LARAMIE — If you had told Trey Woods in high school that he would be playing in Saturday’s game between Wyoming and Oregon, he probably wouldn’t have been surprised. The fact that he will be wearing brown and gold, however, might have been unexpected.
Woods, a true freshman running back, hails from North Bend, Oregon.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about (Saturday’s game) since I signed, actually,” he said. “Because growing up, I always thought I was going to be a Duck. And through the recruiting process, Wyoming was the only school that actually believed in me enough to give me a scholarship.”
Woods, who played running back, receiver, safety and cornerback at North Bend High School, tore all the ligaments in his ankle as a junior and fractured the L3 vertebra in his spine as a senior. His only offer from Oregon came in the form of a walk-on spot.
“I had a conversation with (Wyoming head coach Craig) Bohl in his office on my recruiting visit,” Woods said. “He told me if this was where I wanted to be, then this would be my home, and he’d give me every opportunity to be a player here. And he’s held true to that. So I can’t thank him enough, and the rest of the staff, for giving me this opportunity.”
Woods made his college debut in Wyoming’s Week Two win over Gardner-Webb. After practicing at linebacker all of fall camp, Woods recently moved to running back, and he had two carries for 15 yards against the Runnin’ Bulldogs. He has moved up to the third-string spot on Wyoming’s depth chart.
Despite his history with Oregon, however, Woods said Saturday’s serendipitous scheduling doesn’t necessarily add fuel to his fire.
“I’d like to say it puts more, but honestly, I kind of carry the same type of aggression every week,” he said. “You’ve got to fight hard if you want to win, and you have to study your plays, and you’ve got to be a competitor. I’m definitely excited about this week, but I’ve got to treat it like every other week.”
Woods is one of two scholarship players from Oregon on Wyoming’s roster. The other is tight end Sam Maughan, from Beavercreek, Oregon, near Portland.
Maughan was not brought up as a fan of either Oregon or Oregon State, but his brother Morgan Maughan played long snapper for the Beavers for two years. He expects his family to all be in brown and gold Saturday.
“I’m going to have all my tickets used and some,” said Maughan, whose father played guard at BYU. “I’m going to have to ask for a little bit more.”
Maughan said he was “mildly recruited” by Oregon.
“I talked to (Woods) about that,” Maughan said. “He broke his back, and they told him no, but that’s unfortunate for him, because he’s a good player.”
The two did not know of each other in high school. Maughan said his Oregon City team was in Class 6A, while Woods played at 4A.
Wyoming recently lost another tight end from Oregon. Jacob Hollister, now with the New England Patriots, is from Bend, Oregon, which actually is more than four hours northeast of North Bend. Hollister made stops at Nevada and Arizona Western Community College before transferring to Wyoming, and Maughan didn’t know about the soon-to-be all-conference tight end, either, when he was being recruited by Wyoming. Although, Hollister hosted Maughan on his official visit.
Wyoming also recently added kicker Ryan Galovich to its roster. Galovich is a native of Corvallis, Oregon, where Oregon State is located, and the junior transferred from Oregon State, though he did not play football there.
“The Pacific Northwest has always been a fruitful area for Wyoming,” Bohl said. “Long before our staff got here. (Defensive tackles coach Pete) Kaligis recruits up there, and he’s from there, and he’s got a lot of good connections.
“So typically, while we don’t sign a ton guys out of there, there’s always two to three that we sign, or one or so. There’s always somebody up in that area.”
While Woods and Maughan are the only Oregon natives on scholarship at Wyoming, the Ducks’ influence expands beyond The Beaver State — especially given Oregon’s success the last few decades.
“We strive to have consistency, but I think our guys recognize they have an opportunity to play a nationally recognized team,” Bohl said. “A lot of these guys grew up watching Oregon. A couple of these guys, James Price, the Oregon Ducks were his favorite college football team. So from that perspective, I’m sure there’s a little bit more anticipation.”
Cornerback Rico Gafford, an Iowa native, grew up as an Oregon fan.
“Just the speed,” Gafford said when asked why. “I’m a speed guy. So all around, the speed, and when they had DeAnthony Thomas, he was amazing out there. And then Marcus Mariota, he was amazing out there. Overall, just the speed.”
And, of course, there are the uniforms. Though head coach Willie Taggart said the Ducks’ fashion choices would be a bit more reserved in his first season, Oregon’s ties with Nike co-founder Phil Knight have led to the Ducks’ reputation as uniform pioneers.
Last week, the team wore white and silver “Stomp Out Cancer” uniforms designed with the help of pediatric cancer survivors. In 2014, the only previous time Wyoming and Oregon have met, the Ducks wore dark green jerseys with gray pants and black helmets with silver wings.
Wyoming, in contrast, has stuck to one home uniform and one away uniform under Bohl, with no alternates.
“I wish sometimes Coach Bohl would just get us more jerseys,” Gafford said. “But he’s an old-fashioned guy, so it’s fine with me.”
Woods doesn’t have his hopes up, either: “I don’t think (Bohl) is going to (add more uniforms). He’s a pretty old-school guy, and that’s OK.”
The Cowboys, who wear Nike, have not had their names on the backs of their uniforms, either, under Bohl.
“I was like, ‘Man, how come we don’t got our last names?’” defensive end Kevin Prosser said about first arriving at Wyoming. “‘I went through high school not having a last name (on my jersey). I want a last name.’ But he explained it to me and the more mature I started getting, I started understanding it more. I’m OK with it now.
“... The way Coach Bohl explains it is you’re playing for what’s on the front of your jersey. ... I feel like it’s more of a mature and humbling thing that we’ve got going on. We’re a hard-nosed team, versus trying to be pretty boys out there. We put our hands in the dirt and go to work, so I like that style.”