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. 22 – Robbie Duncan

Corner back, 1996-99, Killeen, Texas

Résumé in Laramie
Robbie Duncan led the WAC Conference in deflections in 1997, picked off six passes during his four-year stint in Laramie and was one of the hardest hitting corners in the nation. Duncan’s Cowboys went 32-15 during his career and played in the inaugural WAC Championship game in Las Vegas in 1996. Duncan and Co. also shut down some of the best receivers in the nation during his collegiate career: Troy Edwards (Louisiana Tech), James Dye (BYU), Az-Zahir Hakim and Will Blackwell (San Diego State), David Boston (Ohio State) and Champ Bailey (Georgia) – on offense, anyway -- among many others.

Why Duncan?
Turnovers Doomed BYU that evening.

And none was bigger than an interception at the goal line by Cowboys defensive back, Robbie Duncan.

With the score tied at 7-7 and the momentum shifting heavily toward the No. 12 Cougars after a Wyoming fumble near midfield, the Pokes defense was starting to bend.

They didn’t break.

Duncan stepped in front of a Kevin Feterik pass at the 1-yard-line, thwarting BYU’s chance to go up a score.

"Robbie Duncan is a stalwart, and as talented, with as good a knack for the position, as any defensive back I've been around,” head coach Dana Dimel said to reporters.

The Wyoming offense took care of the rest, scoring 10 points in the third and adding a Tim Beasley rushing touchdown in the fourth to take down their rivals to the west, 31-17.

The 26,000-plus Wyoming fans rushed the field and tore down the goal posts. The win put a halt to BYU’s six-game winning streak. Those yellow posts still reside at the Buckhorn Bar in downtown Laramie.

Duncan was just one name in a stellar era of defensive backs at UW. He played with Al Rich, Matt Lehning, Brian Lee and Greg Van Leer, among others. Like the four mentioned, Duncan had a nose for the football, picking off six passes.

He also wasn’t afraid to lay the lumber:

That wasn’t all he did that Halloween night in Ft. Worth.

With the Pokes trailing 17-10 in the second quarter, Duncan stepped in front of a Patrick Batteaux bullet and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 34-27 win over LaDainian Tomlinson and the Horned Frogs.

“He’s as good as we’ve ever had here,” Dimel boasted after the game.

Duncan added five solo tackles and broke up two passes that night.

It was sweet redemption for the Texas native.

Honorable mention
The guy known as “Mastro” or “Joe the Toe” was a three-sports star at UW. Joe Mastrogiovanni, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, swam, played baseball and was the Cowboys first throwing quarterback in school history.

The “toe” part was earned as the Pokes place kicker. He nailed three game-winning field goals for UW in 1954.

Mastrogiovanni came to Laramie as a halfback and ended up under center, leading the Cowboys to a 19-11-1 record from 1953-55. He was instrumental in leading UW to the 1955 Sun Bowl, a 21-14 victory over Texas Tech.

Twice Mastrogiovanni was named a first-team All-Sky selection. In 1955, he led the nation in rushing for more than half a season. He earned honorable mention All-American honors that season.

We want to give some love to Josh Barge (2002-05) and Nico Evans (2015-18).

Brage was a dynamic player, serving as a slot receiver and a kick/ punt returner. Over his four-year career, Barge hauled in 57 passes for 709 yards and four touchdowns. As a punt returner, Barge racked up 389 yards on 32 attempts, including a touchdown against Ole Miss in 2004.

Evans was an unknown before his breakout senior season. His best season previously was 56 yards on 14 attempts. In 2018, Evans was the best back in the Mountain West, eclipsing 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns while taking over for all-time leading rusher, Brian Hill.

Dave Hampton (1966-68) was also a bruiser of a running back for the Pokes, tallying 1,281 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Hampton also caught three touchdown passes. He backed up Jim Kiick his first two years before taking over the reins as a senior and leading the Cowboys with 749 rushing yards.

Who else wore No. 22
Fritz Turner (DB), Jerry Eure (DB), Steve Vana (CB), Steve Addison (S), Derek Palmer (WR), Ben Higgins (DB), Jason Jones (LB), Tom Vincent (S/WR), Darryl Gober (S), Brandon Stewart (WR), Tedder Easton (RB), Ryan Anaya (LB), Sidney Washington (CB)

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