LARAMIE — Wyoming on Wednesday took another step toward ending the rollercoaster ride that’s been Craig Bohl’s five-year tenure.
At least that’s the way the Cowboys’ coach sees it after he and his staff put the finishing touches on this year’s recruiting class by inking five more players during the traditional signing period. The Cowboys finished with a 24-member class after signing 18 players during the early signing period in December and adding Smithson Valley (Texas) three-star quarterback Levi Williams, who will go through spring practice as an early enrollee, in January.
“I think our staff did an excellent job of going out and finding guys at a positional need that were going to be important for us to build,” Bohl said. “Sometimes you have surprises, and today there were no surprises. A lot of these guys we signed today were heavily recruited. They had a lot of options and held to their commitment, so we’re really pleased.”
Wyoming’s class ranks fifth in the Mountain West, according to the 247Sports.com composite ratings. Wednesday’s additions helped the Cowboys finish with 13 three-star prospects, but more importantly than the rankings, they addressed nearly all of Wyoming’s remaining needs.
“We go by what we like and what we see,” Bohl said. “We’re probably as thorough as anybody as far as evaluating what guys fit into our system.”
Nico Evans, the MW’s leading rusher last season, ran out of eligibility while reserve running back Theo Dawson recently decided to transfer, and Wyoming didn’t have a running back signed or committed heading into the day. But the Cowboys had a trio of three-star running backs before it was over in Trinity Catholic (Missouri) standout Alphonzo Andrews Jr., Central Catholic (California) athlete Dawaiian McNeely and Eaton (Texas) running back Titus Swen.
Andrews was recruited as an all-purpose back while McNeely, at 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, and Swen, at 5-11 and 190 pounds, are more prototypical downhill runners.
“We feel it’s important to have a complement of running backs that have different attributes,” Bohl said.
With the Cowboys losing three defensive tackles off the two-deep in Sidney Malauulu, Conner Cain and Youhanna Ghaifan, Bohl expressed the need to sign another interior defensive llineman after inking just one during the early signing period. The Cowboys did so with Resada (California) three-star tweener Alonzo Hall, a 6-5, 230-pounder who could also line up on the edge, though Bohl said the plan is to add some bulk to Hall and use his athleticism primarily on the inside.
Wyoming didn’t have any other pressing needs on defense after signing five defensive backs and a pair of linebackers in December, but Bohl didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to use Shae Suiaunoa’s skill set on that side of the ball. The 6-2, 210-pound Suiaunoa was a dual-threat quarterback for Clear Lake High in the Houston metropolitan area, but the speedy athlete will begin his collegiate career at linebacker.
“As the recruiting process went along, we really felt it was important to be honest with him and let him know we had interest in his skill set, but it would not be at quarterback,” Bohl said. “During this process, we really built up a great relationship of trust.”
The Cowboys are still a little light at some positions, specifically offensive tackle, Bohl said. Early signees Latrell Bible, Carlos Harrison and Jack Lookabaugh make up Wyoming’s offensive line class, with Lookabaugh being the only one projected to play tackle at the next level. Wyoming lost right tackle Zach Wallace and backup Pahl Schwab after the season.
By signing less than the 25 players allowed by the NCAA in a given recruiting cycle, Wyoming still has one scholarship to play with. Bohl said it could be given to a walk-on or used to fill a need by way of a late academic qualifier or a graduate transfer, though he added the Cowboys aren’t targeting any transfers as of now.
As it’s constructed, the class is one that Bohl said he believes has enough depth and talent to be another foundational piece for a program that’s striving for consistency in the MW. Bohl started at Wyoming with two losing seasons before breaking through with back-to-back eight-win seasons that included a Mountain Division title in 2016. The post-Josh Allen era started with 6-6 showing this past season — one that included a four-game losing streak, a four-game winning streak and no bowl bid.
“One of our long-term goals is to have long-term sustainability to where we’re not having the ebbs and flows,” he said. “We’re going to be a consistent program in the Mountain West.”