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Youth emerging as Cowboys enter Spring’s second week

Posted at 3:09 PM, Mar 29, 2018

(UW Athletics release)

Laramie, Wyo. – Spring football entered Week Two for the Wyoming Cowboys on Tuesday, as a number of young players have begun to emerge, while veterans have displayed great leadership according to head coach Craig Bohl.

Many Cowboys have also benefited in the form of significant weight gain from Wyoming’s new strength training program implemented by Wyoming’s Director of Sports Performance Ben Iannacchione and Associate Director of Sport Performance Eric Donoval.

Among the players showing the largest weight gains are: nose tackle Justin Borton (up 19 pounds to 272 pounds), center Keegan Cryder (up 10 pounds to 283), defensive tackle Gavin Dunayski (up 25 pounds to 262), safety Esaias Gandy (up 10 pounds to 193), defensive end Carl Granderson (up to 261 pounds), defensive tackle Ravontae Holt (up 11 pounds to 258), defensive tackle Hunter Lee (up 21 pounds to 302), linebacker Caash Maluia (up 13 pounds to 243), lineacker Ryan Mazzola (up 18 pounds to 238), wide receiver EC Ogu (up 10 pounds to 185), offensive guard Gavin Rush (up seven pounds to 305), fullback Garrett Shipman (up 24 pounds to 256), quarterback Tyler Vander Waal (up 10 pounds to 220) and running back Trey Woods (up six pounds to 216).

Bohl continues to strive to make his team a more physical team, and he believes his team is making progress toward achieving that goal.  He also was encouraged by what he saw on Tuesday from some of the younger players on the Cowboy roster.

“I think we’re taking steps to become a more physical football team, and I believe that is part of spring ball,” said Bohl.  “Some of things that I did notice in today’s practice is some of our young offensive linemen are taking a step forward.  The other thing I saw was Ayden Eberhardt (wide receiver) made a couple big time plays out there today.  I joked with him I’ve been watching him on NFL Network catching passes for Josh (Allen) at Pro Day last Friday.  Ayden certainly showed up today.  It’s good to see.  The guys competed well today.

“I thought we were throwing the ball better today.  Tyler (Vander Waal) threw the ball better today.  I was encouraged.”

To follow up on his comments about the improved play of some of the young Cowboy offensive linemen, Bohl was asked if there were specific individuals who had impressed him thus far in spring practice.

“I think Rudy Stofer did some good things today.  He’s a back-up tackle,” said Bohl.  “Keegan Cryder is still making strides at center, but there are still strides he needs to make.  Alonzo Velazquez had a better day today than he did the other day.  Those are the guys I noticed, but you always have to be cautious.  As I tell our guys, the eye in the sky doesn’t lie, so we’ll take a look at the tape.”

With a number of receivers missing spring practice due to injury, Bohl was asked if that made it difficult to evaluate the quarterbacks.

“The passing game does come down to timing and tempo so much, but sometimes it just comes down to finding a way to make some plays,” said Bohl.  “We’re disappointed that Jared Scott is going to have to have surgery on his hand and will probably miss the rest of spring, but it does give some other young receivers an opportunity.  Avante’ Cox made a couple nice plays as did Dontae Crow, so it’s those guys time to shine.”

In terms of what he has seen out of his quarterbacks (Vander Waal and Nick Smith), Bohl said, “A little bit of a mixed bag in terms of reading things.  I think both Nick and Tyler are throwing the ball better, with more authority.  There were a couple throws I thought Tyler made today that were really encouraging — some long routes, some over routes to where you just don’t have to understand where to put the ball but you have to be able to drill it and throw it on a rope.  I thought he did that.”

At cornerback, the Cowboys have two redshirt freshmen in Keyon Blankenbaker and C.J. Coldon, who are competing for spots.  Bohl had previously expressed a desire to see how they would perform this spring, and the question was posed to him about their progress thus far.

“We are liking what we see from those two,” said Bohl.  “They show good movement.  We don’t have a lot of coverages installed yet, which is planned.  They do have good athleticism.  They have the ability to come out of their breaks well.  It will be interesting once we do some live scrimmaging how they tackle, but we’re encouraged so far.  I think the move of Tyler (Hall) inside to nickel has been outstanding.  I think he has a bright, bright future there.”

In addition to the young players who Bohl mentioned as playing well thus far in spring ball, he was also asked about a couple of the key Cowboy leaders on defense in senior strong safety Andrew Wingard and junior middle linebacker Logan Wilson.

“Dewey (Andrew Wingard) is one of those guys who has a hard edge,” said Bohl.  “He practices and he plays that way.  Certainly the guys understand his competitive nature, and that has a big, big factor in how we play on defense.  He’s a lot stronger, and he’s carrying his weight really well.  He was really physical today.  It is encouraging to see him come out as an established player, who is recognized around the country, and yet he’s practicing like he’s a hungry freshman.

“We’re particularly pleased with the leadership we have on defense.  Those guys that you just mentioned, they don’t have an attitude like they have arrived and they don’t have to practice hard.  They are setting a great example, and they’re getting better.  They are proven players, but they’re not resting on their laurels.”

Finally, the fifth-year Cowboy head coach was asked how the depth at linebacker was progressing, to which Bohl said, “We feel like some guys are coming around.  We’ve taken a hard look at Vah (Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula). I think he understands that he is further along this spring.  Adam Pilapil is really doing a nice job.  It’s going to take more than just our starters.  When you go through a tough schedule like we’re going to play next year there are going to be injuries suffered and depth is going to be important.”

Bohl did say there were some injuries suffered during Friday’s practice, including a potential shoulder injury to junior running back Kellen Overstreet, but he said he wouldn’t have any detailed information until later this week.

The Pokes will continue 2018 Spring Drills on Thursday, March 29 with an afternoon practice.  Practices are closed to the general public.  The Spring Game will be open to the public on Saturday, April 21, with a 2 p.m. kickoff.