CASPER, Wyo. — The success the Sheridan football team has had at War Memorial Stadium must be leaving an impression. Last year, University of Wyoming football’s first known in-state scholarship offer went to offensive lineman Blayne Baker, whose Broncs have won three consecutive Class 4A state championships on the Cowboys’ home field.
The Pokes’ first known offer to a Wyoming recruit this year has also gone to a Sheridan player. Running back/linebacker Parker Christensen received a scholarship offer from the Cowboys on Friday while attending a UW camp.
“I went down to camp, and they told me they were going to shoot me straight,” Christensen said. “Depending on how camp went, they were going to tell me afterwards. And camp went well.”
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl pulled Christensen aside Friday while he was running through some drills and told him they were going up to the fifth-year coach’s office.
“I didn’t know, because he told me he was going to tell me yea or nay,” Christensen said. “Once he finally said it, it was very exciting.”
Christensen has also spoken to defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton, who heads Wyoming’s in-state recruiting efforts, and tight ends/fullbacks coach Mike Bath during his recruitment. The Cowboys plan to recruit Christensen as an H-back, he said.
“That’s the one thing that was big about this camp was that they didn’t know what side I was going to be on,” he said. “So, they used this camp as an indicator kind of where they were going to see me and fit me at.”
Christensen, who also has an offer from Montana State, said other schools have looked at him as a linebacker, and he began the process with an “either or” approach. The Cowboys lost their four-year starter at fullback, Drew Van Maanen, to graduation this winter. Neither Van Maanen nor any of fullbacks currently at the top of Wyoming’s depth chart were recruited as fullbacks; a handful have actually switched to the position from defense.
If Christensen chooses the Cowboys, he essentially would be the first scholarship fullback signed by Wyoming since 2016 Gillette graduate Zach Taylor, who has since been dismissed from the team.
“Last year, I moved around a lot,” Christensen said. “I played a lot of fullback, running back, played some tight end. So, I guess all of that combined, it kind of fits where they’re looking at me at. I think our coaching staff does a really great job with moving things around and changing things up. And I think because of that, they’ve given me the opportunity to get an offer from Wyoming.”
More specifically, though, Christensen said Wyoming is recruiting him as an H-back. The position, similar to a slotback, is lined up in the backfield but rarely receives handoffs.
“They said more like a guy that’s in the backfield, moving around a lot,” said Christensen, who is not related to Bohl’s predecessor, Dave Christensen. “They didn’t really say I’ll be doing a lot of tight end, because of my size, so I won’t be like a full tight end. But more of like a guy that’s getting moved around a lot in the back.
“… They said that not a lot of colleges use an H-back position, but they do, and I just happen to fit that ability to do that. And so that’s why they saw me as a fit for them.”
Baker, who was Wyoming’s first in-state offer during the 2018 recruiting cycle, wound up committing to the Cowboys two months after receiving the offer.
“I told (Baker) last night, and he was pretty pumped about it,” Christensen said Saturday. “So that was cool to see. But, yeah, I’m sure he’ll be leaning me one way, but that’s nature.”
The Cowboys also have two Sheridan grads in receiver Dontae Crow and safety Riley Sessions.
Gillette grad Lane Tucker (2017, North Dakota State) is the last Wyoming high school football player with a known scholarship offer from UW to not choose the Cowboys. Torrington offensive lineman Logan Harris signed with the Cowboys in 2017, and Baker and Laramie offensive lineman Frank Crum signed with Wyoming as members of the 2018 class. (Jackson running back Theo Dawson also signed with Wyoming’s 2018 class, though he committed in 2016 before going on a two-year mission in Chile.)
Christensen grew up a Wyoming fan and said his family tries to get to at least one game per season.
“I’ve grown up watching the Cowboys, and I’m honored to potentially be a Wyoming Cowboy,” he said.
Christensen hopes to decide on a school before his senior season begins.
“It’s a really special thing, so I want to have my senior season just focused all on that and focused on our team,” he said. “I haven’t really had much time to process it, and I’m really honored to be able to have these opportunities, so I’m just leaving my options open right now.”
Though head coach Don Julian has stepped down after winning nine championships in his high school coaching career, the Broncs still have their sights on winning a fourth straight title at “The War.”
“Coach Julian, (new coach Jeff) Mowry, our whole coaching staff, they do such a great job with our football team and everybody, and they show us how to be great men,” Christensen said. “I think that really helps with where we are going as a team, and I just think that has really helped guide me to where I am today, as well as Blayne.”