Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 55
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. 55 – Mike Schenbeck
Linebacker, 1985-88, Aurora, Colo.,
Résumé in Laramie
Mike Schenbeck was a member of back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championship teams in 1987 and '88. He was named first-team All-WAC after his senior season. Schenbeck also garnered honorable mention All-American after an 83-tackle season. As a junior, Schenbeck was credited with 106 stops. He picked off a pass, recovered two fumbles and tallied a pair of sacks.
The first two years in Laramie weren't ideal for Mike Schenbeck.
The Cowboys limped to a 3-8 record, winning just one time in their first eight games of the season. That included lopsided losses to rivals Air Force (49-7), Utah (37-20), Colorado State (30-19) and BYU (59-0).
Head coach Al Kincaid was fired following the season.
Enter Dennis Erickson.
In his one season in the sidelines in Laramie, the Cowboys turned in a 6-6 season. They beat Air Force and Utah. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction. Then, out of nowhere, Erickson left the program, reappearing at Washington State as its next head coach.
Schenbeck and a young cast of characters regrouped under new head coach Paul Roach. Mitch Donahue once said many on the team were leery of Roach at first. Who was this old man that was now going to be the head coach?
Remember, there wasn't Google back then.
Little did they know, Donahue laughed, Roach had coached in the NFL with the Raiders, Packers and Broncos. He had helped mold players like Ken Stabler, Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch. He coached alongside John Madden, Bart Starr and Red Miller.
Roach brought that winning attitude to Laramie. It paid off immediately.
Wyoming featured one of the most feared defenses in the nation. Schenbeck played a major role in that, tallying 106 tackles during his first season under Roach. The Cowboys finished the 1987 season 10-3. They won a Western Athletic Conference championship. They played Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.
The next season was bound to be even better.
Wyoming rolled to an 11-2 mark, posting a win over BYU in the first night game ever at War Memorial Stadium and a furious second-half comeback in Colorado Springs in which the Cowboys overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit. They easily dispatched Utah (61-18) and CSU (48-14).
Schenbeck didn't record as many tackles as a senior, racking up just 83, but he didn't need to. The surrounding cast allowed the linebacker to simply make plays. That, he did. Schenbeck picked off a pass, broke up 12 more, registered a pair of sacks and hauled in two fumble recoveries.
Wyoming would win another conference title. Once again, the Cowboys found themselves inside Jack Murphy Stadium for the annual Holiday Bowl.
Unfortunately for Schenbeck and Co., the Pokes dropped their second straight bowl game, this time to Barry Sanders and the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Schenbeck was a first-team All-WAC player and earned honorable mention All-American honors that season.
This winter, Schenbeck stood at center court at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie. He was being honored as a member of the 2020 Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame class.
Schenbeck is currently a senior sales manager at New Balance and lives in Erie, Colorado.
The No. 55 has been good to the University of Wyoming.
Eddie Yarbrough (2012-15) is the latest example of that. The Denver product registered 256 tackles during his tenure at UW. He had 39.5 tackles for loss, which is still most in program history. Yarbrough had 12 of those alone in the 2013 season.
His 21.5 sacks is also ninth in UW lore. He recorded three in one game twice.
Yarbrough is currently a defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings.
Zach Morris (2001-04) is another play maker who donned the double-fives. Morris was also a menace behind the opponent's line of scrimmage, taking down ball carriers 26.5 times. That is still good enough for fifth all-time.
In 2004, Morris picked up 3.5 TFL's in a win over San Diego State. That season, he finished with 12.5 take downs behind the line. That is tied with John Fletcher for sixth most in school history.
There was a No. 55 on offense who had a pretty special career in Laramie, too. Rob Bohlinger (1995-97) was a terror on the Pokes' line during some of the best offensive seasons in program history under head coach Joe Tiller.
In 1996, Wyoming went 10-2 and played in the inaugural WAC title game in Las Vegas after a come-from-behind road win in snowy Fort Collins. The Cowboys put up video game numbers that season led by quarterback Josh Wallwork and receiver Marcus Harris. But it all started on the offensive line with guys like Steve Scifres, Jeff Smith, Rob Rathbun and Bohlinger.
Bohlinger played one season in the NFL as a member of the Carolina Panthers. He started one game at tackle and played in 13 total.
Who else wore No. 55
Mike Korte (C), Gary Holland (DT), Paul Duke (DT), Greg Chytka (NG), Isaac Hawkins (OT), Antwan Floyd (MLB), Anthony Stannard (OG), Fa’aallga Sefesele (NG), Mike Juergens (LB), Sonny Puletasi (DE), Gavin Rush (G), Ryan Mazzola (LB) Claude Cole (DT)
All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.