UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 20
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.
The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.
This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan Thorburn and Kevin McKinney. We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Safety, 2007-10, Buffalo, Wyoming
Here's why: The names John Wendling and Chris Prosinski will likely always be linked in Wyoming football history.
They both played safety. They were both from Wyoming. They were both freak athletes. They were both humble and let their play do the talking. They were both arguably the best at their position in not only the conference, but in the country. They both enjoyed extended careers in the NFL.
One day, they will both be in the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame.
No, they never played together. Prosinski got on the field in 2007, a year after Wendling went to the NFL. But the quarterback of the Cowboys' secondary remained the best in the business. The fact they were locals just made them even more admired.
You don't have to venture too far down the career tackles list at UW before you find Prosinski's name. He's sixth (was fourth when he graduated), surrounded by names like John Salley and Gabe Knapton. Prosinski's 140-tackle performance in 2009 is still fourth best all time, behind only Galand Thaxton (158 and 143) and Salley with 143.
In 2008, Prosinski picked off a pair of passes in a 16-13 home win over North Dakota State. The guy on the opposing sideline -- Craig Bohl. Prosinski finished with five career interceptions to go along with two forced fumbles and seven pass breakups.
You might remember the goal-line stand in overtime of the 2009 New Mexico Bowl. Prosinski, along with his buddies Josh Biezuns, John Fletcher, Gabe Knapton, Weston Johnson, Brian Hendricks, Mitch Unrein, and others, were in on all four stops inside the Cowboys' 2-yard line in that 35-28 thriller over Fresno State. You can relive that right HERE.
Twice, Prosinski was named to the All-Mountain West second team.
Prosinski, who now lives in Sheridan and is a financial advisor, played seven years in the NFL after being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Thorburn's take: My dad used to have a copy of an old Sports Illustrated with the Boston Celtics’ Dave Cowens and the New Jersey Nets’ Julius Erving on the cover.
As cool as Dr. J and the ABA-NBA merger were, that’s not the reason my dad held on to the Oct. 25, 1976, issue. One of our relatives from little Buffalo, Wyo. — Dennis Camino — was also featured in a photograph on page 31 as part of an article on the Cowboys. You can find that right HERE.
The SI story by John Underwood, headlined “Seldom is heard a discouraging word,” was about Wyoming’s return to national prominence that season under Fred Akers.
Photographer Peter Read Miller captured Camino soaring through the air to block a punt in the end zone for what would be the game-winning touchdown against New Mexico en route to Wyoming’s co-WAC championship and Fiesta Bowl appearance that season.
Three decades later, another great athlete from Buffalo — Chris Prosinski — arrived in Laramie to begin his notable career.
During the Pokes’ painful 3-9 finish in 2010, Prosinski was a bright spot with 12 tackles against No. 3 Boise State, 12 tackles against No. 10 Utah and 11 tackles against No. 4 Texas.
Prosinski, who started the last 37 games of his collegiate career at free safety, ranks sixth at Wyoming with 373 career tackles. He had 140 tackles in 2009, which ranks fourth in program history for single season behind Galand Thaxton (158 tackles in 1986, 143 tackles in 1987) and John Salley (143 tackles in 1982).
The two-time all-Mountain West second team selection was also a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman.” Prosinski was a fourth-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars and played seven seasons in the NFL.
Camino’s 1976 Cowboys are in Wyoming’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Prosinski will certainly be joining the Johnson County wing of the hall soon.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (23), Robert Gagliardi (16), Jared Newland (37), Ryan Thorburn (22), Kevin McKinney (28)
Previous selections: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21
Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.