Pokes Practice Report: Be Careful When You Question Loyalty
LARAMIE -- Loyalty is a word that gets thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to the new age of the NCAA Transfer Portal.
Fans are quick to question that when a player enters his name into college football's version of free agency. While it appears one is turning his back on the school -- or in Wyoming's case, the state -- that isn't always the case.
In fact, more times than not, it's the coach's decision.
"Yes, what you said is exactly right," Craig Bohl said on Tuesday during the first of his bi-weekly press conferences. "One of the things I've tried to do -- and you guys have probably much more, I guess, attentiveness to the outside world -- we do what we think is in (our) best interests. As I said earlier, I have had to evolve as a head football coach. You know, much was said, 'OK, coach isn't going to change.' I'm not saying that we've changed our DNA, but we're evolving to what's going on. It's a new lay of the land and we need to get our football team ready to go and, you know, have a heck of a 2023 season."
Loyalty is important to Bohl, too. That's why, he said, wide receiver and special teams standout, Ryan Marquez, is going on scholarship.
Marquez threw for 6,467 yards and 55 Touchdowns during his three seasons under center at Pomona High School in the Denver Area. He led his team to a 5A state championship and was named All-State in the process. He came to Laramie in 2018 as a quarterback.
That was short lived.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS VIA 7220SPORTS:
He's served as a gunner on the punt team, held kicks and is now catching passes. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior snagged a career-high four balls for 38 yards in the Arizona Bowl. He also blocked a key punt at home against Tulsa. For good measure, he even picked it up and waltzed into the end zone during that wild 40-37 double-overtime victory.
"That's one of the neatest things that I have an opportunity to do is pull a guy over and say, 'You know what, you've earned this,'" Bohl said. "I think sometimes there's a tendency to want to reach out and go for somebody else when you have a guy here that has done the right things and shown they have the ability to make plays and win for us.
"While he was going to be loyal and stay on our team no matter what, to do the right thing is to put him on scholarship. That's all part of building this locker room."
The number of former Cowboys in the portal -- 16 -- is jarring. That is if you take it at face value. Consider this, three of those players were full-time starters last fall: Cam Stone, Joshua Cobbs and Emmanuel Pregnon.
Eleven rarely saw the field, if at all.
Since the spring portal window opened on April 15, Wyoming has lost seven players. Here is the full breakdown:
^ - WR - Gavin Beerup
^ - RB - Jordon Vaughn
^ OL - Deshawn Woods
^ WR - Evan Hiremath
* OL - Emmanuel Pregnon
^ DE - Caden Becker
^ QB - Hank Gibbs
^ OL - Mykel Janise (Louisiana Tech)
^ DE - Akili Bonner
^ WR - Tyrese Grant
^ OL - Jagger Filippone
# RB - Joey Braasch
^ CB - Zaire Jackson
* WR - Joshua Cobbs (Houston)
* CB - Cam Stone (Hawaii)
# DE - Oluwaseyi Omotosho (Oregon State)
* Full-time starters in 2022 at UW
^ Saw limited -- if any -- action in 2022 at UW
# Served in a reserve role in 2022 at UW
Here are some other tidbits from Bohl's meeting with the media Tuesday:
* The Cowboys had a major dress rehearsal last Saturday afternoon. What did Bohl learn? This team has some depth. One name that came to mind was Andrew Johnson. The Cheyenne product has yet to see the field during his two seasons in Laramie, but that could be changing real soon. "While he has not established himself as a starter, he is, you know, starting to show some promise," Bohl said of the sophomore safety. "You know, he's a guy from Cheyenne Central and had good test scores, but hadn't really shown it on the football field."
* Speaking of Johnson, he might have found himself in the mix at the nickel spot behind Wrook Brown. Same can be said for Buck Coors. Bohl said that is a position starving for depth. "If you look, I think the last seven games last year we had Wrook, Isaac (White) and Wyett (Ekeler) For seven games," he reiterated, talking about his safety unit and nickel position. "... We got to be deeper."
* A new rule is being implemented this fall in college football. The clock now will continue to run after a team secures a first down. That is unless it's in the final two minutes of the half or game. Last year the clock would stop to move the chains. The thought is the new rule will cut down time, which in turn could limit injuries. Bohl said there is no data to support either one of those claims, and he sits on the rules committee. "I mean, just call it what it is -- we want to shorten the game," he said. Is this about fitting into television windows? Bohl laughed and said he doesn't care about that, aside from this little fact. "TV is paying part of my salary, I know that," he joked.
* Caleb Driskill will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a knee injury, Bohl said. The fullback from Gillette was injured in practice last week but an MRI revealed he won't need any offseason surgery.
* Wyoming's annual spring game is scheduled to kickoff at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon inside War Memorial Stadium.
* What should you expect from that game? "Great energy and class," Bohl said. He added this game is for the players to put on the uniform, run out of the tunnel, play in front of fans and live officiating, especially the rookies. "I encourage our fans to come out and have a chance to embrace this football team," he said. "They're going to like this team. I personally like it, as well."