No surprises on signing day for UW. … so far

I was just told that Wyoming got all of its national letters of intent from its high-school recruits this morning.

Everyone signed that was expected to sign.

Will know more at the 2:30 p.m. news conference this afternoon. I will provide live updates via Twitter @rpgagliardi, and at 4 p.m. host a live chat from signing day. Here is the link to that: http://tinyurl.com/4bpbbxa

Top UW-BYU basketball games

There isn’t much talk that Wednesday likely will be the last Wyoming-BYU men’s basketball game in Laramie, or at least for quite a while.

BYU moves to the West Coast Conference next season in hoops and most other sports, and will be an independent in football.

UW’s current basketball struggles has most to do with such little fanfare for Wednesday’s game. At 8-13 overall, 1-6 in the MWC and coming off a 39-point loss at No. 7 San Diego State last Saturday, most wonder how bad it will be Wednesday against No. 8 BYU.

The Cowboys have lost 11 straight to the Cougars dating back to 2005. The average margin of victory during that time for BYU has been about 13 points, and 17.5 points in the last five.

Good riddance if this is the last time UW sees BYU in Laramie, right?

But what is your favorite UW-BYU men’s basketball game or memory?

Even though I was only 11 years old at the time, my favorite was in 1982 when UW won at BYU 27-25.That win went a long way to helping the Cowboys get to the NCAA Tournament that year.

Other good ones include the last time UW swept BYU in the regular season, which was in 2005.

Steve McClain’s last game as UW’s coach was a loss to BYU in the semifinals of the MWC tournament in 2007. Not a favorite memory, but a memorable one.

Would love to hear yours.

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.comfor more on Wednesday’s game, including a look at what people are saying about BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, a candidate for Player of the Year in the country. Is he the best player to have played in the Arena-Auditorium? Would love to know your thoughts on that.

Also, the UW and BYU women play for first place in the MWC Wednesday. And, Wednesday is signing day for UW football. Look for a story on two of UW’s newest players from Germany in Wednesday’s papers. Also join me at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a live chat about the signing class and anything else UW related. See the top of this blog for the direct link.

Lee swtiches from UW to Tulsa

Wyoming lost a verbal commitment in football Thursday when defensive tackle Gary Lee (6-5, 285) from Victory Christian High in Tulsa, Okla., changed his mind and committed to Tulsa.

Here is the short article out of the Tulsa World: http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/TU/article.aspx?subjectid=94&articleid=20110128_94_B5_CUTLIN696163

You see this happen a lot of football recruiting. When a school sees a recruit in its own backyard commit to another school, it often makes a late push for that kid. UW did that in coach Dave Christensen’s first recruiting class in 2009 with Gillette’s Spencer Bruce. Bruce verbally committed to Southern Mississippi, but not long before signing day changed his mind and signed with the Cowboys.

Right or wrong, ethical or not this is a big part of college recruiting.

UW still has 18 verbal commitments and six other players signed and enrolled in school. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys get a verbal commitment from a high school defensive back this weekend, which is the final weekend recruits can visit prior to signing day on Wednesday.

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

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.

Cowboys sign four mid-year JC transfers

Wednesday was the first day colleges could sign junior-college players who will enroll in school in January, and Wyoming inked four late in the afternoon.

They are:

Safety Luke Anderson (5-10, 200) from Blinn College in Texas

Linebacker Korey Jones (6-2, 220) from Garden City (Kan.) Community College

Defensive end Miraldo Michel (6-3, 286) from Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College

Offensive guard Zach Rushing (6-3, 290) from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

All will have two years of eligibility with UW. Three played on teams that finished on teams that were ranked in the top 15 junior colleges in the country. Jones, who is from Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins, Colo., was 10th nationally with 108 tackles.

Michel verbally committed to UW a while back and was listed at 250 pounds, but is now at 286. That’s impressive and a couple of coaches familiar with Ellsworth told me this guy is the “real deal.”

I would say all four have a chance to help UW right away. That’s why schools sign JC players, right?

But the fact all four will be here in January helps. And, three of the four are on the defensive side of the ball. There’s a lot to learn, but usually defensive guys have a little better chance at grasping the system than offensive guys, especially in UW’s spread offense.

Last year, UW signed a mid-year offensive lineman in guard Nick Puetz, and he earned the starting job early in spring ball. However, Puetz unexpectidly quit after spring drills. Rushing should get a shot to see what he can do right away.

UW signed six junior-college players last year, but along with Puetz quitting, defensive back Austin Daniels didn’t make it to Laramie for fall camp because of academics.

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

UW will have another player enroll in January. Quarterback Brett Smith from West Salem High in Salem, Ore., will graduate high school early. However, UW can’t release his name and coaches can’t talk about him per NCAA rules until he is officially enrolled in school and classes start.

Live Tweets from UW-Denver game

I will have be Tweeting from tonight’s Wyoming-Denver men’s basketball game here in Laramie tonight.

No live blog, but those will be back soon.

You can follow the Tweets on the blog on the right side of the main blog page. Or, you can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rpgagliardi.

A couple of early observations from the Arena-Auditorium tonight:

–Been told UW is still not back in its normal locker room. Coach Heath Schroyer made the team move to a smaller one until he felt the players earned the right to be in there.

–Junior center Adam Waddell might play some tonight, but is still hampered by an Achilles injury. He has missed the last three games.

–I also just asked UW sports information director Tim Harkins if UW will announce any junior-college signings for football Wednesday, the first day schools can announce them. He said there will be some mid-year signee announcements, but likely not Wednesday. At least as of Tuesday night he had not received any information on any players. Expect UW to have five or six players enroll in classes in January.

UW gets two more verbals from Texas

Two high school players from Texas are the latest verbal commitments to the University of Wyoming football program.

Blair Burns is a 5-foot-10, 155-pound cornerback from Plano High in Plano, Texas, and Josh Doctson is a 6-3, 175-pound receiver from Legacy High in Mansfield, Texas, committed to UW Monday.

That gives UW 19 verbal commitments for its 2011 recruiting class, and seven are from Texas — the most of any state. Of those seven, two have received a three-star rating out of five from Rivals.com, and three are two-star prospects.

Rivals.com gave Doctson a three-star rating. As a senior he caught 38 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns. He had 20 catches for 292 yards and a touchdown as a junior. The rivals website listed UW as Doctson’s only scholarship offer.

Burns, a two-star recruit by Rivals.com, has been timed with a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and also returned kickoffs in high school. Burns has a 33-inch vertical jump, and was offered a scholarship from Louisiana-Monroe.

Verbal commitments are non-binding, and NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking about recruits until they have signed their national letters of intent.

UW has received seven verbal commitments since last weekend, and if everyone of these players end up signing UW needs only six more to fill its class for 2011. I can’t remember when the Cowboys had this many verbal commitments at this time in the recruiting period.

Here is a list of the verbal commitments UW has received so far:

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, 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)

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

^Two-star recruit by Rivals.com

*Three-star recruit by Rivals.com

UW gets five verbal commitments

The University of Wyoming football program received verbal commitments from five players who visited Laramie over the weekend.

They are:

–Safety Luke Anderson (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) from Blinn College in Texas.

–Offensive guard Rafe Kiely (6-3, 288) from Wheaton North High in Wheaton, Ill.

–Receiver Dominic Rufran, (5-11, 175) from Palmer High in Colorado Springs, Colo.

–Offensive guard Zach Rushing (6-4, 290) from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

–Quarterback Brett Smith (6-1, 185) from West Salem High in Salem, Ore.

Kiely and Smith both are rated as two-star recruits out of five stars by Rivals.com. Smith finished his career with school records in passing yards (5,064), touchdown passes (52), rushing yards (2,326), rushing touchdowns (43) and points scored (260).

Smith had scholarship offers from San Jose State, where he originally verbally committed, and also from New Mexico State, Eastern Washington and Portland State. Nevada and Wake Forest also recruited Smith.

Smith’s commitment is ironic because junior-to-be and two-year starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels originally committed to San Jose State before he switched to UW.

According to Smith’s Twitter account, he will graduate from high school early and start classes at UW in January.

Smith is the second quarterback commitment UW got during the week. The other was Adam Pittser (6-1, 200) from Burton High in Richmond, Ill. Smith and Pittser likely will be the only two quarterbacks this recruiting class. If another one is signed it probably means Emory Miller Jr., Sam Stratton and Austin Woodward — all freshmen who were redshirted this past season — will switch positions or not be at UW next season. There’s no indication any of the three are leaving.

Kiely had a scholarship offer from Army, and also was recruited by Illinois, Kansas and Northern Illinois.

Anderson and Rushing will have two years of eligibility at UW. Anderson has been timed at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, recorded 77 tackles, 11 pass break-ups, two sacks and recovered a fumble last season. According to the Blinn College website, Anderson won’t join UW until fall camp in August.

Rushing helped his team to a 10-2 record and a win in the Mississippi Bowl.

Rufran has 4.47-second 40-yard dash speed and also was recruited by Colorado.

UW has 17 verbal commitments for its 2011 recruiting class, and can sign a maximum of 25 players. Kiely and Rushing are the first two offensive linement in the class. Some other interesting notes so far in this class:

–Four junior-college transfers.

–Four defensive backs, three of which are listed as safeties.

–Nine different states and Germany are represented in this class.

–Four of the 17 have received three-star ratings out of five by Rivals.com, and six are two-star prospects.

Verbal commitments are non-binding, and NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking about recruits until they have signed national letters of intent.

More QBs to visit UW this weekend

Wyoming received a verbal commitment from Illinois high school quarterback Adam Pittser Thursday night, and it is scheduled to have two other quarterback recruits visit campus this weekend.

Brett Smith is a 6-1, 185-pound senior at West Salem High in Salem, Ore. He finished his career with school records in passing yards (5,064), touchdown passes (52), rushing yards (2,326), rushing touchdowns (43) and points scored (260). He retracted his initial verbal commitment to San Jose State, but still has a scholarship offer from the school. UW, New Mexico State, Eastern Washington and Portland State also have offered Smith a scholarship, and Nevada and Wake Forest have shown interest.

Smith received a two-star rating out of five from Rivals.com.

Clayton Moore is a 6-2, 220-pound freshman quarterback at Mississippi Gulf Coast College that led his team to a 10-2 record and 62-53 victory over Grand Rapids in the Mississippi Bowl last season. Moore was 155 of 257 for 2,395 yards with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and ran for 309 yards.

One of Moore’s offensive linemen, Zach Rushing (6-4, 290) also is scheduled to visit UW.

It appears UW wants to sign more than one quarterback in its 2011 class. Aside from two-year starter and junior-to-be Austyn Carta-Samuels, there is no one in the program with any experience. True freshmen Emory Miller Jr., Sam Stratton, and Austin Woodward (a walk-on from Sheridan) were redshirted this past season and Miller was listed as the third-string quarterback. Based on how UW used Stratton in late-season scrimmages with other young players, he could be moved to another position.