Weston Johnson

Former Wyoming linebacker Weston Johnson, who died of cancer in 2014, celebrates after a tackle against Texas during the 2009 season. Another defensive player from Wray (Colo.) High School, Tell Wade, has verbally committed to UW's 2023 recruiting class.

LARAMIE – Tell Wade is the first player committed to Wyoming’s 2023 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound prospect is looking forward to being the second player from Wray, Colorado, a rural town of about 2,400 located on the plains nine miles west of Nebraska, to play defense for the Cowboys.

Wade is following in the footsteps of linebacker Weston Johnson, a captain on UW’s 2009 team who died in 2014 after a two-year battle with cancer.

“I’ve been in touch with his dad, Blane, quite a bit,” Wade said. “That’s pretty special. He was pretty excited. … Blane and Jill, his parents, we’ve had dinner and we’re friends.”

UW defensive ends coach Marty English recruited Johnson in 2005 during the Joe Glenn era and has found another potential gem from Wray in Wade.

Front Range rivals Air Force and Colorado State also offered Wade a scholarship, but he verbally committed to UW head coach Craig Bohl after attending the Brown and Gold Game on April 30 at War Memorial Stadium.

“I love the small-town feel of Laramie,” said Wade, who also received an offer from New Mexico State. “All the coaches are just super nice. I mean, coach Bohl, I really like him. Out of all the coaches I’ve talked to so far, he’s for sure my favorite. Then coach English, I have built a pretty good relationship with him.

“I just decided that I wanted to commit so I did.”

Wade, who plays both offensive tackle and defensive end for Wray High, has 20 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss entering his senior season. He also finished second in the Colorado state wrestling championships at 285 pounds and competes in long jump, shot put and sprints on the track team.

Johnson earned all-state honors in football, basketball, baseball and track for Wray High before signing with UW 17 years ago. The Cowboys recruited Wade as a defensive end.

“I just want to keep getting better, keep working with my team and my coaches to get more explosive and faster,” Wade said. “I want to help my team win the state championship. That’s this year’s goal.”

The NCAA transfer portal dominated the news cycle at the FBS level during the offseason with the Pokes losing 15 players and adding eight since the end of the 2021 campaign.

Bohl still plans to maintain the program’s foundation with high school recruits. Wade, a two-star prospect like Johnson was, has UW off to a strong start during this cycle.

“I think it’s pretty cool to be the first one,” Wade said. “When coach Bohl gave me a call and offered me the night before I was headed up there, I just told him I wanted to do it in person. So I ended up sitting in an office and I told them face to face I was coming. I thought that was pretty special.”

Perhaps Wade will be a future winner of the “Never Flinch Award” given annually by the Pokes in memory of Johnson. All-American linebacker Chad Muma was this year’s recipient.

Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn

Originally published on trib.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.