Reed E. Nilsen Athlete Profile | BYU Cougar Club

Reed E. Nilsen Athlete Profile

Reed E. Nilsen

Reed E. Nilsen
Hall of Fame: 1976

  • 1976 Football

1976 Hall of Fame Inductee

“Iron Man” Nilsen missed only six minutes of play in 2 ½ years of football competition at BYU. He lettered in football, wrestling, and track for three years and received All-Conference honors for three years as a football center and linebacker. He also won honorable mention on the All-American team.

Reed was the Western Division heavyweight wrestling champion for two years and received the J. Edwin Stein Award in 1943 as outstanding athlete at BYU. In 1947 Reed became the first athlete from BYU to play in the East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco.

During World War II, Lieutenant Nilsen served in the U.S. Navy. He received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Reed played professional football for one year with the Detroit Lions. He returned to BYU in 1948 as freshman football coach and head wrestling coach. He became varsity line coach in 1949. Reed joined the California State University staff in 1955 and was offensive line coach of the team that won the NCAA Small College Championship in 1965.

Reed married Harriet Howard Nilsen, a BYU graduate, and they have four children — two boys and two girls.