CHEYENNE -- Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming football
jersey and think of all the great players to wear it? Yeah, me too. In this
daily series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ football player was the
best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at
UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?

No. 44 – Selmer Pederson

Safety, 1949-51, Lander, Wyo. 

Résumé in Laramie
Selmer Pederson was named an honorable mention All-American and was a two-time All-Skyline Conference player under Bowden Wyatt in the early 50’s. He was a safety, best known for his record-breaking three interceptions in a game against Denver in 1950. He also helped lead the Cowboys to their first bowl appearance, the 1951 Gator Bowl. Pederson still owns a number of school punt-return records and was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame in 2012.

Why Pederson?
Any time Bowden Wyatt calls you “the best …” anything, you are probably going to end up on this list.

Well, Wyoming’s legendary head coach had high praise for Selmer Pederson, naming him “the best safety in football.”

What did Pederson do to deserve such a moniker? For
starters, he rarely lost. Wyoming went 26-3-1 during his three varsity seasons
in Laramie. That included 13 shutouts from a dominant Cowboy defense.

In 1950, Pederson picked off three passes against Denver. That is still the most in a single game in UW history, tied with Brian Lee and Shamiel Gary.

One of his most important interceptions came against Washington
& Lee in the 1951 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

Eddie Talboom put the Pokes on the board in the second quarter with a touchdown pass to Dick Campbell. The Generals, led by quarterback, Gil Bocetti, marched right back down the field and deep into Wyoming territory. That’s when Bocetti made the biggest mistake of the game – he tested Pederson.

The Cowboys safety reached out and picked off the pass.
Talboom made the Generals pay a few plays later. Wyoming took a 13-0 lead into
the halftime locker room.   

Wyoming won its first-ever bowl game, 20-7.

Pederson didn’t just make a name for himself in the Pokes secondary,
either.

He might just be “the best punt returner” in Wyoming
history, too. The numbers sure make a great case for it.

Pederson is still the school’s leader in punt-return yards
(1,080), and average yards per return (13). His 16.1 yards per return in 1949
is still the standard, and his 36.3 yards per return against Montana State that
season is still tops. He also returned a punt for a touchdown against the
Bobcats.

He will forever be the top punt returner in the Skyline Conference.

Following his senior season, Pederson played in the
North-South All-Star game. He was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame
in 2012.

Honorable mention
Josh Biezuns (2008-11) quietly had one heck of a career for the Cowboys.

He played in two bowl games, including racking up seven tackles, including a pair for loss, in the 42-35 overtime win over Fresno State in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl.

His name is littered throughout the UW history books. His 31
tackles for loss is third all-time in school history. So are his 3,5 sacks
against Colorado State in 2010. He finished the 2011 season with 11 tackles for
loss. That’s ninth all-time.

He played fullback and linebacker before eventually finding a home at defensive end.

"He's a football player," Wyoming defensive coordinator Marty English told reporters before the New Mexico Bowl against Temple in 2011, "so it doesn't matter what position we put him at, he's going to be a football player.

"He gets it figured out. He studies the film, studies
the game. If he's playing outside linebacker or defensive end, or something on
offense, he just gets it done. When you're a football player, you're going to
find a way."

Biezuns finished his career with 189 tackles, 15 sacks and
two forced fumbles.

 

Who else wore No. 44
Dave Pfeifer (LB), Scott Hanser (LB), Jim Pennington (CB), Tom Grace (LB), Eric Rice (DB), Josh Admundson (RB/ LB), Zach Keiter (S), Aaron Frude (RB), Darth Tesinsky (FB), John Prater (LB), JJ Quinlan (TE), Pierce Royster (K), Devin McKenna (LB), Victor Jones (DE), Blake Harrington (CB)

  • All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.