One of the more surprising aspects of Wyoming’s depth chart for its season-opener Saturday against Northern Illinois was redshirt freshman walk-on Josiah Hall as the starter ahead of sophomore Kevin Prosser.
However, don’t look too much into that because both will play Saturday, and throughout the season. Hall gives UW a little more size at 237 pounds, compared to 215 for Prosser.
But what’s intriguing about those two and most of UW’s defensive ends is that hardly any of them started their football careers as defensive ends.
Hall and Prosser were linebackers in high school. Same can be said about UW’s other starter, sophomore Carl Granderson. The 6-foot-5, 243-pounder was an outside linebacker who didn’t play with his hand in the dirt like he does at UW. Granderson also played some at wide receiver in high school.
True freshman Shiloh Windsor was a linebacker and running back in high school in Ada, Oklahoma. He was recruited as a linebacker to UW, but is now getting work at defensive end and could play this season. Windsor missed some time early in camp with an injury, and also later missed more time with food poisoning.
True freshman walk-on Garrett Crall is promising recruit with size — 6-foot-5, 221. He was a high school quarterback in Ohio. UW defensive ends coach AJ Cooper would like to redshirt Windsor and Crall, but both may play some this season.
The point here is UW has had a knack of transitioning players from other positions into pretty good defensive ends. UW had two good defensive ends last season in seniors Eddie Yarbrough (a three-time All-MW pick now with the Denver Broncos) and Siaosi Hala’api’api. Both were linebackers in high school. Hali’api’api started his UW career as a middle linebacker.
“It starts with the recruiting coach and position coach, and also making sure that the recruit understands where we’re looking at him at,” Cooper said. “We want to be up front with kids that often times we see them playing a different position in college from the start. Sometimes it happens once they get here, but the last thing we want is to deceive a kid in saying we want you to play this position, and then all of a sudden switch him without telling him what we are thinking.”
The defensive end spot for UW isn’t the only area where guys have switched positions. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan was a defensive end in high school. Sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard played defense in high school, but also was a running back in a Wing-T offense. Redshirt freshman Logan Wilson of Casper was a cornerback in high school, a safety last season for UW and now the Cowboys’ starter at weak-side outside linebacker.
Those are just a few examples. Another is junior running back Brian Hill. Yes, Hill played running back in high school, but he also played safety and loved it. See my story in Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net, on how Hill may have been playing for Northern Illinois had his recruitment by the Huskies gone a little differently.