Little fanfare surrounded the recruitment of Smith, but when injury forced him into the starting role at the beginning of the 2003 season, he burst onto the scene in a big way. Two years and 21 wins later Smith left Utah as the best quarterback to ever play for the Utes.
John White IV
It took only one season for John White IV to earn his place among the Utah greats. The JC transfer set a single-season rushing record with over 1,500 yards and still has his senior year in 2012 to build on that.
John White IV
Smith went from a somewhat unknown commodity on a national level at Utah to a superstar in the pros as one of the top wide receivers of the 2000's. While at Utah he was a tremendous playmaker, an all-conference receiver, and the ultimate deep threat averaging over 20 yards per reception in each of his 2 years.
Dyson raised the bar when it came to making plays at the wide receiver position at Utah. He was regularly seen making spectacular catches, perhaps none bigger than his one-handed final minute touchdown snag against Arizona in the 1994 Freedom Bowl, a play that still lives on in Utah football lore to this day.
Not the most prolific pass catcher in Utah history with only 40 catches over 2 season, but Moa was a jack-of-all-trades who also carried the ball and ended up as a first team all conference selection in 2003. His overtime 2-pt conversion against Air Force in 2003 is one of the school's most memorable plays.
Taylor was a three year starter at center and one of the strongest players ever to come through the program. Was a three time all-Mountain West selection including first team as a senior in 2010. Was a part of the 2008 Sugar Bowl team and a consistent team leader. Taylor has bounced between a few different NFL teams in his 1-plus year in the league.
A four year starter for Utah, Beadles left as one of the most decorated lineman in Ute history. Three times named an all-Mountain West selection culminating with first team All-American honors as a senior. The versatile Beadles started at both guard and tackle at Utah and is now a starting guard with the Denver Broncos.
Sims was an all-Mountain West selection after transferring from Dixie State as a junior. Sims has turned his college success at Utah into a prolific NFL career with the Raiders and 49ers.
Jordan Gross was good from day one and he got better as his time at Utah went by. His senior year was phenomenal as Gross surrendered zero sacks all season. He graduated as a first-team all-MWC selection and a consensus national first-team All-American. He was drafted 8th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, the highest selection for a Ute up to that point.
If Jordan Gross is the best lineman in Utah history, Chris Kemoeatu is a close second. A three year starter and two-time all-conference honoree, the big man had a breakout year in 2004 garnering first team all-Mountain West honors and multiple All-American honors. The 350 pounder has parlayed his success at Utah into a steady career and two Super Championships with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The greatest Utah defensive player in school history up to that point, Luther Elliss was an absolute nightmare. He was a first team all-WAC selection in 1992, '93, and '94, was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year in '94, and was a 1994 consensus national first team All-American.
Of all of the players on this list, Star may be the least accomplished to date, but with a big 2012 season he could go down as one of the top-5 defenders to ever play at Utah. The mammoth tackle doesn't put up tremendous stats but he clogs the middle as well as any tackle in the country and is the front runner for many Pac-12 and national awards. Will be a first round selection in the 2013 draft.
Pouha split time at end and tackle during his four years at Utah, two of them as a starter, earning all-Mountain West honors as a senior as well as some All-American honors. He was a big part of the 2004 Fiesta Bowl team, anchoring the defensive line for the undefeated squad. Pouha has gone on to have a solid NFL career including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2011.
Kruger may be best remembered for his interception off BYU quarterback Max Hall in the 2008 rivalry game, but his highlights stretch far beyond that game. A member of both of Utah's undefeated teams (although he was a redshirt in '04) Kruger needed just two years of playing time to prove his skills to the NFL. Although he was originally recruited as a quarterback, Kruger eventually left Utah as one of the best defensive ends the program has ever seen.
"Sly" was a three time all-Mountain West selection including a first team honoree his senior year. The hybrid linebacker/pass-rusher will forever go down in Utah lore as the man that had 3 sacks and a fumble recovery in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
Olevao is one of the hardest hitters in the history of Utah football and one of the school's most accomplished linebackers. This three-time first team all-conference selection and four year starter anchored some of the finer defensive teams during the Ron McBride years making plays all over the field.
Spencer Toone was the anchor of Utah's 2004 Fiesta Bowl linebacker corps and a three-year starter at Utah. Toone led Utah's stiff '04 defense in total tackles while also piling up forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, pass breakups and sacks along the way. His field goal block against Air Force in 2003 that sent the game to overtime (a game Utah eventually won) was one of the top plays of the 2003 season.
Great from start to finish, Eric Weddle is quite possibly the greatest player in Utah Ute history. Weddle began his career a national Freshman All-American in 2003 and finished an All-American in 2006. He played safety, cornerback, quarterback, and running back. He returned punts and held on kicks. He helped lead Utah to their undefeated season in 2004, he won four bowl games as a Ute, and he simply excelled at everything he did on the football field.
A big player at 6-foot-3, Smith always seemed to come up big in important games. Smith led the team in interceptions in back-to-back seasons and played arguably his best game as a Ute in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. He played in all 39 games of his college career at Utah and was a 2008 all-MWC selection.
Wilson was Eric Weddle before there was an Eric Weddle. The 1959 All-American played on both sides of the ball excelling as a halfback and safety. Wilson's biggest impact came at the professional level as he was regarded as the league's top safety for many years, parlaying that into an eventual Hall of Fame induction.
Dyson played just one season in the decade, but it might have been the best season by a Utah cornerback in the last 10 years. In 2000, Dyson recorded 65 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 21 passes defended, 4 interceptions and 4 defensive touchdowns (3 INT, 1 fumble return). Dyson's 21 passes defended are a single-season decade best, as are his four defensive touchdowns.
"King Louie" as he was nicknamed, Sakoda was a fan-favorite during his time at Utah. When it came to punting, Louie was as deadly as any punter in the country and the best the school has ever seen. Sakoda currently ranks 1st at Utah in total punts (242), punt yards (10,188), and 50-yard punts (50), while ranking 3rd in punting average (42.1). He also downed an amazing 22 punts inside the 5 yard line.
While his punting statistics are impressive, it was Sakoda's kicking game that really had fans cheering. He had ice in his veins and made nearly every game-tying or game-winning try he was faced with. He is currently 1st in career field goal percentage (86.4), field goals made (57), field goal attempts (66), PAT's made (137), PAT's attempted (140), and scoring (308). His 308 total points broke a 76 year old school record.
Smith was a fan favorite with his electrifying kick returns that made him an all-MWC recipient in both 1999 and 2000. The speedster returned 4 punts for touchdowns in his career, highlighted by a 2 TD return day against New Mexico in 1999. Smith has gone on to have a borderline hall of fame NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
Tucker was as dynamic as they come at Utah, leading the country in both kick return and punt return average in 1985, the first player in NCAA history to do so. With an average of 24.3 yards per punt return and 29.1 yards per kick return, along with two touchdowns in each category, Tucker established himself as an all-time great with electrifying return after return. The two-time all-WAC player went on to play in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.
It took only two years for Meyer to establish himself as an all-time great at Utah before heading off for a large payday at Florida. In two seasons at the helm Meyer's teams went 22-2 with two conference titles capped off by becoming the first non-BCS team to play in a BCS game against Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl in 2004. The Utes finished the season as one of only 3 unbeaten teams in the country and the program has never looked back despite Meyer's departure. They've cemented themselves as one of the premier programs in the country thanks in large part to Meyer's two years.