LAS VEGAS – Wyoming defensive end Eddie Yarbrough is a rising NFL draft prospect, a 1st Team All-Mountain West selection and soon to set the program’s career sack record.
Eddie Yarbrough is also a team leader, a house builder and co-star in Wyoming teammate and running back Shaun Wick’s series of Instagram videos.
He can even belt out a tune on the ukulele.
Yarbrough’s ukulele knowledge is deep. He picked up the instrument after learning from teammate Siaosi Hala’api’api.
“It’s a Fender ukulele. I think it’s Fender’s second generation,” he explained. “It’s made of mahogany wood, which I think is a sister wood to the traditional…Koa wood they use in Hawaii.”
Yarbrough grades his musical skills at a C-, so obviously, he’s humble too. That humility comes, at least in part, from philanthropic work he’s done in Haiti.
Eddie Yarbrough is part of a Wyoming contingent that visits Haiti annually in memory of Cowboy linebacker Ruben Narcisse. Narcisse, a native Haitian, was killed in a car accident in Sept. 2010, but in his time at Wyoming, Yarbrough explained his life’s goal was to make the NFL and use his salary to help the impoverished nation.
Yarbrough and his Cowboy teammates coached youth football in Port-au-Prince, and built homes in the area, where the devastating effects of the January 2010 earthquake are still evident.
The experience, Yarbrough said, gives him a new outlook on his role as a football player in the big picture.
“It’s definitely eye-opening to see how blessed and fortunate we are in the United States,” he said. “People think you have to go all the way to Africa to see a little kid with their stomach poked out from starving. We flew an hour-and-a-half from Miami and saw all of it.
“Eyes were opened,” he said. “It really put my life in perspective. Yes, I want to do good in football. Yes, I want to lead the conference in sacks. But it puts into perspective how much is a sack compared to a little kid not eating for a week? Where is my scale in humanity? How much of my time and effort is put into football and sacks and how does that weigh out with a kid not being able to eat?”
Returning to Laramie for a new school year and football season was tough, Yarbrough said, after the bonds he built with youngsters in his time there.
Such introspection and humanity is why Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl calls Eddie Yarbrough, “one of the good guys.
“His attributes as a person are better than his ability, and that speaks because he’s a really good player,” Bohl added. “He’s a galvanizing guy in our locker room. He challenges guys to work harder in practice.”
Yarbrough pushing others to work harder isn’t empty rhetoric, either, because he tries to live it on every snap.
“You can’t replace effort,” he said. “I wasn’t out there doing anything [from a schematic standpoint] nobody else was doing. I was really and truly just hunting and running to the ball, because it matters to me.
“That’s just the way I grew up playing the game. That’s what my parents and high school coaches engrained in me,” he added.
Yarbrough’s parents attend Wyoming home games, making the 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver, where his father works for the FBI and mother, for the Denver Police Department.
Eddie Yarbrough will take the next step to the NFL because of those lessons his parents engrained in him. Whether it’s sacking quarterbacks, learning to play the ukulele or building a house, efforts buoys him.
Just take the player activities arranged for their time in Vegas. Yarbrough and the rest of the Mountain West athletes hit the bowling lanes.
How’d he do there?
“I think I bowled a 138,” he said. “I’m an OK bowler.”