LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Following its first scrimmage of spring practice last Saturday, the Wyoming Football team saw its first depth chart of spring released by the Cowboy coaching staff late on Monday. Head coach Craig Bohl discussed the depth chart with media Monday evening after the Cowboys completed their eighth of 15 practices this spring.
Some of the more noticeable things revealed by the initial depth chart was the listing of redshirt senior Cameron Coffman atop the quarterback position followed by junior-college transfer Josh Allen. Coffman transferred to Wyoming a year ago from Indiana University where he was the Hoosiers starting quarterback in 2012. Allen transferred to UW in January of 2015 from Reedley College, a junior college in Reedley, Calif.
Another notable change was the move of redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Fort of Gillette, Wyo., to tight end. The first questions posed to Bohl were about his quarterbacks.
"I thought we had a good start to this week, coming off a scrimmage," said Bohl. "We're really pleased with our quarterback position. Our numbers weren't great in our first scrimmage, but Cam (Coffman) has some really good presence, and you'll see that in the Spring Game. Josh (Allen) has one of the liver arms that I have been around. He's got to continue to learn how to manage our offense, but he has come around fairly well.
"I thought some of our changes (to the depth chart) will prove to be profitable. Austin (Fort), in the short amount of time he has had to adjust, did some nice things at the tight end position. We've always known he was a really good athlete.
"A lot went into the decision to move Austin from quarterback to tight end. First of all, we felt Austin could be a good quarterback, so the move was not motivated because he didn't have ability at quarterback. We knew that Austin, coming out of high school, had good speed and was a really athletic guy. He showed that by running in the 4.6 range (in the 40-yard dash). He's 6'4" and around 215 pounds, and I think he'll put on some more weight. But the tight end position is really important for us, and we needed another exceptional athlete there. It's an opportunity for him to get on the field and help us.
"I appreciate his attitude. He came in here and really competed at quarterback. It wasn't like he wasn't making progress at the quarterback position. I think he has a real upside to get on the field at tight end."
On the defensive side of the ball, the linebacker position revealed some players at new positions listed No. 1 at their new spots. Junior to be Eric Nzeocha, who played tight end for the Pokes a year ago, is listed No. 1 at middle linebacker. At strong-side linebacker, former starting safety Tim Kamana, who is entering his sophomore season in 2015, is currently holding down the SAM linebacker position. Kamana started the last eight games of the 2014 season at safety for Wyoming. Veteran Lucas Wacha is the projected starter at the weak-side linebacker position. Wacha, who will be a junior, has started 15 games at linebacker over the past two seasons.
"We're making progress on defense," said Bohl. "We've moved some guys around. Eric Nzeocha slid into that starting role at middle linebacker. With what we do with the MIKE linebacker, it is important to have a guy who can run vertically and he can certainly do that."
The Cowboy secondary is missing some key contributors this spring due to injuries. Among those missing are sophomore to be Robert Priester, who started seven of the last eight games of his true freshman season at cornerback before missing the 2014 finale due to injury. Also missing is junior to be Xavier Lewis, who suffered a stroke just prior to finals last semester. Lewis is taking the spring semester off recovering from his stroke. Also junior to be D.J. May, who was a standout running back for the Pokes, is moving to defensive back, but is limited this spring due to injury. Bohl was asked about the names of a few walk-ons that appeared in the Cowboy secondary on the initial depth chart.
"What we do as we grade everything in practices and scrimmages is we rank who are the best guys, whether they have a scholarship or they don't have a scholarship that is irrelevant," said Bohl. "We're going to move the guys up who show the best play-making ability and the best competency in our offense or defense."
There were no surprises on the defensive line where senior defensive ends Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala'api'api both return after starting 27 and 14 games, respectively during their college careers. They are joined by juniors Uso Olive, at defensive tackle, and Chase Appleby, at nose tackle. Olive started 11 of 12 games last season at nose tackle, while Appleby started the other game. Both can play either of the interior defensive line positions, Olive will shift primarily to defensive tackle this season to take the place of graduated senior Patrick Mertens.
Bohl concluded his comments after Monday's practice with this comment about his team, "Overall, we're making good progress halfway through spring football, but we need to keep pushing."
The Cowboys have three more practices this week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Saturday's practice will see the Pokes conduct their second spring scrimmage. This Saturday's scrimmage will be closed to media and the general public.
The final week of spring practice will begin on Monday, April 20. The Spring Game on Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. will be free and open to the media and the general public.
Remaining Spring Practice Schedule
Wednesday, April 15 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #9)
Friday, April 17 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #10)
Saturday, April 18 - 11 a.m. (Scrimmage #2, Practice #11)
Monday, April 20 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #12)
Wednesday, April 22 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Pads, Practice #13)
Friday, April 24 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (No Pads, Practice #14)
Saturday, April 25 - 2 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15)