Cowboys get through first full week of fall camp

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The first full week of fall camp is in the books for the University of Wyoming football team. The Cowboys have practiced eight times going back to Friday, Aug. 2.

Here are some observations and thoughts through the first eight practices.

— UW’s quarterbacks, and in particular redshirt freshman starter Sean Chambers, continue to progress. Chambers is still fully entrenched as the starter. This is what sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said about Chambers’ progress so far in camp.

“He’s not where we want him to be, but we’re much further along than last year and Sean is much further along,” Bohl said. “(Sophomore) Tyler Vander Waal is also doing some good things.”

— If there is a concern at this point in camp, it could be with the interior defensive line. UW has a lot of holes to fill with the loss of some seniors, along with defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, who would have been a senior this season. Juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson have had good camps, especially Holt. However, Bohl said Friday Holt has a sore knee and was to have an MRI. That’s not good news. When asked if any others have started to emerge as options to play, Bohl basically said not yet. He mentioned that UW could move senior defensive end Josiah Hall inside, which UW has done in the past. Not that Hall wouldn’t give UW everything he has inside, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

— There seems to be a good competition going at free safety between junior Braden Smith and redshirt freshmen Rome Weber and Cameron Murray. Bohl said Murray has made a lot of progress from the spring to now. Smith didn’t finish Friday’s practice with a hamstring strain.

— UW is looking for someone to play nickel other than sophomore Keyon Blankenbaker, and it appears true freshman Allen Smith has the edge right now. Smith played nickel in high school in California, and was recruited to UW to play nickel. Smith is still learning, and isn’t the most imposing presence at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but the coaches have liked what they’ve seen from him so far in camp.

— Gunner Gentry didn’t catch a pass as a true freshman wide receiver last season, but he played in 11 of 12 games and played on all four of the Cowboys’ special teams units. Gentry said he enjoyed playing special teams, and that helped him become a more well-rounded player. Gentry, the younger brother of former UW wide receiver Tanner Gentry who plays for the Chicago Bears now, is looking to have more of an impact at wide receiver this season. It helps that he is healthy. He missed most of the spring with a stress fracture in his foot. However, Gentry also hopes to still be involved on special teams.

— It is always interesting to see which newcomers emerge during camp. Bohl has been somewhat guarded in mentioning specific names, as have some of the assistants. But some of the players mentioned with Smith have true freshmen wide receivers Alex Brown and Isaiah Neyor — both from Texas and 6-4 and 6-3, respectively. True freshman tight end Treyton Welch, a wide receiver in high school, has been mentioned by Bohl a couple of times. True freshman Easton Gibbs at weak-side outside linebacker and redshirt freshman Chuck Hicks at middle linebacker have emerged to possibly give UW some depth. One other player to keep an eye on is true freshman offensive tackle Carlos Harrison.

For more UW football coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net. Also, check back to this blog.

Who could play as freshman for UW football in 2016

Fall camp begins Monday for Wyoming football, which consists of 24 practices.

There are lots of questions and storylines going into camp, but one that always intrigues me is who among the newcomers will play.

Last season, 26 true freshmen or redshirt freshmen played for the Cowboys, which was the seventh-most in the country.

Third-year coach Craig Bohl said during Mountain West Football Media Days in late July that he doesn’t expect as many this season, nor does he expect 16 true freshman to see playing time like in 2015.

John Okwoli

John Okwoli

But there will be some true freshmen who play, and Bohl said that three things play factors in that: physical ability, emotional maturity and need at certain positions.

Here are some true freshman Bohl mentioned to me who UW likely will take a hard look at during camp:

WR John Okwoli: The 6-2, 205-pounder from Phoenix was a three-star recruit by ESPN and 247sports.com. He was one of the more highly-touted recruits in UW’s 2016 class. UW looks to be set among its top two receivers in seniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt. Redshirt freshman C.J. Johnson had a good spring. UW needs more wide receivers other than Gentry and Maulhardt to step up, and Okwoli could get a chance.

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Haug talks UW football recruiting

Gordie Haug is in his first year as Wyoming’s wide receivers coach, but he is in his second year with coach Craig Bohl as the Cowboys’ director of recruiting.

Gordie Haug

Gordie Haug

To date, UW has 10 verbal commitments for its 2016 class — all high school kids. The latest came Tuesday night when kicker Cooper Rothe from Longmont High in Longmont, Colorado, committed via his Twitter account. The 6-foot-, 180-pound Rothe, also plays defensive back and has four interceptions this season, and had nine last season. He is 3 of 4 on field goals this season with a long of 55. He was 4 of 8 last season with a long of 42. Rothe also was offered by Air Force.

UW isn’t a program that normally gets a lot of early verbals, and 10 to this point is the most in nearly 20 years of me covering this beat.

“It’s a pretty comfortable spot,” Haug said. You dont what to have too many at this point because we want those players who see themselves playing at the highest levels who may wait for offers from bigger conferences. When those offers don’t come, we’ve been there through the (recruiting process) and talking to them throughout.

“Nine is about where we want to be. I think we will get a couple more before the season is done. Then in December and January we will close out the class.”

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