Wyoming Cowboys football helmet brown

LARAMIE – As if he needed any other reasons to commit to the University of Wyoming football team, J.J. Uphold was treated to a personal Zoom tour of Laramie’s sprawling campus.

Uphold, a senior defensive lineman from Garces Memorial High in Bakersfield, California, was choosing between UW, New Mexico and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for the next step in his football career. While all of the schools were accommodating, there was something special about the way UW’s coaches presented themselves.

When Uphold first put his highlight tape online for the world to see, it was UW assistant Pete Kaligis who reached out before any other coaching staff, Uphold said. When it came down to seeing his potential new home, it was UW that bent over backward to show him what life in Wyoming is all about. Two coaches took Uphold on a virtual tour from different ends of the campus.

UW was already the type of offer Uphold had been waiting for, given the program’s success and the way his coaches spoke glowingly about the program.

This icing on the cake just sealed the deal for him.

“I loved how positive all the coaches were,” Uphold said. “It was strange, but, I mean, I still really appreciated that they tried to show me.”

Uphold, who committed to the Cowboys last weekend, is one of five players currently committed to UW in the 2021 recruiting class, per Rivals.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Uphold had five tackles for loss and a sack in 2019, according to MaxPreps. He is a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports and a two-star recruit by Rivals.

Uphold also played tight end for the Rams and is a star on the Garces basketball team, where he averaged a team-high 12.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season.

Uphold’s home state of California will not be playing football this fall due to the ongoing pandemic. While it will be strange for him, practices are set to start for his school in December for an early 2021 football season.

He is also still able to participate in 7-on-7 passing tournaments and basketball tournaments. As a glass-half-full person, Uphold is staying as upbeat as he can, despite the brutal circumstances.

High school football in California is currently set to start playing games on Jan. 7 or 8 of 2021.

“I try to look for the positives,” he said.

Though he has a few months before his final high school campaign is scheduled to start, having already made the decision on where he will play college football is a tremendous weight off his broad shoulders. His immediate future in the classroom and on the football field is set.

And as a player, Uphold is prepared to do whatever is asked of him by UW coach Craig Bohl and company, whether it be stuffing the run, rushing the passer or biding time until his number is called.

“Wherever a coach needs me to go, I won’t hesitate,” Uphold said. “I’ll just go in and do whatever they need me to do.”

Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at mkatz@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.

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