LARAMIE -- Is Evan Svoboda in line to become Wyoming's next starting quarterback?

Jay Sawvel didn't hesitate.

"He is the starting quarterback," the newly hired head coach said. "Now, people can compete -- the best players are going to play -- but I told him, 'this is your show.'"

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Svoboda's grin said it all.

"It means everything," said the sophomore, who appeared in eight games last fall, including making a spot start at then No. 4 Texas. "You know, I'm looking forward to almost everything this offseason. So, it's going to be fun. It's going to be a fun experience and I'm looking forward to it."

Svoboda has two years of eligibility remaining.

After serving as the third-string quarterback during the 2022 season, the Snow College (Utah) transfer was given every opportunity last offseason to secure the back-up role behind Andrew Peasley.

He took full advantage.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Mesa, Arizona product stepped under center in the opener, carrying the ball three times for just eight yards in a 35-33 double-overtime win over visiting Texas Tech.

Two weeks later, he was named the starter after Peasley suffered an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder.

Svoboda connected on 17-of-28 throws for 136 yards in front of more than 100,000 fans inside Austin's Darrell K. Royal Stadium. The Longhorns scored 21 unanswered points over the final 14:12 -- including a Jerrin Thompson touchdown on a 27-yard interception return -- to break a 10-10 tie.

Texas went on to win the Big XII and punch its ticket to the upcoming College Football Playoff.

"It gives me all the confidence in the world, especially to go start in Austin," he said. "After that game, I was like, I went in there and I played against the No. 4 team in the country, at the time, and I did fairly well. You know, moving forward, you're just like, 'what can you not do?'

"You just have to keep playing and have fun."

 

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That outing didn't just serve as a confidence builder for Svoboda, either.

"He did phenomenal." Wyoming safety Wyett Ekeler said. "He made a couple of mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. I mean, it was his first start and he kept us in the game for three-and-a-half quarters. That says a lot about a guy. For your first start, going against a freaking powerhouse like Texas and doing what he did, power to him."

Svoboda completed 22-of-36 passes for 184 yards this season. He also rushed for 54 yards, including 42 on seven attempts over the final two games. In a 42-9 rout of Hawaii, he rumbled 18 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

"Man, Evan has come a long way," said Peasley, who will remain the Cowboys starting QB in the upcoming Arizona Bowl. "I'm just very happy for him. You know, he came in here as pretty much a freshman and he didn't know s---. Seeing him today, you know, being able to make football plays and understand the game of football, it's pretty impressive.

"There have been two quarterbacks that I've been around that I think have a crazy amount of talent: One was (starting QB of the Green Bay Packers) Jordan Love and Evan. The way the ball comes out of his hands, his size, his mobility, I'm excited for him."

Why was this such an easy decision for the rookie head coach? Sawvel said it's Svoboda's makeup.

"I think he has a great skillset," he added. "I think he's got a great attitude and he's got a great work ethic. I don't think he has a huge background of experience, right? That's our job to provide that. I've talked to him about that.

"I've got a solid relationship with him. He'll be really good, in time. I like what he can bring."

Only Abilene Christian and Illinois State -- two FCS programs -- offered Svoboda out of Red Mountain High School. The COVID-19 pandemic did him little favors in the recruiting arena, despite throwing for 1,286 yards and 13 touchdowns in just seven games during his senior campaign.

It's been well documented that he wanted to come to Wyoming. Why? Josh Allen.

Svoboda definitely looks the part. He even wears that famed No. 17 jersey.

Now, it's his time.

"It's everything you want to hear," he said with a smile, referring to his initial conversations with Sawvel. "It just brings all the confidence in the world to me."

Wyoming Cowboys Football: 2023 Season in Photos

Our 7220sports.com photographer DJ Johnson is on the sideline at every Wyoming football game. Rain, shine -- and everything in between -- you're likely to find him scouring stadiums around the country looking for "the shot." Take a look at some of DJ's highlights during the 2023 campaign.

Gallery Credit: DJ Johnson photos

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