Tedder Easton saw a clear path to a long-awaited destination.
Early in the second quarter of Wyoming’s 42-10 win over Idaho last week, quarterback Brett Smith took a shotgun snap from the 13-yard-line, handed the ball off to a running back and faked a run to the left.
It wasn’t until he looked back that he noticed that the ball carrier was Easton.
“I saw the hole, and I was just hoping he was fast enough to get in,” Smith said on Monday.
Wyoming’s 240-pound senior tank rumbled through a gaping gap in the Idaho defensive line, making one quick cut along the way.
Once he emerged from the bodies, Easton looked up — and saw nothing but daylight.
“I looked straight ahead and there was nothing in front of me,” Easton said, breaking out a grin even two days later. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really going to happen right now.’”
Easton bounded untouched over the goal line, turning just in time for wide receiver Nico Brown to jump into his waiting arms. He didn’t have enough time to give the referee the football before his teammates swallowed him up.
Somewhere in the crowd, his grandfather and brother cheered him on, both having surprised him by traveling from North Dakota to see him play.
For everyone involved, it had been a long time coming.
“Just getting in there and having all the fans go crazy and having all my teammates jump on me, it was kind of a surreal feeling more than anything,” Easton said. “It was definitely a dream come true.”
That dream began more than four years ago, when Easton entered Wyoming’s program as a 270-pound defensive tackle. He eventually made the move to running back, but even then, he had to battle before getting an opportunity to see the field.
“I saw him go from 270 pounds to 240 pounds, just to cut weight to be a back. That was a struggle for him,” Smith said.
“I saw one time where he had like a salad at 11 and then a piece of steak at night, and he gained two pounds from the night before. And he was all frustrated,” Smith continued, shaking his head. “If I did that, I’d lose six pounds.”
Despite the difficulties of the position change, Easton kept working. He was a positive influence on the team’s other running backs, pushing them to be better and cheering them any time one of his brothers reached the end zone.
But as the years rolled on, that one constant itch lingered in the back of his mind. Before he could score, though, he first had
Easton earned his first career carries as a junior in 2012, running it 13 times for 44 yards.
He saw his first action of his senior season early in the second quarter on Saturday. Thirteen yards later, the Cowboys’ mammoth back finally got in.
“It was a blessing for me, and also a blessing for him just to see him score,” running backs coach Pete Kaligis said. “All the work he’s put in…he’s so unselfish in what he does and his role on this team. And to see him do that, it brought a smile to my face.”
Kaligis wasn’t the only one smiling when Easton trotted to the sideline after putting Wyoming up, 14-0. Coach Dave Christensen joked in Monday’s team meeting that “Twitter blew up when Tedder scored that touchdown.”
Easton, despite only 15 total carries in his more than four seasons in Laramie, is an easy guy to root for.
He’s also easy to recognize.
If the massive biceps and leg muscles barely contained by a Wyoming football jersey don’t give him away, there’s no mistaking the big running back when he takes off his helmet.
Easton has been sporting a bleach blonde mohawk since the summer, a look that suggests he stepped right out of a “Mad Max” movie and onto a football field.
The reviews, for the most part, have been positive.
“I love it, my friends love it, my teammates love it, my mom hates it,” Easton said, throwing in a smile as well as a quick eye roll. “But that’s something to expect.
“I like being different, obviously. I’d put it in the top five things I’ve ever done.”
Mohawks aside, scoring a collegiate touchdown probably tops the list.