Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 83
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. 83 – Wendell Montgomery
Wide receiver, 1996-99, Arvada, Colorado
Résumé in Laramie
Wendell Montgomery was one of the best wide receivers in school history, lettering all four years in Laramie. He replaced Wyoming's all-time leading receiver Marcus Harris in 1997. Montgomery is still No. 4 in career yards (2,883) and No. 6 in receptions with 181. In 1998, Montgomery was named first-team All-Western Athletic Conference. As a senior, he also earned first -team honors. This time in the Mountain West Conference.
Marcus Harris knows a thing or two about filling big shoes.
As a sophomore, the future Biletnikoff Trophy winner was tasked with replacing not only the best wide receiver in Wyoming history, but the NCAA's all-time yards leader, Ryan Yarborough.
Harris caught just one ball for 14 yards as a freshman. He played in 11 games. Yarborough snagged 75 balls for 1,584 yards and 16 touchdowns in 1993.
Talk about pressure.
Listen to Harris talk about Montgomery right here:
Fast forward to 1996. While Harris was busy shattering the school, and NCAA record books, a youngster named Wendell Montgomery was waiting in the wings. A freshman that season, Montgomery hauled in 25 passes from quarterback Josh Wallwork for 456 yards and a score.
Harris said Montgomery had to grow up quick. With David Saraf, Richard Peace and Harris all set to graduate after the Cowboys' 10-2 campaign, Montgomery was going to be the leader of a young corps, which included Kofi Shuck, Tommy Nash, Willie King, Ryan McClendon, and others.
All he did was catch 58 passes for 905 yards and four scores as a sophomore. In his final two seasons in Laramie, Montgomery pulled down 98 catches for 1,522 yards and five touchdowns.
Statistically, the Jay Stoner to Montgomery combo is still one of the best ever in Laramie.
Names like Jovon Bouknight, Tanner Gentry and Malcom Floyd might be more recognizable, but when the dust settled, Montgomery is still fourth in school history in yards receiving with 2,883. He's still seventh in career receptions with 181. He's Wyoming's leader in consecutive games with a reception with 41.
Not a bad resume when you consider the names Montgomery followed in UW lore.
James Loving (1986-88) came to Laramie from Santa Rosa Junior College. And, boy, did he make quite the impact at UW.
Just ask Houston.
In the 1987 meeting with the Cougars inside War Memorial Stadium, Loving snagged six passes for 247 yards. Math says that was an average of 41.2 yards per catch.
He wasn't done with the Coogs quite yet.
Loving also accounted for 80 yards in kickoff returns. That is still the best single day for offense in school history with 327. The Cowboys held on for the 37-35 victory that afternoon.
In 1986, Loving broke the then-school record with 673 yards receiving. Wyoming won the WAC title in '87 and played Iowa in the Holiday Bowl. Loving made a diving touchdown reception in the back of the end zone in that one, too.
In just two seasons, Loving caught 96 passes for 1,445 yards and eight touchdowns.
Scottie Vines (2001-02) also made a big impact in Laramie in just two seasons. The speedy wide out caught 73 passes from Casey Bramlet for 1,255 yards and 11 scores, including nine touchdowns during his senior season.
Vines best game came against UNLV that season. The senior snagged 10 passes for 237 yards against the Rebels. That is still the fourth-best single-game performance in school history. Wyoming fell 49-48 in overtime inside Sam Boyd Stadium.
Vines enjoyed a four-year NFL career as a member of the Packers and Lions. Vines finished with 43 career receptions for 468 yards.
Jake Maulhardt (2013-16) blossomed in his final two seasons at UW. Having Josh Allen under center didn't hurt. Despite catching just 30 passes as a freshman and sophomore, Maulhardt took off in 2015, snagging 57 balls for 641 yards and a career-best eight touchdowns.
As a senior, Maulhardt hauled in 39 catches for 614 yards and four scores.
Who else wore No. 83
Jerry Hackney (end), Frank Erzinger (DE), John Waite (TE), Tim Mara (WR), Brett Ralph (WR), Taber LaMarr (WR), Matt Sando (WR), TJ Smith (TE/ WR), Mason Keeler (TE), Vance Brazile (TE), Allyn Griffin
*** All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com. ***