Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 90
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. 90 – Galand Thaxton
Linebacker, 1984-87, Denver, Colorado
Résumé in Laramie
Galand Thaxton is Wyoming's all-time leading tackler (467) and single-season leader (158). The Denver product was named the Western Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 1984. Thaxton was named to an All-Conference first-team selection as a junior. At the time, he was also the first Cowboy to be named team captain twice in his career. Thaxton earned All-American honors as a senior and led the Cowboys to a WAC title and a berth in the 1987 Holiday Bowl.
Galand Thaxton is not a fan of that team from Provo, Utah.
It's not hard to see why either.
During Thaxton's first three seasons in a Cowboys uniform, BYU made life miserable for everyone in the Western Athletic Conference, not just Wyoming. In 1984, the Pokes came closest to ruining the Cougars' National Championship run. Al Kincaid's bunch fell, 41-38.
"We went out there, we played the best game of the season, and we ended up losing by three points I believe,” Thaxton told the Associated Press in 1985. "… But we gave them our all. We should’ve probably won that game, and they would’ve never won the national championship that year."
Yeah, there were heart breakers like that. There was also a 59-0 beat down the following season inside Cougar Stadium. That was courtesy of Robbie Bosco, Lakei Heimuli and Kelly Smith.
The next fall in Laramie, BYU jumped out to an early 22-0 lead on Dennis Erickson's Cowboys. Wyoming battled back thanks to a rushing touchdown and two scoring strikes from quarterback Randy Welniak, but it wasn't enough.
By the time Thaxton was a senior, the Cougars had won six in a row in the series. They pulled out miracles and put on clinics. BYU had the Cowboys' number.
"We felt like we could still beat them,” Thaxton told the Casper Star Tribune in 2016. "We didn’t care how many missions they went on. We felt like we could beat them, and we wanted to beat them severely, because we just couldn’t stand them."
Enter Paul Roach.
Wyoming's athletics director at the time gave himself the task of finding the Cowboys' next head coach after the sudden, over-night departure of Erickson. Turns out, Roach was looking at his new hire in the mirror.
The players didn't come around immediately, according to Wyoming Hall of Famer Mitch Donahue. But it didn't take long to follow the old man in the glasses, who once coached in the NFL with Bart Starr and John Madden.
After back-to-back early losses at Washington State and at home against Oklahoma State, Wyoming won its next two before making the trip to the house of horrors in Provo. The Cowboys were 2-0 in WAC play. So was BYU, who was now led by quarterback Bob Jensen.
Once again, it looked as if the visitors would fall to their old rival. BYU jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the half. A headline in a Utah paper that morning compared the Cowboys to "lambs to slaughter."
That's exactly what the first half looked like.
Luckily for Thaxton and the Pokes, there are two halves in football.
Craig Burnett tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Tom Kilpatrick and Darrell Perkins in the third quarter. Gerald Abraham punctuated a 22-point third quarter with a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Anthony Sargent hauled in a 30-yard scoring strike from Burnett to open the fourth and give the Cowboys a commanding 29-14 lead.
The Cougars, as always, made it interesting late, but Thaxton and the defense made one final stand to finally knock off BYU en route to a WAC Championship.
"We got them and finally got that monkey off our backs," Thaxton said of the 29-27 win. "It was a serious celebration, because we hadn’t beaten them since I had been there and finally getting a chance to beat them on their home field, it was awesome."
The Cowboys went on to play Iowa in the Holiday Bowl. It was Wyoming's first bowl appearance since 1976.
BYU left the Mountain West Conference in 2010. That didn't sit well with Wyoming's all-time leading tackler.
In 2016, the Cowboys met the Cougars in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Thaxton was very vocal in the local newspaper that week.
"I was thinking that we need to spank the daylights out of them, that we need to beat them down," Thaxton said of his reaction when he heard Wyoming would be playing the Cougars. "First of all, I don’t think we’ve beaten them in a while. So definitely get some revenge on them.
"Not only that, but for leaving our conference," he continued. "I’m very upset that they left the conference the way they did, as well. They haven’t gotten any better since they left the conference, so I think we need to put it on them severely so that we can make a statement not only for the University of Wyoming but for the conference, as well."
You think that guy was fired up?
Thaxton had a Hall of Fame career in Laramie. You can read that above. He was enshrined in the school's Hall of Fame in 1999. That's what happens when you are an All-American and lead an entire program in tackles with 467, which still stands today.
Bob Jacobs (1968-70) will forever be known as one of the best kickers in program history. The 2010 UW Athletics Hall of Fame selection served as both a placekicker and punter for Lloyd Eaton's Cowboys.
Jacobs, a Bozeman, Montana, product, booted 37 career field goals during his time in Laramie, then a team record.
There was the 47-yard field goal against Arizona State in 1968. He also boomed a 77-yard punt against BYU that year. As a junior, Jacobs was named an All-American by Look-FWAA and The Sporting News. He set a national record with 18 made field goals. That led the nation. So did his 76 points that season.
To this day, Jacobs still owns a handful of school records: Average punts per game (career and season), total punts in a season, and co-owns the record for average field goals made per outing with JD Wallum.
Jacobs was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection, and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1971 NFL Draft.
Who else wore No. 90
Mike Heber (K), Gary Crum (OT), Dorell Drake (DT), Todd Grosskopf (DE), Jeff Leonard (DE), Andrew Waring (TE), Justin Scott (NG), Casey Adams (DT), Rob Hollway (DT), Brett Tyrrell (TE), Fred Givens (NG), Tyler Strong (DT), Uso Olive (DT), Gavin Dunayski (DT),
*** All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com. ***