Wyoming Cowboys in the NFL
Where are they now?
by Pinedale Online!
September 23, 2020
The University of Wyoming plays football in the Mountain West Conference. The Mountain West is considering a return to the field that could see its teams begin playing college football in late October. The league's presidents will meet Friday and at least consider voting on whether to move forward with playing the season. The Mountain West is aiming to play an eight-game, conference-only schedule starting Oct. 24 with a league championship game on Dec. 19, a structure that mimics what the Big Ten approved for its return to play last week. However, the Mountain West will not move forward with a return to play plan until the league medical team approves a COVID-19 testing protocol.
In the meantime, there are Wyoming Cowboys you can watch play football. Here is a list of where some of the former University of Wyoming football player talent are now on active roster lists playing in 2020 in the National Football League. These athletes played under the leadership of head coach Craig Bohl who was previously the head coach at North Dakota State University in Fargo from 2003 to 2013. Bohl took over at Wyoming in January 2014. In 2016, Bohl was selected as the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year. The Cowboys have appeared in 16 bowl games and have a record of eight wins and eight losses (88). Their most recent bowl appearance came in their 3817 win over Georgia State in the 2019 Arizona Bowl.
Josh Allen, (#17) Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Originally from California, Josh Allen was recruited to Wyoming where he was a superstar quarterback and led the Cowboys to a Mountain West Conference division title and two bowl games. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round (7th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft, becoming the highest drafted NFL player from the University of Wyoming and the highest drafted quarterback in Bills' history. Allen started his professional career as Buffalo's backup quarterback, but was quickly thrust into the starting position. In his second year as a starter, he led the Bills to a 10-win season and their second playoff appearance since 1999. In 2020, he joined the likes of Peyton Manning (2013), Tom Brady (2015) and Patrick Mahomes (2019) as the only four quarterbacks in NFL history with 700+ yards passing, six+ touchdowns and 0 interceptions through the first two weeks of a season. He currently leads the NFL in passing yards for 2020. Age 24 (b.1996), height 6-5, 237 lbs.
Marcus Epps, (#22) Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
Originally selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round (191st overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft, Marcus Epps was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles from the Vikings on November 7, 2019 and finished his rookie season with 15 games played between both teams. Epps, from California, walked on at the University of Wyoming and went on to start all 50 games during his four-year collegiate career. A three-time captain, Epps totaled 325 tackles, 31 PDs, and nine INTs with the Cowboys. Age 24 (b.1996), height: 6-0. Weight 198 lbs.
Rico Gafford, (#10) Wide Receiver, Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders
Originally from Iowa, Gafford played his final two seasons at UW. He signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in April 2018. He was cut by the team at the end of training camp in September. He was signed to the Oakland Raiders practice squad in September 2018, where they changed his primary position to wide receiver and then promoted him to the active roster in December 2018. He made his NFL debut on December 24, 2018 in a 27-14 win against the Denver Broncos, playing on special teams. He finished the 2019 season with two catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in four games played. Age 24 (b.1996), height 5-10, 185 lbs.
Tashaun Gipson, Sr., (#38) Safety, Chicago Bears
Gipson went to high school in Texas and decided to go to the University of Wyoming not only for the chance at early playing time, but also in order to play with his brother, Marcell Gipson. At Wyoming, both Gipson brothers played cornerback from 2008-2010 for the Wyoming Cowboys football team. Tashaun Gipson started every game of his collegiate career at Wyoming. As a pro football player, Tashaun Gipson Sr entered his ninth NFL season and his first in Chicago in 2020. Prior to that he played 2012-2015 for the Cleveland Browns, 2016-2018 for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and 2019 for the Houston Texans. On May 1, 2020, Gipson signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears. He has three career interception returns for touchdowns. He is one of seven players to record at least 400 total tackles and 20 interceptions since entering the NFL in 2012, joining Janoris Jenkins, Reggie Nelson, Earl Thomas III, Glover Quin, Harrison Smith and Richard Sherman. Owns the most interceptions by an undrafted free agent since entering the NFL in 2012 (23). He is ranked first in the AFC and second in the NFL with six interceptions in 2014. Age 30 (b.1990), height 5-11, 212 lbs.
Carl Granderson, (#96) Defensive End, New Orleans Saints
Carl Granderson came to UW from California. At UW he was a three-year starter at defensive end for the Cowboys and two-time All-Mountain West selection. He appeared in 42 games with 24 starts over his four-year career, totaling 172 tackles (95 solo), 17.5 sacks, 35.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He received a $15,000 signing bonus and a base salary guarantee of $70,000. Granderson was sentenced to six months in prison for legal issues. He was reinstated from the "did not report" list and given a roster exemption on August 31, 2019, after his release from jail. He was placed on the active roster on September 16, 2019. Granderson played in eight games as a rookie and posted ten tackles (seven solo) and one sack and also appeared in the NFC Wild Card Playoff vs. Minnesota. Age 23 (b.1996), height 6-5, 261 lbs.
Brian Hill, (#23) Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Brian Hill came to the University of Wyoming from Illinois. He attended and played college football at UW from 20142016. Hill was drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round, 156th overall. He was the 16th running back selected in that year's draft. He was waived by the Falcons on October 14, 2017 and was re-signed to the practice squad. In November, 2017, Hill was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals off the Falcons' practice squad. He finished his rookie season with 11 carries for 37 yards to go along with two receptions for 36 yards. In September, 2018, Hill was waived by the Bengals. On September 3, 2018, Hill was signed to the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad and then was quickly promoted to the active roster. Overall, he finished the 2018 season with 20 carries for 157 rushing yards. In the 2019 season, Hill appeared in 12 games and finished with 323 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to go along with 10 receptions for 69 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. On March 16, 2020, the Falcons placed an original-round restricted free agent tender on Hill. He signed the one-year contract on April 18, 2020. Age 24 (b.1995), height 6-1, 218 lbs.
Jacob Hollister, (#86) Tight End, Seattle Seahawks
Jacob Hollister was born and raised in Bend, Oregon. In high school he was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. As a senior quarterback, he was the state's Class 5A player of the year after leading his team to the state title. He originally signed to play college football the University of Nevada in Reno. He redshirted for the Wolf Pack as a true freshman in 2012, then transferred to Arizona Western College, a community college in Yuma, where he switched positions to tight end. Hollister then played three seasons (201416) under new head coach Craig Bohl at the University of Wyoming. He was a team captain and first team all-conference as a senior,[when the Cowboys played in the conference championship game and Poinsettia Bowl. Not selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, Hollister was soon signed by the New England Patriots on April 30 to a three-year, $1.67 million contract that included $90,000 guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10,000. The Patriots also signed his twin brother Cody as an undrafted free agent. They became the only active pair of twins on the same team in 2017 and the third set of twins to currently play in the NFL. Hollister made it to Super Bowl LII, but the Patriots lost 4133 to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was limited to just eight games in 2018 while dealing with hamstring and chest injuries, and was placed on injured reserve in January, 2019. The Patriots reached Super Bowl LIII in February in Atlanta and defeated the Los Angeles Rams 133. /On April 29, 2019, the Patriots traded Hollister to the Seattle Seahawks. He was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster in October. On November 3, he caught a 10-yard walkoff touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime to give the Seahawks the win, 4034. Earlier in the same game, Hollister scored the first touchdown of his NFL career, a one-yard reception late in the first half. In Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, Hollister caught 8 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the 2724 overtime win. Overall, in the 2019 season, Hollister finished with 41 receptions for 349 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. On March 16, 2020, the Seahawks placed a second-round restricted free agent tender on Hollister. He signed the one-year contract on April 21, 2020. Twin brother Cody Hollister now plays as a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans. Age 26 (b.1993), height 6-4, 245 lbs.
Cassh Maluia, (#48) Linebacker, New England Patriots
Hailing from California, Cassh was offered a football scholarship at the University of Wyoming fresh out of high school. Maluia was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 204th overall pick. He was waived on September 5, 2020 and signed to the practice squad the next day. He was promoted to the active roster the following day. Age 22 (b.1998), height 6-0, 248 lbs.
Mark Nzeocha, (#53) Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
Mark Nzeocha (pronounced nuh-ZAH-chuh) hails from Bavaria, Germany. He got a scholarship to go to the University of Wyoming where he played positions of outside linebacker, free safety, strong safety and special teams. In 2015 he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but struggled recovering from a knee injury he suffered in college at UW, which plagued him into the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. In September, 2017, Nzeocha was signed by the San Francisco 49ers off the Cowboys' practice squad. He played with the 49ers into 2018 and on March 15, 2019, Nzeocha signed a three-year contract extension with the 49ers. The 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV (2020), but they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 31-20. His brother Eric Nzeocha also attended the University of Wyoming and played LB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Age 30 (b.1990), height 6-3, 235 lbs.
Mike Purcell, (#98) Defensive Line, Denver Broncos
Mike Purcell hails from Colorado and played four years at the University of Wyoming before entering the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent on May 7, 2013. He was released by the 49ers in 2017 going on to compete on the practice squads with the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs into 2018. In 2019, Purcell joined the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football. He signed with the Denver Bronco as a free agent in April 2019. Purcell signed a one-year restricted free agent tender with the Broncos on April 18, 2020.[ Age 29 (b.1991), height 6-3, 328 lbs.
Chase Roullier, (#73) Center, Washington Football Team
Chase came to the University of Wyoming from Minnesota in 2013 to 2016. He was the top blocker on the offensive line for the Wyoming Cowboys. He helped the Cowboys to appearances in the Mountain West Championship and the Poinsettia Bowl. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round, 199th overall, in the 2017 NFL Draft. He played with the Redskins into 2019, then he went to the Washington Football Team in 2020. Age 27 (b.1993), height 6-4, 312 lbs.
Logan Wilson, (#55) Linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals
A Casper native, Logan Wilson played high school football at Natrona County High School, where he played as a punter, defensive back and wide receiver. He claimed seven receiving touchdowns and six interceptions. Logan advanced to the University of Wyoming in 2015 starting as a safety, and moving to linebacker in 2016. He started all 52 possible games as a linebacker over his four-year college career at UW. He was voted three-time team captain. He was a rookie third-round pick of the Bengals in the 2020 draft, part of the teams plan to overhaul and rebuild their defense. The Bengals are hoping the rookie linebacker will bring his great speed, agility and explosiveness to be an asset in rebuilding their team. Age 24 (b.1996), height 6-2, 241 lbs.
Andrew Wingard, (#42) Safety, Jacksonville Jaguars
Wingard played college football at the University of Wyoming from 2015 to 2018, adding to the power of the team chemistry with quarterback Josh Allen. Wingard totaled 454 tackles, the second most in program history. He finished his college career tied for most tackles all-time in the Mountain West Conference. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after going undrafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.] On August 31, 2019, Wingard made the Jaguars final 53-man roster. In week 13 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wingard recorded a strip sack on Jameis Winston that he recovered in the 2811 loss. This was Wingard's first career sack in the NFL. Wingard was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the Jaguars on August 2, 2020, and was activated from the list two days later. In Week 1 of the 2020 season against the Indianapolis Colts, Wingard recorded his first career interception off a pass thrown by Philip Rivers during the 2720 win. Age 23 (b.1996), height 6-0, 209 lbs.
Eddie Yarbrough, (#52) Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings
Eddie Yarbrough came to the University of Wyoming from Colorado, playing with the Cowboys from 2011 to 2015. He was considered a leading tackle in the Mountain West conference. Yarbrough signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent on May 2, 2016. He was waived on September 3, 2016. On April 7, 2017, Yarbrough signed with the Buffalo Bills. He recorded his first career sack against the Carolina Panthers. He played in all 16 games with six starts, recording 34 tackles. He was re-signed in 2018 and 2019 to one-year deals. On August 31, 2019, Yarbrough was waived by Bills and was signed to the practice squad the next day. On December 31, 2019, Yarbrough was signed by the Minnesota Vikings off the Bills practice squad. Yarbrough is the first player to wear the number 52 since the legendary Chad Greenway. Age 27 (b.1993), height 6-3, 259 lbs.
Tyler Hall, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
Former University of Wyoming cornerback Tyler Hall signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in April 2020. Hall came to UW from California. While at UW playing for the Cowboys, Hall had four interceptions, 20 passes defended and 75 solo tackles in his four years with the Cowboys. He returned one interception for a touchdown. Hall also returned kicks for Wyoming. He had 887 career return yards with two touchdowns, which came in consecutive games in 2017. He is the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single season. He was named honorable mention All-Mountain West as a kick returner in 2017 and honorable mention All-Mountain West as a cornerback in 2018. During his Wyoming career, Hall was one of the most versatile players on the Wyoming roster. Hall was part of four consecutive bowl-eligible teams in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and started in two bowl games (the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl). He helped lead the Wyoming Cowboys to an 8-5 record and victory in the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Age 24 (b.1996), height 5-10, 190 lbs.