LARAMIE — For all the changes that are seemingly coming to Wyoming’s offense, some things will stay the same under first-year coordinator Tim Polasek.
That includes utilizing a position that’s getting closer and closer to extinction in college football: the fullback. And one of the Cowboy State’s own figures to play a significant role in that.
Freshman Caleb Driskill has been a standout at the position this spring, Polasek said. So much so that he could be the frontrunner to take over for another in-state product, Torrington native Skyler Miller, a senior last season who opted not to return to UW for another year of competition.
“He’s one of the top guys that comes to mind that, not surprises, but just he improves fast,” Polasek said of Driskill. “The way we double-rep, he’s having to do some things that he normally wouldn’t do for us, which has really helped his football acumen, his football knowledge and his football IQ. He can handle a lot mentally.”
Driskill hails from Gillette, where he played his high school ball for Thunder Basin. He starred as a linebacker for the Bolts, earning the Star-Tribune’s Super 25 Defensive Player of the Year honor after averaging north of 12 tackles per game as a senior in 2019, but was recruited to UW as a fullback. After redshirting last season, Driskill is up to 235 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame and is putting himself in position for his first stint of playing time for the Cowboys next season.
UW won’t always have a fullback on the field. Certain personnel groupings may call for an extra receiver or multiple tight ends. Sheridan native Parker Christensen, who moved to the top of the depth chart at the position by the end of last season, could also line up there as a hybrid fullback/H-back depending on the situation.
But when the Cowboys need a lead blocker in the run game, Driskill could very well fit the bill.
“He’s a Cowboy tough guy,” Polasek said. “I think that kid is going to carve out a role for us. I see him being a part of what we do obviously. We’re going to be a team that wants to run the football.”
Cross-training up front
After the amount of attrition UW’s defensive line experienced last fall, the Cowboys are preparing for anything up front.
Sophomore Cole Godbout is back at nose tackle this spring after starting five games there last season, but he said he’s also been repping at defensive tackle in case he’s needed there at some point. And he’s not the only one.
“All of us have been cross-training this year just so if one of us goes down, we’re able to play both positions,” Godbout said.
That happened plenty along the defensive line a season ago. Between four opt-outs (Solomon Byrd, Mario Mora, Davon Wells-Ross, Claude Cole), two injuries (Garrett Crall and Ravontae Holt) and a suspension (Victor Jones), the group was without seven of its regulars at one point or another.
The line has most of its depth back with all of the opt-outs having rejoined the team, though Holt (ACL surgery recovery) isn’t practicing this spring. Jones is not currently with the team. UW coach Craig Bohl has said his status will be re-evaluated after the spring.
Unproven depth out wide
UW has no shortage of options at receiver, but the Cowboys still need to find enough that can consistently perform once the fall rolls around.
That’s particularly true now that UW has lost some of its veteran wideouts.
Sixth-year senior Ayden Eberhardt, who led the Cowboys with 16 receptions last season, is the unquestioned leader of the group, but another starter, Dontae Crow, transferred this offseason. More attrition came recently when junior Gunner Gentry suffered a knee injury that could keep him out all fall.
Freshman Isaiah Neyor broke out as a big-play threat last year, but only one other receiver on the active roster, fellow freshman Devin Jennings (1), has caught a pass in college. Freshmen Alex Brown, Josh Cobbs and Tyrese Grant and sophomores Wyatt Wieland and Chance Hofer are among the other receivers working to prove themselves this spring, though Eberhardt likes the youngsters’ potential.