Austin Tixier is taking a familiar way from Prospect to the University of Wyoming that contains a touch of gray.
Tixier, a three-year varsity starter on the defensive line, made a verbal commitment to the Cowboys on Sunday. He will be a grayshirt, where he will enroll as a part-time student for his first semester at Wyoming and then will be placed on scholarship and become a full-time student his second semester.
Former Prospect offensive lineman Nick Carlson made a similar grayshirt commitment with Wyoming and just completed his third season as a starter. Carlson was a second team all-Mountain West Conference selection as the program played in the New Mexico Bowl for the second time in three years.
"Nick has been really helpful with me," Tixier said of having Carlson as a host for his official visit last weekend and an unofficial visit in the fall. "He knows what I need and that makes it even better.
"He's been really successful out there and I'm excited to go out there and try to do the same thing."
The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Tixier had 8 sacks, 24 quarterback pressures, 5 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries last fall as the Knights made the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
He also had scholarship offers from Football Championship Subdivision school South Dakota and Division II Grand Valley State. Tixier said Western Illinois, Southern Illinois and North Dakota were among other schools which showed interest.
"South Dakota is an awesome program and it was very tempting," Tixier said. "I wanted to play at a (BCS) school. Wyoming had a lot of great things to offer and I decided to go that route."
Among them for Tixier was the opportunity to grayshirt.
"I think it's great," Tixier said. "It gives me another year to work on skills as far as size and speed.
"After talking with Nick I became a lot more comfortable (with grayshirting). I know they are completely dedicated to me and it's a commitment they're going to keep."
Wyoming went 8-5 for its first 8-win season since 1998 and its second-place Mountain West finish was its best since it joined the league in 1999. Third-year coach Dave Christensen signed a five-year contract after a 37-15 bowl-game loss to Temple.
Tixier said he thinks he'll end up as a defensive tackle at Wyoming but could possibly play center. This fall was the first time he played on the offensive line.
"I've always looked at myself as a defensive player," Tixier said. "I love playing defense and I'm more comfortable on the defensive side of the ball."
Tixier has a grade-point average of close to 4.0 on a 5.0 scale and scored 23 on the ACT. He plans to study natural resources and can't wait to get out to Laramie, Wyo.
"It feels like a weight off my shoulders now," Tixier said. "It's nice to actually concentrate on weightlifting and getting faster and not worrying about recruiting as much."