Throughout the history of BYU football, dating back to 1922, just six jerseys/numbers have been previously retired — Eldon "The Phantom" Fortie (No. 40), Marion Probert (No. 81), Steve Young (No. 8); Gifford Nielsen and Ty Detmer (both No. 14); Jim McMahon (No. 9). Wilson, Bosco and Staley (No. 6) will join this elite group.
“Having your jersey retired at BYU is the ultimate honor reserved for the elite student-athletes who distinguished themselves in athletic competition, in the classroom and in the community,” BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe said on June 23, 2017. “Marc, Robbie and Luke were tremendous athletes who were instrumental in establishing and adding to the great tradition of BYU football. They have also been true ambassadors for the university.”
No. 6 – September 16, 2017
Marc Wilson, QB
Wilson’s record as a starting quarterback at BYU was 22-4. He broke nine NCAA records and tied two others. He was BYU’s first consensus All-American and finished third in the 1979 Heisman Trophy balloting.
In 1979, Wilson won the Sammy Baugh Trophy along with being named an NCAA Top Five Award winner and NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winner. He also won WAC Offensive Player of the Year and led the NCAA in total offense.
Wilson threw for 7,637 yards and 61 touchdowns, leading BYU to WAC titles during all three years of his starting career.
Selected in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, Wilson played 11 NFL seasons with four teams, including two Super Bowl champions — the 1980 Oakland Raiders and the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders. He also played for the Green Bay Packers and New England.
Wilson was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990 and in 1996 was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He earned his degree in economics.
Robbie Bosco, QB
Robbie Bosco quarterbacked BYU to the 1984 National Championship with a perfect 13-0 record. He was 24-3 as a starter and broke nine NCAA records, including tallying 8,148 passing yards over just two seasons.
Bosco was named an All-American by the Associated Press, United Press International, The Football News and The Sporting News during his junior and senior years.
In 1984, Bosco won the Sammy Baugh Trophy while leading the nation in total offense. He finished third in the Heisman voting in both 1984 and 1985 and in the top three of the Davey O’Brien award voting both seasons.
Bosco was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the third round of the 1986 NFL Draft and went on to coach quarterbacks at BYU from 1990-2003.
Inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, Bosco currently serves as BYU’s Varsity Club director. He graduated in 1986 with a degree in communications and earned a master’s degree in exercise science in 1990.
Luke Staley, RB
In 2001, Luke Staley led all of Division I college football with 8.1 yards per carry and scored 15.5 points per game. The powerful running back finished the year with a school-record 1,582 rushing yards. Staley also led the nation and set another school record with 24 rushing touchdowns, and added four more receiving touchdowns for a school single-season record of 28.
At the conclusion of the 2001 season, Staley won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, and was a Consensus All-American, receiving first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, Football News, the Football Writers Association of America and the Walter Camp Foundation.
During his junior season in 2001, Staley led one of the most productive BYU offenses of all time as the Cougars led the nation in points (46.8) and yards (542.9) per game. The Cougars went 12-2, winning the Mountain West Conference.
Staley played for BYU from 1999-2001, before entering the NFL Draft after his junior season. In 1999, he was named MWC Freshman of the Year and the Sporting News awarded him with third team Freshman All-America honors.
Staley was drafted in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft by Detroit Lions. He is the BYU career leader in total points scored by a non-kicker at 290 and was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015. He graduated from BYU with a degree in sociology.
No. 9 – October 3, 2014
Jim McMahon, QB
Recognized as one of the outstanding collegiate quarterbacks of all time, McMahon finished his BYU football career in 1981 with an astonishing 70 NCAA records. From 1977-81, he completed 653 passes for 9,536 yards and 84 touchdowns, with a career passing efficiency of 156.9.
In his final two seasons as a Cougar, McMahon threw for 8,126 yards and 77 touchdowns. He led the nation in numerous offensive categories both years, including passing yards, total offense and touchdown passes. He received All-America honorable mention in 1978 as a sophomore and earned first-team All-America honors as a junior in 1980 before becoming a consensus choice as a senior in 1981.
At the conclusion of his senior season, McMahon won the inaugural Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Sammy Baugh Trophy. He was named NCAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year along with Marcus Allen of USC and finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. From 1977-81 he was part of five consecutive WAC championship teams (redshirting in 1979) and was a three-time All-WAC First Team quarterback in 1978, 1980 and 1981.
McMahon will forever be known as the quarterback who led the Cougars to 21 points in the last 2:33 minutes of the 1980 Holiday Bowl to defeat SMU 46-45, and give BYU its first bowl victory. McMahon was named Offensive MVP of the 1980 and 1981 Holiday Bowls.
Following a historic career at BYU, McMahon was the fifth player selected in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears — the highest Cougar ever taken at the time and still tied for highest. McMahon played seven seasons in Chicago, leading them to the Super Bowl title in 1986. He played 16 seasons in the NFL for seven teams and won two Super Bowl rings. After retiring from pro football, McMahon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
McMahon, who came to BYU from Roy, Utah, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from BYU. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has four children — Ashley, Sean, Zach and Alexis.
No. 14 – September 1, 2007
Gifford Nielsen, QB
Nielsen, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and recipient of the prestigious NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, passed for over 5,800 yards and collected 55 touchdowns throughout his career.
Earning All-America honors in 1976, Nielsen led the NCAA in touchdown completions, ranked second in total offense and helped the Cougars to their first-ever national ranking. After what appeared to be a career-ending injury during his senior season, Nielsen went on to play six years for the Houston Oilers and remains the last quarterback to lead the team to the AFC finals.
Nielsen and his wife, Wendy, are the parents of six children and reside in Houston.
Ty Detmer, QB
Detmer, the winner of the 1990 Heisman Trophy, set nearly every passing record ever imagined during his time in Provo. A two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner, Detmer set 62 records during his career at BYU, including the NCAA record for career passing yards with 15,031.
Detmer jumpstarted his Heisman campaign with by leading the Cougars to a 28-21 win over the No. 1 ranked Miami Hurricanes in 1990. Detmer is still the career leader at BYU in touchdown passes (121), passing yards (15,031), completions (958), attempts (1,530) and efficiency (162.74). He also holds the records for single-season passing yards (5,188), completions (361) and attempts (562).
He was a consensus All-American in 1990 as the nation's leading passer and earned his second consensus All-American title in 1991 after leading the nation in total offense. Detmer also won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as a senior, in addition to the NCAA Top VI Award. Detmer played 14 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. In January of 2017, Detmer earned the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.
He and is now coaching at BYU, serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
No. 8 – August 28, 2003
Steve Young, QB
In 1983, Steve Young broke 13 NCAA records, won the Davey O'Brien Award, was selected as a consensus All-American and finished second in the Heisman voting.
Young also set seven Western Athletic Conference records, was 1983 WAC Player of the Year, and was a two-time All-WAC selection. Steve was also chosen as a Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete.
In 1984, when Steve graduated in international relations, the NCAA honored him with their Top Five Award and a postgraduate scholarship. After leaving BYU he signed with the USFL, and then spent two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the San Francisco 49ers in 1987.
Young was voted NFL Most Valuable Player in 1992 and 1994 and was runner-up in 1993. In January of 1995, Young led the 49ers to a victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. In that game, Steve threw a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes on his way to being named MVP. He was inducted into the NFL's Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
No. 81 – 1977
Marion Probert, DE (Honored again in 2003)
Marion Probert excelled at BYU, becoming the school’s first four-year letterman, and leading the conference in pass receptions during his junior year. He was named to the All-Conference team for three years and received All-American honorable mention in 1954. He won the J. Edwin Stein Award in 1955 as outstanding BYU Athlete. One of two BYU players picked for the Skyline Conference All-Star Team, Marion helped the team to its 1955 Salad Bowl victory.
He was named Scholastic All-American in 1954 and 1955, and received the 1955 Fisher Smith Senior Scholastic Achievement Award. He graduated from BYU in 1955, and later became a practicing physician in Salt Lake City.
Marion married Beverley Robinson in 1953. They became the parents of two sons and two daughters. On November 27, 1965, Marion was killed in an airplane crash en route to the BYU football game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
No. 40 – 1963
Eldon Fortie, QB/RB (Honored in again in 2003)
In 1962 Eldon became the first BYU first-team All-American football player. He was selected Outstanding Back in eight of the ten games he played that year, and was named WAC Outstanding Back on three of those occasions. In November, 1962, he was named Sports Illustrated Back of the Week. His talents led to participation in four post-season games during his senior year—the 1963 North-South Game in Miami, the All-American Game in Tucson, the Hula Bowl in Hawaii, and the Coaches All-American Bowl. In 1963 he received the Dale Rex Memorial Award for his contribution to amateur athletics in Utah. The BYU studentbody formally retired Eldon’s football jersey (number 40) in 1962.
Along with his athletic accomplishments, Eldon was named to the All-Conference Academic Team in 1961. After receiving his B.S. degree in 1963, he played a year of professional football for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian League.