Craig Bohl is acutely aware of the historic element that ties Nebraska and Wyoming football.

As Wyoming's first-year head coach, Bohl is genuinely honored to walk the same sidelines that Bob Devaney occupied from 1957-61 in Laramie, Wyo. Bohl often mentions the connection.

Bohl also understands the benefits of recruiting top Nebraska high school players. He experienced it as a Husker assistant from 1995-2002, then as head coach at North Dakota State from 2003-13.

Those are just a couple reasons Bohl is eager to change at least one aspect of the Wyoming program.

The Cowboys' current roster includes no players from Nebraska.

Think about that for a second.

"We're going to change it quickly," Bohl told me last week. "We're doubling down (on Nebraska prospects)."

The 2014 Wyoming roster includes three players from Germany, one from Sweden, and another from Calgary. 

And none from Nebraska?

Bohl scratches his head.

"Particularly when I drive around our campus and see a whole lot more Nebraska license plates here in Laramie than what I did in Fargo (N.D.)," he said.

Wyoming fired Dave Christensen and his staff Dec. 1 after the Cowboys finished 5-7, including 3-5 in the Mountain West Conference.

"They just chose not to recruit in Nebraska," Bohl said.

That hasn't always been the case.

"Joe Glenn had some representation from Nebraska," Bohl said of the Lincoln native, who guided Wyoming from 2003-08. "In the glory days, when Wyoming was going to Holiday Bowls and winning WAC championships, Paul Roach had a significant number of players from Nebraska."

During his four-year tenure as Wyoming head coach, Roach led the Cowboys to a 35-15 record and to three bowl games -- the Holiday in 1987 and 1988 and the Copper in 1990.

"Times have changed some," Bohl said. "But there's a secret to that formula, and we're going to return to that formula."

Bohl hinted at part of the secret. He feels he has a staff that is more than capable of developing players into high-caliber performers, even if those players weren't the highest-profile players in high school.

The staff indeed has ample credibility, with six full-time assistants from NDSU, which captured the last three Football Championship Subdivision titles.

Bohl understands that the nation's highest-profile players are seldom interested in attending Wyoming. He freely acknowledges it. Which is why he emphasizes player development.

"I think it is more of an art than a science," he said. "That's going to be our modus operandi. Wyoming is going to be a developmental program.

"We'll look under every rock. We'll go into all the small towns. We will develop players within that (Nebraska) footprint."

The approach can bear fruit. Bohl notes that former Wyoming star Jay Novacek, who became an NFL Pro Bowler, wasn't highly recruited at Gothenburg High School.

Bohl enthusiastically points out NU's success over the years developing lightly recruited players.

As it stands, Wyoming is showing interest in no fewer than a half-dozen Nebraska prep players (coaches can't comment on specific players), and has offered scholarships to at least three: defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan of Grand Island Central Catholic, defensive/offensive lineman Adam Holtorf of Seward, and wideout C.J. Johnson of Bellevue West.

Wyoming offensive line coach Scott Fuchs is in charge of recruiting the state of Nebraska, but Bohl has two other assistants -- AJ Cooper and Steve Stanard -- who have recruited the state aggressively.

Bohl knows exactly the type of player he wants.

"We're recruiting what we call 'the Wyoming profile,'" he said. "And those are hard-nosed guys who want two things. They want to get a degree -- a meaningful degree -- and they want to win a championship.

"A guy who's interested in social life, who's interested in a bunch of other stuff, we're not recruiting that guy. We don't want that guy. That's how we did it at NDSU, and to a great degree, that's how we did it at Nebraska."

I'm betting on Bohl making it work in Laramie.

* Don't think for a second that prospects don't check out the depth chart at their position when considering a school.

Carlos Polk, recruited by Nebraska for the class of 1996, sought out the Huskers' situation at middle linebacker, and liked what he saw. NU was losing Phil Ellis and Doug Colman to graduation.

Polk, of course, chose Nebraska and, after redshirting in 1996, lettered four straight seasons. He became an All-American in 1999, when the Huskers last won a conference championship.

He's now an assistant special-teams coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

* Michigan picked up a key verbal commitment Sunday from the top-ranked player in Indiana. Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. of Indianapolis became the seventh player to pledge to the Wolverines' class of 2015 (which is ranked 24th by Rivals). Nebraska fans still care about Michigan, right?

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.​


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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