Four Wyoming Cowboys Sign Free-Agent Contracts with NFL Teams

April 26, 2010


Wyoming Cowboy seniors John Fletcher, Weston Johnson, Ryan Otterson and Mitch Unrein all signed free-agent contracts with NFL teams this past weekend following the 2010 NFL Draft. Fletcher, a 6-6, 265-pound defensive lineman, signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson, who played outside linebacker at 6-3 and 233 pounds, signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons. Otterson, a 6-5, 298-pound offensive tackle, signed with the San Diego Chargers, and Unrein, who played defensive line at 6-4 and 270 pounds, signed with the Houston Texans.

Fletcher was one of the top defensive linemen in the Mountain West Conference and the nation in 2009. He was voted First Team All-Mountain West Conference at the conclusion of the `09 season. For the second consecutive year, he was named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List. Fletcher was voted one of four Wyoming team captains his senior season. He ranks No. 5 in UW school history in sacks, with 24.0. He also ranks No. 3 in Mountain West Conference history in career sacks. In 2009, Fletcher ranked No. 3 in the MWC and No. 62 in the NCAA in sacks (7.0), and he ranked No. 5 in the conference and No. 81 in the nation in tackles for losses (12.5). The senior also had a special talent for blocking kicks -- a talent that just may have been the difference in Wyoming playing in a bowl game in 2009. He blocked three kicks on the season -- against Weber State, San Diego State and Colorado State. The two blocks against SDSU and CSU were critical to Wyoming's late-season run to become bowl eligible.

Johnson was the emotional leader of the Wyoming defense in 2009. His teammates showed the confidence they had in Johnson when they voted him a team captain for the `09 season. He ranked fourth on the team in tackles, with 106. That also ranked him No. 6 in the Mountain West and No. 66 in the nation. He led UW in tackles for losses with 13.0, tying him for sixth in the MWC and 81st in the nation. Johnson also tied for the team lead in interceptions, with three. He ranked 10th in the conference in that category. Johnson recorded four double-figure tackle games in `09. He had 11 vs. No. 2 Texas, 10 vs. New Mexico, 11 on the road at Air Force and 12 vs. No. 4 ranked TCU. During the spring of 2009, Johnson was recognized by the UW College of Business as its top Senior Marketing Student. In the fall of 2009, he was named a Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VII selection as he achieved a 3.44 cumulative gpa in marketing.

Otterson started the last 37 consecutive games of his college career at left offensive tackle for the Cowboys. That included starting all 13 games his senior season, which concluded with a 35-28 double-overtime win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. Otterson was Wyoming's most mobile offensive lineman and best pass blocker in `09. As a junior in 2008, he started all 12 games at left tackle. He helped the Wyoming offense rank No. 34 in the nation in rushing offense (178.3 yards per game) in `08. Otterson also helped pave the way for former Cowboy running back Devin Moore to rush for 1,301 yards on the season, and break the UW career rushing mark with 2,963 rushing yards. Otterson took over as the starting left offensive tackle at the start of his sophomore season of 2007. He had big shoes to fill, as former Cowboy Chase Johnson started every game at that position the previous four seasons before moving on to play for the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.

Unrein attracted a lot of attention from NFL scouts leading up to this year's NFL Draft due to his work ethic and relentless play as a senior. He earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference honors for the third consecutive season in `09. The senior was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl, as he was credited with 2.0 sacks, six tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the game. The forced fumble and fumble recovery came on the same play as Unrein stripped the ball from Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews. That play came at a critical point in the fourth quarter. Fresno State led 28-25 and had driven the ball down to the Wyoming 26-yard line. Following Unrein's forced fumble and recovery, Wyoming drove 54 yards for a game-tying field goal, and went on to win the game 35-28 in double overtime. Unrein recorded 41 tackles in `09, including 4.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles for losses. He played a key role in helping fellow senior John Fletcher block a field-goal attempt at San Diego State that fueled a fourth-quarter Wyoming comeback and kept UW's bowl hopes alive. Unrein started the last 37 consecutive games of his career for the Cowboys, and started 38 of 48 career games.

Wyoming Cowboys Who Signed as NFL Free Agents

Wyoming Player, Pos., Ht., Wt., Cl., Hometown, NFL Team Signed

  • John Fletcher, DL, 6-6, 265, Sr., Erie, Colo., Baltimore Ravens
  • Weston Johnson, LB, 6-3, 233, Sr., Wray, Colo., Atlanta Falcons
  • Ryan Otterson, OT, 6-5, 298, Sr., Brighton, Colo., San Diego Chargers
  • Mitch Unrein, DL, 6-4, 270, Sr., Eaton, Colo., Houston Texans