LAS VEGAS -- 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. 35 – Cory Wedel

Kicker, 1994-97, Burlington, Colo.

Résumé in Laramie
Cory Wedel was one of the most accurate place kickers in Wyoming history. Maybe that’s why he is accountable for the third-most points in program history with 301? That’s 54 field goals and 139 extra points in his four-year career. Wedel owns four single-game school records: total points (20), extra-point attempts and makes (9) and field-goal attempts (6). Wedel made 99 percent of his extra-point attempts (139 for 140), including 128 straight from 1995-97. His 20 field goals in 1996 is still the standard at UW. Wedel was named All-Western Athletic Conference three times. He earned All-WAC academic honors during every one of his seasons in Laramie.

Why Wedel?
Wyoming offensive tackle, Rob Bohlinger, warned his Idaho counterpart repeatedly how potent Cory Wedel’s left leg was.

It was the opening game of the 1996 season. Bohlinger had a front-row seat to Wedel’s greatness for years. In 1995, Wedel was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist. They give that hardware to the best kicker in the country.

Plus, they were roommates.

Bohlinger just smiled when Wedel trotted out to attempt his sixth field goal of the afternoon.

“By the end of the game, the guy opposing him said, `Is he going to make this, too?′ Rob said, `Yeah, he’s money,‴ Wedel told reporters after the 40-38 victory over the Vandals at War Memorial Stadium.

The Cowboys would need every one of those Wedel points, which included two extra points.

Wedel was indeed money that day, hitting three from 40-plus yards. But, for him, it was just another day at the office. The senior tied the WAS and school record for most field goals and points in a game, eclipsing the record set by Dan Christopulos and Sean Fleming.

”I was somewhere aware in the back of my mind what the Wyoming record for a game was,″ Wedel said to the Associated Press. ”I’m still a little bit in awe about it, and a little bit surprised. I had never had more than two field goals in a game.″

His head coach was impressed.

“Thank God for Cory Wedel,″ Joe Tiller said. “I don’t mind a couple field goals, but I wouldn’t want to make a living at trying to make six every game.”

Wedel made arguably his biggest most-clutch kick on a September Saturday night in Ames, Iowa.

The Cowboys were on the brink of completing a 15-point comeback and had the Iowa State Cyclones on the ropes in overtime.

In stepped Wedel from 41 yards out.

Calm, cool, collected, Wedel put the toe to the ball and raised both arms skyward and sprinted toward the Wyoming bench. The celebration was on. The Cowboys beat the Cyclones 41-38 to remain undefeated.

The Cowboys finished the 1996 season 10-2 overall, including clinching a berth in the inaugural WAC championship game in Las Vegas.

Wedel will forever be known as one of the top place kickers in Wyoming history.

Honorable mention
Lawrence Gaines
(1972-75) was a beast of a running back for the Cowboys. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 237-pound bruiser from Vernon, Texas, rushed for 1,528 yards in just 318 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. All but three of those rushes came in his final three years in Laramie. He also scored six rushing touchdowns.

That production will gain you a nickname like "Freight Train."

Gaines' physical style of running coupled with his speed and pass-catching ability out of the backfield earned him a first-round selection in the 1976 NFL Draft. Gaines played for the Lions for four years, rushing for 892 yards and five touchdowns over 43 games.

Gaines was the second Cowboy in history to hear his name called in the first round, joining Ron Billingsley, who was selected 14th overall by the Chargers in the 1967 NFL Draft. Aaron Kyle and Josh Allen have since been picked in the first round.

Injuries ultimately cut Oliver Schober’s (2010-13) career short. We will never know what could have been. But, what Schober did represent was the beginning of an unlikely pipeline from Germany to Laramie.

Schober, a 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker from Munich, learned the game of football in Europe. And thanks to David Odenthal, who played for former Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen at Toledo, landed a scholarship at UW.

In 2010, Schober finished with 46 tackles, including one for loss. He even broke up three passes in 12 games. Oliver was also tabbed a “kick-off specialist.”

Nothing like an extra tackler – a giant one in a neck roll – running down on kick coverage.

In 2011 is when injuries started to pile up. He lost his entire sophomore season and never returned to form. However, because of the chance UW took on Schober, that opened the door for future Cowboys, Eric and Mark Nzeocha.

Mark, a linebacker and defensive back from 2011-14, racked up 137 tackles during his four-year career at UW. He picked off one pass, landed three sacks and nine tackles for loss. His athleticism landed him in Dallas as a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Today, he is a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers.

Who else wore No. 35
Dave Montalbano (FB), Nick Faris (LB), Doug DiVenere (FB), Rodd Merchant (LB), Scott Fuller (LB), Justin Hopkin (S), Da’mon Frier (DE), Shane Powell (FB/LB), Jimmy DeAndrea (RB), Oliver Schober (LB), Cooper Wise (CB), Robert Priester (CB-also wore No. 2), Marcus Epps (S-also wore No. 6), Donzef Polite (WR), Zach Taylor (FB), Skyler Miller (LB)

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