Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 29
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. 29 – Ward Dobbs
Linebacker, 2005-08, Fairbanks, Alaska
Résumé in Laramie
When Ward Dobbs hung up his cleats on the high plains, he was the fifth-leading tackler in Wyoming history with 343. Today, he is ninth all-time. Twice Dobbs racked up 18 tackles in a game. Once against Utah in 2005 and again versus the Air Force Academy the following season. Dobbs is credited with 24 tackles for loss, which is still sixth in program history. Four tackles behind the line of scrimmage against Tennessee in his senior season is tied for first in the record books. Dobbs received postseason accolades in each of his last three seasons. As a sophomore, he was named to the Mountain West’s second team. The following year he was an honorable mention. In 2008, Dobbs was named to the first team after a 101-tackle season and taking two interceptions back for touchdowns. He shared the team lead in interceptions with Chris Prosinski that season with three.
Ward Dobbs stepped in front of a Nick Stephen’s pass and returned it 24 yards to give Wyoming a 13-0 lead.
He never broke stride. He read the quarterback’s eyes and jumped the route.
If that’s all the senior linebacker accomplished that day in front of more than 100,000 at Neyland Stadium, it would’ve been a good day. Instead, Dobbs made life miserable for Tennessee and all those fans, helping ruin an SEC homecoming on Rocky Top and give the Cowboys the biggest upset of the weekend.
A non-BCS team hadn’t won in Knoxville since 1986.
Dobbs was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week after recording 13 tackles, including four for loss, which is still tied for first in program history for a single-game performance. He also tallied a sack. Dobbs moved into seventh place on the all-time tackle list that day with 318.
With the Vols facing a 3rd and four from the Wyoming 37 late in the third, Dobbs sniffed out a screen pass and dropped tailback Tauren Poole for a 1-yard loss.
Tennessee threatened once again late in the fourth. And once again, the 6-foot Dobbs answered.
Coming through on a blitz, Dobbs dumped backup Volunteer signal caller Jason Crompton for an eight-yard loss back to the UT 47-yard line. Wyoming would take over on downs just three plays later and the celebration was on.
How’s that for a day at the office?
Dobbs, though undersized, was a wrecking ball throughout his career in Laramie. He played with tenacity and a high football IQ. The Alaska native was a blue-collar guy, fitting in perfectly in his new home.
No. 29 went sideline to sideline and had a nose for the football, finishing his career with four interceptions and three forced fumbles. His 24 tackles for loss is still the sixth-best mark in UW history.
By the way, this 2006 performance in a 31-15 home win over Utah earned Dobbs Defensive Player of the Week honors, too.
Aren't those jerseys beautiful?
And how about that speed around the corner?
Paul Wallace snagged 14 interceptions for the Cowboys between 1989 and 1992. That mark is still good enough for second in program history behind Brain Lee, who finished his career with 17.
Wallace, an Omaha, Neb., native, picked off five passes during his sophomore and senior seasons. In 1990, the defensive back was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference squad after helping lead the Pokes to the Copper Bowl.
Wallace finished second in the balloting for 1989 WAC Freshman of the Year.
Guy Tuell (2001-04) was about to head back home after back-to-back two-win seasons under Vic Koenning.
''I was going to transfer to (Colorado) if he didn't get the job," said Tuell, a Yuma, Colo., native.
Then Cowboy Joe Glenn rode into town. With him, he brought a new sense of urgency and gave a wounded group confidence. Something the program was seriously lacking in a three-year stretch of winning only five games, two of which came against Furman and The Citadel.
''He brought the confidence back into our program,” Tuell continued. “He brought a great coaching staff that recognized what type of players we have on our team. He put us in the right position to get our job done."
In that first season under Glenn in 2003, the Cowboys went 4-8. Two of those wins came against rivals Colorado State and BYU.
The next season ended with an iconic photo of Tuell, joined by Trenton Franz, JJ Raterink and Zach Morris, holding up the Las Vegas Bowl Championship trophy in the middle of Sam Boyd Stadium after a stunning 24-21 upset win over UCLA.
Tuell finished his UW career 11th overall in tackles with 249.
Who else wore No. 29
Kapp Johnson (FL), Lou Carter (DB), Steve Clayton (CB/S), Steve Hendrix (DB), Josh Amundson (RB), Allen Bridgeman (S), James Pecosky (HB), Luke Ruff (S), Tim Hayes (CB), Jalen Ortiz (CB), Kellen Overstreet (RB), Garrett Crall (DE, also wore 88), Quinten Mercado (CB), Leevi Lafaele (DE)
- All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.