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. 8 – Brian Hendricks

Linebacker, 2008-11, Burlington, Colo.

Résumé in Laramie
Brian Hendricks made a school record 23 tackles against Air Force during his sophomore season. He added 18 against Colorado State. That is good for No. 7 overall on the all-time list. Hendricks earned a pair of second-team All-Mountain West selections during his sophomore and senior seasons. He also led the Cowboys in tackles both years with 116 and 105, respectively. Hendricks was a team captain during his final two seasons in Laramie. He was also named MWC Player of the Week twice. He is the 12th leading tackler in Wyoming history.

Why Hendricks?
Before he was even born, his family had his future school picked out. He would play football for the Rams. The Colorado State ones, just like his father and grandfather before him.

Brian Hendricks was raised to despise Wyoming. Just like Mike and Joe Hendricks used to.

“Growing up, I was always wanting to be just like my dad and my grandpa. I wanted to be a Ram," Hendricks told the Casper Star-Tribune before the 2014 Border War. "Knowing all about the Border War, I always disliked Wyoming. I always thought their colors were ugly.

"That’s just the way I was wired."

It seemed like his dream was about to come true. After becoming an all-state selection at Burlington High School, CSU offered him a full-ride scholarship. It was finally happening.

Before he made his decision, he decided to sleep on it.

A brown-and-gold angel must've tapped him on the shoulder.

"I went down to my room and I just knew deep down inside -- I just had a feeling that it was Wyoming," Henricks told the paper. "I didn’t want to wait anymore. I knew what it was.

"I want to go to Wyoming," he told his parents. "I want to be a Poke."

Not like that news wasn’t hard enough for his family to swallow, Hendricks also dominated the Rams on the field, winning three out of four meetings between the two schools. In 2009, Henricks put together the seventh best single-game tackling clinic in school history with 18.

Here's some visual proof from that dominant performance:

Against another one of Hendrick’s home-state schools, Air Force, he became the top single-game tackler in program history with 23. That was the most tackles by a single defender in the nation that season.

The 6-foot, 1-inch, 228-pound linebacker could hit with the best of them. His speed set him apart. No. 8 always seemed to be around the ball. He even looked the part with his massive biceps and neck roll. His 309 career tackles prove he was one of the best. He added nine tackles for loss and three sacks to go along with three forced fumbles.

Henricks played in two bowl games for the Pokes, both in Albuquerque in the New Mexico Bowl. He went undrafted but spent time in Redskins’ mini-camp.

The player decided to become the coach after his brief NFL tryout. Hendricks is currently a defensive line coach at Illinois State.

He made dad and grandpa cringe again in 2018. Hendricks’ Redbirds went into Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins and smashed the Rams, 35-19.

Ouch.

Honorable mention

Hey, kickers are people, too. And Wyoming had one of the best in the nation from 1998-2001. His name is Aaron Elling, and he connected on 37 of 55 field-goal attempts during his tenure in Laramie. He was also 70 for 72 on extra-point tries.

He was named second-team All-MWC as a senior.

You won’t find the walk-on’s name in the record books, but consistency landed him in the NFL. His best season in the pros was in 2003, when he scored 102 points while playing in all 16 games for the Vikings. Elling went on to play for seven teams in his six-year career.

He is only one of two former Cowboys to kick in the NFL. The other is Jerry DePoyster.

Tip of the cap to Chris Dixon (CB) and Michael Ford (WR). Both had nice careers in Laramie, as well.

Who else wore No. 8
Rome Weber (DB), Jalen Ortiz (S), John Arnold (WR), Damian Spencer (DB), Wade Constance (LB), Chris Stanton (K/P), Marcus Brunson (WR), Eric Blackwell (S), Zach Rutten (LB), Matt Belshe (QB), Chris Dixon (CB), Michael Ford (WR), Zack Berg (LB), Brandon Miller (RB), Brian Hill (RB-also wore No. 5), John Salley (S)

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