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.

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This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is 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 more fair.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.


Nick Bebout

Offensive tackle, 1970-72, Shoshoni, Wyoming


Here's why: If there was a bright spot in the wake of the Black 14 scandal, Nick Bebout had to be near the top of the list.

After going 1-9 during his sophomore season under Lloyd Eaton -- just two seasons removed from a trip to the Sugar Bowl, no less -- Bebout's Cowboys showed marked improvement, but wins were still tough to come by for a program that was known at the time not for its recent football glory but rather booting 14 African-Americans off the roster for wanting to wear black armbands on their uniforms.

Nick Bebout

Despite racking up just nine wins to go along with 13 losses under new head coach Fritz Shurmur, Bebout excelled, earning All-Western Athletic Conference selections in all three seasons he manned the left side of the Cowboys' offensive line.

As a senior, the 6-foot-5, 261-pound sledgehammer was a team captain. He was also named a Preseason Playboy All-American.

Bebout's UW Athletics Hall of Fame plaque reads: "Quick, mobile and an overpowering blocker." That's just part of the reason he was selected in the sixth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Bebout was also the first offensive lineman to make it to the school's Hall of Fame.

Bebout blocked for quarterbacks Scott Freeman, Gary Fox and Steve Cockreham. He paved the way for tailbacks like Frosty Franklin, Forrest Franklin and Charles Shaw. You can also bet he had plenty of good times with his fellow linemate, Conrad Dobler, who would later become the NFL's "dirtiest player."

Why are we guessing on that?

Well, Bebout did own the Left Tackle Bar in his hometown of Shoshoni. It's a safe assumption, right?

McKinney's take: There were split tackles and tight tackles back in Nick Bebout’s day.  We officially listed him as a split tackle, the terminology of the time. But he was a lot more than just a split tackle, he was a super tackle.
Back in the early ‘70’s Nick was a dominating football player. He was an All-America candidate and co-captain as a senior in ’72. Two things stand out when I think about Nick, whom we featured on the cover of the 1972 Media Guide (how many times does that happen to offensive linemen?) First, he was a Wyoming native -- Shoshoni -- where he was All-State in three sports, including swimming. Second, he weighed just 237 pounds his senior year.
Guys playing his position now weigh almost 100 pounds more than he did.
A devastating blocker, his speed and quickness were perfect for Wyoming’s offense of the time which called for a lot of “pulling” off the line of scrimmage by guards and tackles. It had to be tough to be a corner or safety seeing No. 71 steaming around the corner at you at full speed.
As good a player as he was, Nick was a better person. He was an unquestioned team leader of the Cowboys, and a heck of a guy to be around. I would list him among the five best offensive tackles ever to wear the Brown and Gold. While highly successful for the Cowboys, his skills served him well during a long career in the NFL.


How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (NR), Robert Gagliardi (NR), Jared Newland (36), Ryan Thorburn (49), Kevin McKinney (40)


Previous selections: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48


Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 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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