LARAMIE — Xazavian Valladay isn’t the most physically imposing running back in college football.
He’s got 195 pounds on his 6-foot frame — a weight he said he’s trying to get back closer to the 200 he was at in the spring. But Wyoming’s sophomore tailback is at a point where he believes he can carry the ball 20 or 25 times a game.
Even 30 carries? If the Cowboys needed him to, Valladay is confident in that, too.
“I have no doubt in my mind I could take those carries,” he said.
The truth is he likely won’t be asked to carry that kind of load. Louisville graduate transfer Trey Smith joined the fold this summer and will be a part of the rotation this fall.
But with Nico Evans gone and two other scholarship running backs (Jevon Bigelow and Reow Jackson) leaving the program during the offseason, the Cowboys’ backfield is short on experience. Behind Valladay and Smith are three true freshmen in Titus Swen, Dawaiian McNeely and Alphonzo Andrews Jr., and even Smith is having to play catch-up mentally as he works to learn a new offense.
It’s made for a clear pecking order on the depth chart with Wyoming’s Aug. 31 opener against Missouri three weeks away.
“I’d say X has a pretty significant advantage right now,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “Trey has done some good things, but with all the sets and things like that, he’s probably had more busts than we’d like.”
Valladay, the team’s leading returning rusher with 396 yards and three rushing touchdowns on 71 carries last season, was third on the depth chart this time a year ago. The attrition has played a part in his rise, but Valladay would like to think developing as a pass protector — an area in which he had “a lot of work to do” coming out of last season, he said — has helped him secure that No. 1 spot.
“Now I’ve got a complete grasp of what I’m doing, so I think I’m a complete back,” Valladay said.
Freshmen WRs impressing
Bohl singled out Alex Brown and Isaiah Neyor as true freshmen who have impressed at receiver. Brown is the tallest wideout on the Cowboys’ roster at 6-foot-4 while Neyor is another big-bodied receiver at 6-3 and 195 pounds.
Tight end Treyton Welch is another newcomer that continues to flash playmaking ability, Bohl said.
“I think those guys are beyond what you would normally have with freshmen,” he said.
Defensive tackle Ravontae Holt watched Friday’s practice in street clothes after injuring his knee earlier in the week. Bohl said Holt, who started the last four games last season, will undergo an MRI to determine the severity.
Braden Smith, who’s in line to take over as the starter at free safety, tweaked a hamstring and didn’t finish practice, Bohl said. Another defensive tackle, true freshman Alonzo Hall, has a fracture in his left foot that may sideline him for the season opener if not longer.
“It was not surgical, but it’s going to be several weeks before he’s able to go,” Bohl said.
Wyoming will have its second full-padded practice of fall camp Saturday. The practice will be closed to the media.
It won’t be a scrimmage, though Bohl said the Cowboys may go live with some goal-line situations. Wyoming will have Sunday off before returning to practice Monday.