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. 19 – Craig Burnett

Quarterback, 1986-87, San Anselmo, Calif.

Résumé in Laramie
Craig Burnett still holds the school record for most attempts in a season with 467 in 1987. He also owns the mark for most attempts in a game with 65 against San Diego State the previous year. Burnett’s 4,373 yards (10th), 34 touchdowns (9th), 3,131 yards in a single season (6th) and career pass attempts and completions, 667 and 378, respectively, is still good enough for 9th in team history. His average of more than 39 pass attempts per game is still the standard at Wyoming. Burnett was a team captain and scholar-athlete in 1987. That year’s Holiday Bowl team was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Why Burnett?
The Oklahoman newspaper called Wyoming’s 1987 offense the equivalent of a “Chinese fire drill.”

Oklahoma City’s paper said Craig Burnett should’ve requested a video from the game against Oklahoma State for “his viewing pleasure.”

In just the third game of the season, Wyoming’s senior signal caller connected on 34 of his 54 passes for 441 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He jumped from No. 11 on the program’s all-time passing list to sixth. Before the game, Burnett was No. 22 in total offensive yards. When the dust settled in that 35-29 loss to the Pokes in orange, he was all the way up to No. 13.

Burnett’s outing that Saturday was then the best single-game from a quarterback in Wyoming history. He beat the old mark by 45 yards.

And he did it all with a nagging left knee injury.

"It seemed like every time Wyoming ran a play they were in a different alignment," OSU senior cornerback Wade Weller said post game. "It was really wear-and-tear on the mind

Wyoming’s new head coach, Paul Roach, used four split receiver sets and often put the running back in motion.

"I felt more like a safety out there," OSU defensive end Jerry Deckard told the press after the game. He spent the afternoon attempting to cover the nation’s leading receiver at the time, tight end, Bill Hoffman.

There was no doubt that Burnett loved to air it out. He was only under center for two seasons in Laramie. In that time, he attempted 667 passes. He still holds the school mark for most passes in a season with 467 in 1987.

Burnett, who started his career at Santa Rosa Junior College, finished his UW career with 4,373 yards passing and 34 touchdowns.

And, oh by the way, he shared time at QB with Scott Runyan and Randy Welniak. Imagine if Burnett was the regular starter and played all four years?

Burnett led the Cowboys to a 10-3 record in 1987. Wyoming was king of the WAC. They earned a spot in the Holiday Bowl where they would face Hayden Fry’s Iowa Hawkeyes.

Burnett’s Cowboys were on a nine-game winning streak entering that tilt in San Diego. Before a then-record crowd of 61,892 at Jack Murphy Stadium, Wyoming did everything they could to keep the Hawkeyes in the game.

The Pokes jumped out to an early 12-0 lead thanks to a pair of field goals from Greg Worker and a 15-yard scoring strike from Burnett to James Loving.

Then Iowa blocked a Tom Kilpatrick punt for a touchdown. Wyoming answered with a Gerald Abraham three-yard plunge.

The fourth quarter was a disaster for Wyoming.

Burnett overshot his intended target only to have Hawkeye cornerback, Anthony Wright, take an interception back 33 yards for the score. Iowa’s offense would finally get on the board late. UW still had a chance. But once again, special teams would let them down when a 52-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Merton Hanks.

A final desperation drive resulted in Burnett’s second interception of the game. Hanks was Johnny on the spot again.

Burnett attempted a Holiday Bowl record 53 passes. He earned Offensive Player of the Game honors, but the Pokes would fall, 20-19.

Burnett finished 28 of 53 for 332 yards and a touchdown.

Honorable mention
Tommy Nash (pictured at right) was a wide receiver in 1998-99. Though he was overshadowed by the likes of Wendell Montgomery and Kofi Shuck, Nash did put up some decent numbers for Dana Dimel and Vic Koenning.

His best season came in 1999, when Nash snagged 34 passes from Jay Stoner for 323 yards and a touchdown.

He also rushed the ball 27 times for 134 yards.

Who else wore No. 19
Scott Freeman (SE), Derrin Jenkins (DB), Max Haynes (DB), Ty Muma (S-also wore 46), Ereck Noland (DB), Chris Cole (CB), DaShawn Abram (S), Terrell Vinson (CB), Chase McBride (WR), Stinson Dean (QB), Jamichael Hall (S), Wil Isom (S), Keenan Montgomery (WR), Mason Finnerty (DB), Anthony Makransky (DB), Ayden Eberhardt (WR)

  • All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.