UW signs 22 in 2014 recruiting class

There were not a lot of surprises — good or bad — Wednesday as Wyoming received 19 national letters of intent from recruits to go along with the three players that already signed and are enrolled in school.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said when he was hired in December that he and his staff would recruit and sign players that were “above the line” that could play in the Mountain West.

“We thought if we could reach 20 that would have opp to play in the Mountain West, and not just play but win the Mountain West, we would have done well. We reached 22 guys,” Bohl said.

Bohl added UW could add a player or two in this class if the opportunity came up, but said the right players at the right positions would have to surface for that to happen.

“There is a purposeful reason why we are at 22,” Bohl said.

UW had its class wrapped up before noon. There was some drama as Snow College (Utah) defensive back Lee Crosby picked New Mexico over UW. Kind of ironic that the UW men’s and women’s basketball teams play New Mexico tonight, isn’t it?

A couple of other guys UW was recruiting also choose different schools. Athlete Jay McIntyre of Colorado, son of Colorado coach Mike McIntyre, will play for his dad and the Buffs. Receiver Ronald Nash Jr. from Iowa stayed home and signed with Northern Iowa.

UW did not sign a receiver in this class. Not a huge surprise since it returns seven receivers that caught passes last season, including three of its top four guys: Senior Dominic Rufran, sophomore Tanner Gentry and senior Jalen Claiborne. Bohl said a “program-changer” receiver did not emerge in this class, and also said what UW currently has didn’t make receiver a top priority in this class.

Here is the breakdown position-wise in this class: QB (3), OL (3), TE (4) DB (4), DE (3), DT (2), RB (2), LB (1).

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Thoughts on QB Thompson leaving UW for Utah

First it was Brett Smith, now it’s Jason Thompson.

Wyoming has lost its top two quarterbacks heading into the 2014 season. Smith declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft on the final Friday of 2013. On the first Tuesday of 2014, Thompson transferred to Utah.

Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson

Thompson, who would have been a redshirt sophomore this season, wasn’t guaranteed the job for first-year coach Craig Bohl. But he was the most experienced player on the roster having played six games and starting one in 2012. He redshirted in 2013 to hone his quarterbacking skills.

Is it ironic that Thompson is going to Utah where his former coach — Dave Christensen — if the offensive coordinator? Probably not. To think that didn’t play a factor would be naive.

In fact, Christensen was officially introduced as Utah’s offensive coordinator Tuesday. Here are some links to what he said, and some stories by the fine folks at The Salt Lake Tribune.

http://utahutes.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/010714aaa.html

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/57363571-89/whittingham-christensen-erickson-offensive.html.csp

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/57363264-89/whittingham-offensive-christensen-coach.html.csp
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UW’s Smith declares for NFL Draft

Talk about a bombshell of news.

Wyoming junior quarterback Brett Smith announced Friday night that he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Smith is the third UW player in the “modern era” to do this. Cornerback Derrick Martin did it after his junior season in 2005. Martin, at the time, said he was projected to be a third or fourth-round draft pick. He went in the sixth round to the Baltimore Ravens. Since then he has played for eight years for five different teams and is currently with the Chicago Bears. Martin has had the most success playing on special teams.

Running back Alvester Alexander did so after his junior season of 2011. He has been on practice squads of a couple of NFL teams, most recently with the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. He has yet to have a carry in a NFL regular-season game.

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VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic: Jason Gesser

This is the ninth of a 10-part series of video interviews with University of Wyoming football coaches, and how they teach and coach certain aspects of the game. This one features quarterbacks coach Jason Gesser

Gesser has UW quarterbacks Jason Thompson, Colby Kirkegaard, Tommy Thornton and walk-on T.J. Patterson go through a few different drills.

Check back to this blog and wyosports.net next week for the final installment of this video series.

UW-Idaho postgame thoughts

To me, the day belonged to the defense in Wyoming’s 42-10 home-opening win over Idaho Saturday.

Eight tackles for loss, seven quarterback sacks, seven three-and-outs, four straight to start the game and two turnovers that led to touchdowns. Granted, Idaho wasn’t very good but the defense set the tone for this win as the offense struggled to get going.

The 344 yards of total offense allowed was the fewest UW has given up since Nov. 19, 2011 against New Mexico (396).

Here’s what coach Dave Christensen had to say about the defense, and about the game in general.

I get into the defense more in my column in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also at wyosports.net.

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UW ready for heat, humidity of Nebraska

No. 18 Nebraska poses plenty of challenges on the field for the University of Wyoming football team Saturday.

And so does the weather.

The forecast for Lincoln, Neb., Saturday is a high of 98 degrees with 58 percent humidity. By the time the game kicks off at 7 p.m. local time, the temperature should be cooler but probably in the mid to high 80s.

UW has played in hot and humid conditions in the past: last year and 2010 at Texas, and in 2009 at Florida Atlantic. The Cowboys handled the heat and humidity well then, and coach Dave Christensen doesn’t think it will be an issue Saturday, either.

“It will be the same program we have used every year,” Christensen said. “The humidity hasn’t been an issue for us yet, so we don’t imagine it will be too much of a problem Saturday night.”

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UW announces depth chart for Nebraska

Wyoming’s first depth chart of the season for Saturday’s game at Nebraska came out Monday, and there were not a lot of surprises.

Eight first-year players are projected to start — three true freshmen, one redshirt freshmen, two redshirt juniors and two junior-college transfers. Here are some notable items from Monday’s depth chart:

–True freshman receiver Tanner Gentry will start at one of the four receiver spots. Gentry rapidly climbed up the depth chart throughout fall camp. He beat out junior Trey Norman.

–Senior Robert Herron, juniors Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne are the other starting receivers. Others listed on the depth chart this week are redshirt freshmen Eric Nzeocha, Nico Brown, Trent Sewell, Tanner Simpson and Jake Maulhardt; senior Jarrod Darden (a transfer from Colorado), and juniors Keenan Montgomery, Norman and Justin Berger.

–Junior-college transfer Tyran Finley will start at cornerback opposite of junior Blair Burns. Not a surprise there since the injury to junior DeAndre Jones midway through camp.

–Three of the four backups at the cornerback and safety positions are manned by guys who have never played a game at UW. True freshman Tim Hayes is behind Burns at one cornerback spot. Redshirt freshman Cortland Fort, who has gone back and forth from cornerback and safety, is behind Finley. True freshman Xavier Lewis is the backup at strong safety behind junior Darrenn White. Jones, who was the starter at cornerback when fall camp started before he was injured, is the backup for senior Marqueston Huff at free safety.

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UW’s offensive depth chart for Nebraska

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen will release his first depth chart of the season Monday.

But I thought I would take a shot of predicting how it will look now, starting with the offense. Look for the defense and special teams to come later this weekend. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Brett Smith, Jr., 6-3, 206

Jason Thompson, So., 6-2, 206

Colby Kirkegaard, Sr., 6-3, 205

Tommy Thornton, Fr., 6-1, 205

Notes: There was never a doubt Smith would be the starter. In three fall camp scrimmages Smith was 39-55 for 553 yards with nine TDs and one INT. … Thompson also had a solid camp. He was 33-49 for 440 yards with four TDs and two INTs. … There was good competition at the No. 3 spot. I give Kirkegaard the edge based on his experience, but it would not surprise me if Thornton is No. 3 on Monday.

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UW football fall camp: Practice 17

Wyoming junior starting quarterback Brett Smith was at practice Tuesday morning, but he didn’t do much.

Smith missed Monday’s workouts with flu-like symptoms. Smith participated in some individual drills, but didn’t take part in any of the team periods. Sophomore backup Jason Thompson replaced Smith for the second consecutive day.

Brett Smith

Brett Smith

“Not very good,” said Smith when I asked him how he felt after practice Tuesday. He said he had the flu and also an ear infection, which caused him to feel dizzy at times during practice. I would be surprised if Smith participates in Wednesday’s scrimmage, which marks the end of fall camp.

When asked what he is doing to get better, Smith said: “Medicine and rest.”

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UW fall football camp: Practice 15

There was a significant absence during Wyoming Monday morning practice: junior starting quarterback Brett Smith.

“He was driving in this morning and had to pull over and throw up,” said coach Dave Christensen, who added that Smith had flu-like symptoms. “We sent him to see a doctor. If it is contagious we don’t want him to give it to the rest of the team.

“I talked to him at 10:30 last night. He called me and woke me up at home to tell me how excited he was. He was’t sick then.”

Sophomore backup Jason Thompson took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. His first pass during an 11-on-11 drill was intercepted by junior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha. Later during a 7-on-7 drill, Thompson was intercepted by true freshman free safety Xavier Lewis in a ball that was tipped by a receiver on a high throw from Thompson.

“It was just another day to come out and get better,” Thompson said. “There was nothing different scheme-wise, but just getting on the same page with the rest of the guys. It was kind of tough playing with a different group ,but it got better near the end.”

For more on Thompson, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net

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