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. 74 – Larry Nels

Defensive line, 1967-69, North Syracuse, New York

Résumé in Laramie
Larry Nels was an All-American selection and earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors twice during his three seasons at Wyoming. The defensive lineman racked up 511 tackles and anchored a Cowboys defense that was ranked No. 1 in the nation in 1967. Nels helped lead the Pokes to a Sugar Bowl berth that season.

Why Nels?
A Sugar Bowl appearance for the Cowboys was on the line that afternoon in El Paso, Texas.

No. 6 Wyoming rolled in to the Sun Bowl for the season finale to take on a pesky UTEP squad, who was 7-1-1 and also fighting for a berth in a major bowl game. Lloyd Eaton's Cowboys were undefeated and coming off three straight road wins over Arizona State, San Jose State and New Mexico.

A victory over the Miners would send UW to New Orleans and a meeting with the mighty LSU Tigers.

It wouldn't come easy.

UTEP, led by Brooks Dawson and backed by a record crowd of 35,023, jumped out to a 13-3 lead thanks to a pair of touchdown passes and a stingy defense.

The fourth quarter, well, that was a different story.

Here is the lede from the El Paso Times story that November day:

"The University of Wyoming exploded for 18 points in the final quarter to come from behind and take a narrow 21-19 victory over University of Texas at El Paso at Sun Bowl Stadium Saturday night. A record crowd of 35,023 was on its feet through most of the final quarter as undefeated and sixth ranked Wyoming had to come from behind twice to whip the stubborn Miners.

"The winning points came on a 24-yard field goal by Jerry DePoyster, his second three pointer in five attempts."

After a Tom Williams touchdown and a Paul Toscano two-point conversion trimmed the Miners' lead to 13-11, Larry Nels stripped Brooks to give the Cowboys a first-and-goal inside the UTEP 6-yard line. Toscano would hit flanker Larry Suganuma out of the backfield to give the visitors their first lead of the afternoon.

One they wouldn't give up.

Nels, also known as "Bo," was one of the most feared defensive linemen in the country. His Hall of Fame plaque uses words like "feared" and "terrorized" to describe his style of play. Nels tallied 511 tackles in his three seasons in Laramie, earning All-American status while leading the Cowboys to their second straight WAC championship.

From 1968-70, 11 Cowboys were drafted into the NFL. Nels got the call from the New York Giants in the 12th round of the 1970 draft. Teammates Joe Williams and Vic Washington were also selected that weekend.

Nels was elected into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in September of 2000.

Back in 2005, Nels attended the home opener in Laramie. It was the Cowboys first time playing a home game on artificial turf.

"This is the nicest field I've ever been on," Nels told the Casper Star Tribune. "My ashes are going to be spread here, I swear to God."

Honorable mention
Offensive tackle Adam Goldberg (1999-02) was named first-team All-Mountain West during his final two seasons in Laramie. As a sophomore, he earned second-team honors. Goldberg was a model of consistency during a time when the team was anything but. The Cowboys won just five games in Goldberg's final three seasons.

Goldberg, who started 44-of-45 games at UW, blocked for one of the best signal callers in school history, Casey Bramlet. He also sealed the edge for tailbacks, Derek Armah and Nate Scott.

A native of Edina, Minnesota, was picked up by the Vikings after going undrafted in 2003. He spent three seasons in his home state before moving on to St. Louis, where he was a standout with the Rams from 2006-11.

Who else wore No. 74
Al Lazzarino (T), Don Ricks (T), Mike Lopiccolo (OT), Dan Grunner (OT), Darren Wehrer (DL), Pat Hurley (OT), Jason Bartlett (OT), Adam Melsek (OL), Tim Bond (OL), Walker Madden (OL), Brinkley Jolly (OT), Blayne Baker (OL)

*** All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email ***

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