November 26, 2012

Wyoming nets two midwestern linemen

It may go down as the roadtrip that led to the foundation of Wyoming's future offensive line.

After a total of 28 hours in the car over roughly three days, former Western Michigan commitments Kurtis Stirneman and Connor Riese changed their verbal pledges to Wyoming this weekend to the delight of the Cowboy coaching staff. Both play offensive line - Stirneman for Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock (Ill.) and Riese for DC Everest just outside Wasau, Wisc.

The two are the ninth and tenth known commitments in the recruiting class of 2014.

"It was a 14-hour drive each way to Kurtis' house and then another five hours to my place from there," Riese said. "Seriously everything was great. The facilities were top notch. They were uncomparable with other schools I saw. The coaching staff - I really got a long with them right off the bat. I was excited to have a chance to play early. I feel really comfortable there."

Riese measures out at 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds. The All-Conference and All-Region selection was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and the 14th-best player in Wisconsin regardless of position. Riese was offered scholarships by Wyoming, Western Michigan, Alabama State and Florida International. He also garnered the interest of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"I really like to be physical with my guy and my biggest thing is pass protection," Riese said.

Kurtis Stirneman is a 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle from Woodstock (Ill.) and Marian Central Catholic. He was offered scholarships at Wyoming, Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Illinis, South Dakota and Western Michigan. In addition to those schools he was in contact with Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin of the Big Ten.

Riese and Stirneman originally committed to Western Michigan in July, after giving Wyoming little more than a passing look due to the distance from home. Last week, after completing a 4-8 season, the Western Michigan administration fired head coach Bill Cubit and his staff. That left Riese's scholarship in a state of flux. The two visited Western Michigan together and decided they had a lot in common, which led to a friendship and a trip to Laramie with Stirneman's father.

"The whole staff got fired, so that put my scholarship out of order," Riese said. "I wasn't going to wait, so I decided to head to Wyoming with Kurtis. I went to the campus, and committed with Kurtis at the same time.

"It's a shame what thappened to Western, but I think it is a blessing in disguise that it happened. I can't believe I overlooked a school like this."

This weekend's visit for Stirneman and Riese was an unofficial visit. The two will be back in Laramie on Dec. 7 for their official visit. At that point Riese said he will bring back his parents to see the school and the area in an attempt to reassure his folks that Laramie is the right fit for him.

"I really saw everything on this visit, besides the dorms," Riese said. "The official will consist of showing my parents this is where I am going to be. They are happy for me, but the only thing for them is (Laramie) is far away. I really believe once they visit with me on the seventh, they will be as comfortable with it as I am."

Riese, a future sports medicine major, she he enjoyed his visit and is excited in what he heard from the Wyoming coaches.

"They said this is a class that they really need offensive linemen," Riese said. "They said it is great to have the size I do and the athletic ability. They said I should be looking to play early."

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