Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 93
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. 93 – Brian Van Emmerik
Defensive end/ Defensive tackle, 1996-99, Salem, South Dakota
Résumé in Laramie
Brian Van Emmerik was a three-year starter for the Cowboys from 1997-99. He also played in the WAC title game as a freshman under then-head coach Joe Tiller. Van Emmerik started his career in Laramie as a defensive tackle but was moved to the end opposite of Patrick Chukwurah. Van Emmerik was named WAC Mountain Division Player of the Week after his 1998 performance against Georgia "between the hedges." Van Emmerik's teams won at least seven games all four years he played.
Why Van Emmerik?
Brian Van Emmerik waited three long years to get another crack at BYU.
He was just a freshman on the Cowboys' team that fell to the No.5 Cougars 28-25 in the inaugural WAC Championship game in Las Vegas in December of 1996.
That afternoon at Sam Boyd Stadium, Van Emmerik finished with just one tackle as he sat behind starters like Jim Talich, Pat Larson and Brent Leu.
Wyoming and its nemesis from Provo didn't play in 1997 or '98, the first two years under new head coach Dana Dimel. That all changed in '99. The Cougars were not only on the schedule, they were coming to Laramie.
"I've been waiting for this game a long time," Van Emmerik told the Associated Press that November night.
The 15th-ranked Cougars, led by quarterback Kevin Feterik, rolled into the Gem City with one loss, a five-point setback at home to the Virginia Cavaliers. Wyoming had three losses up to that point. The lopsided kind against the defending national champion Tennessee Volunteers, and rare back-to-back home defeats at the hands of UNLV and Border War rival, Colorado State.
The Cowboys still had plenty to play for. Plus -- it's BYU.
Wendell Montgomery snagged a pair of touchdown passes from Jay Stoner and the UW defense sacked Feterik four times en route to a 31-17 upset. The fans rushed the field. The goal posts were carried down Grand Avenue.
Finally, Van Emmerik got some payback.
"I felt awesome," he said. "We knew what was coming. We knew we were going to get it. We knew we could stop it."
The senior defensive end finished with three tackles and a pair of those sacks that evening.
If BYU would've won, it would've celebrated a Mountain West title that night inside War Memorial Stadium. Instead, the Cougars would go on to lose to in-state rival Utah the following week. The Utes were crowned champs.
Wyoming hammered the Utes 43-29 in Salt Lake City the following Saturday. The Cowboys followed that with a blowout win over New Mexico.
With a bowl appearance on the line, which would've been UW's first since 1993, the Cowboys were blitzed 39-7 in the season finale at San Diego State.
Youhanna Ghaifan (2015-18) was a wrecking ball in the middle of the Cowboys' defensive front for three seasons. The big Nebraska native finished his career with 27 tackles for loss, which is fifth in school history.
In a game against Texas State in 2017, Ghaifan brought down ball carriers in the backfield four times. That is tied for the best single-game mark in program history. His 15.5 tackles for loss that season is still the third best mark ever.
Ghaifan, whose career at UW was cut short because of an off-the-field incident, tallied 11 sacks from the defensive tackle spot. He also forced four fumbles and batted down five passes.
Who else wore No. 93
Helmut Wise, Derrick Spack, Andy Pett, Ryan Oman, Garth Scholl, Tim Riley, Mike Groover, Marcus Felker, Eric Brooks, Eli McKinney, Jonathan Kongbo, DeVonne Harris, John Brasee, Christian Galdabini
*** All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com. ***