.

merlin_858868.jpg

Filipo Mokofisi, Sr. during his playing days for the Utes in the late 1980s.

Courtesy University of Utah Athletics

No. 46: Filipo Mokofisi, defensive end

East High star took his game down the street and was a force for the Utes from 1982-85, He capped his collegiate career with 264 tackles (145 solo) with 26 sacks 21 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups and seven forced fumbles. 

No. 47: Frank Christensen, fullback

A 1932 All-American (United Press and World Telegram), Christensen was a three-time all-conference selection and a two-time captain. The Utes never lost a league game during his three years with the team. Also considered: Fred Graves, Cannon Parkinson.

No. 48: Gordon Neff, guard

A four-year starter, Neff received All-Rocky Mountain honors from the International News Service in 1948. Played all 60 minutes in a hard-fought 20-20 tie at Oregon State late in the season. Also considered: Dan Beardall, Grant Martin.

No. 49: Hunter Dimick, defensive end

Long-time Mayor of Sack Lake City, unseated this past season by Bradlee Anae. Graduated in 2016 as the program’s all-time leader with 29.5 sacks. The All-American finished his career with 44 tackles for loss and 150 yards in sacks. Also considered: Ray Geary, Mike Wright.

merlin_1043536.jpg

Utah Utes defensive end Pita Taumoepenu (50) celebrates sacking California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Salt Lake City .

University of Utah Athletics

No. 50: Pita Taumoepenu, defensive end

Tough defender rang up 25.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks in four seasons with the Utes (2013-16). Was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers.  Also considered: Pat McKissick, Larry Stone.

No. 51: Jason Fanaika, defensive end

Utah State transfer made his mark in Salt Lake City. Over 26 games from 2014-15, Fanika made 108 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Also considered: Brooks Bahr.

No. 52: John Penisini, defensive tackle

A two-time All-Pac-12 selection (2018, 2019), Penisini was drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions. He finished his 40-game career at Utah with 80 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Also considered: Chuck Johanson, Matt Martinez, Sam Tevi. 

No. 53: Dustin McQuivey, center

A two-time honorable mention selection for all-conference recognition, McQuivey made 26 starts over three seasons for the Utes. Also considered: Jason Whittingham.

merlin_623692.jpg

Utah linebacker Sheldon Deckart shakes hands with BYU’s wide receiver Rodney Wilkerson at the end of game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2002 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Chuck Wing, Deseret News

No. 54: Sheldon Deckart, linebacker

Finished a stellar career at Utah with 240 tackles (122 solo) with eight sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and a recovered fumble. A first-team All-Mountain West honoree in 2008 when he led the Utes with 86 tackles. Also considered: Isaac Asiata, Tevita Stevens, John Urses.

No. 55: Mark Rexford, linebacker

Made an easy transition from the junior college ranks. Over the 1993 and 1994 seasons Utah, Rexford made 223 tackles and forced six fumbles. Also considered: Gary Andersen, Marquess Ledbetter, Ed Pine.

No. 56: Lance Scott, center

Named All-WAC twice before moving on to the NFL, where he spent time with the St. Louis, the NewYork Giants and New England. Drafted by the Cardinals in 1995. Also considered: Tom Krebs, Greg Newman.

No. 57: Frank Bonifacio, linebacker

Registered 283 tackles (170 solo) with 13 tackles for loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. Played for the Utes from 1986-90. Also considered: Weston Gardner.

No. 58: John Huddleston, linebacker

Holds the Utah record for most tackles in a season with 174 in 1975. He capped his college career with 406 stops and later signed with the Oakland Raiders. Also considered: LT Tuipulotu.

No. 59: Chad Folk, center

Holds the distinction of being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 Canadian Football League draft. The Kelowna, British Columbia, product, who as a two-time Academic All-American at Utah, won the Grey Cup twice with the Toronto Argonauts. Also considered: Jimmy Bellamy, Doug Kaufusi, Junior Salt.