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Which Wyoming football players are staying, leaving?
UW FOOTBALL

Which Wyoming football players are staying, leaving?

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Trey Smith

Wyoming's Trey Smith looks for running room during the Cowboys' game against Boise State on Dec. 12, 2020, at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

LARAMIE -- The uniqueness of the 2020 college football season amid a pandemic is trickling into the offseason.

Normally, seniors would be calling it a career after their final season of eligibility, and some still are. But seniors also have the option of returning for another season of competition since the NCAA has extended the eligibility of all fall-sport athletes. 

Meanwhile, the transfer portal is even busier than usual given eligibility changes that could be coming in the near future. Though the NCAA Division I Board of Directors recently decided to table its vote on the one-time transfer exception, the expectation is new legislation that would allow athletes in all sports to transfer and compete immediately at another four-year school will be adopted at some point this year.

Like other FBS programs around the country, the alterations are affecting Wyoming’s roster for next season, though it remains to be seen just how much attrition the Cowboys will endure. Some of UW’s seniors have made their decisions. Others continue to think. And a handful of players both young and old have already entered the portal.

A reminder: Just because a player has entered the transfer portal doesn’t necessarily mean he is leaving, though that’s usually the case. Players can withdraw from the portal and return to their current school if mutually agreed upon.

Here are the players who are knowingly leaving UW’s program at this point and those who are staying. This list will be updated throughout the offseason as more players make their decisions.

Staying

DE Garrett Crall -- The Cowboys’ defense got a huge boost heading into the offseason when Crall announced his intention to return for a sixth season. A team captain last season, Crall has dealt with various injuries throughout his career and only played three games last fall after working his way back from offseason foot surgery, but the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is UW’s active leader in tackles (147) and sacks (13.5).

WR Ayden Eberhardt -- Eberhardt was the first senior to officially announce his decision to return next season just minutes after UW’s season-ending loss to Boise State. Catches have been hard to come by for wideouts of late in the Cowboys’ run-heavy offense, but Eberhardt had a career season last fall, leading UW in catches (16) and receiving yards (252). Eberhardt is averaging 16.1 yards a catch for his career.

RB Trey Smith -- UW’s offense also got a lift heading into next season from Smith, who kept one of the Mountain West’s top rushing duos intact with his decision to return for a third year in the program. Smith, who initially arrived in Laramie in 2019 as a graduate transfer from Louisville, has provided a bruising complement to UW’s No. 1 back, Xazavian Valladay, when healthy, averaging 5.4 yards a carry during his time at UW. Smith had his most productive season in a Cowboy uniform last fall with 488 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and he posted back-to-back 100-yard games while filling in for an injured Valladay late in the season.

DB Braden Smith -- Smith said during the season he was “98% sure” he’d be returning for a sixth season. And while he hasn’t said anything publicly about it since, Smith has been on campus going through winter workouts with his teammates. Entering his sixth season at UW, Smith is a veteran presence on the back end of the defense with the ability to play both safety spots. Smith played in all six games at strong safety last fall and finished with 23 tackles, one sack and an interception in his first season as a full-time starter.

DB Esaias Gandy -- Another senior, Gandy also plans to return for another year, meaning the Cowboys will keep their starting safety tandem intact for one more season. Gandy was UW's second-leading tackler last season in his first year as a full-time starter, earning all-Mountain West honorable mention honors along the way.

OL Logan Harris -- UW coach Craig Bohl said Harris has informed him he plans to return for another season. A senior from Torrington, Harris started five of UW's six games at right guard this past season and has started 16 games along the Cowboys' offensive line the last two years.

OL Alonzo Velazquez -- Another senior offensive lineman, Velazquez also intends to return for a fifth season. Bohl said Velazquez and Harris have both been going through winter workouts with the team. Velazquez has been in and out of the starting lineup with injuries throughout his career and missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He's started 23 of the 24 games he's played at UW.

DB Keshaun Taylor -- Taylor, a member of the Cowboys’ 2020 recruiting class, entered the transfer portal after not seeing the field last fall, but the freshman has withdrawn his name and will return to UW, according to 247Sports’ portal tracker. Taylor also played receiver at Thomas Jefferson (Colorado) High but was recruited to UW as a safety.

Leaving (for now)

WR Dontae Crow -- Crow was versatile for the Cowboys during his five years with the program, returning punts last fall while also handling punting duties at one point. But UW’s senior receiver caught just seven passes last season and 13 for his UW career before entering the transfer portal. Crow announced via Twitter earlier this month that he’s received a scholarship offer from Campbell University, where he plans to play next season.

K/P Nick Null -- The Cornell graduate transfer won't be returning for another season, a team spokesman told the Star-Tribune. Null's decision means the Cowboys are looking for a new punter as well as a new kickoff specialist, duties Null handled during his one season at UW.

DE Cameron Smith -- Another member of the 2020 signing class, Smith’s UW career lasted less than a full season. Smith played in four games last fall before he announced he was entering the transfer portal. His public announcement came after he was suspended from the team on suspicion of domestic assault, though Smith’s girlfriend, the alleged victim, told the Star-Tribune the incident was a misunderstanding. Still, Smith said in a Twitter post he was entering the portal to “pursue other opportunities,” a good indication that he won't be back.

LB Ray Rabou -- Rabou announced on Twitter last week that he has entered the transfer portal and is reopening his recruitment to any interested suitors. The Buffalo native had primarily been a contributor on special teams since joining UW’s program as a walk-on in 2018.

LB Brennan Kutterer -- Another reserve walk-on, Kutterer took to Twitter on Thursday to announce he's decided to "move on" and enter the transfer portal. Kutterer, a Dayton native, played in 15 games over the last three seasons after redshirting in 2017.

Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.

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College Sports Reporter

Davis Potter is the University of Wyoming athletics reporter. An Alabama native and 2011 Auburn University graduate, Potter joined the Star-Tribune in 2018 after five years covering Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference. He lives in Laramie.

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