Isaiah Neyor could be ‘go-to guy’ for Pokes this fall
LARAMIE -- There's plenty to like about Isaiah Neyor's first season in a Wyoming uniform.
For one, he could've been the nation's leading receiver when it comes to the yards-per-catch category. He averaged 31 per snag. Unfortunately for him, eight catches weren't quite enough to be in the running.
Neyor made a splash early on. His first career catch was a 54-yarder late in the first quarter in the season opener against Nevada. The freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, finished his night in Reno with three grabs for 102 yards.
He followed that up with a 77-yard night against Border War Rival Colorado State.
It was one play that night in Fort Collins, however, that has stuck with him.
"You know, I just made a play and I got excited. I let that excitement get the best of me," Neyor said of a 37-yard catch four plays into the second half with the Cowboys trailing 24-14. "I mean, I watched that game on YouTube a lot and it just stings a little, but I let it go. You know, just a young player, making a big play and just getting excited."
The issue wasn't the catch, which left the Cowboys inside the Rams' 20-yard line, it was the celebration that followed. Neyor stood up and spun the ball on the ground, drawing a yellow hanky from the nearest official.
Instead of a first down inside the red zone, Wyoming was moved back to the 33. Five plays later, Nick Null botched the snap of the punt and CSU took over on the Cowboys' side of the 50.
The home team didn't score any points on the following possession, but Wyoming's drive was prematurely thwarted with a chance to bring the score to single digits. CSU would go on to win the game, 34-24.
"I wasn't expecting to get the penalty," Neyor said. "But, it's a lesson learned."
Every time the media has spoken with UW head coach Craig Bohl this spring, Neyor's name inevitably comes up. He's been making plays and raising eyebrows in practice. In the Cowboys' scrimmage Saturday, Neyor even blocked a punt. He said he nearly did that twice -- he wanted one more shot.
"Man, I've been looking forward to that for a long time," he said with a smile. "... I had to go back and get it. I got my start right and I got the punt block. Hopefully I can do that on Saturday."
Neyor talked about the team's chemistry this spring. A new offense under Tim Polasek got off to a slow start, but Neyor said things are starting to click. As far as the receiving corps, position coach and newly named passing-game coordinator, Mike Grant, said 2020 was about Neyor getting his feet wet.
This year, Grant expects more results on the field.
"He's doing a fine job here in the offseason right now, continuing to develop," Grant said back in February. "He needs to be a little bit more physical. He's a physical specimen and I think he can use that to his advantage."
Grant added that the redshirt year in 2019 is starting to pay dividends.
"For him to have the year that he had, as far as yards per catch, he just holds a bright future," he said. "He's got the right attitude. You know, most receivers want the ball. He does that, but he's also a good teammate and a team player, right now.
"We'll just do whatever it takes to have those opportunities come his way."
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So will Neyor.
Was catching just eight balls in five games maddening? You bet. Neyor is working to rectify that.
He said Tuesday night that he plans to play a much bigger role in the short and medium passing game. The long ball, yeah, that's his specialty, but he knows he needs to have more tools in his belt. His goal is to become an all-around receiver, whether that's blocking, the screen game or over the middle.
Being a "one-hit wonder" may have hurt Neyor during his recruiting process. Wyoming was his lone offer despite hauling in 39 passes for 858 yards and eight receiving touchdowns as a senior at Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas.
"Man, that put a chip on my shoulder right there," said Neyor, who racked up 248 yards receiving and finished with one carry for 58 yards in 2020. "I went to camps -- a lot of camps -- just to try to get an opportunity to show the coaches what I can do and it just didn't go in my favor. So, I'm really thankful that Wyoming believed in me. They believed in my talents to take it to the next level, because it's something that really motivated me not being able to be that superstar in high school or not getting that much attention like everybody else did."
With Gunner Gentry expected to miss several months with a knee injury and Ayden Eberhardt the lone senior wide receiver on the roster, Neyor is not only being asked to be a playmaker on the outside, he will be leaned on to a lead a unit of inexperienced talent, four of which are from his home state.
It's a role Neyor said he is looking forward to.
"All the guys in our room, you know, we have a bond together," he said. "Just being able to just help them -- just help each other. I learn from those guys and they learn from me. Just being able to elevate each other's game, I'm glad to be around a group of guys like this."
He said expect more than eight catches this fall, too.
"As long as I feel like I'm doing what I can to contribute to the team success, then that's all that matters," he said.