LARAMIE -- Thirteen solo tackles. A fumble recovery. Two pass breakups.

Those are Deron Harrell's modest stats in a Wyoming uniform. They all came during the 2022 season.

There was an interception, too. An important one.

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Already sporting a 10-0 lead and lining up at the Cowboys' 18-yard line, Colorado State quarterback Clay Millen secured the shotgun snap, dropped back three more steps,  peered to his left and locked in on wide receiver Justus Ross-Simmons.

The post route was run to perfection. The pass was anything but.

Millen's fast ball sailed high. It was also behind its intended target. That's where Harrell was hanging out.

"I remember it very vividly," the senior said last Tuesday at Wyoming's NFL Pro Day in Laramie. "All week in practice coach (Benny) Boyd was telling us they like to stem in and run a post off of that. So, I just told myself, like, my play off, as soon as I see him stem in I'm going to take the leverage and go get the ball. That's what happened."

In layman's terms, Harrell didn't bite on the juke. Film study told him Ross-Simmons was cutting inside. That errant second-quarter toss hit the Denver native right in the chest. He dropped to a knee for the touchback.

The Cowboys, led by back-up quarterback Jayden Clemons, would eventually pull off a 14-13 Border War victory that night inside Canvas Stadium.

Imagine if the Rams would've taken a commanding 17-0 lead that night?

"That was amazing," Harrell recalled, adding that CSU, along with Boise State, called with scholarship offers after he committed to Wyoming. "You know, it was great because my whole family was there. They got to come out and see that. It was pretty cool."

Harrell and his teammates hoisted the Bronze Boot in Fort Collins. It was the second straight win in the rivalry and the sixth in the last seven meetings. Wyoming would again knock off its nemesis to the south last fall.

Harrell was on the sidelines in street clothes.

He's lucky he even played in 2022.

"That whole season, I was playing with a torn hip labrum," said Harrell, who missed the entire 2023 campaign after a major offseason surgery. It was the same injury he dealt with during his final season at Wisconsin before entering the transfer portal and eventually landing in Laramie.

Before the Cowboys took on Tulsa in Week 2, Harrell said he couldn't even lift his leg. That's when the alarm bells started sounding again. An injury he sustained in fall camp, he figured, was reaggravated.

It was.

"That's when I really knew that something was wrong," the 6-foot-2, 182-pound cornerback said. "My hip would always be popping and clicking and be sore every single day after practice. Like, there were some days I couldn't even practice because I couldn't really run and lift my leg, so I didn't really do too much or tell anybody about it.

"You know, I really wanted to stick it out for the team. I had to really muscle through it, you know?"

Harrell appeared in 12 games despite that lingering pain. It became nearly unbearable before Wyoming's meeting with Ohio in the Arizona Bowl. Again, wanting to be there for his teammates, the then-junior took the field.

He was also forced to play nearly every snap that afternoon in Tucson after fellow corner Kolbey Taylor was ejected for targeting early in the first quarter. Harrell capped his outing with two solo tackles.

He didn't know it at the time, but that was his last college football game.

"I don't know how I made it through that whole game because, going into that game, I had a back injury due to my hip," Harrell said. "It was tough, but I had to do it for the team."

Two operations that April followed.

The first repaired the soft-tissue and cartilage around the joint. Doctors were forced to break his hip in four places a week later. They realigned the area and added pins.

"That was the tough one," Harrell said, eyebrows raised. "It took a minute for me to learn how to walk again, pretty much. So that was really tough."

Recovery, doctors told him, would take 8-to-10 months.

It's now been 11 and Harrell is inside the Cowboys' indoor practice facility, running cone drills, 40-yard dashes and snagging passes for scouts and personnel from nearly 30 NFL franchises in attendance. He also hit a personal record with a leap of 38 inches in the vertical jump.

Cecil Lammey, a writer for, penned a column titled "The Broncos need to quit ignoring the University of Wyoming."

He highlighted Harrell, saying he should be on Denver's "watchlist."

"Harrell lifted well for a cornerback, showing good strength and a good rhythm bench pressing 225 pounds," Lammey wrote. "However, it was his vertical leap that really made him jump onto my notebook. Harrell had the best vertical of the day, and you can see the explosiveness he has when he moves and plays on the football field.

"Injuries are part of his history with both the Badgers and the Cowboys, so that will have to be considered. However, I love the athleticism and the fighter’s mindset he has on film and during workouts."

That's just part of why Harrell is attempting this comeback.

"It's just my love for the game of football, honestly," he said. "You know, I've been playing football since I was 5 years old. It's something that I'm going to play until the wheels fall off. I'm going to use the gift that God gave me."

Jay Sawvel, Wyoming's rookie head coach, said it doesn't matter what numbers Harrell put up in front of scouts. Just being here competing is a testament to his perseverance.

"When you go back in and you've had long-term injury like he had and go give it another swing, you know, it's always a credit because that's tough," said Sawvel, who was the team's defensive coordinator over the last four seasons. "It's not easy to have hard, long-term rehabs -- it's a challenge. So, it's a credit to him that he got back today to do that."

A former three-star recruit out of Denver East High School, Harrell was a standout quarterback, throwing for 1,347 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 330 yards during his senior season. He was named the Denver Prep League Offensive MVP and earned First Team All-Conference honors as both a signal caller and a defensive back, where he picked off four passes.

Colorado kicked the tires. So did Mountain West foes CSU, Hawaii, San Diego State and Utah State.

He chose Wisconsin.

Harrell registered just 26 tackles during his three-year stint in Madison. He broke up eight passes, including five during his sophomore campaign.

A medical redshirt was never really a thought. Harrell already has a master's degree and has been in college since 2018. If football doesn't pan out, he plans to become an academic advisor or a principal. Helping students, especially ones with athlete attached to their title, is a passion.

So is this game.

He isn't giving up on his dream anytime soon, either.

"I know the window of opportunity is small for the NFL, especially with me not playing last year," Harrell said. "You know, I'm still going to work hard, trying to get there ... I just want to keep playing, make money doing something that I love and get some film (in the XFL, Canadian Football League, etc.) one day to try to make it to the NFL."

"I'll just work hard every single day, grind and stay prayed up."

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, counted down the Top 50 football players in University of 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 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan 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 fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit:

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players