BOISE, Idaho — The coming years will determine the merits of Wyoming football’s 2018 signing class. But as of Wednesday, the first Division I Early Signing Day, the Cowboys are outpacing themselves.
Wyoming signed 20 players Wednesday, and the team is pleased with its haul so far.
“I think the first couple years, really, there were some reaches and there were some guys to fill in the blanks,” head coach Craig Bohl said of his time at Wyoming. “And this is not the case with this group.”
The Wyoming staff initially hoped to sign 17 players in the three-day December signing period, which comes more than a month ahead of the standard early February signing day.
“And then we had a lot success (on) hit ratios on all of our official visits,” Wyoming director of player personnel Gordie Haug said. “We were about 70 percent hit ratios, which is crazy.”
That means that around seven out of 10 recruits who took official visits to Wyoming ended up deciding to spend their college careers there.
“I’ve never heard of a hit ratio, for us, being up to close to 70 percent on those guys,” Bohl said.
“It’s a very high number, and I think it’s kudos to our fans and our game-day atmosphere,” Haug said. “That’s a big selling point. When you take a look at some of these California guys and what they think of game day in the Mountain West, I think it’s a little bit different when they get to Wyoming.”
Of the 20 players who signed Wednesday, three were silent commits, meaning they had not publicly announced they were going to sign with Wyoming: safety Dauson Booker, defensive end De’Vaughn Brown and linebacker Leevi Lafaele.
All 20 of the players are high school recruits. As was the case before this year, junior-college transfers can sign in December, but Wyoming did not pursue JUCO recruits.
The class includes two in-state players, nine players from California, four from Colorado, two from Illinois, and one from Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin. The list includes eight offensive players, 10 defensive players, long snapper Jesse Hooper and “athlete” Reow Jackson, whose position has not yet been decided.
“You always want to sign a good quarterback in every class so you’re not skipping out on that,” Bohl said.
The Cowboys signed Sean Chambers, a three-star Rutgers decommit from the Fresno, California, area.
Wyoming also set out to find a running back, and landed on Jevon Bigelow of Fresno.
“You kind of take a look at our roster and you look at what we lost in (Brian) Hill and looking at that size,” Haug said. “So that’s something we were looking for big-time in this class is looking for a 6-1-plus running back, and Bigelow is that.”
Two of Wyoming’s three offensive lineman signees come from the Cowboy State: Sheridan’s Blayne Baker and Laramie’s Frank Crum.
“Those two guys we’re certainly excited about,” Bohl said. “Anytime that you can sign an in-state guy, it’s certainly good. If you look at their profile and their size, Blayne’s 6-5, 260. Frank ... may be taller than 6-7, 260. So you’ve got guys that, right away, they pass the eyeball test, and they’re competitive guys, and it’s great to have them in our program.”
Crum will be Wyoming’s first third-generation football player, Haug said, and he’s one of many 2018 signees with Wyoming heritage. Receiver Gunner Gentry’s brother Tanner was a senior for the Cowboys last season; safety Cameron Murray’s cousin Austin Conway is currently a Wyoming receiver; linebacker Chad Muma’s father Ty was a safety at Wyoming and his maternal grandfather Rick Desmarais also played at Wyoming; and Lafaele’s cousin Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula is a linebacker at Wyoming.
“There’s more family ties down here, and you can probably recognize some of the names, and then there are some that surprisingly have some indirect family ties,” Bohl said. “One of the guys we recruited, his girlfriend’s grandfather played here. So that’s neat, but some of that comes into play when you recruit this geographical area, you’re going to have a lot of ties to the University of Wyoming.”
Four players in the class will enroll next semester at Wyoming: Hooper, Murray, linebacker Charles Hicks and cornerback Miles Williams. Running back Theo Dawson, a Jackson graduate who signed in 2016, will join Wyoming after a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He counts toward a scholarship in the 2018 class.