Wyoming’s Battered, Bruised Cole Godbout ‘Gutting Out’ Games
LARAMIE -- His hands are aching. So are his feet.
A broken second metatarsal bone in his right foot cost Cole Godbout the final six regular season games last fall. He returned for Wyoming's bowl game in Tucson, but it was short-lived. A tendon injury in his left foot left him limping off the field inside of Arizona Stadium.
The senior defensive tackle could've opted for surgery. That would've likely cost him this entire season.
Instead, through rehab and natural healing, Godbout has pushed on.
"The season just came so quick," Godbout said, referring to the pain he has been enduring. "I just had to play with what I had. It's for sure been tough. You know, I still don't regret anything. I'm still going to finish out the season."
Godbout has just 37 tackles to his credit through 10 games. He has a pair of quarterback sacks and a game-sealing interception in an upset victory over Fresno State.
Those stats aren't poor, they just aren't to his standard.
A healthy Godbout registered 70 tackles -- 39 solo stops -- in 2021. That was the third-most among interior defensive linemen in the FBS. He also tallied five sacks and battled down the same number of passes.
Before his ailing foot forced him to the bench last October, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Wisconsin product had 32 tackles and a pass breakup.
"He has been banged up," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "I mean, he's gone through a lot. He's gutting things out. If you see him, I mean, he looks like grandpa Moses when he's warming up. It takes him a while, but I appreciate his efforts and what he has meant to our team."
Godbout has appeared in every game this fall. Is he more injured than we even know?
"Yes," Bohl bluntly continued. "It's a hard position and he's taken a lot of hits. It's not like he feels all warm and fuzzy and he's ready to run a 40-yard dash. I mean, he's beat up."
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His roommate has seen that firsthand.
"He's a warrior," wide receiver Wyatt Wieland said. "Things may not be going his way this year, but the things that he brings to the defense -- leadership-wise and experience-wise -- and then he still does make those plays. Just because he doesn't crank out two-sack games doesn't mean he's not having a good season. He's just extremely beat up. He gives his life to this. He lives in the training room and just does everything he can to be on the field with us each week. It speaks volumes."
Frank Crum said he has two relationships with Godbout.
In fall camp and spring practices, the Cowboys' offensive tackle finds himself going toe-to-toe with the nose tackle. Barbs are thrown. Words are exchanged. That's competition. It's made them both better players, Crum added.
Then there's the connection off the field.
Those jokes in the dorm room. Laughing in the locker room. Respect was always at the forefront, the Laramie product said.
"He's tough as nails," Crum said of Godbout. "He's never used his injury as a crutch. I know he's battling a lot with his body, but he recognizes that's football. That's how it rolls sometimes. He's still going out there trying to give his best, so I applaud him and appreciate him. I'll never forget Cole."
Godbout, along with the other seniors on this Wyoming roster, will leave the locker room Saturday afternoon, make their way out the double doors of the High Altitude Performance Center, pat the Steamboat statue and run through the flames and yellow smoke one final time as Ragtime Cowboy Joe rings throughout War Memorial Stadium.
It's a heavy moment. One that has admittedly been weighing on Godbout's mind.
He recalled his first field entrance back in 2019. He was supposed to be a reserve, likely a spectator as his teammates took on Missouri in the season opener. Two words changed all of that.
The redshirt freshman played roughly 25 snaps in that improbable 37-31 victory over the Tigers.
"It was surreal, especially when I got out there," he said with a grin. "I don't know why it didn't click for me that they give you the calls on the sideline. Yeah, I was pretty scared. I didn't know what to do."
That feeling -- winning -- was addicting.
Now, the finish line is in sight.
"Honestly, it's going to break my heart," Godbout said about hugging his parents after his final introduction Saturday. "I've been here six years. It's been really my home for six years. This next week is pretty wild, just to think my parents will never be coming back here. It's just crazy to me."
That will undoubtedly hurt. So will saying goodbye to his teammates, guys he has been in the trenches with through long, rigorous seasons, not to mention a worldwide pandemic that for nearly two years forced these guys to only grow closer.
"That's going to be really hard because they really are my brothers," Godbout said. "I've spent more time with them than anyone in my life. That's crazy. You know, going through what we went through, fighting for what we fought for, it's going to be sad."
Godbout is trying to remain focused.
The Cowboys still have two guaranteed games remaining, including Saturday's tilt with visiting Hawaii. He knows a bowl game is most likely in the cards. Godbout also says there is plenty to play for, including securing the program's first potential nine-win campaign since the team won 10 games in 1996. They can also snap an unwanted six-game skid away from home in the season finale at Nevada.
The time for reflection will come. But first, Godbout says he still has work to do.
"I think it can be distracting," he said of reminiscing too early. "We just have to finish strong and I have to keep my mind moving ahead. We still have opportunities."