Laramie, Wyo. (Aug. 11, 2017) – As the Wyoming Cowboys near the end of the second week of fall camp, there are a number of young players who are emerging as contenders for playing time in 2017. Two of those young players who head coach Craig Bohl mentioned in his post-practice interview with media on Friday were freshman center Logan Harris from Torrington, Wyo., and freshman linebacker Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula from Sacramento, Calif.
The Cowboys did not practice in full pads on Friday, but were in their lighter “spiders”. They will conclude the second week of fall camp on Saturday with a closed practice in full pads.
Friday’s Practice Notes
�An impressive note from off the field this week was the selling of 10,000 season tickets for the upcoming 2017 Wyoming Football season. It marks only the second time in school history that over 10,000 season tickets have been sold for a single season, and was a 27 percent increase over the 2016 season.
�Bohl reported after Friday’s practice that junior tight end Austin Fort may have bruised a knee. Bohl said that Fort did not finish Friday’s practice but no details on the severity of the injury were immediately available.
�The head coach also announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Parker Dumas was dealing with a personal issue and would not be in school for the 2017 fall semester.
Quoting the Coach (Quotes from Head Coach Craig Bohl)
“We worked on two-minute situations again today. I thought our defense performed particularly well,” said Bohl. “Some of the guys that I noticed during the course of the day were Youhanna (Ghaifan) continues to do some really good things in the defensive front. I also thought James Price (junior wide receiver) made some excellent plays today, and Logan Harris (freshman offensive center) is really emerging. He is coming around as a center, and for a freshman that is a difficult task. He has good strength and has an excellent demeanor. We’ve not finalized anything yet at that position, but we’re taking a hard, hard look at Logan Harris at center.”
Bohl was asked to assess the progress his special teams had made during fall camp.
“We’re making good progress,” said Bohl. “I think Tim Zaleski has really done a nice job punting. We’re certainly further along with our place-kicking and our kickoffs with Cooper Rothe back there. The other thing I think you’re going to see is our coverage units are going to be more explosive, and that is an indication of better depth on our team.”
A young linebacker that Bohl was asked to comment on was freshman Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula.
“He has really good instincts. He’s smart, and football is important to him,” said Bohl. “Ryan (Gatoloai-Faupula) has good size and the maturity level he has as a freshman is impressive. It’s difficult to move up as a young linebacker in our system because it’s complicated. It’s not an easy system, and therefore above the physical ability a young man needs to succeed he has to have the mental capabilities to process and see where he needs to be both in the run game and the pass game.”
As the Cowboys complete their second week of fall camp, Bohl was asked if he was pleased where his team was thus far.
“I think we’re a little bit ahead of where I thought we’d be,” said Bohl. “I’m particularly pleased with the ‘want to’ and the physical ability level I see on the field. There is just a different bounce in their step. They’re more focused, and you’re seeing more guys finding a way to stay on the practice field as opposed to finding a way to get off. I think we have more depth. We’re pleased with our installation. There is still more offense, defense and special teams to install, but we’re making strides.”
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
A group of returning receivers with game experience will be available for quarterback Josh Allen in 2017. Leading that group will be current sophomore C.J. Johnson, who caught 21 passes for 304 yards and three receiving touchdowns in 2016. Austin Conway, another sophomore, caught 11 passes for 103 yards a year ago, and junior James Price had six receptions for 75 yards. While the Cowboys lost their top three receivers from last season in senior wide receivers Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt and tight end Jacob Hollister, Bohl feels the group of young receivers returning does provide the passing game with some promising talent.
“When you look at wide receiver, there are some guys who’ve shown signs of developing into a good unit, but they’re not real experienced,” said Bohl. “They’re a group of extremely young, but talented players. Last year, we had so many big plays out of our receivers, so these guys are going to need to make the most of their opportunity now and show they can shine.
“James (Price) has really good speed and he has good body presence. He’s a tall, physical receiver with good hands and provides us with a deep threat.
“We’re really excited about Austin (Conway) and some of the things that he is capable of doing. He is an explosive player with the ball in his hands. He has excellent speed and tremendous quickness. He is a very competitive player.
“C.J. (Johnson) is a very smooth, effortless appearing player. He sometimes doesn’t look like he’s running that fast and then you see him run away from people.
“John Okwoli has also played some and shown us some good things for a young player.
“They all have their own unique abilities. None of them have asserted themselves yet like Tanner (Gentry) did last season. We’ve got to have a couple of those guys do that this season.”
The tight end position, much like the wide receiver spot, lost its top performer but returns a group of players who have extensive game experience. Three juniors in Josh Harshman, Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield all return in 2017. Harshman and Fort came out of spring practice listed as co-starters, with Mayfield right behind them.
A year ago, senior Jacob Hollister earned First Team All-Mountain West honors, catching 32 passes for 515 yards and seven TD receptions. Harshman caught five passes for 50 yards last year. Mayfield had three catches for 33 yards, while Fort played primarily on special teams. All three have developed physically since last season. Harshman is now up to 235 pounds. Fort is up to 244, and Mayfield weighs in at 241.
“We lost a good one in Jacob Hollister, but we have three returning juniors who all contributed to our success last year,” said Bohl. “Josh (Harshman) has continued to get bigger and more physical. We’re excited about him.
“Austin (Fort) has shown some excellent signs with his speed, has gained some weight and is a stronger presence at the tight end position.
“Tyree (Mayfield) has played a lot of football for us.
“We went from not having a true tight end in the program when we got here to now having three pretty experienced players.”