Sunday saw a mostly underwhelming Super Bowl for many outside of Boston. Only 16 points blessed the final scoreboard as defense and special teams became paramount for both sides.
And yes, while it was most nauseating to see Tom Brady and company hoist another Lombardi Trophy, former University of Wyoming tight end Jacob Hollister claiming his first Super Bowl ring made it tolerable.
Hollister battled a couple injuries this season and didn’t see the field a lot. He ended the season with just four receptions totaling 52 yards. He’s shown an ability to play at the next level since graduating from UW in 2016, and with Rob Gronkowski either on or nearing the 18th hole of his career, Hollister may see an expanded role in the years to come.
Hollister wasn’t the only former Poke to suit up on Sundays this past fall. Ever heard of a guy by the name of Josh Allen? He had one heck of a rookie campaign.
Allen threw for more than 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns for a Bills team that had more dropped passes than any other team in the league — and yes, that’s a legitimate stat. The former Wyoming star wowed fans with his fleet-footedness, breaking the NFL record for most rush yards by a quarterback in a three-game span — a record held by the ever-illusive and lightening-fast Michael Vick.
The Bills will need to make a concerted effort, in the draft and free agency, to get Allen some more weapons and hogmollies up front. But many of the pundits who were noisier that two skeletons dancing on a tin roof with their analysis and predictions of Allen’s high NFL bustability before the season are currently enjoying a nice healthy serving of crow.
On the other side of the ball for the Bills, Eddie Yarbrough had a productive season at defensive end. The former Poke played along with the second unit, saw plenty of game action and logged 29 tackles for the league’s second-best defense.
The league’s second-best pass defense, the Jacksonville Jaguars, utilized Tashaun Gipson quite well this season. The former Wyomingite, who is only two years removed from a Pro Bowl appearance, finished with 54 tackles from his safety position and one interception.
Mark Nzeocha made a strong push for his first Pro Bowl invite. The San Francisco linebacker nearly had his entire German hometown of Ansbach carry him to the special teams spot only to fall just short. In any event, Nzeocha recorded 22 tackles, boasted one sack and forced a fumble.
Chase Roullier has found a home on Washington’s offensive line. In just his second season in the NFL, the former seventh-round draft pick out of Wyoming started all 16 games for the Redskins.
Roullier anchored Wyoming’s offensive line during their run to Mountain West Conference Mountain Division crown in 2016, and he helped pave the way for Brian Hill’s record-setting year. Hill saw a little bit of the field for Atlanta this season, totaling 157 yards on 20 rushes.
Rico Gafford was also a part of that memorable Wyoming team in 2016. He, along with Marqueston Huff and Mitch Unrein, were on NFL rosters in 2018, but didn’t accumulate any stats.
A total of 10 former Pokes have carved out roles in the sport of football at the next level.
Some produce more than others, and with a few more likely to get drafted or picked up as undrafted free agents, this list will grow in 2019.
The University of Wyoming wrestling team’s eight-match win streak came to an end at Fresno State Sunday, but the Pokes bounced back that same day with a victory over Cal State Bakersfield.
UW’s football team signed five more Wednesday during National Signing Day, bringing their total for the class up to 24. The Pokes have one more scholarship remaining.
UW’s women’s basketball team stretched its winning streak to four with an 80-60 victory over Air Force Wednesday. The win improved the Cowgirls to 13-5 on the season and 6-3 in Mountain West Conference play.