Another Nzeocha coming to UW

Wyoming got a verbal commitment Monday from Eric Nzeocha, a receiver and defensive back from Germany, and the younger brother UW true freshman linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

Eric Nzeocha plays for the Franken Knights youth team in Germany, the same squad his older brother and two other current UW players played for — true freshman linebacker Alex Borgs and senior linebacker Oliver Schober.

Eric Nzeocha is projected as an athlete for UW right now, but along with playing offense and defense he’s also returned kicks.

A third Nzeocha brother, Paul, is a defensive lineman for one of the Knights’ other youth teams.

Evan Williams, a 5-foot-11, 185 pound running back from Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle High, is scheduled to enroll at UW in December.

Williams was part of UW’s 2010 recruiting class, but didn’t make it to fall camp because of academic reasons. As a senior, Williams was ranked as the ninth-best recruit in Minnesota by Rivals.com. He played quarterback as a senior, ran for 2,301 yards, threw for 1,266 yards and accounted for 41 touchdowns.

Hope you will keep checking out the blog and Twitter @rpgagliardi a lot Tuesday as the first day of Mountain West Football Media day activities take place. Let me know if you have any specific questions, or comments. Should be a fun couple of days here in Las Vegas.

Early odds out on college football

The Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas recently released early odds on some of the higher-profile games in college football this season. Here is the link to the site:

http://blog.philsteele.com/2011/06/20/golden-nugget-lines-for-2011-marquee-games/

The Nugget sure likes Boise State, especially in the Mountain West. It thinks the Broncos will beat TCU by 14 and Air Force by 20 on the blue turf in Boise. It also thinks it will go to San Diego State and win by 16.

What do you think? I believe Boise is the prohibitive favorite to win the Mountain West in its first year, but I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.

Some hoops and football stuff

This writer from CBSSports.com saw my Q&A piece with Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt.

http://eye-on-college-basketball.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/26283066/29611425

The Sporting News, one of my favorite publications, thinks the MWC will be in the BCS — even if its just for a little bit. I’m a skeptical about this. What do you think?

http://aol.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/story/2011-05-26/bcs-would-have-a-hard-time-denying-mwc-entry

For the last couple of years I’ve had the privilege to so the Mountain West football and basketball previews for the Blue Ribbon College Football and Basketball Yearbooks. For any of you who haven’t seen them, they are full of great information, and its done mostly by beat writers who cover the teams and conferences. http://www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com/

Here is a sneak peek of my predicted order of finish in the MWC in football:

1. Boise State

2. TCU

3. Air Force

4. San Diego State

5. Wyoming

6. Colorado State

7. New Mexico

8. UNLV

Thoughts?

Hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend.

Coaching shuffle for UW football

On Wednesday Wyoming announced the addition of 24 new football players.

Friday it announced two new assistant football coaches.

Gregg Brandon is the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Danilo Robinson is the new defensive line coach.

Reports broke late last night that former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo was going to Cal. Arroyo didn’t hint a change was coming when I talked to him Wednesday during signing day activities.

Robinson replaces Jerry Montgomery, who after a quick cup of coffee at Indiana is now the defensive line coach at Michigan.

In the release sent by UW this morning, coach Dave Christensen, who is in Arizona right now, said when he was at Missouri and decided to go with a spread offense he contacted Brandon to teach the staff. Both have a long relationship, and it doesn’t hurt Brandon coached at UW from 1987-90 for coach Paul Roach. Brandon also has coached for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, and was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2003-08. In 2009 he was the offensive coordinator at Virgina and was on the staff of the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League last season.

In 2008, Brandon’s Bowling Green team won at UW 45-16 and his offense rolled up 388 yards (101 rushing, 287 passing and no turnovers).

Brandon will be 55 at the end of this month. He has coached nine teams to bowl games. His experience in the game, along with the good working relationship he’s had with Christensen, are huge pluses in my opinion. Not to say Arroyo, 31, was in over his head despite being one of the youngest coordinators in college football. But with a new QB yet to be determined for UW — and a freshman at that — it’s nice to have some more experience there.

Robinson has been a college coach for 11 years, including stops at Navy, Louisiana-Monroe, Utah State (his alma mater) and last year at Southwest Minnesota State.

Ironically, UW will play at Bowling Green and Utah State — two places where these two new coaches spent a lot of time at.

It’s always tough to lose coaches, but both will have about a month to get used to what UW is doing before spring drills begin. And, it says something when you lose coaches to the Pac-12 and Big Ten. At least is they are moving on, they are doing something right. Better than being fired or leaving for smaller schools.

Thoughts and opinions on these two guys?

Top Colo. LB commits to Cowboys

Eddie Yarbrough, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker from Grandview High in Aurora, Colo., has verbally committed to play football at the University of Wyoming.

Yarbrough was rated as a three-star recruit out of five by Rivals.com, which also ranked him as the sixth-best recruit in the state of Colorado and the 31st-best outside linebacker in the nation. ESPN.com and Scout.com gave him a two-star rating out of five.

Here’s how ESPN.com analyzed Yarbrough: “He is a tough run stopper with some limitations in pass coverage. Has the size and playing strength for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. Shows the flexibility, balance and agility necessary to make plays from inside to the edge.”

Yarbrough, who visited UW last weekend, also had scholarship offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, Indiana and Utah. He also was recruited by Arizona, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Yarbrough runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash.

He is the 22nd verbal commitment in UW’s recruiting class, which includes six that have signed and are currently enrolled in school. Verbal commitments are non-binding, and NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking to the media about specific recruits until they’ve signed their national letters of intent. Signing day is Feb. 2.

UW hopes to sign 24 or 25 players in this year’s class. The Cowboys likely are looking for offensive or defensive linemen with their final scholarship(s). There also could be another cornerback as cornerback Demarius Reed of Chicago decommitted recently. Or, UW will go after the best available athlete.

This is the fourth Colorado product UW has either signed or committed in this class. Yarbrough and JC linebacker Korey Jones (from Fort Collins but went to JC at Garden City in Kan.) are both three-star recruits by Rivals.com. There may have been years where UW signs more kids from Colorado, but the quality seems to be higher this year.

Any thoughts or opinions on this or the class in general at this point?

Here is the updated list:

%^Luke Anderson, S (5-10, 185) Southlake, Texas (Blinn College)

^Zack Berg, S, 6-1, 202, Edmonds, Wash. (Woodway HS)

%^Alex Borgs, LB, 6-1, 220, Duesseldorf, Germany

^Blair Burns, CB, 5-10, 155, Plano, Texas (Plano HS)

*Josh Doctson, WR, 6-3, 175, Mansfield, Texas (Legacy HS)

^Zach Ewan, LS, 5-11, 230, Phoenix (North Canyon HS)

%*Korey Jones, LB, 6-2, 215, Garden City (Kan.) CC, Fort Collins, Colo.

^Rafe Kiely, OG 6-3, 288, Wheaton, Ill. (North HS)

%*Miraldo Michel, DE, 6-3, 250, Ellsworth (Iowa) CC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

^Malkaam Muhammad, LB, 6-0, 210, St. Joseph, Mo. (Central HS)

^London Muse, WR, 5-11, 170, Sugar Land, Texas, (Dulles HS)

^Trey Norman, ATH, 6-1, 170, Texarkana, Texas, (Liberty-Eylau HS)

%*Mark Nzeocha, S, 6-2, 215, Neusitz, Germany

*Adam Pittser,QB,  6-1, 200, Richmond, Ill. (Burton HS)

*Chad Reese, CB, 5-11, 174, Tyler, Texas, (Lee HS)

^Dominic Rufran, WR, 5-11, 175, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Palmer HS)

^Zach Rushing, OG, 6-4, 290, D’Iberville, Miss. (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College)

%^Brett Smith, QB, 6-1, 185, Salem, Ore. (West HS)

Daniel Sullivan, K, 5-10, 165, Everett, Wash. (Jackson HS)

^Kody Sutton, RB, 5-9, 186, Texarkana, Texas (Texas HS)

Austin Traphagan, OL, 6-6, 280, Yuma, Colo. (Yuma HS)

*Eddie Yarbrough, LB, 6-3, 235, Aurora, Colo. (Grandview HS)

^Two-star recruit by Rivals.com

*Three-star recruit by Rivals.com

%Currently enrolled at UW

MWC to play eight league games in football

The Mountain West Conference will play eight conference games in football in both 2012 and 2013.

The league is slated to have 10 teams starting in 2012. The actual schedule has yet to be released. Teams will play four conference games at home and on the road, and they can schedule as many as four non-conference games.

Wyoming has its 2012 non-conference schedule in place with home games against Cal Poly and Toledo, along with road games at Texas and Idaho. In 2013, UW has games scheduled at Nebraska and Texas State, and a home game with Idaho.

The other nine teams in the MWC in 2012 are Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV.

So that poses a couple of interesting questions:

1. Who gets left off UW’s conference slate starting in 2012? You’ve got to assume it won’t be someone like Air Force or Colorado State, the two biggest rivals left for the Cowboys.

Who do you think it should be?

2. What will the four conference home games be starting in 2012?

In 2011 UW must play four road conference games in the unbalanced and eight-team MWC. Those road games are against Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State. Those would be the logical choices for home games in 2012.

Or will the MWC truck its 2011 formula and start anew in 2012 with three new members (Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada)?

There also is talk that Boise State could play in Laramie this season. The Broncos, as members of the WAC, won 51-6 in Laramie last season. It may move its game with TCU this coming season from Fort Worth to Boise since TCU is bailing the following year for the Big East. That would force Boise to have to move a home conference game on the road, and UW is slated to play at Boise State next year. So is Air Force, New Mexico and San Diego State.

If you were Boise State, which place would you want to play at?

I wouldn’t pick Air Force. The Falcons will be good next season. San Diego State should be good, too, despite losing coach Brady Hoke to Michigan. The game would showcase Boise State in the talent-rich Southern California recruiting area where it likes to recruit in. Still, I would avoid that one.

I would choose either UW or New Mexico. Both combined for four victories last season, and while both should be better in 2011, a team as good as Boise State should feel it can beat either one no matter where they played. It would be great to see Boise State come to Laramie again because it is a top five team. Boise State is familiar with the travel involved in getting to Laramie, not to mention the team it hammered.

But logistically it’s easier to get from Boise to Albuquerque than from Boise to Laramie. If it were me, I choose New Mexico.

Any thoughts or opinions on any of this?

Indiana lands UW assistant Montgomery

A source close to the situation told me Wednesday that University of Wyoming defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will coach defensive ends at Indiana University this season.

Indiana has not made an official announcement on the hire, nor as UW sent anything out about Montgomery’s departure. Some college football websites also have reported that Montgomery will be at Indiana.

Montgomery was UW’s defensive line coach the past two seasons for head coach Dave Christensen. He played his college football at Iowa and also had college coaching stops at Northern Iowa and North Iowa Area Community College.

Indiana interested in UW assistant coach

Reports are surfacing today that Indiana is interested in hiring, or has hired, Wyoming defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery to coach defensive ends.

Montgomery refused to comment Tuesday when reached by phone, but said he should know more Wednesday.

Montgomery has been UW’s defensive line coach the past two seasons for head coach Dave Christensen. He played his college football at Iowa, and also had college coaching stops at North Iowa Area Community College and Northern Iowa before coming to UW.

Indiana hired former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson as its head coach last month.

UW high on prep kicker from Washington

The Wyoming football team suffered a blow when it learned sophomore kicker Ian Watts won’t return because of academic reasons.

But the Cowboys are after a high school kicker in Washington who looks to be one of the best in the nation. Looks like they are willing to sign one fewer offensive lineman to get this kid. Here is a link to the story http://tinyurl.com/265fzwh

As far as losing strong safety Shamiel Gary and receiver/tight end David Tooley, UW should be fine there, too.

Gary was good in his two years with the Cowboys. Ninety-plus tackles each of his first two seasons and Freshman All-American honors in 2009. The death of his uncle back in November took its toll on him. Even though I never talked to him there was a sense he wasn’t happy at UW or in Laramie. However, reliable sources are telling me Gary is having a tough time finding another school to play for. I also can tell you grades were not a factor in his departure.

Look for junior-college transfer Luke Anderson to have a great chance to replace Gary. Anderson will be at UW when classes start Monday and will go through spring drills. I also wonder since UW must replace both Gary and free safety Chris Prosinski that if that opens the door more for senior Tashaun Gipson to play safety. UW experimented with him there near the end of the season. Gipson has been a three-year starter at cornerback, but could be a star at safety.

Look for the competition to be fierce at both safety and cornerback positions in spring drills and fall camp.

Hard to miss a guy like Tooley when he didn’t play at all last season. He showed promise late in 2009 as a true freshman. But the knee injury he suffered in the regular-season finale at CSU was devistating and he wasn’t even close to ready when fall camp started in August. Not long after that he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

UW must replace its top two receivers in David Leonard and Zach Bolger, but nine of the top 10 pass-catchers after that are back. And, don’t be surprised if true freshman Josh Doctson from Masfield, Texas, sees the field this season. He was a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. And if you’re looking for a guy to have a break-out year currently on the UW roster, how about sophomore T.J. Smith. He came on late in the year with eight catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.

Three UW football players won’t be back

Two sophomore starters on University of Wyoming football team in 2010 won’t be back in 2011, and another who didn’t play at all last season also won’t return.

Kicker Ian Watts is gone because of academic reasons, and strong safety Shamiel Gary asked for and was granted a release from his scholarship after the fall semester ended. Sophomore tight end David Tooley also won’t be back. He didn’t play at all last season, and was suspended for a violation of team rules prior to the start of the regular season.

Watts led UW in scoring as a freshman in 2009 with 55 points. He made 12 of 15 field goals, including game-winners against UNLV, San Diego State and Colorado State.

Watts was second in scoring last season with 46 points as he made 8 of 10 field goals and 22 of 24 extra points.

Gary was the first UW player to earn Freshman All-American honors by the Football Writers Association of America in 2009. He started all but one as a true freshman and recorded 98 tackles and three interceptions. All three picks came in his first game against Weber State.

Last season Gary played in 10 of 12 games, but missed the final two games due to personal reasons. He was second on the team with 94 tackles.

Tooley caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman in 2009. He suffered a knee injury that required surgery in the final regular-season game at Colorado State.

For more on this, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com