Wyoming’s coaching staff will host a high school prospect camp for the region's prep players in Laramie, just like it did last year. And on first glance, not much seems to have changed.
Same drills. Same coaching staff in charge. Same venue -- War Memorial Stadium. Same opportunity for local players to impress on a larger stage.
Same, same, same. You get the idea.
Even so, there promises to be more coaches, media and overall attention at Saturday's camp. Why, you ask? It’s simple.
“Since I’ve been here, this is probably the best year in terms of overall talent, with the upcoming senior class,” said Wyoming recruiting coordinator Matt Rahl, who is entering his fifth season in Laramie. “There’s some young kids as well that we have already identified, which is encouraging for the upcoming years. ... Overall the talent pool is as good as it has been in the state.”
Much of that talent will be on display on Jonah Field on Saturday, running through drills and perhaps auditioning for a home state offer.
Coach Dave Christensen, who is also entering his fifth season at Wyoming, admits that there hasn’t been much legitimate homegrown talent in the past. When there is, though, it’s his staff’s priority to make sure those players don’t leave the state. In the 2013 recruiting class, Wyoming added Natrona County's Ryan Anaya, the state's only Division I signee.
“There have not been a lot of Division I prospects. Every Division I prospect from the state of Wyoming since I have been here has come to the University of Wyoming,” Christensen said. “That’s our goal every year. If there are Division I prospects, we want them to come to the University of Wyoming and play for the Cowboys.”
The Class of 2014, however, seems to have more to offer. It all starts with Natrona County offensive tackle Taven Bryan, who received an offer from Wyoming in February but has major interest from Oregon, Nebraska and Oklahoma. He is not expected to compete at the camp, though he may watch. Gillette quarterback Austin Fort is also an intriguing prospect, an athletic passer with ideal size (6-foot-4, 218 pounds) to make the transition to Division I play.
“There’s a couple quality recruits in the state this year,” Christensen said, refraining from mentioning specific names to adhere with NCAA rules. “We’re excited about the opportunity to pursue them.”
Even if a player isn’t on Wyoming’s radar, there are still opportunities to impress college coaches at Saturday’s camp. The event will be attended by coaches from schools at every collegiate level of play, from Division II to NAIA.
The camp, Rahl says, provides an opportunity to match athletes with programs that will allow them to flourish on the next level.
“Regardless of what your talent may be, if you want to play college football, chances are there is going to be a school there that is at the level that your talent best fits,” Rahl said.
Saturday’s camp is part of a week filled with buses and open road for Wyoming’s coaching staff, which will travel to Sheridan, Gillette, Casper, Cheyenne, Rock Springs and Jackson to host various camps for kids from the kindergarten level through high school.
While Saturday’s prospect camp in Laramie will rightfully get the most attention, Rahl says the week of traveling provides other benefits for Wyoming’s staff. It allows them to introduce Wyoming football to a new generation, while also reaching out to an existing fan base that has given them so much support throughout the years.
“It’s great because for us, six Saturdays out of the year people are traveling hours and hours to come down and support the program and watch the Cowboys play,” Rahl said.
“This is kind of an opportunity for us to get back out to them in several different locations, and really reach out and give them an opportunity, instead of them always coming to Laramie to see us.”