Home on the range: Stratton picks Cowboys

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By Brian Forbes

Sam Stratton is a quarterback. Stratton will remain one next year at Wyoming.

“That was a big deal for me because Air Force was the only other Division I school that wanted me to play quarterback,” Stratton said.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Chatfield senior verbally committed to join the Cowboys of Laramie in fall 2010, which suddenly made his upcoming — and final — season with the Chargers this fall a lot more enjoyable.

Rather than navigate the sea of madness that is recruiting these days, and worry if he should switch to safety or specialist to appease other suitors such as Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State and Arizona State, Stratton can stop worrying and play the game he loves.

“It’s so nice just knowing that’s where I want to go, and I don’t have to worry about taking the SAT again,” Stratton said. “Obviously, I want to play the best I can, but I don’t have to impress anybody.”

Stratton thought he would be making this decision next January, on the eve of National Signing Day in February. Wyoming, under the direction of first-year head coach Dave Christensen, whose offense set school records while he was an assistant at Missouri, swooped in for Stratton and made his decision easy.

Stratton said the Cowboys had been sending mail and he took his first visit to the campus in April. A coach came to watch Stratton burn up the track at the Class 5A state meet last month and a phone call and formal offer was made the next day.

“I thought about it for about two weeks,” Stratton said.

A recent trip to a camp at Wyoming gave him that feeling that it was the place for him.

“It kind of really came on fast,” he said. “It was very unexpected.”

The Cowboys, who play at the 32,000-seat War Memorial Stadium, have not been to a bowl game since 2004. In coach Joe Glenn’s last season, the Cowboys went 4-8 last year to mark their fourth straight year without a winning record.

But hopes are high with the arrival of Christensen. A recent advocate of the spread offense, Christensen turned former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who was thought to be small for a quarterback at 6-feet, into a statistical machine with the Tigers.

The Chargers advanced to the second round of the 5A playoffs last season. They defeated Thomas Jefferson 14-10 in the first round before being eliminated by Pomona, 28-3.

And what about Laramie, a town that even friends of Stratton have told him he’ll hate due to its isolation and nasty weather? It’s suiting Stratton just fine.

“I’ve been there four times since April and I love it more and more every time I go up there,” he said.