For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Trojans will have a football player go straight from Casper to Laramie in order to join the brown and gold.
Senior offensive tackle Connor Shopp signed his letter of intent on Wednesday at Kelly Walsh High School alongside two of his Trojan teammates to play football at the University of Wyoming.
“It’s definitely been a goal for a very long time for me,” Shopp said. “Getting that opportunity to play down there is definitely a dream come true.”
Shopp, listed at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, will stay on the offensive line for the Cowboys. He was a standout tackle for the Trojans last year until moving to center in the middle of the season due to the Trojans’ injury woes. His efforts earned him a first-team all-state selection last season.
The Trojan big narrowed his vision down to Wyoming, Chadron State and Idaho State as finalists, with the later two offering scholarships. Then, with only a week left before National Signing Day, he made his commitment known. Those few visits down to Laramie ultimately paid off.
“I went down to visit and talked to the coaches and got around the players and it just felt like the place for me,” Shopp said. “It’s definitely a dream come true to put on the brown and gold, play Division I football just a couple hours away here in my home state.”
Sitting besides Shopp at the signing was former teammate Brock Spiegelberg. The Trojans’ standout running back elected not to follow Shopp down the walk-on road and instead took his football scholarship at FCS Montana State.
“It’s a big stress taken off,” he said. “It was kind of a stressful process but it feels good now. I’m happy.”
Loyalty won out for Spiegelberg. The Bobcats were the first school to contact him and stuck with him throughout a tough stretch that saw the standout miss six quarters his senior season due to injury. He still finished as the 4A leader in rushing, averaging 157.1 yards per game. He also had 11 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries at linebacker.
Montana State recruited him as an athlete and Spiegelberg still isn’t sure what position he’ll play when he arrives on campus. He trusts the coaching staff’s eventual decision and is excited to join the Bobcats.
In the end, Montana State gave him a scholarship and an opportunity for playing time. That’s all he ever asked for.
“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid and I’ve worked really hard for it,” he said. “It’s been really stressful to get here and taken a lot of hard work, but it’s really paying off.”
At the end of the table, opposite of Shopp, sat Kameron Mellon. Those two anchored opposite tackle positions on the Kelly Walsh line the last two seasons and while Shopp is off to Laramie, Mellon signed on to play football at Chadron State College.
“This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Mellon said. “The fact that it’s coming true is really crazy to me.”
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior visited Chadron and immediately felt at home. He enjoyed his time with the players already on campus and admired the program head coach Jay Long has built. Long also coaches the offensive line and already told Mellon their immediate plan is to play him at tackle. That was enough to get a commitment.
Mellon will likely redshirt his first season on campus but at least he’ll stay in the trenches where he feels the most at home.
“I love the O-line,” he said. “It’s getting to be aggressive and everything.”
Correction: A previous version of this story falsely stated Shopp was the first from Kelly Walsh to play football at Wyoming. He is actually the first since 1981.