LARAMIE -- Wyatt Wieland is gone. So is Ryan Marquez, Gunner Gentry and Ayir Asante. Wyoming's top pass-catching tight end, Treyton Welch, also exhausted his eligibility.

"It's time to step up now."

Those words came from Jaylen Sargent. The junior receiver rattled off all those names above, referring to them as the "core."

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That's an understatement.

Those five guys accounted for 111 catches, 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. The wideouts who are returning? Those numbers plummet to 637 yards and four scores on just 47 grabs.

Sargent is responsible for just one of those. That was a 15-yard gain in a Week-2 win over Portland State.

Former head coach Craig Bohl said prior to the 2021 season that Sargent could be a true freshman who could step in and make an immediate impact. The Logan, Utah product instead never left the bench that season, preserving his redshirt status.

Since, he has hauled in just three-career passes for 27 yards.


Sargent immediately pointed to his weight. He arrived on campus, weighing 170 pounds. Four years later, his 6-foot-2 frame is carrying 12 additional pounds of muscle. That, Sargent said, was his main focus this offseason.

"I feel like that part right there was kind of holding me back," he said. "Then it was locking in with some plays. I still believe that I could have contributed last year a little bit more, but this year needs to change."



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Caleb Merritt is another wide receiver who has yet to find his role on this roster.

The sophomore, like Sargent, closed the book on his 2023 campaign with just one catch. That came in a home victory over New Mexico. It went for seven yards. He has just two-career grabs during his two-plus seasons in Laramie.

The St. Louis product was one of the prime prospects in the 2022 class, receiving interest from the likes of Big XII programs like Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State. Even Purdue kicked the tires. So did Navy and a host of Ivy League schools.

Merritt's reasoning has little to do with weight gain or the playbook.

"I've just had a lot of talented guys in front of me, you know, and that's going to be the case at all of these Division-I schools, especially with the COVID-year guys and people in six and seven years," said the former three-star recruit, who stands 5-foot-11 and tips the scales at 187 pounds. "I love them around because I get all the experience for free. I got six years of experience with only being here for two or three years, which is awesome.

"But at the same time, that means that you are going to have to wait a little bit longer to come into your role. That's nothing that I've been upset about. You just use it to your strength and use the guys that know what they're doing and try and learn as much as you can for them."

While those two hope 2024 is their chance to breakout, first-year head coach Jay Sawvel was blunt in his assessment.

"It's their time," he said. "Look, you need to do it, you know what I mean? It's time."

Sawvel said Sargent and Merritt possess all the intangibles to get it done, too.

"I think Jalen Sargent has had a really good offseason. I think his weight is up, his strength numbers are up and he looks healthy. I'm excited to see him get started," he added. "Caleb Merritt is a guy that works as hard as anybody in the program. So, you know, I think those two in particular, this turns into a big spring."

Alex Brown is back for his sixth season in the receiver room. He's joined by veterans Will Pelissier and Devin Boddie Jr. Wyoming has added pieces, both from the outside and the high school ranks.

TK King, a Texas Tech transfer, is now in the mix, along with 6-foot-4 Jaylan Bean, who last season played at Garden City Community College (Kan.). So are youngsters like Justin Stevenson, Kaden LaFramboise, Bricen Brantley and others.

Jay Johnson takes the reins of the Cowboys' offense after a four-year stint at Michigan State. The new coordinator is still getting used to faces, names and skill sets. The guys on the outside are still trying to nail down this no-name offense that Johnson refers to as "multiple."

Sawvel said after these 15 spring practices, the staff will list the playmakers 1-10. He said the top five need to be on the field the most, ball in hand.



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Early returns on this new scheme have Sargent and Merritt feeling optimistic that they can crack that lineup.

"I really like coach Johnson, like just his offense and the way that he carries himself," Sargent said. "You can just tell he really wants to see us do good things. Our offense is very fast paced -- It's very fast paced -- and he told us it wasn't going to be easy. But, at the same time, he's still teaching us really good things that we can use on the field and we can see that."

"He's really passionate," Merritt added. "I like him a lot, especially in the way he talks about football, you can tell that he knows what he's talking about. I love (former offensive coordinator Tim Polasek), but it's good to have a breath of fresh air, you know, just so that way everyone can reevaluate the offense, slow everything down and get a new perspective. You can see spots where we were weak before that other people can't see all the time. So, I think it's overall a positive thing."

Sargent and Merritt played a fierce game of rock, paper, scissors last Thursday to determine who would talk to the media first. The latter lost. Sargent, though, got the final word.

Is it really their time?

"Just being on the sideline last year, you know, you just always sit there and you're like, 'Man, I can't wait for my chance,'" he said. "But when it does come, you have to be prepared. So, we're just going to keep our heads down and keep working, but I have talked to Caleb and we're both very excited."

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