This weekend happens to be Easter, and even though the meaning of this holiday is much deeper and important than this, I like to have a little fun with the Wyoming football team and ask them their favorite Easter candy.
Lots of great choices here, so here we go.
Sophomore running back Xazavian Valladay: chocolate bunnies.
Running backs coach Gordie Haug: Reese’s eggs or bunnies.
Senior high end Josh Harshman: Reese’s eggs.
Redshirt freshman running back Brett Brenton: Sour punch straws or sour Mike and Ikes.
Junior nose tackle Justice Borton: Kit Kats.
Senior middle linebacker Logan Wilson: Whoppers Robin Eggs.
Senior kicker Cooper Rothe: Reese’s bunnies or eggs.
Wyoming concluded its first week of spring football practice this week — three practices in all.
Due to WNIT duties for the Cowgirls basketball team and no media access to Saturday practices, I didn’t get to see a whole lot or talk to a lot of players/coaches.
However, I did talk to UW’s top two strength coaches for football — Ben Iannacchione and Eric Donoval. I talked to them mostly about a cool feature that will run in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net.
But I did ask them if they could point to any specific players who did well during UW’s seven weeks of winter conditioning. Iannacchione worked with the linemen, and said junior defensive tackle Ravonte Holt had one of the best winters. He played at the high 250s-low 260s in terms of his weight last season. Iannacchione said he challenged Holt to get to 275 at the start of spring practice, and he did.
“He’s gotten really strong and put weight on in good areas — butt, hips and quads,” Iannacchione said.
Donoval worked with the skilled guys, and said sophomore running back Xazavian Valladay weighed in at or over 200 pounds, and so far has done a good job of maintaining that weight. Valladay played at around 190 last year, and Valladay said he’s added about 15 pounds of muscle over the winter.
“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Valladay said of putting on the weight. “It was just hard work, dedication and trusting the process. It doesn’t feel too bad. I’m starting to get the hang of it.”
Valladay was second in rushing for UW last season with 396 yards on 71 carries (5.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
Valladay is the only scholarship running back participating in spring drills right now. Sixth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said sophomore Jevon Bigelow is dealing with an illness. Bohl expects Bigelow to return, but isn’t sure when. Bigelow ran for 292 yards and two touchdowns in nine games last season.
Iannacchione said it was good to get junior offensive guard Gavin Rush back in the weight room over the winter. Rush missed last season after he tore his right bicep early in fall camp. I wrote about Rush this week, and I hope I didn’t put the Gagliardi jinx on him because after I interviewed him after UW’s first spring practice, he injured a knee in the second. The severity of that injury isn’t known.
UW will practice in full pads next week. On Saturday, April 13, it will practice in Casper at Natrona County High which is open and free to the public. The spring game is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at 2 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.
UW plays at Arizona at 3 p.m. MT Sunday in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. This is the Cowgirls’ 10th appearance in the WNIT, and its first road game in this event since 2003.
I also will have a cool feature on UW senior Bailee Cotton and how she’s playing her best basketball in her final year after dealing with two different injuries to the same knee early in her career. Be sure to check out the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and at wyosports.net or that story.
Happy post-Thanksgiving all. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend.
Here is some pregame reading prior to Wyoming’s regular-season finale at New Mexico Saturday. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.
First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys:
Good start: Wyoming needs to play well from start to finish, but a good start for the team, and in particular redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, is important. Especially for Vander Waal to get his confidence going and into the flow of the game. We’ve seen this season (last week against Air Force and in the opener at New Mexico State) that when Vander Waal starts well, he plays well through the course of games.