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Simpson goes from walk-on to scholarship player with Cowboys
Aug 18, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
Tanner Simpson was preparing for the start of two-a-day practices on Wednesday when new University of Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl pulled him aside.
The conservation then went into the weight-room, where Bohl told Simpson he was going to be awarded a UW football scholarship.
Simpson had been a part of the UW football team since 2012 as a walk-on.
Simpson was a standout athlete at Lander Valley High School.
"I was just kind of lost for words because it's such a big step for me," Simpson said. "I have always wanted that. It was just a really great, satisfying feeling."
Simpson redshirted the 2012 season and is now entering his third year at UW.
"It was really gratifying for me, just for the simple fact that I have been down here as a walk-on for two and half years," Simpson said. "It's just fulfilling that I get a scholarship after all the hard work that I have done."
Simpson wants to be a role model for the younger Wyoming fans.
"It really shows kids in the state that there are opportunities here at Wyoming," Simpson said, "even if you don't get put on a scholarship right away."
Bohl was hired in December after coming to UW from North Dakota State, where he had since 2003.
His teams won back-to-back national champions at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level the past two seasons.
"He is a fantastic guy," Simpson said. "He is really a humble, down-to-earth guy."
On the same day Simpson signed his scholarship, redshirt freshman fullback Drew Van Maanen (Parker, Colo.) inked his.
Bohl commented through the University of Wyoming sports information office on Simpson and Van Maanen.
"Anytime you see a young athlete come out and work hard to earn a scholarship, I think it not only says a lot about that individual, but it shows other young men that if they work hard there is an opportunity for them to succeed at this level," said Bohl. "It's always heartwarming as a coach to be able to reward those type of individuals. I was a walk-on myself at Nebraska."
Simpson is listed at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds after being on the UW campus for the past two years.
"The summer is a really big thing for that," Simpson said. "We did a lot of difficult stuff this summer. They put a lot of weight on us."
Simpson said one of the difficult workouts in the summer the Cowboys would do 15- to 25-yard sprints for 45 minutes straight.
"One day, we did 121 sprints," Simpson said.
Simpson is working on this month in trying earn some playing time at wide receiver.
"Our new wide receiver coach Burns is teaching us some new stuff," Simpson said. "I think that this year is going to be a big year for the wide-receiving core. We have been focusing on getting our fundamentals sound."
Simpson has been working with the special teams as well.
"Nothing is really set in stone," Simpson said.
He caught two passes for 9 yards Saturday in UW's full scrimmage.
The Cowboys open the season at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, vs. Montana at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
The Pokes host Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 6, in an 8:15 p.m. start.
The Pokes play at Oregon (Saturday, Sept. 13), vs. Florida Atlantic (Sept. 20) and at Michigan State (Sept. 27).
"A lot of people might look at the schedule as a hard one, but we are looking at the schedule as one for opportunities," Simpson said.