LARAMIE — Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia have been two of the more recognizable faces on Wyoming’s defense.
The linebackers have been entrenched alongside each other as starters at the second level for the last three seasons. Wilson, an All-American and Butkus Award finalist last season, is a top-4 tackler in both school and Mountain West history while Maluia was an all-Mountain West honorable mention selection this past season. They combined to rack up 619 tackles during that time with the Cowboys.
But that time is up.
Wilson and Maluia exhausted their eligibility after last season, leaving UW to start over at a position where it’s been a while since UW has had questions at the top of the depth chart. Cheyenne native Ben Wisdorf, one of the top reserves at the position, has also played his last game as a Cowboy after spending most of his senior season as a contributor on special teams.
UW isn’t completely void of experience without that trio, though. Chad Muma figures to take over for Wilson at middle linebacker after serving as UW’s third linebacker last season. Muma, a third-generation Cowboy, finished with 51 tackles and three tackles for loss as a sophomore last season.
Muma is versatile enough to play inside or out in UW’s 4-2-5 base defense, but if he sticks in the middle, the Cowboys will need some of their youth to emerge on the outside.
One of those youngsters is Charles Hicks, who played in 12 games last season as a redshirt freshman reserve. Fellow redshirt freshman Ray Rabou played in nine games, but both will likely be asked to take on bigger roles in the defense next season. Brennan Kutterer, a walk-on from Tongue River, played in three games as a sophomore.
Other youngsters who figure to get a hard look in fall camp if not this spring are freshmen Isaiah Abdullah, Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa, all of whom redshirted last fall. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Suiaunoa, a former three-star recruit who’s made the transition from high school quarterback, got his feet wet in a couple games last season primarily as a special-teams contributor.
UW will add two more freshmen to the mix this summer when Brent VanderVeen and Connor Shay, both members of the 2020 signing class, get on campus. Ranked three-star prospects by 247Sports, VanderVeen projects as an outside linebacker after playing safety for Sedro-Woolley (Washington) High while Shay, at 6-2 and 210 pounds, played in the middle for Monte Vista (California) High.
It leaves UW linebackers coach Aaron Bohl with plenty of evaluating to do at a position that suddenly has plenty of questions heading into next season.
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.
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