Does returning production lead to greater success on the football field?

Ask almost anyone involved with college football and the resounding answer will be yes. Outside of programs that routinely recruit top 10 classes nationally, the more production back the better a team will be.

That is good news for a pair of FBS programs in Utah and a bit concerning for the third.

As reported by ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Utah State and Utah both return 83% of their production from last season, good for the 33rd and 34th most in the country. BYU, meanwhile, returns the least amount of production of any team, only 32%.

The Aggies are coming off a dismal 2020-21 season, during which they finished 1-5 overall and were the second-worst team in the Mountain West Conference. The struggles led to the firing of Gary Andersen and the subsequent hiring of Blake Anderson as the program’s new head coach.

Much of USU’s returning production comes from the 14 super seniors who’ve returned to Logan, players who’ve taken advantage of the extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA. Included among those players are safeties Shaq Bond and Cash Gilliam, defensive end Nick Heninger, running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole, linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer, defensive tackle Marcus Moore and wide receivers Jordan Nathan and Savon Scarver.

Utah State also returns 22 juniors and 39 sophomores, though, and almost all of them saw action last season.

As for the Utes, the 2020-21 season was all about development, which should pay off in a big way this year.

Utah returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense, the most notable among them being tight end Brant Kuithe, offensive lineman Nick Ford and linebacker Devin Lloyd, all of whom likely would have been selected in the 2021 NFL draft.

According to 247 Sports, Utah brings back:

  • 29% of quarterback passing yards.
  • 5% of running back rushing yards.
  • 34% of wide receiver/tight end receiving yards.
  • 33% of offensive line snaps.
  • 56% of returning tackles.
  • 6% of returning tackles for loss.
  • 7% of returning sacks.
  • 31% of returning passes defensed.

Unlike Utah State and Utah, BYU is bringing back little production, in part because many of the most impactful Cougars elected to enter the draft and move forward with their careers.

Eight former Cougars are listed on Pro Football Focus’ Top 300 Big Board for the draft, including quarterback Zach Wilson, offensive linemen Brady Christensen and other potential draftees such as offensive lineman Tristen Hoge, wide receiver Dax Milne, defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and cornerback Chris Wilcox.

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Of those who returned to Provo, the most notable are running backs Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa, wide receivers Gunner Romney and Neil Pau’u, tight end Issac Rex, safety Chaz Ah You and kicker Jake Oldroyd.