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Experienced receiver corps returns for Wyoming Cowboys’ spring game Saturday

Posted: 9:28 PM, Apr 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-25 13:18:45-04

(Editor’s note: UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. – Tuesday marked the beginning of the fifth and final week of 2019 Spring Practice for the Wyoming Cowboy Football team. The Pokes have only two days of Spring Drills remaining on Thursday and Saturday. Saturday’s final day of Spring Practice will feature the Annual Spring Game, which will kick off at 2 p.m., M.T., from War Memorial Stadium. The Spring Game will be free and open to the public.

Highlights From Tuesday’s Practice
Following Tuesday’s full-padded practice Cowboy head coach Craig Bohl met with media to talk about some of the highlights from practice.

“I thought it was a good practice today,” said Bohl. “We’re getting to the tail end of Spring Practice, but it’s important to keep evaluating and keep working on things we need to improve upon. We closed off today’s practice with a two-minute drill. I thought Ayden Eberhardt (junior wide receiver) made some real nice catches today, and Sean (Chambers, redshirt freshman quarterback) certainly threw the ball well.

“Tyler Hall (senior cornerback) went down, but we think it’s just a sprained ankle. We’ll find out his status for Thursday’s practice and Saturday’s game.”

Wide Receiver Group Taking Positive Steps Forward
Bohl was asked about how his wide receiver unit has progressed during the first four weeks of Spring Football, to which he replied, “We’ve appreciated C.J. Johnson (senior wide receiver) being out there. He’s still not running completely full speed, but he’s making progress. Rocket (Raghib Ismail Jr., senior wide receiver) has really shown some big play ability. It’s great to have Austin Conway (senior wide receiver) out there, and as I’ve said before Ayden Eberhardt has done some good things and he continues to improve.

“We do like this group. They’re going to continue to need to improve. We’re going to need to develop a go-to guy. For the guys (media) who covered us a couple years ago, you know some of the receivers we had. You could always count on the ball going up to Tanner (Gentry, former Cowboy wide receiver) and he was going to come down with it. I don’t think we’re there yet, but we’re working hard to move in that direction.”

Johnson missed the entire 2018 season after suffering a severe knee injury in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He has battled back and been able to participate fully in 2019 Spring Practice. He is one of four senior wide receivers on the 2019 Cowboy roster, joining Conway, Ismail Jr. and John Okwoli.

Recap of Last Saturday’s Closed Scrimmage
Bohl was pleased with the progress he saw in last Saturday’s closed scrimmage, particularly with the play of his quarterbacks and defensive backs. But he admitted that there are a few positions where he and his staff will have to wait until fall camp to fully evaluate due to players missing Spring Practice because of injuries.

“I thought our quarterbacks played well,” said Bohl. “I thought it was Sean’s (Chambers) best day. He threw the ball under pressure well. He made good decisions, and he was able to evade the rush, which he has shown the ability to do in the past. His down-field throwing — I thought he made some great strides there. Tyler (Vander Waal, sophomore quarterback) had a good day too with the exception of one throw that was a pick six. It was a good athletic play by Antonio Hull (senior cornerback).

“There were a couple younger defensive linemen who did some good things. We’re down on (the number of) running backs. I appreciate their efforts, but we have to watch a little bit how many reps we give to each of them. I thought Alijah Halliburton (senior strong safety) really picked up where he left off last season with his tackling ability.

“Our squad is such that some of the battles for positions really have not been what we thought they would be simply because of the numbers of guys who are out there. Some of the guys have a position right now because they’re the last man standing. We’ll manage that and get ourselves ready for the Spring Game.

“I think at certain positions we are in a good situation, but at other positions we’re not. I’d like to paint a better picture, but that would be less than honest. I think some of our positions are such that we’re not able to do some things we wanted to — like at tight end. We’ve been able to do some things at the wide receiver position that we’re pleased with. We have some defensive ends out, so we’ve got to sort that out there. I think our running back position is awfully thin right now, and we have not been scrimmaging X (Xazavian Valladay, sophomore running back), so the other two guys, Jeff Burroughs (junior running back) and Double B (Brett Brenton, redshirt freshman running back), have been getting the majority of the reps. They’ve been showing some good things, but we have a whole stable of running backs who are not able to participate right now.

“Outside of that though I think it’s probably better than I thought. We’re getting some good things out of our corner position. With some of those other positions I mentioned, we’re going to have to hold judgment until fall camp.”

Injury Update
Sophomore offensive tackle Rudy Stofer did not participate in last Saturday’s scrimmage nor at Tuesday’s practice due to being placed in concussion protocol late last week. Redshirt freshman defensive end Solomon Byrd and junior tight end Jahmari Moore also missed Tuesday’s practice.