LARAMIE -- For the first time since 2016, a Wyoming player didn't hear their name called at the annual NFL Draft last April.

That's not exactly a bad thing.

Why? Because the Cowboys are returning 95 percent of their roster this fall, including their entire starting 11 on defense. Only Toledo -- 98 percent -- has more returners from its last season's roster.

Wyoming has sent 84 players to the NFL, via the draft, since selections began in 1936. The latest was Cassh Maluia, who was selected in the sixth round in 2020 by the New England Patriots. Another UW linebacker, Logan Wilson, a Casper native and two-time All-American, went three rounds earlier to the Cincinnati Bengals.

That got me thinking: Where does Wyoming stack up in the grand scheme of things when it comes to having players drafted?

 

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Notre Dame leads the way with 520, followed by Southern Cal (516), Ohio State (473) and Oklahoma (402).

The Cowboys currently sit in 82nd place out of 792 schools (junior colleges, small religious institutions, military academies, private schools, NAIA, Division II and III, etc), according to drafthistory.com.

So, how does the Mountain West stack up?

San Diego State: 159

Utah State: 116

Fresno State: 109

San Jose State: 107

Colorado State: 104

Wyoming: 84

Hawaii: 73

Boise State: 69

New Mexico: 65

Nevada: 59

UNLV: 38

Air Force: 8 (Remember, cadets have military requirements post-graduation)

Wyoming sits right in the middle of the pack in the conference. Here are the highest draft picks from each program:

Air Force: Daniel Palmer, C, 6th round, 1997, San Diego Chargers

Boise State: Ryan Clady, T, 1st round (12th overall), 2008, Denver Broncos

Colorado State: Gary Glick, QB, 1st round (1st overall), 1956, Pittsburgh Steelers

Fresno State: David Carr, QB, 1st round (1st overall), 2002, Houston Texans

Hawaii: Ashley Lelie, WR, 1st round (19th overall), 2002, Denver Broncos

Nevada: Stan Heath, QB, 1st round (5th overall), 1949, Green Bay Packers

New Mexico: Brian Urlacher, LB, 1st round (9th overall), 2000, Chicago Bears

San Diego State: Marshall Faulk, RB, 1st round (2nd overall), 1994, Indianapolis Colts

San Jose State: Mark Nichols, WR, 1st round (16th overall), 1981, Detroit Lions

UNLV: Ickey Woods, RB, 2nd round, 1988, Cincinnati Bengals

Utah State: Merlin Olsen, DT, 1st round (3rd overall), 1962, Los Angeles Rams

Wyoming: Josh Allen, QB, 1st round (7th overall), 2018, Buffalo Bills

Urlacher, Faulk and Olsen went on to have Hall of Fame careers. The only current NFL player on this list is Allen, who finished second in the MVP voting in 2020 after leading the Bills to the AFC Championship game.

You do remember the Ickey shuffle though, don't you?

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