LARAMIE -- No other state has been more of a recruiting hotbed for the University of Wyoming than Colorado.

This list will prove that.

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Numerous UW Hall of Famers, NFL stars and program record holders began their football journey in that square to the south. The Cowboys' top rival, Colorado State, overlooked plenty of these guys. So did CU. Air Force even whiffed a time or two.

Some just flat out picked Laramie over Fort Collins, Boulder and Colorado Springs.

This summer, with the help of some longtime Wyoming football followers, we will count down the Top 25 Colorado products in program history. As always, what these guys did in professional football doesn't matter. This is all about production in Laramie.


UW football

No. 21 - Mike Purcell

Defensive tackle, 2009-12, Highlands Ranch, Colorado


Résumé in Laramie

Mike Purcell finished his career in Laramie with 197 tackles from the nose tackle position. He also tallied four sacks and 15 tackles for loss during his four-year career at Wyoming. Standing 6-foot, 3-inches and 286 pounds, the Highlands Ranch, Colo., product was forced into the lineup as a true freshman. He answered the bell, helping lead the Cowboys to a 35-28 overtime victory over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. Purcell never lost to Colorado State in four tries. In fact, he made the game-winning play in the 2011 edition of the Border War, sacking Rams' QB Garrett Grayson for a safety to give the Cowboys a 22-19 victory in Fort Collins. Purcell, who was named a First-Team All-Mountain West player as a senior, again led Wyoming to the New Mexico Bowl. He went on to become a free agent pickup of the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. He has since suited up for seven different NFL franchises, the latest his hometown Broncos.


About Highlands Ranch

Part of the Denver Metro Area, Highlands Ranch is home to more than 105,000 residents, including Christian McCaffrey (NFL), Milan Hejduk (NHL) and Keri Russell (actress). It's the most populous unincorporated community in the State of Colorado.


Pokes Football: Best of Colorado series:

No. 25

No. 24

No. 23

No. 22


Pokes Football: Best of Wyoming series

(Cody Tucker and Jared Newland both work for Townsquare Media, which owns Kevin McKinney has been a color commentator of Cowboy football for five decades. Ryan Thorburn now works for the University of Wyoming in a sports information role after spending decades in the newspaper industry, most recently at the Casper Star-Tribune. Sally Ann Shurmur, the daughter of former UW football coach Fritz Shurmur, is also a veteran of the newspaper industry, working as a journalist, columnist at the CST for 43 years. She currently writes for Cowboy State Daily.)

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 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:

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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