LARAMIE — Like many of the positions on its offense, Wyoming’s receiving corps is returning virtually intact. It’s a unit that will mix old with new in doing its part to try to get the Cowboys’ passing game back on track.
The only departure is Dontae Crow, who’s decided to play his final season of college football across the country at Campbell University. Among the returners is Ayden Eberhardt, who emerged as quarterback Levi Williams’ go-to target last season.
The sixth-year senior led UW in catches (16) and receiving yards (252) during the pandemic-shortened season and has 29 receptions for 466 yards in his career, far and away the most of any wideout left on the Cowboys’ roster. UW heads into spring practice needing to find more proven playmakers on the outside for an offense that finished in the bottom 15 among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in passing yards for the third straight season (153.3 per game), averaged just 6.8 yards per pass attempt and only had one passing touchdown.
“We’ve got to improve,” UW coach Craig Bohl said.
The Cowboys complemented Eberhardt at times with the big-play ability of Isaiah Neyor, who helped UW average 14.4 yards per completion. The 6-foot-3 Neyor averaged a whopping 31 yards per catch and even had a 58-yard run a season ago, but the redshirt freshman caught just eight passes. The lack of opportunities wasn’t specific to Neyor in UW’s run-heavy offense as the Cowboys’ returning receivers combined for 27 receptions in their six games.
Gunner Gentry, the younger brother of former UW standout Tanner Gentry, is another big-bodied option on the outside, but the 6-3, 209-pounder was limited to just three games last season as a junior because of injuries and caught just two passes. He’s got just eight receptions for his career.
Former walk-on Wyatt Wieland gives UW some depth at the position, but the Cowboys have more young receivers that will get another chance to start proving themselves this spring. Devin Jennings (one reception) and Alex Brown are coming off redshirt freshman seasons that were primarily spent contributing on special teams while Tyrese Grant and Josh Cobbs were true freshmen a season ago. UW signed two more receivers in its 2021 recruiting class in Tony Evans Jr. and Jaylen Sargent, though they won’t join the fold until the summer.
There’s plenty of work to be done to fill out the depth chart out wide, and the group is getting a clean slate with new offensive coordinator Tim Polasek. But Bohl said he believes in the potential of his receivers.
Now it’s about turning that potential into production.
“We do have some weapons, and I think we have some quarterbacks who can throw the football,” Bohl said. “But we have some guys that can catch it and run with it.”
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter