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Oil Bowl

Natrona County wide receiver Ben Acres catches a touchdown pass against Kelly Walsh in the Oil Bowl on Oct. 6, 2017 at Cheney Alumni Field in Casper.

Athletic size and build has always been in the genetics for Ben Acres. He comes from a tall family, from which he inherited his 6-foot-6 frame.

He always dreamed of playing football at Wyoming, and the Cowboys, after getting a closer look at him, saw a lot of potential. If both parties have their way then Brenton will look dramatically different in four years.

Acres signed his letter of intent to play football at Wyoming as a preferred walk-on Wednesday afternoon at the Natrona County High School library.

The former receiver/defensive back for the Mustangs said the Wyoming coaching staff has plans to make him a defensive end. Those plans also include him adding some mass to his current 182-pound frame.

“They expect me to put on a lot of weight,” Acres said. “The skill sets will be different (so) I’ll have to just buckle down and play football.”

Acres brings playmaking ability along with size. He led the Mustangs in catches (34) and touchdown receptions (eight) last season. He also had four sacks and three tackles for loss as a defensive back.

He’s likely seen as a big project for Wyoming’s defensive coaching staff, which was one of the most improved and best in the nation last season. The Cowboys’ defensive line also battled through injuries toward the end of the season, meaning Acres may have to put on that weight and fit in as soon as possible.

Natrona County head coach Steve Harshman sees the potential for development in Acres.

“Coach Bohl and his staff, he’s a real developmental coach,” Harshman said. “Wyoming’s probably not going to be in the running for top 25 recruits in the country, those go to SEC schools. But Wyoming, there’s a lot of great football players here. But it’s really not about that, it’s about the developmental piece.”

Coming from the same high school as current Cowboys Josh Harshman and Logan Wilson helped make Acres’ decision slightly easier. Both of them have also put complete trust in the strength and conditioning coaching staff, which has yielded impressive results so far.

“We were freshmen when they were seniors,” Acres said. “It’s good to have that foundation there.”

Acres was contacted by other football programs but none of them stood out the way Wyoming did. He knew that a scholarship spot was off the table, so he waited for his invite as a preferred walk-on, even as other programs threw offers into the mail.

“I kind of always knew in my heart that I wanted to play for Wyoming,” he said. “There were a couple of other schools but I was waiting on Wyoming.”

Acres will complete basketball season and compete in track during the spring before attending the Shrine Bowl. Immediately after that he’ll go to Laramie to enroll in summer classes and join the Cowboys.

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyTrib

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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