LARAMIE, Wyo. - Rico Gafford, a two-year starter at cornerback for national junior-college power Iowa Western Community College, signed with the University of Wyoming football program on Wednesday. Wyoming head football coach Craig Bohl announced the signing of Gafford.
Rico Gafford is a 5-11, 180-pound cornerback, who in 2014 started as a freshman at Iowa Western CC and helped the Reivers reach the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship Bowl. IWCC ended the season with an 11-1 record and were ranked No. 3 in the nation after losing, 34-17, to No. 1 ranked East Mississippi for the national championship. Earlier in the season, Iowa Western had been ranked as high as No. 1 in the country. In 2015, Gafford helped lead the Reivers to another outstanding season. IWCC again finished the 2015 season ranked No. 3 in the final NJCAA national rankings. The Reivers posted a 10-2 record and won their last 10 consecutive games in 2015. IWCC concluded the season defeating Georgia Military by a score of 20-6 in the Graphic Edge Bowl.
Gafford was named Second Team All-Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) as a sophomore and Honorable Mention All-ICCAC as a freshman. “Rico (Gafford) comes to us from a great program,” said Bohl. “He will bring outstanding speed and athleticism to our secondary. He is very competitive, and has played a lot of football. He will come in this spring and bring great value to our team on all levels. We are very excited to begin working with Rico.”
Gafford concluded his sophomore season of 2015 with 44 total tackles, including 32 solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He recovered two fumbles, returning them for 70 yards, and added two interceptions and four pass breakups. A versatile athlete, Gafford had 11 rushing attempts on offense, gaining 45 yards. He also returned four kickoffs as a sophomore for 96 yards, and ended the season with 141 all-purpose yards. Iowa Western’s defense ranked No. 7 in the nation in fewest points allowed (16.8 points per game), and ranked No. 12 in the NJCAA in total defense, giving up an average of only 281.0 yards per game.
His freshman season of 2014, Gafford was credited with 33 total tackles, including 22 solo tackles. He recovered one fumble, intercepted three passes for 61 yards and broke up three other passes. Gafford returned 14 kickoffs for 364 yards and averaged 26.0 yards per return. He also returned a blocked punt 12 yards for a touchdown. Gafford concluded his freshman season with 376 all-purpose yards. As a team, Iowa Western ranked No. 10 in the nation in scoring defense in 2014, allowing only 18.3 points per game and ranked No. 29 in total defense (316.3 yards per game).
Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, Gafford played football and was an outstanding sprinter on the track team in high school. He earned Des Moines Register Class 4A All-State honors in football both as a junior and senior. Class 4A is the largest classification in Iowa. He earned First Team Class 4A All-State as a defensive back from Iowa Sports Spotlight his senior season and was a Second Team Class 4A All-State selection as a junior. Gafford won both the 100 meters and 200 meters for Class 4A as a senior at the 2014 Iowa State Track and Field Championships. His 10.61 time in the 100 meters stands as the fastest fully automatic timed (FAT) 100 meters in the history of the Iowa State Meet. He won the 200 meters in a time of 21.49.
Gafford was also recruited by Ohio and Troy. He played for head coach Scott Strohmeier at Iowa Western Community College.
Gafford is the first student-athlete to sign with the Cowboy Football program for this recruiting season. The signing period for mid-year signees opened on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, and will run through Jan. 15, 2016.