UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 25
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in 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 me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan 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 more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Wide receiver/ defensive back, 1949-51, Laramie, Wyoming
Here's why: This guy was Wyoming's first two-time All-American.
In fact, he was one of the school's very first All-American selections, joining the likes of guys like CT Hewgley, Selmer Pederson, Doug Reeves, Jerry Taylor and others.
We could probably ended the conversation right there, but what makes Dewey McConnell even more special is, like Jim House, he was a Laramie native, playing college ball in his own backyard.
McConnell, who played on both sides of the ball, helped lead the Cowboys to the first bowl game in school history, a 20-7 victory over Washington & Lee in the 1951 Gator Bowl.
During his senior season, McConnell snagged 47 passes for 725 yards and eight touchdowns. That led the entire nation. He hauled in five crucial passes for 75 yards in that bowl win.
This former Plainsman was named to the first team All-Skyline Conference team in 1950 and '51. That will happen when you hold every receiving record in school history.
McConnell was the first Rocky Mountain Region player selected in the 1952 NFL Draft -- the third round -- by the Los Angeles Rams. He played in the NFL for four seasons.
McConnell was inducted into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.
Tucker's take: I'd like to imagine that a young Wyoming fan in the early 50's looked at McConnel in the same light some of us watched guys like Ryan Yarborough, Marcus Harris, Jovon Bouknight and Tanner Gentry, among many others.
In a time when most teams used to ground and pound you to death -- which the Cowboys still did plenty of -- Wyoming head coach Bowden Wyatt also let it fly with quarterbacks like Harry Geldien under center.
Guys like McConnell have always been fascinating to me. They rarely left the field and made an impact on both sides of the ball. He was hardly alone playing iron man football in those days, but can you imagine that today?
Imagine running all those routes only to turn around and cover guys running routes. Not to mention, with all the running in those days, you would likely take a bit of a pounding with pulling guards and tackles coming your way.
This guy was truly a special player. He has the All-American status to prove it.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (18), Robert Gagliardi (NR), Jared Newland (11), Ryan Thorburn (32), Kevin McKinney (30)
Previous selections: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26
Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.
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