UW Spring Game

Wyoming coach Craig Bohl stands with former defensive lineman Eddie Yarbrough during the UW football spring game Saturday, April 23, 2016 at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Eddie Yarbrough is a versatile kind of guy. As a hybrid between the defensive end and outside linebacker positions, he takes pride in being able to add or lose weight as teams see fit.

“I’m one of those people that if you tell me hit a mark, eventually I’m going to hit it for you,” the former Wyoming defensive end said. “If you need me to be 265 by tomorrow, I’ll be 265. If you want me 245 by next week, I’ll get there. It’s really just pick your poison with me.”

That versatility extends to his work as well. On Dec. 30, Yarbrough was on the broadcasting team for the Arizona Bowl between Air Force and South Alabama.

Now, he’s a Buffalo Bill.

The Bills signed Yarbrough on April 7, the second NFL team to take a flier on Wyoming’s all-time leader in tackles for loss.

“I was working hard, training every day and really just wanted an opportunity,” said Yarbrough, who’s currently at around 250 pounds. “When the Bills called, I was definitely excited. ... The team is awesome. It’s a first-class organization and really, really great players and great locker room. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

Yarbrough, who attended Aurora Grandview (Colorado) High School, spent the 2016 preseason with the Denver Broncos. He was cut Sept. 2, but has no regrets about the time he spent with his hometown team.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” Yarbrough said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, getting to learn from DeMarcus Ware in his last season of the hall-of-fame career that he had, getting to learn and take all those tidbits and skills that he taught us. Because he’s a great teacher. That’s one thing that people don’t really know about D-Ware is he taught all of us so much.

“And then again, learning from Von (Miller) about pass-rushing and techniques and such. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, because you can’t really buy that kind of knowledge or experience. Definitely glad that it happened, but also excited to move forward.”

Though his last three teams have all been based in the Front Range, Yarbrough has some familiarity with Buffalo. His uncle, Raymond Jackson, was drafted by the Bills as a cornerback out of Colorado State in 1996.

“It’s nice to have a little lineage here,” Yarbrough said.

He also has a fellow Wyoming grad nearby in former Cowgirl volleyball standout Bridget Shanahan.

“She’s out here as well, and I’ve got a friendly face to keep me company,” Yarbrough said.

Between teams, Yarbrough trained with Loren Landow and Nate Smock of Landow Performance in Centennial, Colorado.

“Both individuals really turned the tide for me,” Yarbrough said.

Another former Cowboy, Chase Roullier, was training at Landow Performance as well as he prepared for the NFL Combine.

“He did a great job and put up great numbers,” Yarbrough said of Roullier. “He definitely represented Wyoming in the utmost fashion.”

That was a common theme in 2016, the Cowboys’ first season post-Yarbrough, when Wyoming went on to win eight games and host the Mountain West Football Championship Game.

The Pokes had won just two games Yarbrough’s senior year. He was not surprised by the turnaround.

“I definitely expected it,” Yarbrough said. “The coaching staff and (head coach Craig) Bohl, they do an amazing job day in and day out. I knew the ball was turning, and I’m just excited for them. That team and everybody, especially with the defense and offense clicking as it did, I was definitely not surprised at all at the success they had.”

And though Yarbrough was gone before the Cowboys’ work started translating to wins, he can always take pride in helping Wyoming get there.

“I stand on being able to say that I was a part of the rebuilding process,” Yarbrough said. “And really, I feel that it takes a different kind of guy — not just myself, but guys like Siaosi Hala’api’api and other seniors that came in with me to kind of bite that bullet and be in the ground level of the floor when the team was coming in and building.

“Again, Coach Bohl’s staff just did an amazing job of accommodating us and also just being there for the players. And that’s all you can ask for in regards to a coaching staff. You want a coach and a staff that you can play for, and that’s what Coach Bohl gives you.”

To a lesser degree, Yarbrough could find himself part of another rebuild this year. Sean McDermott enters this season as Buffalo’s third full-time head coach in the last four years.

“I like the situation out here,” Yarbrough said. “... It’s really a well-staffed place. I just like the organization and what I’ve seen and heard about it.”

Now, he’ll have to prove that he deserves to stay.

“In football, you can’t really be good at one thing and not the other,” Yarbrough said. “Really (I’m working on) the full spectrum of what it takes to be a high-caliber football player.”

And eventually, he’ll have broadcasting to fall back on. In addition to helping Campus Insiders with the Arizona Bowl, Yarbrough also got some experience doing pre-draft coverage last spring.

“I got a degree from the University of Wyoming in communications, and I always knew from a young age that I wanted to get into broadcasting and journalism,” Yarbrough said. “To be able to get my feet wet and to experience the ins and outs of the business and also do my first live games and live experiences on TV was definitely a learning experience and learning curve.

“But I’m excited to eventually — not too soon — but to eventually get back into it and do it more.”

Follow University of Wyoming athletics reporter Brandon Foster on Twitter @BFoster91

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College Sports Reporter

Brandon Foster reports on University of Wyoming athletics. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years. A St. Louis native, he lives in Laramie.

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