Hey, Mountain West, You Missed a Few Cowboy Football Players
LARAMIE -- The Mountain West Conference today released its 25th Season Football Team.
Four former Wyoming players -- Josh Allen, Chad Muma, Logan Wilson and Andrew Wingard -- landed on the list. Well deserved on all accounts. However, we think the league missed a few, what we think are obvious, selections from Laramie.
Where is Brian Hill?
The school's all-time rushing leader -- and still No. 3 in Mountain West history -- rolled up 4,287 yards on the ground during his three seasons on the high plains. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and found the end zone 35 times. The 6-foot-1, 219-pound Belleville, Ill., product saved his best season for his last, rushing for 1,860 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns in 2016. He added 403 receiving yards in his career.
Hill was a fifth-round selection by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft.
So, who did the Mountain West choose instead of Hill?
Luke Staley - BYU
DonTrell Moore - New Mexico
Rashaad Penny - San Diego State
Donnel Pumphrey - San Diego State
Brad Roberts - Air Force
All five of those guys are more than deserving, too.
No one in the history of the game has more rushing yards -- 6,405 in 54 games -- than Pumphrey. The former Aztec is the standard. His teammate, Penny, was as dynamic as they come, rushing for 3,656 yards and scoring 38 touchdowns on the ground. He added six in the receiving category and seven more on special teams.
Wyoming fans are all too familiar with this SDSU duo.
Pumphrey rushed for 110 yards and scored a touchdown in the Aztecs' 27-24 victory over the Cowboys in the 2016 conference title game inside War Memorial Stadium. Penny added 117 yards on the ground and found the end zone twice on that frigid night in Laramie. He also added 113 yards in kick returns, including a long of 75.
During the regular-season meeting between these two -- a 34-33 Wyoming win -- Penny returned a kick 93 yards for a touchdown. Fellow returner Juwan Washington added a 92-yarder for a score.
Moore is the second all-time leading rusher in the 25-year history of the Mountain West with 4,956 yards. The big New Mexico back eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground in all four seasons in Albuquerque and scored 59 total touchdowns, including 51 on the ground. He was the top rusher in league history until Pumphrey came around.
In just three seasons in Provo, Staley rushed for 2,507 yards and scored 41 times on the ground. He tacked on 1,000 receiving yards out of the backfield and hauled in seven more touchdowns.
Roberts, a fullback in the Falcons' triple-option attack, amassed 3,545 yards in just three seasons. He finished with 1,728 rushing yards in 2022. He also scored 35 touchdowns. It took him 708 carries to accomplish all of that.
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Hill's numbers speak for themselves.
What puts him over the top for me is the fact he did all his damage in just three seasons. Not only that, during his first two years on campus -- 2014 and '15 -- Wyoming won just six games. Hill was getting the ball. You knew it. I knew it. Opposing defenses knew it. None of that mattered. He still rushed for 2,427 yards and scored 13 times in those 23 outings.
Does Allen belong on this list? Over Brett Smith?
Remember, we are talking about the all-time "college" players in this conference. This has nothing to do with the NFL. The league put no parameters on these selections. If it has to do with potential, putting the spotlight on the league and the school, Allen is your man.
When it comes to stats, it's not close.
Allen, a 6-foot-5, 233-pound specimen that virtually and literally came out of nowhere -- Firebaugh, Calif., -- wowed crowds and defensive backs with his arm strength. In essentially just two collegiate seasons, Allen threw for 5,066 yards and tossed 44 touchdowns in just 27 career games. He also rushed for 767 and found the end zone a dozen times on the ground.
Allen became the conference's second-highest NFL Draft pick when Buffalo selected him at No. 7 in 2018. Only Alex Smith (Utah) was taken higher, landing at No. 1 to San Francisco back in 2005. Wyoming's signal caller landed on all the Watch Lists under the sun -- Davey O'Brien, Manning, Maxwell, Walter Camp -- and was named the MW's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 after leading the Cowboys to the league's championship game and a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl.
What did Smith do in his three seasons in Laramie?
The Oregon product threw for 8,834 yards and 76 touchdowns in Dave Christensen's high-powered spread offense. He also tacked on 1,531 rushing yards and 20 more scores.
Only Casey Bramlet (9,684) has thrown for more yards than Smith in Wyoming history. Those 76 touchdown passes are far and away the most, 20 more than Bramlet. Smith's 10,365 total yards of offense is also the most in program lore.
Remember when he accounted for 640 yards in a win over Hawaii back in 2013. That's still the best offensive output in a single game and ranks Smith's performance 10th-most in NCAA history.
Again, Smith did all of this in just three seasons.
What quarterbacks did the Mountain West select?
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Brett Rypien - Boise State
Bradlee Van Pelt - Colorado State
Derek Carr - Fresno State
Andy Dalton - TCU
Alex Smith - Utah
Jordan Love - Utah State
Carson Strong - Nevada
Josh Allen - Wyoming
Those guys are all worthy of this honor, Allen included.
So is Smith.
His seven touchdown passes in that 59-56 overtime win over the Rainbow Warriors is still tied for the most in conference history. Smith scored again on the ground that night. That's the most combined (responsible for) touchdowns in a game ever in this conference. That's also the most ever for a junior signal caller.
Smith is still ranked sixth in the MW, not throwing a single interception on 183 attempts. His 93-yard touchdown strike to Robert Herron in 2013 is tied for the fourth-longest in the league.
Where on earth is Jovon Bouknight?
The Mountain West's third all-time receiver is MIA on this list. The Denver product hauled in 250 balls during his four-years at UW. He turned those catches into 3,626 yards. Only Colorado State wideouts Rashard Higgins (3,648) and David Anderson (3,634) have more. As you can see, not much more.
Bouknight also snagged 29 career touchdown catches, which is good enough for third in school history.
Higgins did get the nod. Bouknight and Anderson did not.
Here are the other wide receivers on the 25th team:
Michael Gallup - CSU
Rashard Higgins - CSU
Davante Adams - Fresno State
Romeo Doubs - Nevada
Ryan Wolfe - UNLV
Higgins, Wolfe, Doubs and Adams are all 3,000-yard receivers. Gallup finished his career in Fort Collins with 2,690, 125 yards less than Wyoming's Tanner Gentry (2,815).
The league chose just three offensive linemen -- New Mexico's Ryan Cook, Utah's Jordan Gross and TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick. You could make the argument for former Wyoming tackle Adam Goldberg, who was twice named to the All-Mountain West First Team and was tabbed an All-American Honorable Mention.
Remember, Goldberg played in Laramie during some really lean years (2000-03). He was one of the bright spots.
On the defensive side of the ball, I think they got this right.
You could make an argument for Chris Prosinski. The Wyoming safety is still the ninth-leading tackler in conference history with 373. Gabe Knapton is right behind him with 368. Linebacker Easton Gibbs, who still has one game remaining in a UW uniform, is 12th in league lore with 358.
Let's hear your thoughts on this list, which you can find right HERE.
Wyoming Cowboys Football: 2023 Season in Photos
Gallery Credit: DJ Johnson photos