LARAMIE — When Caden Becker took to Twitter to publicly reveal the switch, the tone from Wyoming’s newly minted recruit was emphatic.
“Recruitment closed,” Becker tweeted as part of his announcement. “110% Committed!!”
This time, he said, he means it.
Becker, a quarterback from Skutt Catholic High in Omaha, Nebraska, gave his commitment to the Cowboys last week, becoming the first verbal pledge in the Cowboys’ 2022 recruiting class. As such, Becker said he feels a responsibility to help get the ball rolling on the rest of the class.
“The way Wyoming recruits, it’s really methodical,” Becker told the Star-Tribune this week. “They don’t try to find five-star kids to go out and get just because they have five stars next to their name. They just really look into the guy that fits their system the best. So (UW offensive coordinator Tim) Polasek told me he is going to give me a list of those type of kids. And as soon as he sends that list over, I’m going to go after those kids hard to try to build a solid class.”
All of this comes after Becker’s recruitment recently took a 180-degree turn.
Two weeks ago, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was committed to another Group of Five school, Northern Illinois. South Dakota, an FCS program, was the only other school that had offered him a scholarship at the time, but Becker said there were always two other FBS offers that, if he ever got them, could change his mind: Iowa and Wyoming.
UW has been keeping tabs on him for a while, but Becker said the Cowboys “weren’t seriously talking to me” until earlier this year. On April 19, with Becker’s commitment to NIU barely two months old, UW coach Craig Bohl called Becker with the good news.
“Wyoming just offered me first,” Becker said. “I knew whichever one would be the first one to offer me, I would just take and kind of be set on it and run with it.”
Two days later, Becker flipped his commitment to UW. In a Twitter post announcing his decommitment from NIU, he thanked Huskies coach Thomas Hammock and other members of NIU’s staff for the opportunity they gave him, but Becker said UW is where he wants to be.
Becker said a couple of other Power Five schools, Louisville and Kansas State, recently started kicking the tires on him, but he shut that down. He said UW’s coaches and fans don’t have to worry about him pulling another switcheroo.
“Anyone that tries to (direct message) me, I just won’t answer,” Becker said of his recruitment. “I put in my tweet that my recruitment is 100% closed. I wouldn’t really care if Nick Saban called me. Wyoming is just where I want to go to school. It’s where my heart’s at, and I’m not worried about the recruiting process anymore. I’m 100% dead set on it.”
There are a couple of reasons for that.
First, Becker said he’s been enamored with the environment on and around UW’s campus ever since visiting Laramie for the first time in December. He made the trip with a friend, UW linebacker signee Sam Scott, to take in the Cowboys’ season finale against Boise State.
“The first thing that immediately stood out to me, which I had never seen before, was the mountains,” Becker said. “And I just instantly fell in love with that scenery. I like being outdoors, and I like fishing, golfing and doing all that stuff.
“And the game day atmosphere, it was still pretty cool. Even during a COVID year, there were still a lot of people that showed up. So I can just tell that the fans in Laramie, and not just Laramie but in the whole state of Wyoming, they really care about Wyoming football.”
Second, UW’s sudden push for Becker wasn’t exactly a coincidence given Polasek’s familiarity with Becker going back to Polasek’s time at Iowa, where he spent the last four seasons as the offensive line coach. Becker said Polasek reached out to him while he was on the Hawkeyes’ staff and told Becker to stay in contact with Iowa’s area recruiter in the Midwest.
Once Polasek was hired as UW’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in February, Becker said he and Polasek hopped on weekly Zoom calls for about a month.
“We clicked pretty well immediately,” Becker said. “We have a good relationship, and I like his intensity. He’s a fiery guy. That’s just a couple things I really like about him, and I kind of just knew that I wanted to play for him. And Coach Bohl’s track record with sending quarterbacks to the NFL is just something I want to be a part of.”
How Polasek plans to use UW’s quarterbacks in his scheme certainly didn’t hurt.
A dual-threat quarterback, Becker has played just one season so far for Skutt Catholic. He transferred from Omaha’s Burke High last year once Burke’s 2020 fall season was canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite not taking over as the starter until halfway through Skutt’s 10-game season, Becker still threw for 540 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 541 yards and seven more scores in the Skyhawks’ run-heavy offense.
“We didn’t really go in-depth with the offense,” Becker said. “(Polasek) just basically told me that it’s going to be RPO (run-pass option) based. So being a dual-threat quarterback, that’s obviously really appealing because it showcases my ability to do both.”
Becker got a chance to put his skill set on more of a national display last month when he was invited to the Elite 11 regional combine in Atlanta, where he competed against some highly coveted quarterback prospects in the 2022 recruiting cycle. The list included four-star signal callers Jacurri Brown (committed to Miami) and Holden Geriner (committed to Auburn).
Becker more than held his own, earning some national recognition after posting the top overall rating among the quarterbacks in attendance at 102.42. East Coweta (Georgia) High product Daniel Shoch had the next-highest rating at 94.35.
“Jacurri Brown, he’s going to Miami. He looked pretty solid there, but obviously I’m going to tell you I feel like I was better because that’s just who I am,” Becker said. “I’m just competitive.”
Which is an aspect of his personality that Becker insisted he will bring to UW.
Becker’s commitment fills an important need depth-wise for the Cowboys since they didn’t sign a quarterback during the 2021 recruiting cycle, but all three of UW’s scholarship quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Sean Chambers, redshirt freshman Levi Williams and fellow freshman Gavin Beerup — will still be on the roster by the time Becker joins the program next year barring any transfers among the group. Becker said that doesn’t matter to him.
“I wasn’t really too worried about that because I’m a big competitor, and I don’t really care who’s in the quarterback room up there,” Becker said. “I know they’re all great kids and they’re all great quarterbacks too, but I wouldn’t really care if they had six or seven quarterbacks in that room. I’m going to go in there and compete no matter what and try to earn that job as fast as possible.”
It will be a while before Becker can officially join UW’s program. He still has a senior season to play at Skutt this fall. But with the NCAA ending the recruiting dead period effective June 1, Becker said he plans to return to UW before the season starts so he can meet with the coaching staff in person, something he’s yet to do.
Rising high school seniors can’t start signing with their school of choice until December’s early signing period, but Becker reiterated that will be UW when the time comes.
“I just want them to know that I’m 1,000 percent all in and I have absolutely zero intentions to decommit from Wyoming,” Becker said. “I love the school, I love the mountains, I love the town. And I just hope I can go in, earn that job and play good football for all those fans out in Wyoming over the next four to five years.”
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.