LARAMIE — Logan Wilson isn’t a senior yet. At least not technically.
He won’t officially get that designation until the current academic year ends and the fall rolls around, but the reality that Wilson has one season left in his collegiate career is starting to set in as he goes through his final spring in the middle of Wyoming’s defense.
“It’s weird being a senior already,” Wilson said. “It feels like yesterday I just got here and I was here in the dorm in the summer just out of high school.”
It’s been four years since the Casper native signed with the Cowboys as a 195-pound defensive back out of Natrona County High School. Wilson used a redshirt year to bulk up and began his career as an outside linebacker before moving to the middle. He racked up respect nearly as quickly as he did pounds, being named a team captain as a sophomore and then again as a junior last season.
Having that same title heading into his final season, though, is different.
“I’ve been a captain the last couple of years, but as a senior captain, I think it means just a little bit more than it does as a sophomore or junior captain,” Wilson said. “Being a senior, you’ve got to set the right example for guys behind you and the guys that come after you. I’m just trying to lead by example and show guys how to do the right thing.”
That’s particularly true considering how much different the Cowboys look from a personnel standpoint.
Wilson joined Andrew Wingard, Carl Granderson, Marcus Epps, Youhanna Ghaifan and others to form one of the Mountain West’s top defenses the last two seasons. But all of them are gone now, leaving Wilson as one of the few seasoned vets on the defensive side of the ball.
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Antonio Hull, Tyler Hall and fellow linebacker Cassh Maluia are also back as multi-year starters, but all the departures leave plenty of production that will try to be replaced by a handful of youngsters stepping into more prominent roles. Wyoming is losing more than 40 percent of the tackles and 66 percent of the sacks off a unit that finished second in the MW in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense and fourth in run defense a season ago.
“I haven’t talked to them a lot about the defense. Obviously that’s what their position coach is for,” said Wilson, who has bulked up to 250 pounds. “I just want to make sure they know they’re very capable of making plays in this defense. Our coaches are going to put them in position to be very successful, so they just need to put their trust in them and do their due diligence off the field, whether that’s studying film or doing some recovery stuff do keep their legs good.
“There’s a bunch of little things that as they get older they’ll start to learn about. I’m just trying to pass some of that knowledge on to them.”
Having Wilson back in the middle will help. The former MW Freshman of the Year was Wyoming’s leading tackler each of the past two seasons and has accumulated 316 stops and six interceptions in his career. Between he and Maluia, who’s entering his third and final season as a starter on the outside, there isn’t much to worry about at the top of the depth chart at linebacker.
“They’ve been in the system for a while now, and it’s pretty obvious when you watch them,” first-year linebackers coach Jay Niemann said. “They’ve grasped all the basic things that you normally spend a lot of time teaching pretty quickly so you can move along a little bit faster in your progression.”
Wilson is just trying to do his part in bringing everyone else along while he still can.
“It’s gone by pretty fast, but I’m looking forward to being a senior leader,” he said.