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. 80 – Jeff Knapton

Defensive tackle, 1984-87, Yuma, Colorado


Résumé in Laramie
Jeff Knapton was a terror on the Cowboys defensive line in 1987, registering 19 sacks, which is still second most in a single-season in program history. Knapton, who was named first-team All-Western Athletic Conference that season, finished his career with 30 sacks, tied for second most ever. That team, under first-year head coach, Paul Roach, also won the league title and played in the Holiday Bowl.

Why Knapton?
Think about this ... In 1987, Mitch Donahue, Pat Rabold and Jeff Knapton were on the same defensive line.

And don't forget David Edeen and Craig Schlichting.

How terrifying was that for Wyoming opponents?

Donahue has 49 career sacks, the most in school history. Rabold and Knapton are tied for second with 30. Edeen and Schlichting are still in the Top 10, too.

1987 belonged to Knapton, who took down opposing quarterbacks 19 times while leading the Cowboys to a 10-3 record, a perfect 8-0 mark in Western Athletic Conference play and a berth in the Holiday Bowl against Iowa.

Those 19 sacks is still the second-best single-season performance in program lore.

Knapton, a team captain from Yuma, Colorado, was named first-team All-WAC after that dominant senior campaign. That team was inducted into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Seven players on that team, most in the conference, earned first-team honors: Anthony Sargent, Bill Hoffman, Tony Kapushion, Gerald Abraham, Galand Thaxton, Tom Kilpatrick and Knapton.

Knapton was selected by the Los Angeles Raiders in the sixth round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He was the only Cowboy taken that year.

Knapton's nephew, Gabe Knapton, also made this list at No. 52. You can read that story HERE.

Honorable mention
Chris McNeill (2009-12) earned back-to-back second-team All-Mountain West honors as a junior and senior in Laramie.

McNeill hauled in passes from quarterbacks Austyn Carta-Samuels and Brett Smith. His best season came in 2012 when he snagged 63 balls for 722 yards and five touchdowns. McNeill also played in two bowl games during his Cowboy career, both in New Mexico.

His best single-game performance also came that season against Idaho. He caught eight passes for 219 yards in a 40-37 overtime victory over the Vandals in Moscow, Idaho.

Who else wore No. 80
Roger Jeffers (End), Rich Zimmerman (DE), Archie Gray (SE), Brent Schieffer (TE), Dallas Rose (TE), Ryan McClendon (WR), Brock Ralph (WR), Jeston Karn (TE), Mike Jurgens (DE), Darion Donnelly (WR), Brandon Ribble (TE), JD Krill (TE), James Price (WR), Parker Christensen (TE)

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

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