Cowboys Take Field for First Fall Practice
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The 2023 Wyoming Cowboy Football team took to the practice field for the first time this fall for a Wednesday morning practice in War Memorial Stadium.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, with temperatures in the high 60s under partly cloudy skies. It also marked the Cowboys’ first practice on their new beautiful FieldTurf Vertex CORE playing surface that was installed on Jonah Field at War Memorial this summer.
The Pokes practiced in spiders for the first day of fall camp. They will practice in either spiders or 1/2 pads through next Monday during the NCAA acclimation period. The first day of full pads will be Tuesday Aug. 8.
It was the first practice for several of Wyoming’s new incoming freshmen and transfer student-athletes. The practice consisted of 24, five-minute periods including three periods of 7-on-7 passing competition and two separate five-period segments of 11-on-11 team drills.
The 2023 season opener for the Cowboys is exactly one month away on Sept. 2 versus Texas Tech in a 5:30 p.m. kickoff from Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium.
“It was a good first day,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “We certainly have more work to do, but our football team looks more mature, which they are. We’ve had a good summer, and many times I’ve felt like about half your games are decided by how your team has worked through the summer.
“Some of the things I noticed today -- first of all at quarterback Andrew Peasley has put on some good weight and his arm strength has gotten a little bit better. It was great to see Dawaiian (McNeely, running back) out there. He’s moving well. Over on the defense, even though we were not in pads today, I thought our defensive front was pretty impressive. Cole Godbout is back. We’ve got Jordan Bertagnole and Gavin (Meyer) and we’re looking for a fourth inside guy. On the outside, it’s great to have several of our defensive ends back. Sabastian (Harsh) being back is certainly adding some great maturity. DeVonne (Harris) is on the other side and Braden Siders -- all those guys are good players and we’re looking for a fourth guy there.
“I was particularly pleased with our two transfer receivers (Ayir Asante and Devin Boddie Jr.). I think they’re going to add some value as we go through the season. They’ll certainly need to learn our system, but I’m pleased with that. I was also pleased with Jamari (Ferrell, running back), who we added as a junior-college guy from California this summer.
“I think our strength and conditioning staff has done a really good job over the course of the summer. We’ve added more resources in nutrition, and we just look better on the hoof.”
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Bohl was asked if he thought the two transfer wide receivers could become contributors right away.
“I was cautiously optimistic about what they would add today,” said Bohl. “Both of them are intelligent. That is encouraging because they’ve been able to translate that intelligence to better execution of our playbook. Our playbook is pretty complex, and there is going to be more that we’ll add. But my initial assessment was that I was really encouraged. We’re going to take a hard look at them. Both of them needed to graduate from Holy Cross (Asante) and Vanderbilt (Boddie Jr.) -- two really impressive institutions. We’re glad they have their degrees and that was part of the agreement we made when we recruited them.”
Bohl was questioned about the atmosphere around his team on the first day of fall practice, Bohl replied, “The first day guys are always pretty amped up. It will be interesting to see where we’re at practice 14 and 15 when we’re in the midst of a grind. We did talk about that in our team meeting today that it is important to be a good teammate and encouraging one another to be able to push through those difficult times. There was a lot of camaraderie today. Guys competed hard today but there weren’t a lot of individual acts -- they were playing as a team. It was a good first step today.”
When asked if he thought his team had added motivation entering the 2023 season after losing some close games at the end of the 2022 season, Bohl said, “Every year is a new year. Our players have a great deal of respect for Texas Tech and all our non-conference opponents on this year’s schedule. We do have a bad taste in our mouth -- we played some good teams at the end (of the ‘22 season) -- but we wanted to finish stronger.”
Running Back Talent Returns
A couple of the offensive players that Bohl spoke about on Wednesday were veteran running backs McNeely and D.Q. James, who both have been productive runners for the Cowboys and will be looked to as key contributors in 2023.
“Dawaiian (McNeely) is a talented football player,” said Bohl. “He’s always produced but he’s had a hard time being able to finish off a year because of injuries. He has made a pointed effort to put on some lean muscle mass and some bulk. He’s as heavy as he has ever been, which we believe is going to help him. His numbers have still been good and he was moving around really well today.”
James is also coming back from injury that caused him to miss the final three games of the 2022 season and all of ‘23 spring practice, but he had a couple big games for the Cowboys in his redshirt freshman season of 2022. He ran for 120 yards in a home win over Utah State and exploded for 179 yards in a road win at Hawai’i.
“D.Q. practiced today. He made a really nice cut on a play,” added Bohl. “He and Easton (Gibbs) were in a one-on-one situation -- I’m not going to say who won -- but it was good to see him out there. Initially, we didn’t know if he would be able to start practice on day one, but he was able to be out there. He’s not cleared for full contact, but it’s good to get him back on the practice field.”
Highly Rated Young Quarterbacks in Camp
At the quarterback position, Bohl was asked about two young players in true freshman Kaden Anderson and redshirt freshman Carson May.
Anderson enrolled early at the University of Wyoming, joining the Cowboy Football program in January of 2023. Due to him recovering from surgery, he was unable to participate in 2022 spring practice but he was out on the practice field for Wednesday’s first fall practice. Anderson comes from one of the most successful high school football programs in the state of Texas -- Southlake Carroll. Several high level college quarterbacks came out of Southlake Carroll, including former Missouri QB Chase Daniel, former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy and current University of Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers.
May transferred to Wyoming in the summer of 2023 after redshirting the 2022 season at the University of Iowa of the Big Ten. May is originally from Jones, Okla., where he was a four-star rated quarterback by Rivals.
Rivals also ranked May as the No. 13 pro-style high school quarterback recruit in the 2022 recruiting class.
“We’re really encouraged about Kaden Anderson,” said Bohl. “He is someone we’re going to be bringing along slowly, but the future looks extremely bright for him if you look at the (high school) program that he’s from and the trajectory that he was on. We made a predetermined decision for him to count this year, even though he’s not going to be cleared for contact. The quarterback position in our system is so complex. We did not know if he would be able to go out and participate some this year, but he was able to do that today. We didn’t have many team settings in today’s practice, but it was good to have him out there and it was good to have Carson (May) out there, as well.”
While it was only the first day of fall camp, the question was posed to Bohl if he thought any freshmen might be able to compete for playing time this year, to which Bohl responded, “I’m going to be a little bit reserved on that, but here would be the pecking order. For a freshman to play, one we have to have a positional need, number two is they have to have athleticism and the third component is they have to have the a maturity to handle playing as a freshman. Occasionally, there is a guy who shows that. I think regarding that first criteria I mentioned -- we have more depth than we had last year and so we’re not as pressed to fill a need. But there are going to be a couple spots that I’ve talked about -- corner being one of them where a freshman may have an opportunity or as a receiver.
"The defensive tackle group in our freshman class is really impressive, and so while that is a position where you’re down there in the middle of a street fight and sometimes as a freshman you might have a hard time handling that, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from that group.”
The Cowboys will practice again on Thursday in a morning practice at the North 40 practice fields.
Tickets to the 2023 Season
Fans interested in purchasing tickets to the 2023 Wyoming Football season may: go online at www.GoWyo.com/tickets; email email@example.com; call the UW Athletics Ticket Office at (307) 766-7220; or stop by the ticket office on the west side of UW’s Arena-Auditorium. Season tickets start as low as $170 and single-game tickets start as low as $20 for adults.