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Who’s on Your Mount Rushmore of U.W. Cowboy Football?

in sports/News/University of Wyoming

Former UW players Weigh-In On The Top Four Stars in Program History

By Cody Tucker, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE — Sports are on a hiatus. That’s no secret.

Now, we are limited to online polls, all-time lists and dropping opinions about our favorite players, games, moments, etc. Daily, the University of Wyoming is asking fans on social media who the best players are in its storied history.

On my website,, we just posted our 68th story in a series we call “Who wore it best.” Which UW football players “own” their jersey number is the basis of what was supposed to serve as a way to have new, fresh content on our site every day.

The best part for me is learning Cowboy football history.

For fans, it’s about the debate.

Let’s add to that — who would go on the Mount Rushmore of Wyoming football?

Four players who did more, meant more and own names that roll off the tongue from Tongue River to Evanston, Jackson to Pine Bluffs.

I’ve wrestled with this one. Only four? 

It has to be done. So, here goes:

Marcus Harris, wide receiver, 1993-96

For me, this one is a no-brainer. Harris was the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver when he left Laramie. He won the Biletnikoff Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top receiver. He still owns most of the pass-catching records in UW history: yards (4,518), receptions (259), single-season yards (1,650), single-game yards (260-Fresno State), single-game receptions (16-Iowa State). That’s just scratching the surface. Harris was also a Heisman Trophy candidate in 1996. He finished ninth in the voting. Harris was a seventh-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions. He never played a down in the NFL. That doesn’t matter when it comes to this vote.

Ryan Yarborough, wide receiver, 1990-93

Before that guy above broke every record in the book, they all belonged to Yarborough. He still owns the career touchdown mark at UW with 42, four more than Harris. Yarborough fit perfectly into Joe Tiller’s “basketball on grass” offense, hauling in 239 passes for 4,446 yards. He was a two-time All-American and held the NCAA record for most games with a touchdown reception with 27. “Yards” was a second-round pick of the New York Jets in 1994. He played just two seasons in the Big Apple and spent time with the Packers and Ravens. 

Mitch Donahue, defensive end, 1987-90

This super athlete came to Laramie thanks to Dennis Erickson, who spent just one season as the head coach at UW. He thrived under an “old guy no one knew,” Paul Roach. Donahue still owns the school’s all-time sack record with 49. That’s 19 more than his teammate, Pat Rabold. The Billings, Montana, product racked up a record 22 sacks in 1990. Three times that season — against Utah, New Mexico and UTEP — Donahue tallied three sacks in a game. He was a two-time Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Donahue was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft. 

Casey Bramlet, quarterback, 2000-03

This Wheatland product won just nine games during his four seasons at UW. It was one of the lowest periods of Cowboy football. Despite the mounting losses, Bramlet always seemed to give off a ray of hope. Bramlet owns the school record for career yards (9,684), pass attempts (1,378), completions (767). He has the second-most touchdown passes with 56. So why on earth would Bramlet make this list? He got sacked, hit and beat up — and he got up every single time. He was an All-Conference player in all four seasons. He went undrafted in 2001, but spent time with the Bengals and Redskins. He played in NFL Europe and won the MVP of the World Bowl as a signal caller for the Hamburg Sea Devils.

Now, let’s rip my picks apart.

Not one of these guys ever won a bowl game. All played in the 90’s and early 2000’s. None had sustained success in the NFL. 

What about Josh Allen? Where’s Jim Kiick? No Eddie Talboom, Jerry DePoyster, Ryan Christopherson, Brian Hill or Jay Novacek?

There are plenty of greats to choose from, but the main factor in my picks — I saw them all play with my own eyes.

I played the part of Marcus Harris in the backyard, playing catch with my buddies as a kid in Cheyenne. At age 12, I flew by myself to Las Vegas for the inaugural WAC title game against BYU. Josh Wallwork, Richard Peace, Jay Jenkins, Jim Talich … my list of favorites could go on and on.

Let’s see who some former UW football players would put on their Mount Rushmore:

Jeff Boyle (1997-2000): Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough, Conrad Dobler, Josh Allen

Jovon Bouknight (2002-05): Jay Novacek, Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough, Josh Allen

Mitch Donahue (1987-90): Jim Kiick, (coach) Paul Roach, Randy Welniak, Conrad Dobler

Chase Appleby (2014-16): Brett Smith, Josh Allen, Brian Hill, Mitch Donahue

Mitch Unrein (2006-09): Josh Allen, Marcus Harris, Mitch Donahue, Jay Novacek

Don Clayton (1975-78): Paul Nunu, Conrad Dobler, Aaron Kyle, Kevin McClain

Brian Hendricks (2008-11): Jay Novacek, Jim Kiick, Marcus Harris, (coach) Phil Dickens

Ryan Christopherson (1991-94): Mitch Donahue, Ryan Yarborough, Jay Novacek, Josh Allen 

UW Undergraduates To Finish Out Semester Online

in News/University of Wyoming

By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

All undergraduate courses at the University of Wyoming will be offered only online for the rest of this semester, the university announced Monday.

The university earlier had decided to extend its spring break by one week to give officials time to develop a plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

On Monday, acting UW President Neil Theobald announced the plan to teach classes remotely.

“This response plan seeks to allow the university to best address the larger public health needs of the university community, Albany County and the state of Wyoming,” Theobald said in a news release. “We are invested in keeping our campus community members as health as possible.”

Theobald said students would be asked via an online survey to assess their limitations with and accessibility to the technology needed to take courses online.

Classes are scheduled to resume on March 30, allowing students to continue building credit toward graduation.

About 9,000 undergraduate students are enrolled at the university.

The university also urged students remaining in its residence halls to leave as quickly as possible and for those who have already left to plan not to return to campus after spring break.

Students who have no other housing options will be allowed to remain in the residence halls, Theobald said.

He added university employees would continue to work as usual.

UW Extends Spring Break Due to Coronavirus Concerns

in News/Coronavirus/University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming has extended its spring break by one week in response to concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

In a message to the UW community today (Thursday), Acting President Neil Theobald says a decision will be made later regarding whether face-to-face classes on campus will resume Monday, March 30. UW’s regular spring break starts at the end of classes Friday, March 13.

“The extended break is designed to provide time for faculty to better prepare for online-only teaching, should that be necessary,” Theobald says. “We will continually monitor the situation and make a decision about moving more fully to online classes.”

No confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported at UW, but the spread of the virus around the country — including the fact that Wyoming’s first case was reported Wednesday evening in Sheridan County — prompted the university’s action.

During the extended spring break, UW will remain open, although employees with chronic health conditions or compromised immunity are allowed to consult with their supervisors to possibly work from home. UW’s residence halls remain open for students who don’t leave for spring break.

At this point, no limitations are being placed on the ability of people who’ve traveled in the United States to return to campus, but Theobald notes that is subject to change based upon public health agency guidance and directives. Meanwhile, anyone who has traveled from Europe, China, South Korea or Iran should self-monitor and self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus.

“We ask that you try to understand how difficult it is to make these decisions and request your patience as we seek to make the best decisions possible to keep everyone in our community healthy and safe, while also doing our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Theobald says.

To see his complete message to the UW community, go here.

University of Wyoming Names Edward Seidel as New President

in News/University of Wyoming
Edward Seidel

An official with the University of Illinois system was offered a contract Wednesday to take over as president of the University of Wyoming.

UW trustees, in a unanimous vote, selected Edward Seidel to fill the vacancy in the president’s office left with the departure of Laurie Nichols.

Seidel, vice president for economic development and innovation for the University of Illinois system, is to take the office in July, according to a news release from the university.

“I am honored and thrilled to be selected by the Board of Trustees to take on this important role for both the university and the state of Wyoming,” Seidel said. “UW is such an incredibly strong and vibrant institution, and it will have an enormous impact on the future of the state and region.”

As president, Seidel will receive an annual base salary of $365,000, along with a $60,000 housing allowance and a $50,000 contribution to a deferred compensation plan.

Gov. Mark Gordon said Seidel’s experience will help the university.

“His exceptional technical and scientific background will benefit the research efforts of a land grant university,” he said in a news release. “I am excited. It is not often that a new governor gets the opportunity to work with a new university president at such a critical time in the state’s history.”

Seidel has also served as the director for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and as senior vide president for research and innovation for the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, Russia.

Seidel earned his Ph.D. in relativistic astrophysics from Yale University, a master’s degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from the College of William and Mary.

Nichols left the UW after it was announced in March 2019 her contract as president would not be renewed. She is now president of Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota.

Neil Theobald, the UW’s vice president for finance and administration, took over as acting president in July.

Wyoming AD Tom Burman Named to College Football Playoff Selection Committee

in News/University of Wyoming

Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman today was named to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

Burman will be on the 13-member panel which selects the weekly top 25 rankings beginning each November and leads to the selection of the four teams that compete in the College Football Playoff. The committee also selects the New Year’s Day bowl games.

“It’s a special honor,” Burman told Mountain West Conference Network host Jesse Kurtz. “When you look at the committees available in college football, this is definitely one of the premiere committees. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Burman was joined by Colorado Athletic Director Rick George and former Penn State player John Urschel.

The group replaces former Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, Robert Morris University president Chris Howard and Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens as their terms expired in December.

Burman has been the athletic director at the University of Wyoming for 14 years.

During his time as athletics director at UW, Burman has led over $120 million in fundraising projects. 

Among the most high profile of those projects is Wyoming’s new $44 million Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center (HAPC), which opened in August  of 2018. 

The facility is home to Cowboy Football, and it also benefits all Wyoming’s student-athletes with two new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning areas, an expansive academic center, a comprehensive sports medicine area and a cutting edge training table.  

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