How Important Was Wyoming’s In-House Hire?
LARAMIE -- Wyoming currently has six players in the NCAA Transfer Portal.
It could've been a lot more if Tom Burman didn't handpick defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel as Craig Bohl's replacement.
"I feel like if we were to hire someone outside of the program that we didn't know, I feel like a lot of guys would have been most likely in the portal just because there's a lot of unknown," safety Wyett Ekeler said. "But having someone like Sawvell come in here, it reassures us that we're going to be the same team next year. So, it's awesome."
Ekeler isn't the only Cowboy convinced a new face could've caused an exodus.
"I think that's a really big deal in today's age of college football," said starting quarterback Andrew Peasley, adding he loves the Sawvel hire. "I think if you get a new staff, half of this team would leave. I think you'd have a bunch of transfers coming in and it would just be a totally different culture. It would be weird.
"So, I think what they did was really good, and I have full faith in Sawvel to be a really good head coach. I'm excited for this team next year."
Peasley, of course, is out of eligibility, but he is speaking from experience.
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Blake Anderson was hired at Utah State when Peasley was a redshirt sophomore in Logan. Coming from Arkansas State, Anderson went heavy in the portal, bringing in double-digit players, including his own signal caller Logan Bonner.
The Aggies rattled off 11 victories and won the Mountain West Conference that season. Peasley, who was no longer in the future plans, left the program and eventually landed in Laramie in the winter of 2022.
Since, Utah State has a 12-13 record.
Burman said he looked at all options when considering the 33rd head coach in Wyoming history -- in the building and out. The school's longtime athletics director ultimately decided on continuity despite the fact Sawvel has never been a head coach at any level.
"What it all came back down to was, we have a really good thing going here and we are really, really close," Burman said, adding it wouldn't have been in the program's best interest to rock the boat too much. "We just have to find a way to move the needle slightly higher and get back into that Mountain West Conference championship game."
Sawvel, like Bohl, said he won't build his roster through the transfer portal. He added a "surgical strike" here and there -- like bringing in Harrison Waylee, Ayir Asante and few others -- to supplement the developmental aspect.
"If we sit there and say we're going to heavily rely on building our team through the transfer portal, I think most people would be pretty disappointed in the results, long term," he said. "... That's not going to be who we are. I mean, we're not going to change the blueprint of what we are, because I believe in that blueprint."
Pokes in the Portal
Kolbey Taylor - Cornerback - Vanderbilt
* Keelan Cox - Defensive end
DQ James - Running back
* Chase Locke - Wide receiver
Cayden Hawkins - Linebacker
* Brady Hultman - Linebacker
* Never played