UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 32
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, 1966-68, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
Here's why: Gene Huey fell five painful yards short.
The Cowboys speedy wide out snagged a slant pass from quarterback Paul Toscano and ran into a trio of LSU defenders at the five-yard line as time ran out during the 1968 Sugar Bowl and Wyoming's perfect season.
LSU 20, Wyoming 13
Let's focus on the good stuff.
Huey won a conference title in every season he played in Laramie. His teams featured an overall record of 27-5. They were a "bounce pass" away from perfection in '66. That loss in New Orleans was the lone setback the following season. As a senior, Huey's Pokes went 7-3. That included a season-opening 13-10 loss at No. 14 Nebraska, falling by seven at Air Force and another seven-point heartbreaker in the season finale at Arizona.
Huey was part of a Sun Bowl championship over Florida State his sophomore season. He never lost to BYU or Utah. Huey and the Cowboys knocked off 14th-ranked Arizona State in '68, too.
Huey played on both sides of the ball. As a receiver, he set 13 records. In his final two collegiate seasons, Huey combined to catch 96 balls for 1,494 yards. His 14 career touchdown receptions still ranks eighth in program history, tied with Jake Maulhardt, Malcom Floyd and Dewey McConnell.
Huey was selected in the fifth round of the 1969 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Huey was inducted into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Thorburn's take: Gene Huey, the Indianapolis Colts running backs coach from 1992-2010, mentored superstars Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James.
The longtime NFL assistant was a dynamic and versatile player in his own right as a defensive back and wide receiver at Wyoming.
Huey averaged 16.4 yards per catch in 1967 to help the Cowboys finish the regular season 10-0 and earn a Sugar Bowl invitation.
During the 1968 season, the Uniontown, Pa., native caught nine touchdowns as Wyoming won its third consecutive WAC championship. Huey, a two-way throwback player, also had 25 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass breakups as a senior.
Huey owned 13 Wyoming receiving records at the conclusion of his collegiate career and is still tied for eighth in program history for touchdown receptions (14).
After collecting three conference championships with the Cowboys and playing two seasons in the NFL, Huey began his coaching career at Wyoming. Huey eventually became the longest tenured assistant in Colts history and earned a Super Bowl ring in 2007.
The 2009 Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame inductee came oh-so painfully close to adding a Sugar Bowl victory to his resume. Huey was tackled at the 5-yard line with 10 seconds left in the game, and the clock ran out on Wyoming in the 20-13 loss to LSU on Jan. 1, 1968.
“I would have given half a year’s salary for 10 more seconds,” Wyoming head coach Lloyd Eaton said after the game. “Just 10 more seconds.”
Huey is clearly among the top-50 players in Wyoming history and a pioneer who paved the way for future legends like Marcus Harris and Ryan Yarborough.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (27), Robert Gagliardi (40), Jared Newland (NR), Ryan Thorburn (34), Kevin McKinney (17)
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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