April 25, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
(This is the fifth in a series of articles acquainting you with Joe Glenn's 2003 Wyoming football staff. Today meet Cowboy special teams coach Chris Knutsen.)
In the back of his mind, Chris Knutsen always hoped that he would be back.
An assistant coach at Wyoming during the late 1990's, Knutsen has returned to UW, working with special teams and the defensive line for Head Coach Joe Glenn. He couldn't be more thrilled.
"I always thought I could come back here," Knutsen said during the Cowboys' spring training off-day on Thursday. "I really didn't want to leave, I thought we could stay here for a long time, but that's the business. I've been very fortunate to work with Joe, and now to return here.
"Coming back has been great. I didn't realize how many people knew me, and said they were glad to have me back. It has made us feel really good. It was like I'd never left. It's so comfortable here. It's part of my heritage. You know, brown and gold is what I wore in college Valparaiso (Ind.). Not many guys can walk around and say they wore brown and gold all of their lives.
"People say you can never go back," he continued. "I always felt I could go back. You're always going to go back to something in your life. A lot of people would love to go back do do some things that they did before. We had great times here, and did some good things. I want to go back and do those again, and I'm fortunate to be given the opportunity to do that."
Wyoming runs deep in the Knutsen family. Chris' wife Shelley has deep roots in the state. Her mother and father both grew up in Wyoming, and are UW grads. In fact, her father, Bob Bormuth, was a three time Skyline Conference wrestling champion at 157 pounds during the mid-1950's. During his graduate-school days, he was an assistant coach to Hall of Famer Everett Lantz. "Wyoming is in their blood, and that certainly made me buy into Wyoming," Knutsen said. "This state, and Cowboy football are in my blood too."
When universities were courting Glenn before he accepted the Wyoming position, Knutsen went into the head coach's office and had a visit. "I told him about Wyoming, and about the type of kids we recruit there, the tough kids, the good kids, kids from all over the country. I loved the kids we had here. I told him I thought it was a great place to go, and I meant it."
Knutsen coached at Wyoming from 1997 through 1999. He coordinated special teams primarily, but durng the '99 campaign he also coached outside linebackers. When he left Laramie, he signed on with Glenn at Montana. During his three seasons there, he was the Grizzlies' special teams and linebackers coach. Before coming to Wyoming, he coached at Northern Colorado, where he served as defensive line coach, and assisted with the special teams in 1995 and 1996. He also was the linebackers coach and assistant offensive line coach from 1992 through 1994.
In addition to his coaching positions at Wyoming and UNC, he was the offensive line coach at Illinolis State, defensive coordinator at Valparaiso, defensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Montana Tech, and a graduate assistant coach at Kansas State.
A middle linebacker at Valparaiso from 1973 through 1976, he was all-conference, MVP, and co-captain his senior year there. He earned his underegraduate degree at Valpo, and a master's degree in sports administration at UNC in 1992.
Knutsen understands the great kicking tradition Wyoming has. He believes the Cowboy kicking game has a chance to be special this season.
"Luke Donovan is an oustanding punter. He's been in this league, and has a great deal of game experience. He is such a competitor. I think he is as tough a football player as we have on the team. Adam Brooks is a young guy behind him, and he is a heck of a kicker who has some pop in that leg.
"I know our placekickers had a tough year. But I can tell you that both Scott (sophomore Parker) and Deric Yaussi (sophomore) are working hard. They are both very coachable, they want to learn, and get better. We talked about a couple of technical things, and they're really working hard at doing them. The fifteen days of spring is a great time to establish the techniques that you want to work on through the summer. Those things are coming. They've just got to keep swinging away.
"We have excellent people with them. David Gough is as good as I've seen around in a long time, and I feel very good about our holders. J.J. (Raterink, a junior) is the best I have ever been around. Our protection will be technique-oriented, but simple. We have all the right parts. All the kickers have to worry about is kicking, and I have a great deal of confidence in them. They're good kids who want to be successful, they're fun to be around."
It's easy to see that Chris Knutson is having fun being around.