A Cowboy for Life, Logan Wilson Selected by Cincinnati Bengals in 3rd Round
During his days at Natrona County High School, Logan Wilson was the football version of the Swiss Army Knife.
He spent time at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, placekicker and safety, his primary position that senior year in high school.
And then he went to college. The man of many positions suddenly found himself at linebacker. A 195-pound teenager at the time embraced the move. He redshirted that first year at Wyoming, getting bigger, stronger and well-versed in the art of linebacker.
"I watched him play in a game at Cheyenne East," Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl said, reflecting back on that September Friday in 2015 when he got his first-hand look at Wilson. "He was playing corner back, and he dominated the field.
"I saw one play where the Cheyenne East receiver ran an out route, and I remember Logan exploding on that receiver. He had good speed. He weighed 190, 195 pounds. He had a good frame. In my mind he was going to be a linebacker."
A linebacker he has become. Bulked up to 245 pounds, he spent the last four years embracing the change, finishing his career at Wyoming with 421 tackles, the fourth highest total in school history and in the history of the Mountain West Conference. He ranked No. 1 among active FBS players in 2019 with 253 career solo tackles, and No. 2 with the 421 overall tackles.
And it did not go unnoticed.
In this year's NFL draft, Wilson became the 65th player selected in the NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selecting him with the first selection of the third round, the 65th selection overall. He is the second highest pick of a Cowboy player in the last 26 years. Quarterback Josh Allen was a first-round pick of Buffalo in 2018, the seventh player selected.
And Wilson is the 10th highest overall NFL Draft pick in Wyoming history, the highest for a Cowboy player who grew up in Wyoming, moving ahead of running back Jerry Hill, native of Lingle, Wyo., who Baltimore selected with the seventh pick in the third round in 1961.
Wilson was a three-year team captain, who never backed down from a challenge, and always had his focus on what would make the team better -- until the final second ticked off the clock of his final game in Brown and Gold -- a 38-17 New Years Eve win against Georgia State in the Arizona Bowl.
He started every game of his four-year career – a school record 52 – and was a four-time Academic All-Mountain West selection.
And now he is getting ready for the next step in his football career -- the NFL, a dream he never lost, but one he put on hold until his collegiate career was over.
The dream, however, never took away from his focus on being a Cowboy.
In a time when prime players have shown a tendency to back out of playing in bowl games because they don't want to risk the chance of an injury, Wilson, like former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen two years earlier in the Potato Bowl, never thought about opting out of the Arizona Bowl.
The subject, in fact, was never broached until the Cowboys were in Tucson, working out the weekend before the Arizona Bowl, and it was Bohl who brought it up. Wilson smiled and shook his head from side to side.
"I was part of the team," he explained recently. "We had a game to play."
The bowl game certainly didn't hurt his NFL chances.
He opened the eyes of talent evaluators every step along the way this spring. He was the talk of the Senior Bowl, and was average or above average in every drill at the NFL combine. He was given a 6.33 grade, which means "Will be starter within first two seasons."
And to think, in high school, Division I-AA Weber State offered him a scholarship the summer before his senior year, and Bohl offered him a full-ride to Wyoming in the fall the senior year. That was it.
Not that it made any difference to Wilson.
"I was going to go to Wyoming," he said. "That was never a question. I wanted to be part of the program."
A part? He became a key factor in helping a Cowboys team return to an upper level status. The Cowboys were bowl eligible in all four seasons Wilson was on the field, making three trips to a post-season game. Prior to the Wilson era, the Cowboys had been invited to a post-season bowl only three times in 20 years.
Now, Wilson wants to make it clear he's not taking credit for the turnaround, but is proud of being a part of it. His biggest accomplishment in Laramie?
"I feel we left a small mark on the program, and left it better than where we found it," he said. "That's the one accomplishment I'm most proud of, being a small part of helping turn around Wyoming football."
It's exactly what Bohl felt he saw in that game at Cheyenne East.
And his belief in Wilson grew the more he was around him.
"I can't say I envisioned anything other than I knew he was going to be a good player," said Bohl. "But once he got on the field as a red-shirt freshman and a sophomore, I said, `He's going to play in the NFL.' I had a candid conversation with him about raising the bar. Taking on the challenge. And he did. He looked at himself as an NFL linebacker.
"What he did between his junior and senior seasons summed it up. He cut 15 pounds of fat and replaced it with 15 pounds of muscle. He started to open eyes. He can play in space. It's not like he is a cow on ice. He runs well. He has the size. Most of all, he has the mentality to play at the next level."
And in the NFL draft, the Bengals assured him of that opportunity.