Rich Determined To Bounce Back In 2000

Aug. 9, 2000

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -

The numbers indicate University of Wyoming strong safety Al Richhad a solid 1999 season:
- Fourth on the team with 75 tackles.
- Tied for second on the team with three interceptions.
- Third on the team with six pass break-ups.
- Second on the team with two fumble recoveries.

Despite those numbers, Rich felt his junior season was a disappointment,especially compared to his sophomore year.

Rich was a first-team all-conference pick as a sophomore. He was one of only10 sophomores in UW history to earn first-team all-conference honors.

Last year he didn't earn any all-conference honors.

"It was kind of a disappointment for me because I always have such highexpectations for myself," Rich said Monday during the Mountain WestConference Football Media Day at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

To Rich's credit, injuries had a lot to do with his play last year. TheColorado Springs, Colo., product endured shoulder and wrist injuries andstill played in all 11 of his team's games.

His shoulder injury, which had hampered him since high school, wassurgically repaired after last season. He played with a broken wrist, whichwas operated on during the spring. What initially was thought as a sprainturned into a break.

In fact, doctors later determined the bone in the wrist was decaying. Thatwrist is still in a cast, but Rich expects to ready when practice beginsAug. 10.

"I think a lot of people had their eyes open to see what I was going to dolast year," Rich said. "I disappointed some people, but I mostlydisappointed myself. No one is going to push me more to have a good seasonthan myself."

First-year UW coach Vic Koenning is counting on that. Especially since Richis the only player back from last season who started and has extensiveplaying experience in the secondary.

"We're going to count on Al in ways nobody in Wyoming has seen Al Rich,"Koenning said. "Al is an explosive player and everything like that, but thebest thing about Al Rich is he's a good person.

"There's an expression that to expect perfection, you may get excellence. Alexpects that of himself every day with every practice. He typifies a Wyomingfootball player."

One person you don't need to convince of Rich's abilities is Colorado Statecoach Sonny Lubick. Two years ago on national television, Rich recorded 10tackles, one pass break-up and one forced fumble in a 26-19 UW victory inFort Collins.

"Two years ago he was as good a player as there is around," Lubick said."The thing I like about him is he may not be the fastest player in theleague, but when the ball is in the air, he gets there and he knocks theheck out of you.

"When we lost one of our safeties, Erik Olson, last year for a couple ofgames, the confidence on our defense wasn't as high because they werewaiting for this tough guy to come up and make a play.

"Al Rich is one of those players who makes big hits and inspires everyonearound him."