Two for the money

Juco wide receivers transfers look to make impact for Cowboys
2010-03-24T00:00:00Z Two for the moneyBy ERIC SCHMOLDT - Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

LARAMIE -- Mazi Ogbonna and Dejay Lester never planned on being a package deal.

Independent decisions will keep them together for two more years.

The wide receivers lined up side by side at Wyoming's Indoor Practice Facility, quickly immersing themselves in spring football practice after each transferring to UW and enrolling for the spring semester.

"It was just by chance that happened," UW coach Dave Christensen said. "I wasn't even sure they were both going to go to the same school."

Neither were Ogbonna and Lester themselves.

The two said they didn't really talk to each other throughout the recruiting process, each going about their business and making their own choices.

"We just wanted to go somewhere D-I," Lester said. "But when it came down to the wire, on our bye week at Snow College, Wyoming just came and offered us both a full-ride scholarship and told us they wanted to come in and, if we work hard, start."

The road to top spots on the depth chart may be paved this spring.

Ogbonna opened spring camp on the second rung at one wide receiver position while Lester was third at another.

But while no position battle is ever a given in Christensen's program, there's little question that the two were brought in to boost a unit that saw just one player finish with more than 320 receiving yards a year ago.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Ogbonna said about working towards a starting spot. "If I felt like it was just given to me, then I wouldn't work as hard."

As it is, Ogbonna and Mazi have already had their work cut out for them in terms of adapting to a rigorous spring camp.

But the hope in enrolling early is that they will get on the same page as quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels rather than trying to sort out that rhythm during fall camp.

"Everything's just fast-paced up here and that's a little different from [junior college]," Lester said. "But it's coming pretty good and I like it a lot.

"Austyn is a good quarterback. I love working with him and he's just a cool guy to be around."

The Cowboys took part in just their fourth practice of spring on Tuesday, so the new receivers haven't had a lot of time to show off their abilities.

They should get more opportunities to do that later this week when the Pokes start a series of scrimmages.

"We're catching the ball better than we did a year ago," Christensen said. "But we've still got a long ways to go. We've got to play faster, we've got to catch anything, run better routes and finish plays.

"We're not where we want to be yet."

If Ogbonna and Mazi have it their way, they'll be right where they have been the past two seasons when fall rolls around -- right next to each other on the line of scrimmage.

BACK AT IT: The Cowboys practiced for about two hours inside on Tuesday, their first workout since having last week off for spring break.

"We were a little sluggish at the end, but started out strong," Christensen said. "Hopefully they went and took seven or eight days and went and did nothing. They've been working extremely hard now for a long time and they needed the week off."

HITS KEEP COMING: The pads were certainly popping after a week off.

The biggest hit of the day came from linebacker Devyn Harris, who leveled running back Alvester Alexander as he ran up the right side of the field.

Linebacker Brian Hendricks got an earful for a hit that might have been a little late, but that didn't keep the Cowboys from taking a few shots from there on out.

"I've never seen a hit too hard," Christensen said.

SHIFTING SPOTS: With three starters gone from last year's offensive line, plenty of players are shifting around as UW's coaching staff gets a feel for the best fit.

Included in that rotation, usual right tackle Clayton Kirven took snaps at left tackle.

"We've got to make some shuffles because we've got to replace some guys," Christensen said. "You'll see a lot of movement in spring, a lot of guys playing different spots."

Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at eric.schmoldt@trib.com. Check out his blog at tribtown.trib.com/ESchmoldt/blog

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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