Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 27
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. 27 – Larry Suganuma
Flanker, 1967-69, Pearl City, Hawaii
Résumé in Laramie
Larry Suganuma played in the glory years of the Wyoming football program. The three-year letter winner hauled in passes from Rick Egloff and Paul Toscano. He was a part of back-to-back 10-win seasons and never once lost to Colorado State or Brigham Young. During his three-year varsity career, Suganuma snagged 38 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. During his senior campaign, he caught 21 of those balls for 249 yards and a score.
It’s easy to get overshadowed when you play with names like Paul Toscano, Jim Kiick, Vic Washington, Gene Huey and Jerry DePoyster, but Larry “Tamo” Suganuma was as critical as any of them when it came to clinching a Sugar Bowl berth in 1967.
A perfect example came with the Pokes trailing in El Paso, Texas, in late November in 1967.
With a then record 35,023 jammed into the Sun Bowl and the sixth-ranked Cowboys behind 13-3 early in the fourth, it took Wyoming only 1:20 of game clock in the final stanza to take the lead. Fullback Tom Williams found the end zone first. Then, after a Larry Nels fumble recovery deep in Miners’ territory, Toscano found Suganuma for six.
Wyoming’s lead was short lived.
However, DePoyster split the uprights with 3:37 remaining to dispatch the pesky, upset-minded UTEP squad. Wyoming would finish the regular season undefeated and play LSU in New Orleans on New Year’s Day.
Lloyd Eaton’s Pokes would fall just short against the Tigers, losing 20-13 on a muddy Louisiana day.
Suganuma lost his fight with cancer on Oct. 13, 2010.
His obituary says he was a “talented receiver with terrific hands and was a big, quick elusive runner.” Suganuma was a captain in the fire department for 32 years in his native Hawaii. His love of football led him into coaching at the high school level.
He was a Sergeant in the Hawaii National Guard and a 29-year member of the Waikiki Elk’s Club.
The 6-foot, 1-inch flanker is one of the best from the islands to play in Laramie. Tim Kamana, Paul Nunu, Siaosi Hala’api’api and former linebacker Leo Caires are a few other notables who have come from Hawaii.
JP Williams (1996-98) was a shutdown corner during another great era of Wyoming football. Opposing quarterbacks didn’t test him much. They didn’t test Robbie Duncan, either. With Brain Lee lurking in the secondary, UW had one of the best pass defenses in the nation during the late 90’s.
Williams stats aren’t eye-popping. They didn’t need to be. He picked off three passes in 24 games and returned one for a touchdown in a 28-13 home win over Montana.
Lee intercepted three passes that October day.
Told you they were good.
After Williams UW career came to an end, he joined the coaching staff of the Billings Thunderbolts, an indoor football team. The head coach was Mitch Donahue. Two of the assistants were Josh Wallwork and Marcus Harris.
Wallwork was named our best No. 7 in history. Harris is our 23.
Michael Ray (2005-08) gets a shout out, too. The hard-hitting safety finished his career with 68 tackles and an interception.
Ray went on to become a strength and conditioning coach at UW, Arizona State and – wait for it -- Colorado State. He is currently the assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Washington.
Who else wore No. 27
Dave Dempsey (FL), Saunders Montague (DB), Derek Baker (RB), Darrell Roary (CB), Bobby Cole (DB), John Levingston (CB), Jubal Emerson (CB), Todd Knight (LB), Oscar Nevermann (RB), Davion Freeman (CB), Patrick Nasiatka (K), Tim Zaleski (P), Brett Brenton (RB), Bryce Levinson (CB)
- All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.