LARAMIE – When Caleb Driskill finally put pen to paper Dec. 18, it was the culmination of a boyhood dream.
Driskill starred at Thunder Basin High in Gillette, more than 250 miles from the confines of UW’s War Memorial Stadium. Driskill grew up a Wyoming football fan; he made the trek to Laramie a few times as a kid, and always made sure to catch the Cowboys whenever they made an appearance on television.
It was Driskill’s dream to one day suit up in Brown and Gold. To play for the only university in the state you grew up in? What could be better?
Driskill is finally getting that chance, having signed with UW during the early signing period.
“It is a very special opportunity for me, and it means a lot to me to represent the state,” Driskill said. “Wyoming recruiting me has always been a dream, and I am looking forward to fulfilling the dream and representing the state of Wyoming as best as I can.”
Driskill, who will play fullback, is the lone Wyoming native in UW’s recruiting class, though there is always the chance another could sign during February’s signing period. Driskill’s recruitment and signing represents something bigger than just a roster spot, however – no matter how wide Wyoming’s recruiting net gets, the program will always be built on natives from the Cowboy State.
In each of head coach Craig Bohl’s seven recruiting classes, the Cowboys have signed at least one Wyoming native. Included on that list are current players like tight end Josh Harshman and All-American linebacker Logan Wilson, who are from Casper.
Wyoming’s latest recruiting class has athletes from eight different states, including Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Even before the class had been officially signed, however, Bohl was quick to note that his priority will always be finding homegrown athletes. Why? They are the ultimate manifestation of the “Cowboy Tough” mantra.
“I think it’s important we recognize the high school football in the state of Wyoming. It’s been a point of emphasis for us,” Bohl said. “I want to make note of Wyoming and how important that is.”
The attitude that homegrown talent brings to the Wyoming football team is just different, according to Wilson. When you grow up seeing Cowboys pride on every street corner, there’s an obligation to succeed once you step foot on campus.
UW currently has 20 players on its roster who played high school football in Wyoming. Since Bohl’s first recruiting class in 2014, the top-rated prospect in the state (per 247Sports) has signed with Wyoming four times. The exceptions were Jacob Ross, Tevis Bartlett (Washington) and Taven Bryan (Florida).
There is only one college football team in Wyoming. Playing for that team is, quite literally, a dream for many. When that dream finally comes true, there isn’t complacency; there is only more work to be done.
“The homebred guys, I think, just have a little bit more sense of pride, I think is the best way to put it,” Wilson said. “Wyoming kids will give everything they have in their power to just contribute in some form or fashion to this school, you know … there’s a lot more Wyoming kids on this team than there ever has been. They all have a part on this program. And I think Coach Bohl understands that and realizes that there are guys that can play at this level, in our home state, and he’s just doing a really good job of making sure those guys stay here.”
“Cowboy Tough” means something different to everyone. For Driskill, it’s being hard-nosed and doing whatever is necessary to get the job done, even if it requires sacrifice. Homegrown Wyoming athletes know this mindset better than anyone, whether it’s playing in temperatures in the teens or driving several hours on a bus to get to the next game. Players raised in the Cowboy State have grit, and that grit is the foundation for the UW football program.
“To me, ‘Cowboy Tough’ is just a physical player who will do what it takes to win and will battle through conditions, whether it’s cold weather, minor injuries or just anything,” Driskill said. “I think Wyoming kids are definitely just naturally ‘Cowboy Tough,’ because we grow up playing in cold weather and being physical, tough players trying to make dreams come true and play for our home state.”