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?

Brown Brian action 9
Brown Brian action 9

No. 13 – Brian Brown

Linebacker, 1995-98, Columbus, Mont.

Résumé in Laramie
Brian Brown came to Wyoming as an unknown. Soon, everyone knew his name. Brown racked up 103 tackles from his weak-side linebacker position in 1996 as a sophomore. The following season, he led all Cowboy defenders with 136, which is still in the Top 10 in school history for a single season. He earned second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors that season. Brown didn’t just dominate on the grid iron, he was named a first-team Academic All-American after his senior season, posting a 3.84 GPA. He was a three-time scholar athlete at UW.

Why Brown?
If God were to create the perfect linebacker, his prototype might have been Brian Brown.

He was smart. Like, really smart. First-team Academic All-American smart.

He was tough. Standing 5-foot, 11-inches and 215 pounds, Brown punished opposing ball carriers or anyone who would dare to try the middle of the field.

All linebackers are tough – but Brown took it to a different level.

Playing with a bad hamstring, Brown had a flesh-colored wrap around his leg for the last four games of the 1998 season. In front of a national television audience, Brown basically played on one leg and helped lead the Cowboys to a 27-19 demolition of rival Colorado State in a muddy, smoke-filled Hughes Stadium.

During his sophomore season, Brown showed why a little leg injury wasn’t about to keep him out of action. In a heartbreaking loss to San Diego State – the Cowboys lone defeat of the regular season in 1996 – Brown, turns out, was playing with a bleeding kidney.

Watch him get chopped down here by an Aztec offensive lineman, pop right back up and go make the play:


Do you think he missed the Border War the following week in freezing Fort Collins? Nope. He played in the inaugural WAC title game against BYU, too. Brown finished with five solo tackles.

Despite being a transfer from Rocky Mountain College and a walk-on at UW, Brown was a three-year starter at middle linebacker for Joe Tiller and Dana Dimel. When his career came to a close he was seventh all-time on the career tackles list with 303. He has since been passed and slipped out of the Top 10, but Brown is still seventh all-time in single-season tackles with 136 in 1997.

Brown served as a team captain and was named second-team All-WAC after his junior season. Brown’s Wyoming teams spent several weeks in the Top 25 and he finished his career with a record of 26-10.

Asked by the Billings Gazette in 2011 what his greatest achievement has been, Brown said, “I feel very blessed where I am at currently in my life. I have a healthy family, live in a wonderful community, and work for a great organization.”

Humble, too.

Brown now serves as Regional President for First Interstate Bank in Billings.

Told you he was smart.

Honorable mention
Brent Tillman always took a backseat to Ryan Yarborough and Marcus Harris on the stat sheet, but he was a pretty darn solid option for quarterbacks John Gustin, Jeremy Dombek, Josh Wallwork and Joe Hughes.

Tillman Brent
Tillman Brent

His best season came in 1994 when he snagged 56 passes for 886 yards and four touchdowns. In a 52-35 shootout win over San Diego State at War Memorial Stadium that season, Tillman caught 15 passes for 184 yards. That is still good for the third-most receptions in a game in school history.

Tillman finished his career with 101 receptions for 1,570 yards and six touchdowns.

A shout out goes to former quarterback and punter, Don Clayton, too. He led the Pokes in passing in 1976 and 1977. He finished with 939 yards passing and six touchdown tosses. Pretty good for a wishbone quarterback. He also helped lead the Cowboys to the 1976 Fiesta Bowl.

Who else wore No. 13
Brennan Kutterer (S), John Okwoli (WR), Tommy Thornton (QB), Jaden Olearnick (QB), Trey Norman (WR), Darrenn White (ATH), Adam Barry (QB), Chris Johnson (WR), Ethan Patrick (CB), Dennis Barnett (QB), Gaston Gosar (LB), Efrem Haymore (DB), Brandon Neill (QB), Herb Jones (Bandit), Dustin Pleasant (WR), Evan Weatherspoon (S), Steven Headley (QB)

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

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