* University of Wyoming press release

LARAMIE -- It was definitely not the season Cole Godbout had anticipated when he began the 2022 college football season.

Godbout entered the ‘22 season having been voted a team captain by his teammates.  He was coming off a 2021 season in which he was named Second Team All-Mountain West Conference by Pro Football Focus (PFF) and Honorable Mention All-Conference by Mountain West head coaches and media. Godbout was having an outstanding start to the 2022 season leading the Cowboy defense from his nose tackle position, but then six games into the season it all came to a sudden end due to a foot injury.

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At the time of his injury, the Hudson, Wis., native ranked third on the team in tackles, with 32, had 10 quarterback hurries and 4.5 tackles for loss in just six games. But his injury would force him to miss the next six games of this season before he made it back to start in the 2022 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl.

Overall it was a long and frustrating season for him personally. It was the first time in Godbout’s career that he missed extended time due to an injury.

“I had a slight knee injury in the very last play of the 2019 season, but that was a quick recovery and I was back for spring practice, but this current injury is the biggest injury of my career,” said Godbout. “I’m very blessed that I’ve stayed relatively healthy, but this last year was tough. Watching my team play, knowing that I could contribute if I was healthy.

“When you have goals for yourself and expectations for yourself and then an injury cuts your season short it’s frustrating, but it’s out of your control at that point. I just tried to improve the rest of my body the best I could during that time. I’m feeling a lot better now. I’m improving each week. It’s a slow process because they don’t want me to go backwards, but it’s been going smoothly.”

The 2023 season will be Godbout’s sixth season as a Cowboy. He came to Wyoming in the summer of 2018 and redshirted his true freshman season. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, he started five of 13 games. Godbout started five of six games during Wyoming’s COVID-shortened season of 2020. Beginning with the last two games of that 2020 season through 13 starts in 2021 and six to start the 2022 season before he suffered his injury, Godbout had started 21 consecutive games for the Cowboys.

For his career, he has started 30 of 38 career games entering the 2023 season.

His breakout season was in 2021, when he ranked third on the Wyoming defense in tackles, with 70, trailing only linebackers Chad Muma and Easton Gibbs. Godbout led the Cowboys with 5.0 sacks and ranked second on the team in tackles for loss, with 7.0, only one TFL behind Muma’s team leading 8.0. Godbout averaged 6.25 tackles per game during conference play in 2021 to rank second among all defensive lineman in the conference.

Those numbers led to his All-Conference recognition from both Pro Football Focus and the MW head coaches and media.

When Godbout returns to the field this coming season, he will be rejoining his defensive tackle running mate, Jordan Bertagnole, on the interior of the Wyoming defensive line.

The two have been a formidable force together, but they aren’t the only quality players returning for the Pokes. Due to Godbout missing half the season in ‘22 and Bertagnole also missing a couple games due to injury, younger Cowboys got their chance to play. Gavin Meyer and Caleb Robinson gained valuable experience at nose tackle and defensive tackle in their sophomore season of 2022 as did then sophomore Ethan Drewes and then redshirt freshman Ben Florentine.

“I’m really excited about our returning group,” said Godbout. “Between me going down and Bert missing a couple games, it did allow some of our younger guys to get some much-needed experience. That has some benefits of getting those guys ready for bigger roles this upcoming season. I really think our position group is going to be one of the deepest on the team next year, which is exciting. When I come out or Bert comes out, we have guys who can step into those roles and play just as good as us.”

While Godbout was injured, he took on a new role of serving as a mentor to his teammates and be as helpful as he could to defensive tackles coach Oscar Giles.

“I tried to act as a secondary coach because I’ve seen a lot here,” said Godbout. “I tried to be a second set of eyes for Coach Giles, give the guys tips when I could, give them encouragement. I tried to make it easier for them and helped coach the younger guys like Ben Florentine, who is honestly having a hell of a spring camp. He’s going to play a big role for us next year.”

When it comes to Coach Giles, who joined the Cowboy coaching staff for the first time in 2022, he came to Wyoming after successful coaching stints at the University of Texas, University of Houston and SMU, as well as a standout playing career at the University of Texas.

Godbout is excited about what Giles brought to the team last season and what he’ll add again this year.

“He has a lot of experience to share with us since he actually played the position,” said Godbout. “He was able to look at our position from a little different perspective, which we appreciated. He had insight into playing our position and came from a background of coaching some future pros at other schools he was at. One of the former players he coached was Ed Oliver (University of Houston), who is tearing it up for the Buffalo Bills. Seeing how his coaching has benefitted other players like that gives us a lot of encouragement that if we follow what he is teaching us he can help us all be the best players that we can be. He’s been there and he knows what to do to get there.”

As Godbout looks ahead to his final season wearing the Brown and Gold, he is taking the final stages of his rehabilitation slowly, building up to being fully healthy for the coming season.

“I’m probably about 60 percent back right now,” commented Godbout. “They wanted me to take it slow because I kind of pushed myself last season to get back and they want me as healthy and as strong as I can be for this upcoming season. No Spring Ball for me this year. They care about me and want me to be healthy and ready to go for next season.”

And being able to play that sixth and final season as a Cowboy is important to Godbout.

In the age of the transfer portal, it is a very personal choice for players to decide whether to stay at their current schools or decide to seek other opportunities. There are a wide range of reasons for staying and going: from financial considerations with NIL opportunities, where student-athletes can now make money from their name, image and likeness; to moving somewhere a player feels they may have an opportunity to play more.

But for Godbout, he always knew he was going to stay committed to Wyoming and he had a clear reason why.

“I’m the type of player where I feel like I could have found success outside of this conference, but I honestly owe a lot to this program and owe a lot to Coach (Craig) Bohl,” said Godbout. “I was pretty under-recruited in high school, but Wyoming gave me a shot. With that in mind, Coach Bohl has done a lot for me and leaving was never really something I considered seriously because this program has given me so much and hopefully will help give me an opportunity to play at the next level. I was voted a captain by my teammates last year.

"This is my home.”

While there is a lot of talk about how the new transfer-portal era is hard for fans and coaches to get used to, it is also hard for players to get used to with old teammates leaving and new ones coming in each year. Godbout is understanding of other players’ situations and provides a good perspective on how players have had to adjust during this transition in college athletics.

“It definitely has been pretty wild,” said the sixth-year Cowboy. “You’ll have friends who you’ve built bonds with and gone through the wars with and then to see them leave can be heartbreaking. But at the same time, if they feel like leaving is the best route for them you’ve got to respect that because if you really care for them you want what is best for them. 

“It works both ways -- coaches can leave after you have built relationships with them too. I think in both cases, whether it is players moving on or coaches moving on, I’m going to respect their decisions because I love those guys and I want the best for them.”

But Wyoming fans don’t have to worry about Godbout leaving UW.

When the 2023 season kicks off from War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2 vs. Texas Tech, Wyoming fans will once again get the opportunity to witness the return of one of the great Cowboy defensive linemen. Just look for No. 94 in the middle of the Wyoming defensive line and appreciate the talent and work ethic of nose tackle Cole Godbout -- a Wyoming Cowboy for life.

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