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.

Alijah Halliburton, Josh Boyd and Braden Smith: All three are safeties, and UW needs depth there. Bohl didn’t say all three will play this season, but there’s a good chance at least one of them will. Boyd and Halliburton have good height at 6-2, however all are listed at 175 pounds — a little light for safety.

Cassh Maluia

Cassh Maluia

Cassh Maluia and Adrian King: Both are linebackers, and likely candidates to play weak-side linebacker for the Cowboys. That position is the one that needs the most help in terms of numbers and depth. Bohl said Maluia “has looked good” this summer. There also should be opportunities for both to compete for time on special teams this season.

Gavin Rush and Jace Webb: Two interior offensive linemen. We’ve seen true freshman play for the Cowboy along the offensive line the last few years (Ryan Cummings, Kaden Jackson, Zach Wallace). If both play, I am not sure if that will be a good sign for the Cowboys. But if one does, either could play guard or possibly center.

There are three newcomers I didn’t mention here who UW needs to get significant contributions from: cornerback Rico Gafford, defensive end Taniela Lolohea and defensive tackle Hunter Van Emmerick. All are junior college transfers.

For Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and wyosports.net, I wrote a piece on the five most important players to watch for UW during fall camp. One of them is another true freshman not mentioned in this post. Check out who I am talking about, and as always, your feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

Also, be sure to check out those platforms, and this blog, for coverage from UW football throughout fall camp.

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