Last year at this time, Laramie lit up like Times Square at New Year’s. Last year at this time, plane tickets to the Gem City of the Plains were more sought after than South Padre Island roundtrips for spring breakers. Last year at this time, Laramie saw the talent that was Josh Allen throw his final few passes at the University of Wyoming as pro scouts gawked over his talent.

This year’s pro day for UW won’t have the same glow as last year. It’s missing a headliner. That being said, plenty of NFL scouts will still make their way to the Cowboys’ indoor practice facility Thursday to see how many, if any, draft-eligible Pokes can help their organization.

Andrew Wingard may not have comparable talent to Allen, but the senior sure made an impact at his only Division I offer. The 6-foot, 215-pound strong safety tied the Mountain West Conference’s record for tackles in a career with 454.

He carved his way into UW lore by throwing caution to the wind, tossing his body all over the field for big hits and resounding stops — his long blonde hair was just a bonus.

Wingard won’t have the quickest 40-yard dash time, he likely won’t wow patrons with his vertical leap, but his football IQ and college production will land him somewhere in the middle rounds of April’s NFL Draft.

Free safety Marcus Epps played alongside Wingard for the last four years and enjoyed just as memorable a career as his secondary teammate. Epps — a 6-foot, 197-pounder — came to Laramie as a walk-on and not only earned a scholarship but was a three-time captain as voted on by his teammates.

Epps’ instincts and willingness to fill a gap and lower his head will receive him looks from the scouts, but he’ll likely go undrafted and earn everything he gets at the next level, much like he did at UW.

The fact that Nico Evans is even working out in front of NFL scouts is remarkable in and of itself. The 5’9”, 210-pound running back barely saw the field his first four seasons — one redshirt year — before being leaned on in 2018. His 1,325 yards rushing in 2018 gave UW its first-ever running back to lead the MWC in rushing.

Evans hits the hole fast, is shifty and has breakaway speed. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL and just one year of college production could hurt Evans or perhaps help as he has less miles of tread on him. Evans will either go very late in the draft or, more likely, signed as an undrafted free agent.

Some other players that’ll show off in front of the scouts Thursday, but likely won’t hear their name during the NFL Draft, include defensive end Kevin Prosser, nose tackle Sidney Malauulu and tight end, and Gillette native, Austin Fort.

A couple very talented and likely draftees that won’t be at Wyoming’s pro day are defensive Carl Granderson and defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan. Both Granderson and Ghaifan got into some legal troubles whilst in Laramie and whether that’s the reason or not, they both won’t work out on Thursday.

Granderson will likely be the first Poke off the board in April going somewhere either in the second or third round if teams look past his off-the-field issues. Ghaifan — who had another year of eligibility — could have really benefited from another year in college. But his size and quickness will impress many and he’ll hear his name at some point in the draft if, much like Granderson, teams looks past his off-the-field troubles.

 

Pokes Notes

The University of Wyoming women’s basketball team lost for the first time in the last 10 games, dropping a 66-64 decision to Fresno State Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Cowgirls to 18-6 overall and 11-4 in Mountain West Conference play.

UW’s wrestling team ended the regular season ranked No. 11 in the dual rankings.

UW trackster Ja’la Henderson qualified to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in the triple jump. She’s currently ranked ninth in the country with a leap of 43 feet, 9.75 inches.