July 8, 2008
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys will enter the 2008 college football season with a successful, proven system in place on one side of the line of scrimmage -- the defense -- and an exciting new system on the other side of the ball -- the offense. Head coach Joe Glenn will be leading the Wyoming Football program for his sixth season in `08. Always upbeat about his teams, this year Glenn's enthusiasm seems to be at an even higher level.
"There is just a great feeling right now," commented Glenn. "I feel it, our coaches feel it, our kids feel it. I've talked about the sign we've had up on our door at home since Christmas that says, `This family believes,' and that doesn't mean about Santa Claus. I told my wife Michele to leave that sign up all year. I think our whole team believes that something special is going on and that we're ready to take a step forward with our program."
The Cowboy defense was one of the top-ranked defenses in the nation a year ago, ranking No. 22 in the NCAA in both total defense and sacks, No. 27 in rushing defense and No. 30 in pass defense. That unit returns seven starters, including past All-Conference performers in senior inside linebacker Ward Dobbs and junior defensive tackle John Fletcher. Guiding the defense again in `08 will be defensive coordinator Mike Breske. The Poke defense has good experience at both the defensive line and linebacker positions and returns both starting safeties in seniors Quincy Rogers at free safety and Michael Ray at strong safety. The one position that will be lacking experience in `08 is cornerback. Former starters Julius Stinson, a 2007 First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection, and Michael Medina both graduated after starting the past two years for the Cowboys.
"We're going to be more physical, I don't think there is any question about that," said Glenn. "Mike (Breske) has a great nucleus there. John Fletcher had a great year last season. Teams couldn't get outside of him, and when they ran away from him he would run them down. He's a tough dude. Our linebackers should be outstanding again this season. We lost three seniors in Sean Claffey, Luke Chase and John Prater, but we have a couple young ones in Weston Johnson and Gabe Knapton who could be pretty special. And with two seniors in Ward Dobbs and Mike Juergens back, I don't think we'll miss a beat there."
On offense, Glenn brought in a new offensive coordinator in Bob Cole. Cole has previously built potent offenses at Portland State, Montana and Utah State. Cole's offensive system will utilize a quicker passing game, with more short to intermediate length routes rather than a large number of deep routes down the field.
The Wyoming offense will return the entire starting offensive line, two talented senior running backs in Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon and a promising group of young tight ends. The two main questions will center around who will be the quarterback directing the Wyoming offense and who amongst a group of young receivers will step forward to contribute.
"What I'm excited most about is for our players and offensive staff to feel Bob's (Cole) presence and understand his philosophy," said Glenn. "I think they've been able to get to know him a little bit since he's been here, but I don't think our players have any idea yet how good Bob is as a coach.
"Some things about our offense will be similar, but we are adding some new wrinkles. We are adding a `fly-sweep series' where we have our receivers in motion more and our receivers involved in the running game. Our passing game will incorporate a quicker passing game, with higher percentage passes and fewer passes further down the field that take longer to develop. That in turn should help our pass protection. Our tight ends will also be more involved in the passing game.
"We ran the ball this spring as good as any team I've ever coached. We have all five starters back on the line, and they've all had another birthday. Our blockers -- linemen, receivers, fullbacks -- combined with our running backs -- our two seniors (Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon) -- have me excited about our running attack, which should also help our play-action passing game."
Junior quarterback Karsten Sween has started 18 of Wyoming's last 19 games, but he managed to throw only 12 touchdown passes in 2007 while being intercepted 17 times. His competitors for the starting QB spot include senior Ian Hetrick, who served as Sween's backup last season, and junior-college transfer Dax Crum, a sophomore from Mesa Community College in Arizona. Sween entered spring drills looking strong as he added 15 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 222, and set a new Wyoming quarterback bench press record of 350 pounds. Newcomer Crum led Mesa Community College to a 9-2 record in 2007 and a No. 8 national ranking in the final NJCAA/JC Football.com poll. He was named NJCAA Co-Region I Offensive Player of the Year and was an Honorable Mention All-American.
"We decided to stretch as a team to start practice, which we haven't done since I can't remember when. Our coordinators also implemented more group meetings -- the entire offense and entire defense meeting together as units rather than just by position, which is a little bit different than the past."
On special teams, both the starting place-kicker and punter may not be decided until the fall. In 2007, senior Billy Vinnedge handled both duties for Wyoming. Junior place-kicker Jake Scott does have some starting experience as a Cowboy. Sophomore Nick Landess will be a candidate for the starting punting duties. The rest of the contenders will not be in camp until the fall, including incoming freshman Austin McCoy from Winter Haven, Fla., and junior-college punter Cody Bousema from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa.
As Glenn and his Cowboys prepared for the 2008 season one of the focuses was to build a greater sense of team.
"The spring gives a team an opportunity to develop some `esprit de corps' -- to bond as a team," said Glenn. "Spring football is a time to enjoy with your teammates, and begin to build a winning attitude together. It is a chance for the coaching staff to see who the leaders are on a team -- who are the guys who are going to lead this football team to victory."
To help develop that sense of team chemistry, Glenn and his coaching staff implemented some new team-oriented drills into their practices.
"We decided to stretch as a team to start practice, which we haven't done since I can't remember when," commented Glenn. "Our coordinators also implemented more group meetings -- the entire offense and entire defense meeting together as units rather than just by position, which is a little bit different than the past. The offensive and defensive units also graded practice film more as a unit, rather than just by positions. All of these things we implemented to pull the team together during spring."
Another change that occurred in the spring of `08 that will become a permanent part of Cowboy Football was full usage of Wyoming's new $11 million Indoor Practice Facility. The facility became available for limited use last fall, but became fully operational in the spring. The head coach was thrilled with the newest of Wyoming's facilities.
"The Indoor provides us an ideal teaching environment," said Glenn. "There are no distractions in terms of weather. It allows our players to function at a very high level of focus and concentration, and with it being a full-size, 100-yard field we can get so much more accomplished than we could in the old fieldhouse. When we practiced in the fieldhouse, we had to practice in shifts due to the limited size of the facility. We used to have to split practice up into two groups. We're now able to do everything we need to, both on offense and defense, with room to spare."
Wyoming will have the advantage of playing seven home games in 2008. That is only the second time in school history that UW will play seven home games in one season -- the other time was in 1990. The Cowboys will open the 2008 season on Saturday, Aug. 30 at home versus Ohio University. The following week, UW will open Mountain West Conference play, also at home, against Air Force.
"This is as good a schedule as we've had since I've been at Wyoming," said Glenn. "We play seven home games, which gives our fans a great chance to see the Cowboys play in War Memorial Stadium -- seven at 7,220 feet. All of our home games are on Saturday afternoons, and that is fantastic for our fans. I think that is when college football should be played. We begin the season at home and begin conference play at home. And I love finishing the season at home with our rival, Colorado State.
"Our team can't wait, and I know our fans will be out in force on Aug. 30 to kick off the season."
That season-ending home game against CSU, by the way, will be the 100th meeting in the "Border War" rivalry between the Cowboys and Rams.
Quarterbacks: "We have a good competition at quarterback heading into the fall," said Glenn. "I feel good about each of those individuals. We'll have to make a decision a couple of weeks into fall camp, so our starter can get the reps as we prepare for our season opener against Ohio. They each did things well in spring ball. Karsten (Sween) looked sharp, and he has the experience. Dax (Crum) maybe made more big plays in the spring, but he's still learning. Ian (Hetrick) is versatile, and is probably the most mobile of all of our quarterbacks. It should be a spirited competition in the fall -- as it was in the spring."
Junior Sween started 11 of 12 games in 2007 as a sophomore, and has started 18 of Wyoming's last 19 games. Current senior Hetrick served as his backup a year ago. Junior-college transfer Crum joined the team in January and went through spring practice. New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks' coach Bob Cole and his staff listed the three QBs as co-number ones on the depth chart at the end of spring. Also waiting in the wings is redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem, who redshirted at UW last year following an outstanding high school career in Lawton, Okla. The competition for the starting role will be key to the direction the Wyoming offense takes in 2008.
Running Backs and Fullbacks/H-Backs: "I feel really good about our running game entering this season," said Glenn. "Devin (Moore) fell just shy of 1,000 yards last year (965 rushing yards), and is one of the most explosive and talented running backs I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. He's also a leader. He was a captain as a junior last season. Wynel (Seldon) has had a great career here. At 220 pounds, he gives us the power back we need, but he's more than just power. He has good speed and can break a long one just like Devin. To have two senior backs with the experience and talent of our two guys, you have to feel good about that. Plus they are best friends. There's no jealousy between them, in fact they know when one another is tired and sometimes substitute for one another on their own. We've added a true fullback position into our offense this year, and I couldn't be happier with the way our two fullbacks performed during spring. Greg Genho and Josh Biezuns tore it up in the spring. They're both outstanding blockers. They moved over from our tight end/H-back position, and you will still see them in that role in some formations."
The tandem of seniors Moore and Seldon will provide the Wyoming offense with an experienced and explosive duo coming out of the backfield. Add sophomore Darius Terry and redshirt freshman James Davis to the mix, and the running game should provide some weapons in Cole's new offensive scheme. Moore fell only 35 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season last year, rushing for 965 yards. Seldon added 554, and led UW in touchdowns with eight. Seldon enters his senior season ranked No. 8 in career rushing yards at UW, with 2,035. Moore has rushed for 1,662 yards in his Wyoming career, and needs only 250 yards to break into the Top 10 in Wyoming school history. A quicker, higher-percentage passing game should help keep defenses off balance to aid the running game. Seldon and Moore may also be utilized more in the passing game. A year ago, Seldon had 27 receptions for 132 yards, while Moore added 24 catches for 161 yards.
Wide Receivers: "C.J. (Chris Johnson) is our top guy coming out of spring camp," said Glenn. "Brandon Stewart came on super strong. He came out of spring as our number one receiver in the slot and at punt returner. David Leonard had hernia surgery last winter, and he had some groin problems entering the spring, but he came on strong toward the end of camp. He returned to the form he showed as a true freshman last season. Jacobo is Kyle -- he's a steady Eddie, sure-handed and can help us both at the inside and outside receiver positions. Travis Burkhalter is another young player who did some good things in spring. Donate Morgan improved this spring, and gives us good speed on the outside. He's a 4.4 guy in the 40, and he's a good blocker. If Greg Bolling can come back and get eligible for the fall, that will give us a receiver who has two years experience, but he missed winter conditioning and spring practice working to regain his eligibility. He will have to learn the new offense on the fly come fall."
This is an area of the offense that may make up in talent for what it lacks in experience. The most experienced returning receivers are seniors Johnson and Jacobo and junior Bolling, but the Wyoming coaches believe they have a group of speedy, young receivers who could step forward to become significant contributors. Redshirt freshman Stewart was one of the bright spots of spring drills, excelling both as a receiver and punt returner. Redshirt junior Morgan, who transferred to Wyoming a year ago and redshirted, is one of those receivers with speed. Sophomore Leonard provides good size at 6-4 and brings some experience to the receiving corps, having caught 13 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman last season. Sophomore Burkhalter will also get his opportunity to shine. The uncertain part of the puzzle for Wyoming in 2008 is junior Bolling. Bolling, who was Wyoming's second-leading receiver in 2007 with 35 catches for 375 yards, is working to regain his academic eligibility. He didn't participate in spring drills, but if he is able to come back that would add significant skill and experience to a young receiving corps.
Tight Ends/H-Backs: "We have a lot of talent at the tight end and H-back positions, but we don't have things nailed down as tight as we would like," said Glenn. "Jesson (Salyards) had a good spring, and started a number of games for us last year in our two tight end sets. Joe Evers, who was having a good spring, injured his lower back about midway through drills and so didn't get to participate in either of our two spring scrimmages. Chris Sundberg of course hurt a knee in the season opener against Virginia that required surgery and caused him to miss all of spring, but if he can get healthy he is a good football player. Orlando Arnold, who we signed out of Contra Costa Junior College in California, is a very impressive talent. He will be on campus this summer. This group has some ability, and Bob (Cole) likes to use the tight end more in his offense than we probably have in recent years, so I'm excited to see what this group can add to our offense."
Wyoming lost one of its best tight end/H-backs in history with the graduation of Wade Betschart, who earned Second Team All-MWC honors last season and signed a free-agent contract with the San Diego Chargers of the NFL. But this group will not be lacking for talent in `08. Salyards returns for his junior campaign after starting six games at tight end last season. Sophomore Evers also returns, as does junior Sundberg, who missed virtually all of last year after tearing a ligament in his right knee in the season opener versus Virginia. Sundberg was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in the summer of `08, and so will only be a junior this season. Add to this talented group junior-college transfer Arnold from Contra Costa Community College in California and true freshman Brandon Ribble from Arvada, Colo., and you have a deep and talented group. Arnold was recruited by the likes of Arizona State, California and Washington. He caught 49 passes for 620 yards in 2007 at Contra Costa, while earning All-State honors among California junior colleges. He also started on his junior-college basketball team, and was a center fielder on his high school baseball team.
Offensive Linemen: "With everyone back, we have a good idea who the starters are, but we still have some battles going on for playing time between some of our young guys," said Glenn. "Clayton Kirven really came on this spring. We experimented some with moving Kyle Howard to left guard, and playing Kirven at right tackle with the number one offense. But with that said, our starting unit coming back played well together in the spring, and Sam Sterner, who has a year of experience as a starter, had a good spring too. Our depth is much improved across the board at offensive line. Zack Kennedy (guard) was fighting for playing time in there. I thought John Hutchins came a hundred miles as a redshirt freshman in the spring, and Travis Hillen (center) is another redshirt freshman who proved he can play."
Tackles: Senior Howard at right tackle and junior Ryan Otterson at left tackle return after starting all 12 games at their respective positions last season. Howard has started the last 28 consecutive games for the Cowboys on the offensive line. Both had strong seasons a year ago, with Howard earning Honorable Mention All-Conference honors as a junior. Wyoming native and redshirt freshman Kirven from Buffalo, Wyo., is listed No. 2 behind Howard at right tackle, while true freshman Levi Salmans is listed third. Greybull, Wyo., native Garrett King will backup Otterson at the left tackle spot.
Guards: Like Howard and Otterson at tackle, left guard Sterner started every game as a redshirt freshman for the Pokes in `07. On the right side, Russ Arnold also started all 12 games in 2007 -- 10 games at right guard and two games at center when Tim Bond missed two weeks due to injury. Sophomore Sterner and junior Arnold were both consistent performers in their first seasons in full-time starting roles and with a year of starting experience should be even better in `08. Kennedy stepped into the starting lineup in the two games Arnold moved to center last season, he is listed No. 2 at left guard behind Sterner. Arnold's projected backup is sophomore Jack Tennant. Two redshirt freshmen, Hutchins and Brandon Self are also listed on the depth chart at left and right guard, respectively.
Centers: Bond started 10 of 12 games at center last year as a junior, and he returns in 2008 having started 22 of 26 career games. He was one of 54 centers in the nation named to the Dave Rimington Trophy Preseason Watch List in 2007. The Rimington Trophy honors the nation's top collegiate center. When Bond missed two games due to injury, starting right guard Arnold slid over and filled in at center. Another young player, redshirt freshman Travis Hillen, is slated to backup Bond this season.
Safeties: "I believe there are six kids at safety who can contribute for us," said Glenn. "Quincy (Rogers) and Michael (Ray) are both seniors. They are good football players, and did a nice job in their first season as starters last year. Both are smart players, and it will be good to have their experience in the secondary this year as we break in new starting corners. The individual who may have made the most improvement this past spring was sophomore Chris Prosinski. He's bigger, he's smarter, he's faster. Another guy who I am really happy with and who has made great strides since last season is Derrick McMahen. Derrick has improved his play considerably since coming in as a junior-college transfer last year. He has good speed for a safety, and made some big plays in the spring. The two redshirt freshmen, (Eric) Mitchell and (Brian) Kuhtz, will have to work themselves into the mix, but they're both very athletic, and I believe will be contributors once they get some experience. They both should be good special teams' guys for us right away. We also signed a junior-college safety late in the spring in Jamichael Hall from Mesa Community College in Arizona."
Three experienced safeties return for the Cowboys in 2008. Seniors Ray (SS) and Rogers (FS) are the returning starters. They are joined by versatile sophomore Prosinski, who can play both positions. Rogers had an outstanding year in his first full year as a starter in 2007. He ranked second on the team in interceptions and passes broken up, with two and six respectively, and he ranked third on the team in tackles with 85. Rogers started all 12 games for the Cowboys in `07 as did Ray. Ray recorded 53 tackles to rank eighth on the UW squad. He intercepted one pass and broke up four others in his first season as the starting strong safety. Prosinski's play as a redshirt freshman in 2007 was very encouraging for the future of Cowboy Football. A native of Buffalo, Wyo., Prosinski played in all 12 games, making 37 tackles and breaking up one pass, and was a key contributor on several special teams. Current senior McMahen also saw some action last season after transferring from Palomar Community College in California. McMahen is the backup at strong safety. Two redshirt freshmen round out the group of safeties currently on campus. Kuhtz, a highly-touted recruit from Waukesha, Wis., is listed third at strong safety, while walkon Mitchell, from Highlands Ranch, Colo., is listed third on the depth chart at free safety. Junior-college transfer Hall, from Mesa Community College in Arizona will bolster the safety spot next season.
Cornerbacks: "Probably the surprise of spring ball to me were the corners," said Glenn. "Marcell (Gipson) is a talent. He can hit like a Mack truck, and he can cover. He ran a 40-yard dash for the pro scouts on grass in a swirling wind at 4.42, so he has some speed. Another nice surprise was T.J. Atwater. T.J. really worked on getting himself in excellent shape this offseason. Coach (Brian) Herzog helped him improve both his conditioning and his quickness, and I think T.J. will have a real special last couple of seasons. I also think Keith Lewis and Tramaine Brown will help us next season, as well as a grayshirt from 2007 in Ryan Handford, who joined us in spring ball. This position went from being a question mark heading into spring to a position we feel can really make an impact for our defense next year. We also have a true freshman coming in the fall in Tashaun Gipson, Marcell's younger brother, who may have a chance to play. We'll just have to see how quickly he makes the adjustment to this level."
The cornerback position is the one area on defense where both starters were lost to graduation. Gone are seniors Julius Stinson and Michael Medina, who started for the Cowboys throughout the past two seasons. Stinson was a First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection in `07, and was one of 12 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award honoring the nation's top college defensive back. Medina fought off a preseason foot injury to have an outstanding senior season. Also gone is backup Troy Lewis, who made a significant contribution in his senior campaign. In their places are a group of young, but talented corners. Atwater and Marcell Gipson concluded spring as the projected starters -- Atwater at field cornerback and Gipson at the boundary corner. Atwater brings with him three years of experience in the Cowboy system. Gipson originally signed with the Cowboys in the spring of 2005 as a grayshirt, meaning he didn't go on scholarship until the spring of 2006. He was with the Cowboy program in the fall of 2006, but had to leave school to attend to family matters that spring. Gipson came back in the fall of `07, paid his own way and earned his eligibility back. An extremely talented player, he will begin the 2008 season with three years of eligibility remaining. Keith Lewis is slated to backup his fellow sophomore Gipson, while redshirt junior Brown will backup Atwater. Lewis is probably the most experienced of the group, having played nickel back for the Cowboys as a true freshman in 2007. Brown redshirted last season after transferring from Santa Ana Community College in California. A freshman, Handford, joined the Cowboys in the spring of `08 after grayshirting one year out of high school. He earned a spot on the depth chart behind Atwater and Brown.
Linebackers: "We've got a good group at linebacker again," said Glenn. "Not that it was a total shock, I knew he was good, but to have redshirt freshman Gabe Knapton step in at MIKE linebacker and play the way he did in the spring was something to see. Weston Johnson and Mike Juergens both give us excellent size and speed at the two outside positions. All three are tall, physical players who can run. Put those three together with one of the best linebackers we've had at Wyoming in Ward Dobbs, and you have the makings of a special group. We also had some younger players have solid springs. Zeb Whipp is an individual who had a good spring. He will backup Dobbs. Redshirt freshman Bryson Studnicka showed that he can play here. Another redshirt freshman, Brian Hendricks, also showed great athleticism. He ran a 4.54 in the 40 on timing day. A guy who was a pleasant surprise was former running back Jimmy DeAndrea, who we moved to defense. He showed us some positive things. Senior Jake Edmunds is one of the smartest players on our team, and will play at MIKE along with Knapton and DeAndrea. We've recruited well at linebacker, and we feel very good about our group."
Two returning starters and several talented underclassmen should help the Cowboy linebacking corps continue its strong play again in 2008. Senior Dobbs returns at one inside linebacker spot, and he will be joined by senior outside linebacker Juergens as Wyoming's two returning starters at linebacker. Dobbs will enter his senior season with 242 career tackles. He needs only 17 more tackles to break into the UW Career Top 10. He led Wyoming in tackles last season with 98 total tackles. Juergens made 46 total tackles a year ago, and led UW in forced fumbles, with two. Johnson (OLB), while not a starter last season, is the heir apparent at the strongside-linebacking position and brings a wealth of experience into his junior season. The backup to senior Sean Claffey a year ago, Johnson was credited with 26 tackles. Senior Edmunds (No. 2 at middle linebacker) and juniors Whipp (No. 2 at weakside) and Matt Barella (No. 2 at buck) also have experience in the Cowboy defense. A talented quartet of redshirt freshmen are expected to contribute at the four linebacking positions in Wyoming's 3-4 defense. Knapton (ILB) is the projected starter at the middle-linebacker spot. Hendricks (OLB) is listed No. 2 at strongside linebacker. Studnicka (OLB) is listed No. 3 at the buck-linebacking spot, and Mark Oliver (ILB) is listed No. 4 at the weakside-linebacking position. Two individuals who have moved to linebacker this year from other positions are former running back DeAndrea (ILB), listed No. 3 at middle linebacker, and former safety Alex Toney (ILB), listed third at weakside linebacker.
Defensive Linemen: "A year ago, we went into the season starting three relatively inexperienced sophomores in (John) Fletcher, (Fred) Givens and (Mitch) Unrein," said Glenn. "Now they're all back and the D-line is one of our most experienced positions. John (Fletcher) and Mitch (Unrein) had outstanding years last season. They led us in sacks and tackles for losses, and were quite a set of bookends. Unrein didn't receive all the accolades, nor did he have quite as good of stats as Fletcher did last year, but there isn't much difference between the two. Throw Freddy (Givens) into that mix in the middle and you have three guys who proved right away last season that they could play with anyone. Danny (Dutmer) has improved his size and strength and runs well. He and Anthony Wilson both contributed as juniors last season, and will team up with Fletcher at tackle. Rob Hollway is a third senior who played a lot at noseguard for us last year. Marcus Felker is a big dude who was having a great spring until he hurt his ankle, but he's healed up and we expect him to step in at noseguard and compete for playing time. Behind Unrein at defensive end is Mike Neuhaus. Mike made a strong contribution last year on both defense and special teams. We have some other young guys who may push for some playing time. Alex Stover and Alex Hays are both coming off redshirt years, and may challenge for some time this season."
A year ago, the Wyoming defense entered the season with three sophomores slated to start in its 3-4 alignment. Those three sophomores not only started, but they excelled. Led by defensive tackle Fletcher, defensive end Unrein and noseguard Givens, the Cowboy defense ranked No. 22 in the NCAA in total defense and sacks and was No. 27 in rushing defense. Fletcher earned Second Team All-Mountain West Conference honors as a sophomore. He recorded 10.5 sacks on the season to rank No. 11 in the NCAA. He also was credited with 14.0 tackles for losses to rank No. 52 in the nation. Fletcher made 60 total tackles to rank sixth on the Cowboy squad. Unrein earned Honorable Mention All-MWC honors his sophomore season, and MWC Defensive Player of the Week accolades for his performance versus TCU. He ranked right behind Fletcher, with 55 total tackles, to rank seventh for the Cowboys. He ranked eighth in the Mountain West Conference in tackles for losses, with 11.0 and was 10th in sacks with 5.0. Against TCU, Unrein recorded a season high seven tackles, including one TFL and forced one fumble. The third sophomore starter, Givens, tallied 45 total tackles, including 1.0 sack and 4.0 tackles for losses from his noseguard position. The strength of the defensive line doesn't end with the three returning starters. Seniors Dutmer (DT), Hollway (NG) and Wilson (DT), along with junior Neuhaus (DE) all return after making significant contributions last season. You can also throw in the mix redshirt freshmen Felker (NG), Hays (DE) and Stover (DT).
"We have several guys who can return punts, Devin (Moore), C.J. (Chris Johnson), Donate (Morgan), but the individual who stood out the most in spring was Brandon Stewart," said Glenn. "He is strong and can take a hit and maintain his balance. All four have good quickness, speed and the ability to make people miss. These four will probably all return kickoffs. Devin is our most experienced kickoff returner. He finally ran one back for a touchdown (98 yards) in the season finale at CSU.
"Our kicking game still needs to be shored up, and that competition will continue into the fall. Jake (Scott, place-kicker) showed some good things in the fall, but he needs to improve his consistency. Nick (Landess, punter) is entering his third year in our program. This is the time he needs to step forward and mature as a football player. Come fall, we will have Austin McCoy, a freshman with a strong leg competing for the place-kicking duties. We also have a strong-legged punter in Cody Bousema, who joined our program in the summer from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. Healthy competition is good, and I look forward to seeing the competition in the fall. We just need someone to step up at each of these positions and prove they're the one to get the job done."
Wyoming will be looking for both a starting place-kicker and punter this season as former Cowboy Billy Vinnedge served in both roles his senior season of 2007. Vinnedge earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference honors in `07. At place-kicker, Wyoming does return letterman Scott, who battled Vinnedge throughout the fall of 2007 for the starting spot. Scott, now a junior, brings game experience with him as he shared the place-kicking duties his redshirt freshman season of 2006. Scott made two of four field goals in `06, and converted all 12 of his extra-point attempts. Adding competition in the fall for the starting spot will be true freshman McCoy, a big kicker at 6-3 and 190 pounds. McCoy hails from Winter Haven, Fla., and, like Scott, will also compete for the starting punting duties. A leading contender to take over at punter is sophomore Landess from Casper, Wyo. Landess will be entering his third season at UW after walking on to the program in the fall of `06. He was utilized in some onside kick situations for Wyoming last season, but has not attempted a punt in a game for the Cowboys. Bousema will also challenge for the starting punting duties, and brings two years of experience punting at the junior-college level.