The anxieties of making a college choice were ramping up for Ray Rabou as December approached. A standout running back/linebacker for Buffalo, Rabou had garnered attention from a smattering of schools in the Front Range area.
Then came a visit to Wyoming, when defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton pulled him aside. Hazelton said he liked seeing Rabou on the field but they had already used all of their linebacker offers. So Hazelton pitched the idea of walking on.
On Wednesday Rabou cemented his college plans by signing his letter of intent to play football at Wyoming as a preferred walk-on.
“I like to work so I was okay with that,” Rabou said. “Maybe I’ll work my way up to scholarship after a year.”
Following a junior season where he gained some college interest but only played in four games, he attacked the following off-season with focused determination. He attended football camps in South Dakota, Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming.
Staying in his home state would have been his preference but he was making a name for himself. To do that he needed to branch out.
“Being in Wyoming you’re in a dead spot and not a lot of people from the bigger schools go out there,” Rabou said. “I even talked to Utah State for a little bit so I could see the hard work was paying off.”
In November he received his first scholarship offer, from Northern State. Two days later he received one from Black Hills State. The following week came one from Chadron State. Then came a message from a Montana State coach saying they were going to talk to the head coach about getting a scholarship spot ready.
Only a few days after that came the visit to Wyoming when Hazelton pulled Rabou aside.
With coaches having their own deadlines, the pressure was on the high school senior to make a decision.
“Montana State offered me a walk-on spot,” Rabou said. “Both programs are on the rise but being an in-state guy and growing up around UW was where my heart was at. It was some place I could call home for the next four or five years.”