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. 49 – Mitch Donahue

Defensive end, 1987-90, Billings, Mont. 

Résumé in Laramie
Mitch Donahue was named the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 and 1990. After his senior season, the Billings, Mont., product was a first-team All-American selection. He finished fourth in the Outland Trophy voting, too. In 1990, Donahue led the nation in sacks with 21. He was a four-time all-conference selection and still sits atop the school record books with an eye-popping 49 sacks, 19 more than teammate Pat Rabold. Donahue was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.

Why Donahue?
Mitch Donahue’s 1990 campaign was so dominant that he appears in the single-game sack category three separate times that season.

Utah, New Mexico and UTEP felt the brunt of that.

Mike Richmond, Jeremy Leach and Mike Perez probably still see Donahue in their nightmares. The 6-foot, 2-inch, 254-pound bull rusher got to those three quarterbacks three times each en route to a school record 22 sacks that season.

Donahue finished with 10 sacks in each of the previous two
seasons. In 1990, he was possessed.

His UW Athletics Hall of Fame plaque begins with this
sentence: “He was the greatest defensive end in school history …”

Donahue was a part of two Western Athletic Conference
championship teams. He played in back-to-back Holiday Bowls. His final game
came in the Copper Bowl against California.

Memories, Donahue had plenty. Back in February, 7220sports spent a day with Donahue at his Billings home.

He mentioned how fun the games were against Scott Mitchell and Utah. Sacking BYU’s Ty Detmer never got old, either. Playing in the first-ever night game at War Memorial Stadium was a special moment. Winning a conference title in El Paso was another great feat. The miracle in Colorado Springs when the Pokes erased a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Air Force is one for the ages, he said.

Even injuring himself doing a backflip after beating UTEP in
Laramie brings a smile to his face.

Donahue said he loved playing on the road. He wanted to be
the “villain.” Whether that was in Ft. Collins, Provo or Honolulu. Those Border
War games at Hughes Stadium were some of his favorites.

“I liked going to CSU,” Donahue smiled. “We had as much support in the stands as they did.”

For Donahue, his favorite memory is simple – he was proud to
be a Wyoming Cowboys.

“I loved Wyoming,” he said. “That place is really important
to me. I owe Wyoming a lot. People loved us. I loved talking to people after
the games. Everyone was really excited to talk to a Wyoming Cowboy. It was
great.

“I should’ve been recruiting them and begging them to let me
play there. It was an answered prayer.”

Donahue was selected in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL
draft by the defending Super Bowl champion, San Francisco 49ers. He also played
for the Denver Broncos.

Donahue is now back home in Billings where he owns Donahue Roofing and Siding. His son, Dylan Donahue, was also an NFL Draft pick. He was selected by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.

Who else wore No. 49
Gary Tremaine (LB), Chuck Wilson (LB), Mark Brook (LB), John Jennings (RB), Teagan Liufau (DE)

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