Spring football at Wyoming begins March 19, or two weeks from Monday.
Been doing interviews with players and coaches for stories leading up to the start of practice, but wanted to share a few notes with you now:
–Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith won’t go through any contact drills and won’t scrimmage this spring after surgery earlier this winter. Smith, coach Dave Christensen and offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon all told me the surgery went well and Smith is expected to be fine for fall camp in August. “We don’t hit him anyway,” said Brandon about Smith and any of UW’s quarterbacks during practice.
Smith has been throwing the ball around lately and working out with teammates. UW doesn’t disclose injuries to specific players, but through social media Smith had surgery stemming from an injury to his right thumb/hand.
–Senior Ghaali Muhammad will go back to defense. Muhammad was a linebacker his first two years, switched to running back last year and played in eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Christensen said Muhammad approached him about moving back to defense. Muhammad will play either safety or linebacker. Muhammad will be limited in the spring due to his injury.
–The only other significant position change is senior James Caraway moving from cornerback to receiver.
–Other players who will either miss or be limited this spring include senior offensive lineman Kyle Magnuson, senior receiver Chris McNeill, junior receiver T.J. Smith and sophomore receiver Sam Stratton.
–Brandon said true freshman receiver Eric Nzeocha “looks good in gym shorts” and has impressed in off-season workouts. With guys like McNeill, Smith and Stratton out or limited, he should have a chance to prove if he can play early in his career.
–Defensive coordinator Chris Tormey said he has five goals for the defense this spring: 1. Establish effort habit; 2. Create takeaways; 3. Develop fundamentally across the board; 4. Implement schemes, and more of the base schemes; 5. Identify the two-deep roster. As far as the schemes, expect the base to be a 4-3 but Tormey said UW will utilize three-man fronts as well.
–Christensen said junior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens, who missed all of last season with an illness, is back at full strength and about 290 pounds. He was listed in UW’s media guide last season at 280. Senior linebacker Oliver Schober also is back and ready to go after missing last season with an injury.
–Some younger guys to watch and have great opportunities to show if they can help the Cowboys this season, they include: sophomore running back Kody Sutton, redshirt freshman receiver Trey Norman, redshirt freshman defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, junior offensive tackle Connor Rains (JC transfer), redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jake Jones and sophomore defensive backs Chad Reese and DeAndre Jones.