LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The second day of fall football practice for the Wyoming Cowboys saw redshirt senior Cameron Coffman bounce back from the flu he suffered on Monday to impress head coach Craig Bohl. Bohl was also impressed with sophomore running back Brian Hill and a number of newcomers.
“I thought we had a good practice today,” said Bohl. “Cam (Coffman) came out and really responded. He was under the weather last night, but he was really sharp today. We’ll watch the tape, but I was impressed with him.
“I also thought Brian Hill really showed some great things today, as well.
“Tavita (Faaiu) at defensive end came across and made some good plays today. Eddie Yarbrough continues to be solid, and I think the transition of D.J. May (from running back to linebacker/nickel) has really been a good one, so we are encouraged about that.”
Bohl was asked to discuss in more detail what he saw from Coffman’s performance at quarterback on Tuesday that most impressed him.
“I thought his reads were really good,” said Bohl. “We installed some more offense, and typically you take some steps back while you’re installing, but Cam seemed to be right on point. Now there are certainly some things that he can improve on, but I thought his decisions were good. He threw the ball better, and he made some down-field throws that were very impressive.”
Faaiu is one of only two junior-college players that Bohl and his staff signed in last year’s recruiting class. The other being sophomore quarterback Josh Allen. Faaiu, who played at City College of San Francisco for two years, was named First Team All-State by the California Community College Football Coaches Association. He was also ranked by 247Sports.com as the 11th best junior college, weak-side defensive end in the country in the 2015 recruiting class. He is a player that may be able to provide immediate help at a position that Bohl and his staff are looking to develop depth.
“We saw today, even though we weren’t in full pads, a little bit more aggressive movement from him (Tavita Faaiu),” said Bohl. “I think some of that is he is starting to find his way. Osi (Siaosi Hala’api’api) and Eddie (Yarbrough) are seasoned, veteran players, but we need more than two guys and probably more than three at defensive end. We have some other guys who played last year -- Seth Edeen being one of those -- but Tavita coming in and showing some good things today is encouraging. Plus he is 250 pounds, so he has some good size on him.”
The Cowboys practiced on the “North 40” grass practice fields on Tuesday. Bohl was asked why the decision was made to utilize the grass fields on select days this fall.
“A couple considerations are the heat index is about 50 degrees cooler (being on grass versus the artificial surface in the stadium) for one,” said Bohl. “I think the biggest reason is for some of our guys who have had major knee reconstruction the grass surface is good for them. We have a very aggressive, long fall camp and as a result of that we want to make sure and do everything we can to keep a D.J. May and Robert Priester out there on the field.”
Sophomore cornerback Priester is one of those Cowboys who is coming off an injury from the 2014 season. Priester entered the starting lineup in the fifth game of his true freshman season a year ago and started for seven consecutive weeks before injuring a knee in the second to last game of the year versus Boise State. That injury forced him to miss the season finale at New Mexico and 2015 spring drills. The native of Tampa, Fla., showed a talent for being a playmaker last season, forcing two fumbles and recovering another fumble while recording 39 tackles in his seven starts. Bohl was asked after Tuesday’s practice how critical Priester’s return is for what is a very young secondary unit.
“He is going to be real valuable,” said Bohl. “We’re thin at that spot in terms of experience. Last year, we went into the first game with two experienced players (seniors Blair Burns and DeAndre Jones), but as the year went on Robert played a lot. Since then he has put on 15 pounds of lean muscle mass, and he is much more confident. It’s going to be important for him to continue to show improvement. Along with that, we’re going to have to find a corner on the other side.”
The Cowboy secondary as a whole is a very young group, and there are a few true freshmen in camp that the Cowboy coaching staff are evaluating early to see if they may be able to make immediate contributions this coming season.
“I thought Andrew Wingard yesterday had a great day at safety,” said Bohl. “There wasn’t as much that I saw today. I think we installed some things that probably made those young guys have to think a little bit more today.
“Davion Freeman and Antonio Hull are young guys who are coming around. Those are the guys who we are really taking a hard look at at cornerback, and we’ll see how the rest of fall camp progresses.”
Wingard was the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Colorado, playing at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada. He was named to the All-Colorado team for all classifications by The Denver Post as a running back. He was also named First Team All-State Class 5A as a running back, defensive back and return specialist as presented by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAANow.com), ColoradoPreps.com and MaxPreps.com. The CHSAA team was selected by Colorado high school coaches.
Hull was ranked by 247Sports.com as a three-star recruit and the No. 77 overall recruit in the state of California as a high school senior. He, like Wingard, was an outstanding high school running back and defensive back. A very versatile athlete at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif. His senior season he rushed for 1,278 yards on 138 carries, had six 100-yard rushing games and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 235 yards and scored two receiving TDs. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 169 yards and threw three TD passes. Hull had 303 yards in kick returns, 223 yards in punt returns, scored one TD on a kickoff return, another TD on a punt return and accounted for 2,039 all-purpose yards. As a defensive back, he recorded 38 tackles.
Freeman was ranked No. 14 on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 recruiting rankings as of July 2014. The Oklahoman also selected Freeman to its 2014 Big All-City Football Team as a kick returner. Freeman was an outstanding cornerback, wide receiver and kick returner at Del City High School in Del City, Okla. He received a three-star rating from 247Sports.com recruiting service, and was ranked by 247Sports as the No. 18 recruit in the state of Oklahoma.
On special teams, the Cowboys began working on some of their punt return and punt coverage units. Bohl was asked if there were some individuals who were early candidates to handle the punt-return duties.
“It is a little bit early, but I do think we need to take a hard look at D.J. (May),” said Bohl. “We need to evaluate his hands, but he has excellent running skills. I think certainly Tanner Gentry and Joe Parker are guys we feel good about back there.”
Other notes on the second day of fall camp included:
- The announcement that true freshman Josh Harshman from Casper, Wyo., was practicing with the Cowboy tight ends. Harshman, who was signed to a scholarship by the Cowboys last February and was originally slotted to play linebacker, helped lead his Natrona County High School team to the 2014 Class 4A State Championship and an undefeated season. He was named to the 2014 Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 Team, and was named the Super 25 Defensive Player of the Year. Harshman was a unanimous selection to the 2014 Wyoming Coaches Association Class 4A All-State team as both a linebacker and an at-large selection on offense where he played quarterback. He was selected to play in the 2015 Shrine Bowl. As a junior in 2013, he was named to the same All-State team on both offense and defense, and in 2012 was part of Natrona County’s undefeated State Championship team.
- Two Cowboy juniors are currently staying involved with the team but from the sideline. Bohl had announced at Mountain West Conference Media Days in Las Vegas in late July that Xavier Lewis, who suffered a stroke last December, would be serving as a student assistant coach this season with the Cowboys. Lewis, who would have been entering his junior season this year, played in 23 games and started two at free safety his first two seasons as a Cowboy. He was a former winner of The Denver Post’s Gold Helmet Award in 2012 at Eaglecrest High School. The Gold Helmet Award signifies the state of Colorado’s top senior football player, scholar and citizen each season. Fellow junior Tanner Simpson from Lander, Wyo., has also been observing from the sidelines. When asked Simpson’s condition, Bohl said that Simpson was trying to rehab from stress fractures in a foot, but his status was doubtful at this time.
The Cowboys return to practice on Wednesday for a 9 a.m. practice. The Pokes practiced in helmets the first two days, and will add shoulder pads on Wednesday. The first full-padded practice is scheduled for Friday.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to 2015 Wyoming Cowboy Football games may go online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets, may call the UW Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or 307-766-4850 or may stop by the ticket office on the west side of UW’s Arena-Auditorium.
2015 University of Wyoming Football Fall Practice Schedule
Monday, Aug. 10- 9:30 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets, Practice #1) 1:00-2:00 p.m. (Media Day Luncheon in Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites) 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Media Day Interviews on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium)
Tuesday, Aug. 11 - 9:00 a.m. (Non-contact, Helmets Practice #2)
Wednesday, Aug. 12 - 9:00 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #3)
Thursday, Aug. 13 - 9:00 a.m. (Shoulder Pads, Practice #4)
Friday, Aug. 14 - 9:00 a.m. (Full Pads, Practice #5)
Saturday, Aug. 15 - 8:50 a.m. (Practice #6) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #7)
Sunday, Aug. 16 - 2:45 p.m. (Practice #8)
Monday, Aug. 17 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #9) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #10)
Tuesday, Aug. 18 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #11)
Wednesday, Aug. 19 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #12) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, Aug. 20 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #14)
Friday, Aug. 21 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #15) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #16)
Saturday, Aug. 22 - 11:00 a.m. (Closed Scrimmage, Practice #17)
Sunday, Aug. 23 - 3:30 p.m. (Practice #18)
Monday, Aug. 24 - 8:50 a.m. (Practice #19) - 3:50 p.m. (Practice #20)
Tuesday, Aug. 25 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #21)
Wednesday, Aug. 26 - 9:50 a.m. (Practice #22)
Thursday, Aug. 27 - 9:00 a.m. (Practice #23)
Friday, Aug. 28 - 9:20 a.m. (Practice #24)
Saturday, Aug. 29 - No practice Monday,
Aug. 31 - First Weekly Press Conference at Noon