Wyoming released its first depth chart of spring drills Monday. Here is the link to the depth chart:
Will this what it will look like in less than two weeks when spring drills end, or when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 5 against North Dakota?
Some positions, yes. Others, no.
Here is a fairly quick and short breakdown of what I think of this first depth chart:
Locks: Senior Cameron Coffman at quarterback, senior Shaun Wick and Brian Hill at running back, juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt at wide receiver, junior Jacob Hollister at tight end, sophomore Drew Van Maanen at fullback, junior Chase Roullier at left guard, seniors Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api at defensive end, junior Uso Olive at defensive tackle, junior Lucas Wacha at one of the three linebacker spots (which one is still uncertain) and junior Ethan Wood at punter. I don’t see much movement at any of these spots barring injury.
Moving up (players who could end up starting or moving up the depth chart): Senior center Rafe Kiely is listed as the backup right now behind sophomore Charlie Renfree. Kiely has been limited this spring, but was the starter last year and has played a lot of football for the Cowboys. Hard to imagine he is not in the starting lineup when the season begins, or even by the end of spring.
I would say sophomore Ryan Cummings is a lock to start along the offensive line. Right now he is at left tackle. But if sophomore Taylor Knestis can keep his job at right tackle and sophomore Kurtis Stirneman improves behind him, it wouldn’t be a total shock to move Cummings to guard and insert either Stirneman at tackle. That’s something to watch as spring concludes and when fall camp begins in August.
Redshirt freshmen tight ends Tyree Mayfield and Grant Lewis are behind Hollister right now, but both should play. UW is high on these two youngsters, and their best football is probably a year or two away.
Surprises: Didn’t expect senior Troy Boyland to make the conversion from defensive tackle to offensive guard so fast. He is the current starter at right guard. Also didn’t expect redshirt freshman walk-on Adam Pilapil to make such an impression on the coaches at free safety, where he too is listed as the starter. Pilapil came to UW as a wide receiver, but played mostly safety in high school.
Another redshirt walk-on, cornerback Anthony Markransky, is listed as a starter. Once sophomore Robert Priester returns from his knee injury during fall camp, I expect him to take over as the starter when he’s healthy.
Concerns: How the linebackers sort out through the rest of spring and into fall camp. It’s safe to say that juniors Eric Nzeocha and Will Tutein will play, but where and how effectively. Can senior walk-on Devin McKenna emerge as a player UW can turn to at middle linebacker?
Same can be said in the secondary and at wide receiver. Is it good that a pair of walk-ons are atop the depth chart in the secondary? Expect senior Chad Reese to get more into the mix, as well as junior D.J. May when he returns to full strength from a knee injury. UW has only five receivers on scholarship right now, but four more come in true freshman this fall.
I will be curious to see what happens at quarterback behind Coffman. Sophomore and junior college transfer Josh Allen is the backup right now, followed by redshirt freshman Nick Smith and redshirt sophomore Aaron Young. Smith enrolled at UW in January and is still learning, but the coaches love his arm strength.
Lastly, I felt bad for redshirt freshman Austin Fort of Gillette Monday. Fort found out Sunday that he was being moved from quarterback to tight end. Offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said it wasn’t so much what Fort didn’t do well at quarterback, but Fort was one of five quarterbacks this spring and something had to give. Fort is the best athlete among the quarterbacks, and can help UW at another position — more so than any of the other quarterbacks in terms of switching positions. Tight end looks like a good fit, but I also could see him as a receiver or linebacker. Still, for a guy that had played quarterback most of his football career, one could tell Fort was still a bit in shock and uncertain about the move. Perhaps, Fort will follow the path of Hollister, who began his college career as a quarterback at Nevada and has emerged as UW’s best tight end right now. Either way, Fort is a good athlete and good football player, and can help UW at other areas.