LARAMIE -- They're not quite finishing one another's sentences, but the connection between Evan Svoboda and John Michael Gyllenborg on -- and off -- the football field, is undeniable.

The two are roommates. Both juniors are listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds on the team's roster. Each took a unique route to Laramie.

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There's more according to their rookie head coach.

"They're two freaky athletes, too," Jay Sawvel said on Tuesday. "... They are built like statues."

AUSTIN, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 16: Evan Svoboda #17 of the Wyoming Cowboys warms up before the game against the Texas Longhornst at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 16: Evan Svoboda #17 of the Wyoming Cowboys warms up before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Svoboda, a big-armed quarterback from Mesa, Ariz., went all but unnoticed out of high school despite throwing for 1,286 yards and 13 touchdowns in an abbreviated seven-game senior season at Red Mountain. A worldwide pandemic cut that campaign short. It also likely led to the oversight.

He didn't settle, instead opting to head to Snow Community College in Utah. Svoboda craved the chance to prove himself. FBS or bust.



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Gyllenborg was recruited on pure potential.

A standout baseball and basketball player at Rockhurst High School in the Kansas City metro area, the future tight end was coaxed into throwing on shoulder pads during his senior year. The last time he played football, he admitted, flags were around his waist. This, he thought, would be a chance to work on his physicality on the court.

Gyllenborg's stats are nearly impossible to find. He suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee that would cut his football career to just three games.

Or so he thought.

He snagged "three or four touchdowns" in that brief audition, he said. An offseason prep combine, Gyllenborg added, landed him a three-star rating. That was unexpected news. He joked that he "hadn't done anything."

That's not the case anymore.

After hauling in just three catches in 2022 -- all in the season finale at Fresno State -- Gyllenborg burst on the scene last fall, catching 23 balls for 360 yards and three scores. One of those was a pressure-packed 11-yard hot read to tie Texas Tech in the second overtime. That came on a 4th-and-7 with the game on the line. Wyoming would convert the 2-point conversion one play later to cap the 35-33 upset.

He showed off his wheels on a flag route in the final game of the regular season. Gyllenborg blew off the line, dusted a linebacker and turned a 37-yard pitch-and-catch into an 89-yard touchdown.

Those throws came from the right arm of Andrew Peasley as Svoboda patiently waited on the bench for his turn under center.

That's coming this fall.

Peasley remarked last November that the incoming combo could be a special one. He already saw it starting to blossom behind the scenes.

"We make a lot of jokes about Evan in practice, going through his progressions and somehow he always just sticks to J-Mike," the senior quarterback joked.

Sawvel just shrugged.

"That's a good idea," he said with a wide grin. "Look, if I was a quarterback, I'd go to J-Mike, too."

It's also the plan.

"We've always had this connection," Svoboda admitted. "Outside of football, away from the facility and away from football, since day one, we just connected and hit it off immediately. We have similar personalities, similar stature, similar people. I think that just kind of skyrocketed from there.

"It's kind of been just this crazy connection ever since. We've just had this unbelievable chemistry."

Gylleborg said the relationship built off the field, whether that's taking part in a hotly contested board game at their apartment or simply talking shop, has also played a major role.

"It's just, we know each other's game, we know how each other works," he added. "I think there's that trust, especially going into a year like this with a lot of younger, newer guys. That's really, really big."

Jay Johnson, Wyoming's new offensive coordinator, spent the offseason learning about the new pieces in his unit. He poured over film in an attempt to develop what scheme will fit his inherited personnel.

He told Sawvel his eyes were glued to No. 84.

"He's like, 'Yeah, I'm trying to figure out a reason why I wouldn't try to get J-Mike the ball, like, every couple plays,'" Sawvel laughed. "I'm like, well, that's why you're here, because it's a good starting point. I would try to get him the ball all the time, too."

"He's such a talented young man," Johnson said of Gyllenborg. "So, you know, that's obviously our role, as an offensive staff, to try to get it in those certain playmakers' hands."

That all starts with Svoboda.

He attempted just 38 passes last season, 28 of which came in his first and only start inside Darrell K. Royal Stadium. With more than 100,000 in attendance and the No. 3 team in the nation across the line of scrimmage, Svoboda completed 17 passes for 136 yards and helped the Cowboys take a 10-10 tie into the fourth quarter.

Texas eventually flexed its muscles and reeled off 21 fourth-quarter points, one coming off a 27-yard pick-six into the arms of safety Jerrin Thompson.

Svoboda proved he belonged.

In the Arizona Bowl, he again showed no fear, capping Wyoming's lone touchdown drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. He again took the reins of the offense on the final possession, stepping in for an injured Peasley to lead the Cowboys on a 12-play, 87-yard game-winning drive.

All the "clout" coming Svoboda's way these days, Gylleborg said, hasn't changed the person he is. His quiet confidence speaks volumes, he added.

"He's the same guy that he was when he showed up here," the Leawood, Kan., product said. "He's the same humble guy that's ready to be coached every day. On the field, he can do anything you ask of him and he works the field like any high-IQ quarterback would. He has every trait that any quarterback could ever want. The sky is the limit."

The feeling is mutual.

"He's a freak -- a football freak out there," Svoboda said with a smile. "That's something that's super special about him."

These two are being relied upon to bring this program its first conference title since 1993. That thought couldn't be further from their minds, either. Sawvel said last week Gyllenborg better "grow a third lung." He added, Svoboda, each day is starting to find a rhythm with his new crop of pass catchers.

Both are wrapping their heads around a new offense, too.

They used words like up-tempo, fast-paced, versatility and urgency when describing the strategy. Those were curse words around these parts just four short months ago. Will there really be throwing?

"Oh, yeah," Gyllenborg laughed.

Svoboda even mentioned using the 7,220 feet of elevation, the highest in the FBS, as an advantage.

"I think it'll definitely take our game to new heights," he added. "... (Opponents) are going to have to keep up with our fast offense, so that's probably the biggest takeaway from me."



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Consistency is what Sawvel said he is searching for this offseason. He's looking for winning habits, mindsets. His one-day-at-a-time approach isn't just a phrase fit for a T-shirt, he wants to see it play out in real time.

So far, so good.

And these two are doing their part.

"I tell you what, the biggest thing I love about both of those people is that they make coaching so enjoyable. You enjoy showing up everyday to see those two," Sawvel said. "... They're just great people. We're blessed that they are here.

"... I love those two."

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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