LARAMIE — Wyoming’s 2020 recruiting class is forming at a methodical pace.
That’s by design.
The Cowboys have just three verbal commitments for next year’s recruiting cycle, though it’s not a number that’s necessarily out of proportion with the rest of the Mountain West. With six months left before December’s early signing period, Nevada leads the league with eight commitments while Wyoming, which has commitments from Colorado products Braden Sider (defensive end, Ralston Valley High), Cameron Smith (athlete, Legend) and, most recently, Nick Miles (tight end, Chaparral), has the same number of commits as Boise State and Utah State at this point.
But the Cowboys have offered scholarships to more than 100 rising high school seniors with more than 20 of them already committed elsewhere. Football Bowl Subdivision teams can sign as many as 25 players in each recruiting cycle.
“We take a little bit more of a methodical approach,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. “I think we’ve tendered out the right number of offers that we need to tender out. Typically the guys we end up signing are guys who ... they’re going to go through some of the process.”
As is the case with every other program, not all of the offers Wyoming has doled out are immediately committable. Elite prospects such as North Shore (Texas) five-star running back Zachary Evans, who has an offer from Wyoming but doesn’t have the Cowboys among his five finalists, are usually the exception, but those aren’t often the type of prospects Wyoming has a realistic chance of signing.
Wyoming has multiple offers out to three-star prospects, some of whom are still weighing their options. Sider, Smith and Miles are all ranked as two-star recruits by Rivals, but many of Wyoming’s offers have been extended to players that aren’t ranked by any major recruiting service, but that Bohl and his staff want to evaluate during their senior seasons before deciding how aggressively to push for their signatures.
“We’re a heavy senior evaluation team,” said Ian McGrew, Wyoming’s director of player personnel. “We’re very prideful. We want to see if a player gets better or worse over their senior year, so we feel very good with where we’re at right now.”
It’s hard to question that approach given the success the Cowboys have had developing players with minimal interest from FBS schools during Bohl’s five-year tenure.
Wyoming was the only FBS program to offer quarterback Josh Allen, who became the highest draft pick in program history when the Buffalo Bills took him seventh overall in the 2018 NFL draft. The same goes for Andrew Wingard, who’s now with the Jacksonville Jaguars after tying former New Mexico standout Carmen Messina atop the Mountain West’s career tackles list in his four years at Wyoming. Former two-star recruit Brian Hill needed just three seasons to become Wyoming’s all-time leading rusher before the Atlanta Falcons took him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft.
Fellow safety Marcus Epps began his career at Wyoming as a walk-on before being taken in the sixth round of this year’s draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Josiah Hall and Garrett Crall, who are in line to be the starting defensive ends this fall, both originally came to Wyoming as walk-ons.
As for the top targets left on Wyoming’s board for this recruiting cycle, NCAA rules forbid coaches from talking specifically about prospective student-athletes that haven’t yet signed. But Wyoming has positional needs that are more pressing than others.
“Big guys,” McGrew said. “Those are hard to find.”
Specifically, the depth along the offensive line needs to be addressed with the Cowboys looking to possibly sign multiple offensive tackles, Bohl said. Wyoming has just four scholarship tackles on the roster for next season and signed just one, Texas product Jack Lookabaugh, in this year’s class.
Running back is another position thin on numbers. Louisville graduate transfer Trey Smith will help this fall, but the incoming senior will be out of eligibility after that. Wyoming will also get a boost from incoming freshmen Dawaiian McNeely, Titus Swen and Alphonzo Andrews Jr., but the Cowboys have offers out to six more running backs in the 2020 cycle that are still uncommitted.
And every program would ideally like to sign at least one quarterback every year. Wyoming has just one known offer out at the position to St. Bonaventure (California) signal caller Gavin Beerup, but that will almost certainly change between now and the end of the year.
There’s no rush given the way Bohl and his staff operate on the recruiting trail.
“Many guys change between their junior and senior year,” Bohl said. “We’re really big on doing a lot of evaluations and then a lot of fall evaluations. I think we’re really pleased with where we’re at.”