Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 50
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. 50 – John Burrough
Defensive end, 1992-94, Pinedale, Wyo.
Résumé in Laramie
John Burrough lettered at UW in all three seasons that he played. The defensive end finished his career with 24 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Burrough helped lead the Cowboys to the 1993 Copper Bowl in Arizona. He began his football career at Washington State as a walk-on. Burrough earned second-team all-conference honors in 1994.
John Burrough never expected to make it to the NFL.
Heck, he never imagined he would play at the collegiate
level. The Pinedale product accepted an academic scholarship to Washington
State. There, he walked on to the football team.
A hernia and the surgery that followed led him back to the Cowboy State where he walked on to Joe Tiller’s Wyoming football team in the fall of 1992.
Still, he didn’t expect much. He redshirted his first season
in Laramie, the town he was born in.
When Burrough did finally hit the field, he became a dominant run defender. In three seasons, Burrough tallied 24 tackles for loss, which is good enough for sixth in school history and tied with four-year starter, Ward Dobbs (Our pick for best No. 29). Burrough also racked up nine career sacks.
The 1993 season was the team’s best with Burrough on the
roster. After dropping the opener against Oregon State, the Cowboys reeled off
seven straight wins, including back-to-back thumpings of Utah and Air Force.
Wyoming would finish the season 6-2 in Western Athletic
Conference play and 8-4 overall, sharing the league title with Fresno State and
BYU. (Wyoming beat Fresno State 32-28 in Laramie and didn’t play the Cougars.)
Burrough and the Cowboys earned a berth in the Cooper Bowl, where they would face an upstart Kansas State team with a young play caller by the name of Dana Dimel.
Watch Burrough lay waste to K-State QB, Chad May:
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, May completed that pass for a 62-yard touchdown.
It was that kind of night for the boys in brown and gold.
The Wildcats won the first bowl game in school history, boat-racing
Burrough was named to the All-WAC second team. He figured
his football career was over after the 1994 season. He had one more “football
activity” to do – Wyoming’s pro day.
Burrough told the Sublette County Journal in 2000 that he
was "hoping for a long shot." He called that day a "nerve racking
Plenty of pro scouts were on hand that day in Laramie. They all had their eyes on Wyoming’s punishing tailback, Ryan Christopherson (our pick for No. 34), who was the school’s all-time leading rusher at the time with 2,906 yards. Burrough did just enough to grab the attention of the Atlanta Falcons’ brass.
Christopherson was selected in the fifth round by the
expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Burrough got the call two rounds later. He was
heading to Atlanta.
From 1995 to 1998, Burrough suited up for the Falcons at defensive end. It was still surreal to him that he had made it this far. And to make matters even more crazy, there he was on the field in Super Bowl XXXIII lined up across from John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe.
In 1999, Sports Illustrated named Burrough the 45th
best athlete who was born in Wyoming.
Burrough went on to play seven NFL seasons in Atlanta,
Minnesota and St. Louis.
Literally today, it was announced that Burrough will become
CEO of HOI (Honduras Outreach, Inc.) which impacts the lives of more than
50,000 people in Honduras on an annual basis. HOI is a Christian-based program.
Mike Purcell (2009-12) finished his career in Laramie with 197 tackles from the nose tackle position. He also tallied four sacks and 15 tackles for loss during his four-year career.
Injuries forced Purcell into the lineup as a true freshman.
Standing 6-foot, 3-inches and 286 pounds, the Highlands Ranch, Colo., product
was ready for the workload.
Purcell was a leader on the defense, helping vault the
Cowboys into the New Mexico Bowl in 2009 and a return trip to Albuquerque
during his senior season.
Purcell parlayed a stellar college career into a lengthy NFL
tenure. This spring, he was signed by his hometown Denver Broncos. Purcell has
also played for the 49ers, L.A. Rams, Bears, Panthers, Patriots and Chiefs.
Last winter he played in the Alliance of American Football for the Salt Lake
He told 7220sports that if he didn’t have a future in football
after the AAF folded, he would finally pursue his dreams of becoming a firefighter.
Those plans are on hold, for now.
I also want to give a shout out to former Wyoming linebacker, Leo Caires (1998-01). This guy didn’t fill up stat sheets and his name is nowhere to be found in the record books. However, Caires was about as tough as they come. And he definitely had the respect of his teammates during some very lean times for Cowboy football.
Before Caires came to Laramie, he was a bull rider – from Hawaii.
Who else wore No. 50
John Schutterle (OT), Carey Roe (LB), Jim Scifres (DT), Ike Chima (LB), DJ Eliot (LB also wore No. 48), Dan Perrino (C), Matt Chase (LB), Luis Bach (LB), Gerald Pyle (OL), Adrian King (LB), Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula (LB), Jack Lookabaugh (OL)
- All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.
- This will be out final installation of the "Who wore it best" series. We will pick up again next offseason. It's time for real games!