3 Quick takes: Bohl & Co. loving the Lone Star State
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl didn't venture into Texas during his first five seasons as the head coach at Wyoming.
In 2018, Raghib Ismail Jr. did land on the roster. The Irving native was a junior college transfer though.
Why wouldn't you head to football Mecca to find your next crop of stars in Laramie? Just take a look at the track record.
Bohl sure did.
The last time a recruiting class at UW was loaded with Texans came back in 2011. That was during Dave Christensen's tenure. If you aren't a hardcore fan of this team, you'd be hard-pressed to recall one name out of the nine who put pen to paper that February day.
Well, aside from maybe Josh Doctson. He did go on to become a first-round NFL draft pick in 2016. That's after he put up a few incredible seasons at Texas Christian University.
"The previous staff had tons of attrition," said Bohl, referring to why he didn't recruit the Lone Star State until 2019. "So, as a result of that, I had some resistance. Some of our staff members were the ones that really actually kind of talked me into going back down there -- not me, but us -- to go back down there."
Out of the 17 players the Cowboys secured during Wednesday's early signing period, six come from Texas. Last year, five did. The year prior, seven.
Blowing off that talent-rich state has become a thing of the past, and the Pokes are better for it.
- Levi Williams
- Titus Swen
- Isaiah Neyor
- Shae Suiaunoa
- Alex Brown
- Joshua Cobbs
- Cameron Stone
Those are just a few examples of the players who have seen playing time from the past three recruiting class. Not just time, but in the case of Williams, an Arizona Bowl championship that saw the young quarterback throw for three touchdown passes and run for another.
Swen showed flashes of his burst and power in 2019.
Neyor was an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention after snagging 248 yards worth of passes as a redshirt freshman this past fall. His 31 yards per catch would've ranked him No. 1 in the nation in that category if he had just four more receptions.
Players like Brown, Cobbs and Devin Jennings haven't scratches the surface at the wide receiver position yet.
"Once we were down there, I think what's really been important for us to do is find the right guy, find the right makeup, and then to reengage with some of the relationships that we've had in the past," said Bohl, who said he "cut his teeth" recruiting the state as a young coach. "... So, we were well received. And each year, you know, our name and our brand has been out there a little bit more. So, we're well pleased with the guys that we have."
Wyoming has had its fair share of standouts from deep in the heart of Texas. Patrick Chukwurah comes to mind. So does Robbie Duncan, Chase Appleby, Alvester Alexander, Lucas Wacha, Wynel Seldon, Tashaun and Marcel Gipson, Marqueston Huff, and many, many others.
This year, you might have heard, has been odd, to put it mildly. The same goes for recruiting. Bohl and his staff relied heavily on game film. Phone calls and Zoom meetings was where the vetting process took place.
Typically, Bohl himself would be standing on a different high school sideline every Friday night during the fall.
Obviously, that didn't happen.
So, while there has been a point of emphasis on Texas in recent years, Bohl said the recruiting numbers might not always be this high. It's really no mystery why it was this season.
California didn't have a high school football season. Neither did Illinois. Those are typical hotbeds for this staff.
"It's good high school football," Bohl said of Texas. "... This has been a good year for us."
READ MORE ABOUT UW'S 2021 CLASS:
Where are all the Greenies?
The top-two tacklers in Wyoming history -- Galand Thaxton and Andrew Wingard -- are from Colorado. So are three of the Cowboys' top-five wide receivers in the record books. Those guys are Jovon Bouknight, Wendell Montgomery and Tanner Gentry.
Heck, the all-timer leading scorer in the program's history is from right down the road in Longmont. John Hoyland -- also from south of the border -- was a nice surprise during his first season as the Pokes' placekicker, but he has a long way to go to catch Cooper Rothe.
The list of Colorado guys to wear brown and gold goes on. And on. And on. It's an impressive one, too.
So, where on earth are the Coloradans in this 2021 recruiting class at?
Last winter, seven of them signed on the dotted line. Today, one. That guy is Zaire Jackson, a 5-foot, 11-inch, 170-pound defensive back from Valor Christian High School in the Denver metro area.
"Well, there's only one guy that we felt like was above the line and that was bought in," Bohl said of Jackson. "... Some years, we have not signed as many. You know, there's some years and we've given a great number of scholarships. This year, it just didn't meet that threshold.
"We felt like it was important not to dip below the line."
The Cowboys didn't snag a single recruit from that state in 2019. Last year, seven were picked up, including Cameron Smith (Defensive end) and Keshaun Taylor (safety), who have since entered the transfer portal.
What does it all mean? Not much.
Unlike Texas, Colorado's high school football season was on and off again as a result of the virus. Valor Christian, Jackson's school, did play a full season.
Why wouldn't I worry about the lack of green license plates heading to Laramie next fall? Two words: Marty English.
The Cowboys' defensive ends coach has made a career out of recruiting Colorado players. He doesn't just find them in metro Denver either. He finds the gems on the plains, in dusty cow towns and in the mountains.
Guys like Brian Hendricks, Mitch Unrein, Mike Purcell, Eddie Yarbrough, Gabe Knapton, John Fletcher and Dusty Hoffschneider, among others.
If there's a player worth snagging, my money is on English finding him.
It sounds like Bohl and Co. are plenty happy with the stable of quarterbacks they have on the current roster.
They didn't pick one up in this recruiting cycle, though they still could nab one on the traditional February signing date.
One thing Bohl said he isn't going to do is sign a signal caller just to do it.
"He was going to need to fit into what we felt like would be worth the scholarship," Bohl said.
Because of the extra year granted by the NCAA, Sean Chambers will still be a sophomore. Williams will be a redshirt freshman. Gavin Beerup will keep his true freshman status. So will Hank Gibbs.
If Chambers is healthy, things look a lot different for this group. If Williams, who started five of the Cowboys' six games this fall, takes a step forward in his progression, Wyoming could be in a really good spot at that position. Heck, even Beerup saw valuable minutes.
That could all pay off down the stretch.
"You know, we felt pretty good about our depth," Bohl said. "But we'll see about adding another one. So, we just did not feel compelled to just sign somebody to sign somebody. They didn't fit our needs."