Oct. 3, 2002
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -
When Tyler Gottschalk arrived on the University of Wyoming campusin the summer of 2000, he was a tall, skinny kid from Hays, Kan.
Gottschalk is still tall, and still a little thin. But he is emerging as theCowboys' best linebacker.
Now a junior and about 40 pounds heavier, Gottschalk leads UW's defense inthree different defensive categories - total tackles (38), tackles for loss(three for minus-13 yards) and fumbles forced (two). He is tied for the teamlead with one fumble recovery and one quarterback sack.
Gottschalk played his best game as a Cowboy in UW's 38-7 loss to then No. 13Washington on Sept. 21. He recorded a career-high 16 tackles, forced twofumbles, recovered one fumble and had one tackle for loss.
"I think the Washington game showcased what he's capable of," UW defensivecoordinator and linebackers coach Matt Wallerstedt said. "If he can do itagainst Washington, one of the best teams in the country, he can do itagainst anybody."
UW found Gottschalk in the spring of 2000 when Wallerstedt was tipped offthat he was available by Gottschalk's high school coach in Hays, which islocated in central Kansas. Gottschalk signed with UW late that summer.
"He was kind of hidden in the middle of Kansas," Wallerstedt said. "KansasState was at the point where they were taking the nation's elite, and Kansaswas looking outside. But I was surprised someone else from the Big 12Conference didn't come in and snatch him up."
When he arrived for fall camp at UW, Gottschalk was only about 200 pounds,but he made a lot of plays. That, and because of some injuries atlinebacker, he was thrust into immediate action. He played in all 11 gamesas a true freshman and recorded 75 tackles.
Last season, Gottschalk again played in all 11 games for the Cowboys, buthis production dropped with only 29 tackles.
"Consistency was my problem last year," Gottschalk said. "I had a greatlinebacker in front of me in Leo Caires and it never upset me that I didn'tstart because of that. But that season I didn't get as many reps and thatwas a factor in my lack of consistency.
"I know that consistency is still something I need to work on this season."Wallerstedt agrees that consistency is Gottschalk's biggest hurdle toovercome, along with getting a little bigger and stronger.
But Wallerstedt, a former linebacker himself at Kansas State, saidGottschalk showed he can be one of the better linebackers in the MountainWest Conference if he works at it.
"He'll make plays and he'll make plays when he's out of position,"Wallerstedt said. "He's got a good knack for the ball. He can be a dominantplayer if he stays focused all the time."