LARAMIE -- I received the call 11 days ago.

On the other end of the line, Dave Goren, Executive Director of the National Sports Media Association. The message: You are the Wyoming Sportswriter of the Year. Tuesday, the organization made the news public. Turns out I am one of 59 first-time winners.

The NSMA will honor its award winners and Hall of Fame inductees during the organization’s 64th awards weekend and national convention, to be held this summer in North Carolina.

I'm honored, truly.

Get our free mobile app

Let's be real, this is awkward.

Not a fan of tooting my own horn. I could've -- and maybe should have -- just ran a press release. Instead, I wanted to personally thank all of the readers that made 7220sports.com a reality in the first place.

I first pitched this idea to start this website to some trusted colleagues at the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press back in 2017. Safe to say they thought I might be a little nutty. After all, Wyoming is the least-populated state in the nation. The University of Wyoming has around 12,000 students.

The Cowboys, a team I grew up loving with all my heart and soul, haven't won a conference championship in football since I was 10 years old. That's 1993 -- and it was a shared title.

Would there truly be any interest?

Even Tom Burman, Athletics Director at UW, asked me if there would even be enough to write about to necessitate having an entire online platform dedicated to the school's teams.

There is -- and then some.

That's because of the fans.

I was confident this idea would work because no matter your level of interest, just about everyone in this state cares about this one university and its athletic programs. Whether you want to consume every syllable of news or just check the score, you're invested. There are a lot of states and programs that don't have that luxury. I witnessed that firsthand in Michigan where you are seemingly either a Spartan or a Wolverine.

Here, you're a Cowboy. Period.

This website survived -- barely -- a worldwide pandemic and a not-so-business-savvy journalist behind the wheel. Mistakes, those were plentiful. Taking chances became the name of the game. Townsquare Media purchased 7220sports.com in the winter of 2021. That brought instant stability. So grateful for this company.

All along, though, the Wyoming fans were there.

Thank you.

I also want to congratulate Erick Pauley, who was named the state's NMSA Sportscaster of the Year.

His day job takes place in Green River, but you probably know him best for being the sideline reporter for Cowboy Football. He has even sat behind the mic a time or two, taking care of play-by-play duties for Learfield. That happened in Provo, Utah just a couple of weeks ago while the rest of us were enjoying the desert sun in Tucson.

Erick is one of the good ones. Who else would spend New Year's Eve in that place?

It was also really cool to be nominated alongside guys who I consider true friends like Ryan Thorburn (Casper Star Tribune) and Alex Taylor (Laramie Boomerang), along with radio buddies Keith Kelley, Reece Monaco (Both KFBC) and Pauley. These guys know how unique it is to cover sports in this state.

Huge congrats also to Dennis Switzer (KKTY - Douglas), Kevin Koile (Sheridan Media) and Scott Mangold (KPOW - Powell) on their nominations. Same goes to Jeremiah Johnke (Wyoming Tribune Eagle - Cheyenne) and Matt Atencio (Wyosports.net).

Sports journalism is truly in great hands around here.

I also want to thank DJ Johnson. His passion behind the lens draws you in. He's been in the weeds with me since Day 1. Also a big shout out to Kasey Orr. A friend for life, Kasey helped get 7220sports.com off the ground. Whether it was a video (anyone else miss Gourmet 'Gating with Mr. Rogers?), a photo or a graphic, Kasey was on it. He is one of the most talented people I know.

There are plenty of other people behind the scenes, too: Jared Newland, Jen Kost, Leslie Hill, Phylicia Peterson and Mat Ozee, to name a few. Thank you.

I've said this a million times, but it's truly a dream to be back in my hometown and covering this university. That's never lost on me. I've moved all over the country. I've covered the pros and "major" college athletics. I've lived next to beaches and in cities.

I choose Wyoming.

That's why this award means so much.

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 7220Sports.com counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

More From 7220 Sports