UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 15
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.
Wide Receiver, 2002-05, Denver, Colorado
Here's why: If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Wyoming wide receivers, Jovon Bouknight would be front and center.
That's saying a lot considering when Ryan Yarborough and Marcus Harris walked off campus they were not just the all-time receiving yards leaders at UW, but in college football history.
Bouknight is third with 3,626 yards receiving, but he sits all alone at the top when it comes to all-purpose yardage. This Colorado product didn't just haul in passes, he was the Pokes' top kick returner, racking up an additional 2,016 yards.
When we decided to go ahead with this countdown, my first question to the panel was this: "Who is the best player in Wyoming history?"
Robert Gagliardi didn't hesitate. His pick was No. 9.
That obviously changed after some debate, but that's how dynamic Bouknight was during his four-year career in Laramie. He was the go-to target for Casey Bramlet, then his younger brother, Corey Bramlet. In 2004, Bouknight helped lead the Cowboys to their first bowl win since 1966 with a stunning 24-21 upset of UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.
All Bouknight did that night in Sin City was snag five catches for 107 yards. Trailing 21-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys' wide out took a reverse handoff and threw a 22-yard strike to back-up quarterback JJ Raterink in the end zone.
"I couldn't be happier for our whole team, and I think it is a shot of spirit for our whole state," second-year Wyoming coach Joe Glenn told the media postgame.
Boy, was that the truth.
Bouknight was a part of just two wins as a freshman at UW. When Glenn arrived in 2003, the team won four games, including knocking off rivals Colorado State and BYU. The following season, Bouknight cracked the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career. The Cowboys finished 7-5, including that massive comeback win over the Bruins. As a senior, Bouknight cracked 1,100 yards receiving and hauled in 12 touchdowns.
When the dust settled, Bouknight's 3,626 receiving yards and 250 catches ranked him 20th in the history of the college game. Those records also landed him second all-time in the history of the Mountain West Conference behind only San Diego State's J.R. Tolver. Bouknight now ranks fourth.
Bouknight is currently the wide receivers coach at the University of Kentucky.
Newland's take: Jovon is the most versatile football player I ever saw wear a Wyoming jersey.
He could do damn near anything the coaches asked him to do.
He ran precise routes, he had great hands, he could return punts and he could even throw the ball as we saw him toss four touchdowns in his career. Hell, he probably could have played defensive back, too.
One of the top wide receivers in Mountain West history, Bouknight remains one of Wyoming's top pass catchers and is still the school's all-time leader in both all-purpose yards (5,921) and kickoff return yards (2,016).
He also ranks second in career receptions and third for receiving yards after catching at least two passes in all 47 games of his collegiate career, a streak that remained a Wyoming record up until 2014. Pretty good company on those lists if you think about all of the great wide receivers in Wyoming history.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (9), Robert Gagliardi (9), Jared Newland (17), Ryan Thorburn (20), Kevin McKinney (29)
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, No. 20, No. 19, No. 18, No. 17, No. 16
Cody Tucker: Brand Manager 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.