LARAMIE — Trey Woods was Wyoming’s leading rusher in 2017. That won’t be the case in 2018, it appears.
The Cowboys have moved the sophomore from running back to defensive end, head coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday.
“We think he’s got some really good athleticism, so I think that’s where he’ll end up staying,” Bohl said, “but we want to give him a good hard look as camp goes through.”
Woods rushed for 493 yards on 142 carries last year with two rushing touchdowns. His 3.47 yards per carry were second fewest in the nation among qualified running backs (10 rushes per game, played in 75 percent of games).
“We think he’s got great promise (at defensive end), and also I think it’s an indication of some of the depth we’ve developed at running back,” Bohl said. “Trey’s a really good athlete. I think he’s about 218 pounds right now. He’s going to get bigger, and he’s got good size. We plays with athletic defensive ends, and I thought he did some good things today.”
Woods was recruited to Wyoming as an athlete and spent his first fall camp as a linebacker. Wyoming moved him to running back early last season, though, and Woods wound up starting there as a true freshman.
“He’s more of an outside linebacker,” Bohl said. “Really, a lot of times, that’s what we play with (at defensive end). Even though they have their hand down, sometimes he’ll have his hand up. I thought he edge rushed well today.”
The Cowboys have also moved freshman linebacker Leevi Lafaele to defensive end this camp.
Woods missed most of the spring with a shoulder injury, and his expected return date changed repeatedly since then. He was fully cleared for contact last week.
Bohl said Woods took the position change well.
“He did,” the fifth-year head coach said. “But I’m sure it was a little bit of a surprise to him. He was just working back in the running back position. ... When I had a chance to talk to Trey, whatever helps the team, that’s what he wants to do.”
Wyoming’s rushing game struggled as a whole last year. For the first time since 1973, the Cowboys were without a 500-yard rusher despite having a running back carry the ball 100-plus times. The Cowboys were led in rushing touchdowns by a non-running back (quarterback Josh Allen) for the first time since 2012 (Brett Smith).
But the move would seem to signify the staff has some confidence in the running backs room.
“Like I said, I think we’ve got more depth than what we’ve had,” Bohl said. “(Senior) Nico Evans has had a great offseason and it’s showing. His GPS chips and his movements are really good, so we’ve got some good movement there.
“... (True freshman Jevon Bigelow) had a good day today. I thought he made a couple nice cuts. He lost a few pounds (to illness), but he’ll gain that back, and there’s real promise with him. He’s got good quickness and good vision, and he’s got good size. I think he’s 215 right now, and those are the type of tailbacks that we like.”
Kellen Overstreet also missed time this spring and fall with a shoulder injury. The junior rushed 109 times for 471 yards and three touchdowns last season.
“Kellen had missed so much time,” Bohl said. “We’re certainly giving him some looks, but we do like where some of our guys are at. If you go through the list, I think we’ve got four guys there that are all going to be in the mix, and you’re going to see a lot of those guys play. So we’re pleased.”
Redshirt freshman Xazavian Valladay appears to be the fourth player in that mix.