They say they are friends and competitors. They say that makes them better.
The strategy seems to work.
Since Shaun Wick and D.J. May met, they have moved forward by chasing one another. They have gone from new kids who caught the coaches’ eyes at preseason camp to the top two options in Wyoming’s backfield. The duo has risen fast, and many -- including Wick and May themselves -- is excited about the future of the freshmen.
“They’re a great combination to have,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “In this offense, it’s nice to have three backs like that. We’ve got two. I feel fortunate we have that.”
The impact of Wick and May was a hot topic this preseason. Coaches sang the praises of the team's newest backs. They could hardly talk about one without mentioning the other. Both transitioned well from high school. Both had a strong work ethic.
Both climbed the depth chart together, Wick moving just a little faster than May.
“Shaun was maybe a little further ahead early on,” Christensen said Monday. “But now they’re both playing at a pretty decent level for us.”
May watched as Wick was named the team's starter. He saw his friend score three touchdowns before he had his first. He said Wick's success motivated him to create his own.
“If Shaun is going to break for 30 yards, well, I’ve got to try to break for 40 yards,” May said Monday. “We push each other just like that. In practice, we have fun. But we work hard, too. We make sure we are the hardest workers on the team. I think that helps. We put in that preparation all week. Then the game comes and we can just go.”
The two went last Saturday.
Brandon Miller’s position switch from running back to receiver (the position he played previously) signaled UW was ready for Wick and May to carry the load.
The result was 252 rushing yards, more than UW had turned in all season. Wick ran 14 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. May finished with 94 yards on 12 runs and the first touchdown of his career.
Now May, not Wick, carries the label of the team’s starting running back. While he knows he will still split carries, he says the title of starter is important.
“I had to come out and prove that I earned that spot,” he said. “And I feel like I did that. I feel like I’ll get better each week, too."
If he doesn’t, he knows Wick will be happy to take the spot back.
“Sometimes you have to give some reinforcement.” Wick said. “You have to say, ‘If you’re not going to do it, then I am.’"
It's how the two have gotten to where they are now. It's what has them excited for what's ahead.
"I think our future is bright," May said.