Wyoming Returns 17 Starters This Fall, Including 10 On Defense
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- With the completion of the final scrimmage of 2023 Fall Camp last Saturday, the Wyoming Cowboy coaching staff released an updated depth chart on Monday.
The depth chart includes 17 returning starters (10 on defense, five on offense and both the starting place-kicker and punter).
The seven new projected starters (six on offense and one on defense) include: veteran wide receivers Ryan Marquez and Wyatt Wieland; junior-college transfer running back Jamari Ferrell; and three talented young offensive linemen in tackle Caden Barnett and guards Wes King and Jack Walsh; as well as impressive sophomore cornerback Kolbey Taylor on defense.
“Unlike last year, where there were some unknowns, we have a more mature football team, so I felt like it was appropriate to go ahead and release it,” said head coach Craig Bohl.
Among those veteran players listed No. 1 on the depth chart are graduate wide receivers Wieland and Marquez. Bohl is pleased with the increased depth and ability at wide receiver entering the 2023 season.
“We have more playmakers within that group,” said Bohl. “A guy like Ryan Marquez who has emerged and is in his sixth year, earned a scholarship. Wyatt (Wieland) another guy who has been here I think six years, came back from an injury and has worked hard. Alex Brown -- and I’m probably forgetting a couple guys -- along with the addition of our two transfer receivers (Ayir Asante and Devin Boddie Jr.) has been a real shot in the arm. We’re well pleased and you’ll see both of those guys playing in our first game -- how much I don’t know -- but a lot of times they’re doing some things that are really impressive.”
Bohl was asked about Ferrell’s development in fall camp after transferring to Wyoming in the summer of 2023 from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif. Bohl responded, “He’s our starter. We felt like he scrimmaged really well. Can a guy separate, can he break a tackle, all those type of things is what we’re looking for and when the lights came on (in the scrimmage) he really played well.”
Coach Bohl also confirmed that true freshman running back Keany Parks has been moved to defensive back.
“He is now a D-back. He was an excellent athlete in high school. He is one of the few running backs I know that when you ask him to move some place else that he’ll do anything for the team. He was excited about that move and so we’re trying to feed him with a firehose right now. He still has a lot to learn, but he certainly has some excellent ability. He was a 24-foot long jumper and a great basketball player in high school.”
Depth Chart Breakdown
When talking about the 17 returning starters for the Cowboys you have to start with the defense where linebackers Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa both return after ranking No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in tackles a season ago.
Gibbs was named the 2023 Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in voting by conference media members this summer. Gibbs also has been named to preseason watch lists for the Butkus Award, Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
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The defensive front is perhaps the deepest position group on this year’s Cowboy team. Junior defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole and graduate nose tackle Cole Godbout will anchor the middle of Wyoming’s D-line. At defensive end, junior DeVonne Harris returns to patrol one end spot, while last year’s starter Braden Siders and fellow sophomore Sabastian Harsh will make up the defensive end rotation with Harris.
The Cowboy secondary also returns four starters in senior cornerback Jakorey Hawkins, junior free safety Wyett Ekeler, junior strong safety Isaac White and sophomore nickel back Wrook Brown. They will be joined in the starting lineup by sophomore cornerback Kolbey Taylor, who may be one of the most talented players on the Cowboy defense.
On offense, graduate quarterback Andrew Peasley returns with a year of experience running the Wyoming offense under his belt.
He is joined by two other graduates in offensive tackle Frank Crum and tight end Treyton Welch. Junior Alex Brown is back to start at wide receiver for the second consecutive season and junior Nofoafia Tulafono will once again coordinate the offensive line calls from his center position.
Special teams rest on the capable feet of junior place-kicker John Hoyland and graduate punter Clayton Stewart. Hoyland has been named to multiple preseason All-America teams this season.
Hoyland was named to the Associated Press Preseason Second Team All-America Team on Monday. Bohl said this about Hoyland as he enters his junior season, “Certainly, John (Hoyland) is recognized nationally. His numbers were really good last year. He is a weapon, and we’re happy to have him.”
First-year transfers who have earned spots on the preseason depth chart include: the projected starter at running back, junior Jamari Ferrell; junior wide receivers Ayir Asante (Holy Cross transfer) and Devin Boddie Jr. (Vanderbilt transfer); and junior cornerback Tyrecus Davis (Navarro Community College in Texas).
Only one freshman or redshirt freshman is slotted in the starting lineup in Wyoming’s depth chart. That individual is redshirt freshman Wes King at left offensive guard.
But there are nine additional freshmen and redshirt freshmen listed in back-up roles. Among those are: true freshman Ian Bell at cornerback; true freshman Jake Davies at offensive tackle; redshirt freshman Rex Johnsen at offensive guard; redshirt freshman Caleb Merritt at wide receiver; true freshman Eric Sandvik at place-kicker; redshirt freshman Luke Sandy at center; redshirt freshman Forrest Scheel at offensive tackle; redshirt freshman Malique Singleton at nickel back; and redshirt freshman TJ Urban at free safety.
Last Saturday’s Scrimmage
“Saturday’s scrimmage was a hard fought scrimmage, and I thought the guys played well,” said Bohl. “We were able to get through it without an injury. That will be the last full-contact work that we do before we play Texas Tech.
“We continue to add elements of our offense, defense and the kicking game. We probably have not zeroed in on who some of the starters will be on punt teams or kick teams, but we’re making progress there.
“I thought Andrew (Peasley, quarterback) played well and Evan (Svoboda, quarterback) played well also. There were some good things we did on defense. We’re in the midst of the grind and we’re trying to be smart about our practice reps so that we make sure we go into the first game ready to play -- not only physically but also mentally. There is always a balance of how much work to give a team. I think we’re in a good place.”
The Cowboys will conduct their 17th of 20 fall practices on Tuesday morning before taking a day off from practice on Wednesday.
Wyoming will wrap up its remaining three fall practices on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before entering the first game week schedule of the season on Monday, Aug. 28. Practices are closed to the public.
Tickets to the 2023 Season
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to the 2023 Wyoming Football season may: go online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets; email firstname.lastname@example.org; call the UW Athletics Ticket Office at (307) 766-7220; or stop by the ticket office on the west side of UW’s Arena-Auditorium. Season tickets start as low as $170 and single-game tickets start as low as $20 for adults.
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