LARAMIE — Kolton Donovan’s first game in uniform as a Wyoming Cowboy will not be his last. Though he does not expect to play, Donovan, who tore his ACL in Wyoming’s season-opening loss at Iowa, will dress for the Potato Bowl on Dec. 22.
“I get to put on that Wyoming uniform one last time,” said Donovan, a graduate transfer from Southern Utah. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. I know I won’t be able to play, but being out there dressed with my brothers and being able to fight for Wyoming one more time, that’s all worth it to me. So it’ll be a real honor and a blessing.”
Donovan said last month he did not expect to receive a medical redshirt, and Wyoming recently received a verbal commitment from Jesse Hooper, a high school senior long snapper.
Donovan’s father brought up the idea of Donovan dressing in his final collegiate game. Donovan approached Wyoming’s athletic training staff, and they were in favor of it, as was head coach Craig Bohl.
“Coach Bohl gave me the chance to dress, and I decided to take it,” Donovan said. “But yeah, I think just for safety reasons and whatnot, it’s probably best if I don’t play in that game.”
Donovan has not recovered fast enough to return to the field 3 months after his injury, and understandably so. ACL tears are generally considered season-ending injuries, and Donovan also bruised the bones in his lower leg. Nonetheless, his recovery has gone quickly.
“I’m starting to do a lot more,” Donovan said. “I’ve been squatting weights in the weight room. I’ve been doing almost everything except for like running and doing agility work. So, considering that’s the only thing I can’t do, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape right now. I’m way (further) ahead of schedule than most guys would be.
“But yeah, everything’s going along great. Snapping, I’ve already been snapping a little bit, and then hopefully I’ll be going full speed and giving everything I’ve got here in about a month. So, everything is going along pretty good. A lot better than anyone expected.”
Playing in a game so soon, however, would put him at a risk of another injury.
“So when you take a tendon — which, they went to my patellar tendon and turned it into a ligament, more like the ACL is — there’s this adjustment where it changes from tendon to ligament,” Donovan said. “And so that’s kind of where my knee’s at right now is making that adjustment, and it’s still sort of fragile as well.”
Donovan plans to try to catch on at the NFL level after the season.
“I’ve been talking to a couple agents,” Donovan said. “Of course, there’s only so much you can do due to NCAA rules. But yeah, I’ve talked to quite a few, some big-name agents, some new up-and-coming agents, just trying to see what they’re all about, what they can do.”
Donovan said that an agent mentioned that before his injury, most NFL teams had Donovan listed as their No. 1 or 2 collegiate long-snapper.
“It was definitely an honor to hear that from a couple agents and it just kind of showed me that, ‘Hey, I probably can do this,’” Donovan said. “There is an opportunity still here. And it’s good motivation as well.
“... The way I’ve been looking at it is, ‘Hey, I’m way ahead of schedule.’ If I just keep grinding, I’ll find myself back in that spot and come draft day or the day after end up with one of the teams that are willing to give me a chance a trust my knee, and come back and get the job done.”
As for the bowl game, Donovan said there’s probably only one circumstance in which he would snap.
“I’m guessing that the only shot I’d probably have to play would be like if we were absolutely blowing out Central Michigan, where there wouldn’t be a hard rush,” Donovan said. “But I’m just expecting to keep doing what I’m doing, working with the specialists, getting ready mentally and being that teammate and brother to them. So I’m just excited to put that uniform on.”