Sept. 26, 2000
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -
Teammates of Wyoming senior linebacker Leo Caires describe him asan intense football player who is strong and has a good feel for the game.For his efforts, Caires was voted by his teammates to be a special teamscaptain this season.
UW players also describe Caires as a guy who lifts their spirits when it'sneeded the most.
"He always seems to be in a good mood," UW senior bandit (defensiveend/linebacker) Patrick Chukwurah said. "If you're down and out, he comes inand sparks you back up. That's just Leo."
A fractured leg Sept. 9 at Texas A&M ended Caires' senior season, andperhaps his college career if he cannot qualify for a medial redshirt.
Still, Caires refuses to be down in the dumps about his recent misfortune.
"The way I look at it is things could be a lot worse," Caires said. "That'shelping me keep my spirits up. I am still around the team, and right nowthat's the only thing I can do. I still need to be the same happy-go-luckyguy and try to keep the guys up."
Caires' presence on the field is missed by his teammates.
"Leo's a big part of our team," UW senior middle linebacker Kwabena Peprahsaid. "He's a huge asset to our defense. When he's not there, we all feelit. We all have to step up."
Peprah moved from middle linebacker to replace Caires at weak-sidelinebacker. Caires was UW's leading tackler after two games, but Peprah's12-tackle performance against Central Michigan vaulted him into the teamlead with 25 with Chukwurah.
Another interesting fact about Caires was how he came to UW. Caires was afootball and rodeo standout at Maui High School in Hawaii. Caires was astate champion in steer wrestling, bull riding and earned area all-aroundhonors in rodeo during his high school career.
Caires came to UW to try out for the rodeo team, but all he did was go toone practice.
Instead, he walked on to the football team as a receiver. Caires made theteam, was later moved to linebacker - the position he played in high school.He eventually earned a scholarship, and prior to his injury had played in 24straight games dating back to 1998.
"I don't regret coming here," Caires said. "I would have never met thewonderful people if I hadn't come here. I get along with all of myteammates. I really enjoy everything here except the weather. I don't thinkI'll ever adjust to that."
But a Hawaiian rodeo cowboy now a Wyoming Cowboys football player?
"It's a trip to see someone from Hawaii in a rodeo," UW junior middlelinebacker Herman White said.