There have been many successful athletes that have come through the Beehive State that have turned into decorated professionals. In my four-part series, I’ll dive into the top 20 athletes from each school: University of Utah, BYU, Utah State, and a combined list from other Utah schools.
In this series, I’ll rank the top 20 pro athletes from Utah State University, which includes career highlights and accolades.
Without further ado, here are the top professional athletes from Utah State.
20. Carl Mulleneaux (1938-41, 1945-46) NFL
Despite his career being interrupted by World War II, Mulleneaux helped the Packers win the 1939 NFL championship and holds the NFL single-season record for touchdowns by a defensive back. Following his playing days, he was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1983.
19. Larry Bunce (1967-69) ABA
Even though his career only lasted two seasons in the ABA with four teams, Bunce made the most of it, making the ABA All-Star team in 1968.
18. Lionel Aldridge (1963-72) NFL
Aldridge helped the Packers win three straight NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls in NFL history as a defensive end. After his career, he was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
17. Joe Jacobs (1995-06) AFL
One of the top Arena Football League players during his playing days, Jacobs was a three-time First Team All-Arena selection and Second Team All-Arena pick in 2000, while also being named to the All-Ironman Team twice. During his 12-year AFL career, he won three ArenaBowl championships with Albany and San Jose.
16. Spencer Butterfield (2014-present) Basketball
Another Aggie playing well overseas, Butterfield was named an LKL All-Star during his one-year stint in Lithuania, also being named All-LKL Imports Team and Second Team All-LKL. The following season in France, he was named a Pro A All-Star while winning the French Cup and the FIBA Europe Cup. During the run to the FIBA Europe Cup title, Butterfield set a new Cup record, making 11 three-pointers in a game. Now playing in Germany, he was named 2018 All-EuroCup Honorable Mention and All-BBL Honorable Mention while leading his club to the BBL Finals.
15. Chris Cooley (2004-12) NFL
During a nine-year NFL career with Washington, Cooley was named to two Pro Bowls and helped the Redskins reach the playoffs three times while becoming the team’s all-time leader in receptions at tight end.
14. Desmond Penigar (2003-16) Basketball
Penigar bounced around the globe during a 13-year career, playing in the D-League, the NBA, South Korea, Germany, Austria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. He received the D-League Rookie of the Year in 2004 while being named All-D-League First Team and winning the D-League title. In Austria he was named to two Austrian League All-Star Games, as well as two First Team All-League and All-Imports Team selections while winning the Austrian SuperCup in 2009. During the 2012 season in Lebanon he was named First Team All-League, All-Defensive Team and All-Imports Team and followed it up winning the Kuwait Cup in 2013. He currently holds the distinction as the last Aggie to play in the NBA.
13. Jim Turner (1964-79) NFL
During a 16-year career, Turner was one of the top kickers in football, being named to two Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowl III with the Jets. Once he moved on to Denver he helped them reach a Super Bowl and was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1988. He was also named to the AFL All-Time 2nd Team following his career.
12. Jim Boatwright (1974-82) Basketball
In a nine-year career playing in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Boatwright helped them win six Israeli League titles, six Israeli Cups, two EuroLeague championships, and the 1980 FIBA Intercontinental Cup while also making four other EuroLeague Final Fours. During the 1977 EuroLeague title run, Boatwright was the top scorer of the Finals.
11. Rulon Jones (1980-88) NFL
During a nine-year career with the Denver Broncos, Jones was named to two Pro Bowls and received the 1986 UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year, while helping Denver appear in two Super Bowls.
10. Clyde Brock (1962-75) CFL
After a short two-year stint in the NFL, Brock went to the CFL and starred for 12 seasons with Calgary. He was named to five CFL West All-Star teams and four CFL All-Star teams while helping the Stampeders win the 1966 Grey Cup.
9. Tai Wesley (2011-present) Basketball
Another former Aggie hoops standout making a name for himself overseas, Wesley has played in the Netherlands, France, New Zealand and Australia in his career. In the Netherlands he was named a two-time Dutch Basketball League All-Star and two-time All-DBL Team selection while being named the 2012 DBL Statistical Player of the Year while winning the title the same season. In New Zealand, Wesley has twice been named to the NZNBL All-Star Five Team and was named the 2017 NZNBL Most Outstanding Forward, also taking home two NZNBL Finals MVP awards and winning three straight championships from 2015-17. In Australia he was named to the All-NBL Second Team in 2018 and has won two titles with Melbourne United.
8. Bobby Wagner (2012-present) NFL
Currently one of the NFL’s top linebackers, Wagner has been named to four consecutive Pro Bowls and four straight All-Pro Teams. He also led the NFL in tackles in 2016 and helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII while returning to the Super Bowl the following season.
7. Terry Evanshen (1965-78) CFL
During a 14-year career in the CFL, Evanshen was named a CFL Division All-Star six times (3 East, 3 West) and a CFL All-Star in 1967 while winning the 1965 Gruen Trophy as the East Division Rookie of the Year. He was also the recipient of the CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Award twice and won a Grey Cup in 1970 with Montreal. Following his decorated career, Evanshen was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
6. Cornell Green (1962-74) NFL
Originally a basketball player, Green was named to five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams during a 13-year run with the Cowboys. He was named to the All-Rookie Team in 1962 and helped Dallas reach two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl VI. After his playing career ended, Green was named to the Cowboys 25th Anniversary Team.
5. Karolyn Kirby (1984-00) Beach Volleyball
After an All-American volleyball career at Utah State, Kirby became a beach volleyball star. She won back-to-back Women’s FIVB Beach World Tour titles in 1992-93, took home gold at the 1994 Goodwill Games, and won a bronze medal at the 1997 World Championships. She was named the Women’s Pro Volleyball Association MVP four times, Top Offensive Player and Best Hitter in 1992, and Best Setter five times. Following her career, she was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2004 and the CBVA Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2006.
4. James Murphy (1981-90) CFL
After a one-year NFL stint, Murphy took his talents to Winnipeg in the CFL, where he became one of the top receivers in the league, being named CFL Most Outstanding Player in 1986. He also racked up four CFL East All-Star selections and was named a CFL All-Star twice while winning three Grey Cup titles. Once his career ended, Murphy was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and was named one of the Blue Bombers 20 All-Time Greats in 2005.
3. Jaycee Carroll (2008-present) Basketball
Utah State’s all-time leading scorer, Carroll has found success playing overseas, mainly in Spain. Twice he led Liga ACB in scoring as well as being the EuroCup top scorer in 2011 while being named All-Liga ACB Team in 2011. Carroll has helped lead Real Madrid to several trophies, winning four Liga ACB titles, three Spanish Super Cups, five Spanish King’s Cups, the 2015 FIBA Intercontinental Cup and two EuroLeague championships while also appearing in three other EuroLeague Final Fours.
2. Anthony Calvillo (1994-13) CFL
Pro football’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, Calvillo had a storied 20-year career in the CFL. He was named a CFL East All-Star ten times and was selected to the CFL All-Star team five times while winning the Terry Evanshen Trophy (East Division Player of the Year) seven times. Calvillo was a three-time CFL Most Outstanding Player and led the Alouettes to three Grey Cup titles, taking home the 2002 Grey Cup MVP. Following his playing days, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and his No. 13 jersey was retired by Montreal.
1. Merlin Olsen (1962-76) NFL
Olsen starred for 15 years in the NFL, being named to 14 Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro Teams (six 1st, three 2nd) while helping the Rams win six division titles. He took home the 1962 NFL Rookie of the Year award, 1974 Burt Bell Award and 1969 Pro Bowl MVP and was named to both the 1960s and 1970s NFL All-Decade Teams. Following his decorated career, Olsen was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 while his No. 74 jersey was retired by the Rams.