Jan. 19, 2007
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
University of Wyoming senior strong safety John Wendling will be among the top seniors in the nation competing in the 82nd Annual Dell East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, Jan. 20. This year's game is being played in Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, home of the NFL's Houston Texans. The game is scheduled to kick off at 5:00 p.m., Mountain Time on ESPN2.
Every year since 1925, the Shrine Game has been played to raise funds for and increase public awareness regarding the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children around the country. Shriners Hospitals provide outstanding orthorpedic and burn care at no cost to children in need. To date, the East-West Shrine Game has raised more than $14 million for Shriners Hospitals. The Shrine Game is the second oldest on-going postseason game in America -- second only to the Rose Bowl.
Wendling will be joined on the West squad by six other All-Mountain West Conference selections, including John Beck, QB, BYU; Quincy Black, LB, New Mexico; Robert Kraay, OL, Air Force; Paul Soliai, DL, Utah; Robert Turner, OL, New Mexico; and Marvin White, DB, TCU.
In addition to Beck, the other West quarterback will be Zac Taylor of Nebraska.
The East squad will be led by quarterbacks Drew Tate of Iowa and Chris Leak of Florida.
The head coaches for this year's East-West Shrine Game are former NFL head coaches Dan Reeves and Don Shula. Reeves will coach the West squad. Shula will coach the East.
Wendling concluded his Wyoming football career as one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history. His myriad of honors was highlighted by being named a Second Team All-American by College Football News.com and earning one of the most prestigious awards in all of college football by being named a national finalist for the Draddy Trophy, which is presented annually by the National Football Foundation (NFF) to the top football scholar-athlete in the country. Wendling attended the 49th Annual NFF Awards Dinner in New York City on Dec. 5 where he was presented with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as one of only 17 national finalists for the Draddy Trophy.
He earned one of the nation's top academic honors when ESPN The Magazine named him a Second Team Academic All-American in voting by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Mountain West Conference head coaches and media members also voted Wendling a First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
He finished his four-year career ranked No. 10 in school history in career tackles, with 259. The Rock Springs, Wyo., native was elected Wyoming's defensive team captain as a senior. He led Wyoming in tackles his senior season, being credited with 78.
Wendling was the leader of a Wyoming defense that ranked No. 8 in the nation in total defense and No. 9 in pass defense, allowing opponents only 262.9 total yards and only 156.3 passing yards per game. UW also ranked No. 13 in the country in pass defense efficiency, with a rating of 104.9.
Prior to the 2006 season, he was named to both the Jim Thorpe Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award watch lists. Wendling was also ranked by Phil Steele's College Football Preview as the No. 16 best free safety in the nation.
Wendling has also been invited to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine later this winter.