Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 56
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. 56 – Dave Schutt
Linebacker, 1986-87, Evergreen, Colo.,
Résumé in Laramie
Dave Schutt didn't put up staggering numbers during his brief stint at UW. In fact, he spent a majority of his two seasons as a special teams standout. In the spring of 1988, Schutt was inserted into the starting lineup at middle linebacker. He never got the chance to show what he could do there on a full-time basis.
The No. 56 isn't officially retired at the University of Wyoming, but it might as well be.
No one has worn that number since linebacker Dave Schutt in the spring of 1988.
On June 12, the 21-year-old was struck and killed by a train in downtown Laramie. The accident occurred around 2 a.m. at the corner of 1st Street and Grand Avenue, according to police. Schutt, along with two of his roommates, one of which was Mike Schenbeck, had spent the night out on the town.
Police say Schutt was walking on the tracks next to a slow-moving train.
He never heard the one heading westbound.
"He was one of my close friends," Schenbeck told The Oklahoman newspaper before the 1988 Holiday Bowl. "We were roommates this past summer. We were locker partners because he was 56 and I wear No. 55, so we were really tight.
"I've dedicated my season to him."
The article called the sophomore a "terrific special teams player" who built a reputation as a "hitter." In his brief college career, Schutt underwent a shoulder operation and broke his hand five times. Standing 6-foot, 1-inch and 215 pounds, Schutt was going to join Shenbeck as a starting linebacker for the Cowboys, who were coming off a Western Athletic Conference championship and a meeting with Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.
"He was the kind of guy who had the respect and admiration of so many of our players because that's the kind of kid he was," Wyoming head coach Paul Roach told the newspaper. "I mean there wasn't anybody who didn't like him. And he was a helluva leader.
"Physically, no way you'd think he was a linebacker. But what he did with his body, what he got out of it, that earned him respect. He was a 3.0 student."
John McGrath, a columnist at the Rocky Mountain News, attended Schutt's funeral in Colorado.
This is an excerpt from his story: "On a fine morning in a meadow next to the mountains, while the birds were chirping and the sun was kissing the last of the snowcapped peaks, a 21-year-old was put in the ground Wednesday. His name was Dave Schutt. His dream was someday to be named captain of the Wyoming football team. . . "You've got to witness some devastating anguish in this world to encounter a sight as heartbreaking as a hundred well-groomed kids sitting with their heads bowed on a fine morning in a meadow next to the mountains, weeping."
There's no telling what type of impact Schutt would've had on the 1988 Cowboys. The team went on to win its second straight WAC title and once again found itself at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Schenbeck finished the season with 83 tackles and was an honorable mention for All-American status.
A taped sign with the No. 56 hung outside the Wyoming locker room all season. Roach told The Oklahoman that he thought about skipping a regular season game against rival Utah. He was battling the flu.
Then he saw that number.
"I smacked that number on the way out the door, and by the time I hit the tunnel I was feeling better," Roach told the paper. "I remember saying, "I owe it to him and to these players to get up for this game.' And you know, just thinking of him gave me a little lift. And I've been kicking around 30-some years in this business."
Wyoming knocked off the Utes, 61-18.
Schutt's No. 56 and the No. 10 worn by former quarterback, Ed Synakowski, are the only jersey numbers not currently in circulation at UW. Synakowski was killed in a boating accident at Lake Hattie in 1970.
Who else wore No. 56
Greg Gray (C), Dan Price (C)
All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.