UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 44
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.
Defensive line, 1986-88, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Here's why: David Edeen played in a number of memorable games during his three seasons in Laramie.
That tends to happen when you play on back-to-back WAC Championship teams and don't lose a conference game over your final two campaigns.
Edeen himself weighed in on Facebook last week about how crazy the Air Force game was as a senior. Wyoming trailed that one 38-17 with just one quarter remaining in Colorado Springs.
That's when the Pokes got off the mat.
Randy Welniak, a fifth-year senior at quarterback, tossed three touchdown passes and rushed for another. The Cowboy defense, led by Mitch Donahue, forced a Dee Dowis fumble with just 45 ticks remaining. Sean Fleming took care of the rest, booting a 27-yard field goal to give the visitors an improbable 48-45 victory.
There was another wild one though, if you ask Edeen.
That one came three weeks prior to the Air Force miracle. It was the first night game in the history of War Memorial Stadium and the hated BYU Cougars were in town. That can also be described as Edeen's coming-out party.
There were unforgettable names like Pat Rabold, Donahue, Craig Schlichting and Doug Rigby on that vaunted defense. But that night, Edeen took center stage, registering a program-record five sacks in the Cowboys' 24-14 victory over the boys from Provo. For good measure, he picked off a pass, too.
That was future Heisman winner Ty Detmer under center that night, to make things even sweeter.
Wyoming would finish with nine sacks in that game. Sean Covey, who eventually replaced Detmer under center, also hit the deck four times.
Edeen's 23 career sacks still ranks him tied for sixth all-time with Rigby. His 11 sacks during that '88 season is still good enough for fifth in school history. His 10 sacks the year prior is also still in the Top-10.
Only Korey Jones has come close to capturing five quarterback takedowns in a single game. That was against Texas State back in 2001. He registered four.
Edeen was an All-Western Athletic Conference First-Team selection as a senior. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Phoenix Cardinals.
Thorburn's take: My family made the drive from Casper to Laramie to attend countless Wyoming games on fall Saturdays throughout my childhood, but the 1988 opener had a completely different vibe.
For starters, it was the first night game in the storied history of War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys were also the defending WAC champions and hosting preseason favorite BYU under ESPN’s temporary Thursday night lights.
The Pokes had plenty of stars that season — quarterback Randy Welniak accounted for three touchdowns in his first start against the Cougars, Dabby Dawson was in the backfield, Pat Rabold, Mitch Donahue and Eric Coleman were on that championship defense.
But David Edeen was the player the 28,847 witnesses to history were buzzing about on their late-night commutes home.
The defensive end from Cheyenne stole the spotlight with a program-record five sacks and an interception during Wyoming’s 24-14 victory over shell-shocked Ty Detmer and the Cougars.
The electrifying performance set the tone for the Cowboys’ 8-0 finish in conference play. For this exercise, we'll try not to think about the nightmare that was Barry Sanders in the Holiday bowl following Wyoming's dream WAC season.
Edeen finished with 11 sacks and 22 quarterback hurries to earn all-conference honors in 1988. He had 23 sacks during his collegiate career, which ranks seventh in Wyoming history.
There were more talented players on Wyoming’s defenses during the program’s unforgettable run under Paul Roach, but Edeen’s story — arriving on campus as a walk-on and leaving as a fifth-round NFL draft pick — obviously made an impression on me that magical night while considering where to vote him on the top-50 list all these years later.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (NR), Robert Gagliardi (39), Jared Newland (NR), Ryan Thorburn (26), Kevin McKinney (NR)
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.