LARAMIE, Wyo. — The 2023 college football season is around the corner, and for two University of Wyoming Cowboys, strong 2022 showings have resulted in high expectations and preseason honors as the season approaches.
Defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole was named to the preseason watch list for the 2023 Outland Trophy, while linebacker Easton Gibbs was named to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
The Outland Trophy honors the nation’s best interior lineman each season. This year’s preseason list includes 91 linemen from 65 different FBS football programs. Bertagnole is one of 24 defensive tackles named to this year’s watch list. There are 31 offensive tackles on this year’s preseason list, to go with 24 offensive guards and 12 centers.
Bertagnole was named to the 2023 Mountain West Conference Preseason All-Conference Team, and has also been named to 2023 Preseason All-Mountain West First Teams by both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Bertagnole, a Casper native, had an outstanding 2022 season, recording 51 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in 11 games. He was forced to miss the Boise State and Fresno State games late in the season due to injury, but returned for the Arizona Bowl. Bertagnole was also credited with four quarterback hurries, and he forced two fumbles on the season.
A disruptive force in the middle of the Cowboy defense, Bertagnole earned Second Team All-Conference honors from Phil Steele after the 2022 season. He will enter the 2023 season having started 21 of 30 career games as a Cowboy.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy honors the nation’s best defensive player in FBS football each season. This year’s preseason list includes 94 defensive standouts from 69 FBS football programs. Gibbs is one of 29 linebackers selected to this year’s watch list.
Gibbs was selected as the 2023 Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in voting by MW media at media days in July. He has also been named a 2023 Preseason First Team All-Mountain selection by MW media, Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
As a sophomore in 2022, Gibbs was named First Team All-Mountain West in voting by Mountain West head coaches and media at the conclusion of the season. A native of Temecula, California, Gibbs ranked third in the conference and 22nd nationally in tackles for the 2022 season, averaging 9.3 tackles per game. He recorded the first 100-tackle season of his career, with 121.
Gibbs also became only the 61st Cowboy in the 126-year history of Cowboy Football to record 100 tackles in a single season. His 121 tackles tied him with former Cowboy linebackers Bruce Mowry and Jim Talich for the 18th best single-season tackle total in school history.
Gibbs posted double figures in tackles in six games during the 2022 season. In 2022, he became the third Wyoming linebacker to earn First Team All-Mountain West honors in the last four consecutive seasons, following former Natrona County Mustang and current Cincinnati Bengal Logan Wilson and current Jacksonville Jaguar Chad Muma.