Pokes Practice Report: Does Wyoming Finally Have Cornerback Depth?
LARAMIE -- Wyoming rotated just three cornerbacks last fall.
The year prior, CJ Coldon and Azizi Hearn manned the outside. That was the case in 2020, too.
Jakorey Hawkins and Deron Harrell are back in the mix. So is Kolbey Taylor. Junior college transfer Tyrecus Davis, according to the coaching staff, could also make an immediate impact this season.
Craig Bohl was asked about the luxury of having a number of bodies at that spot during spring camp. The Cowboys' veteran head coach isn't getting too comfortable just yet.
"I don't know if we have enough depth yet," Bohl said Thursday inside the High Altitude Performance Center after his team wrapped up its fifth practice. "... I will say this -- I'm not tipping any secrets -- If you can have one dominant corner, you can leverage (some things). You know, just give me one. It would be great to have two dominant ones, but you give me one and we can do some stuff.
"So we're hoping that one of them is going to really rise to the forefront."
That guy could be Taylor.
Bohl has mentioned the 6-foot-2, 186-pound sophomore numerous times this spring. In fact, he opened his press conference, talking about the impression the Houston product has had on him.
"He's a guy that has a tremendous amount of physical ability," he said of Taylor, who appeared in eight games during his second season in Laramie. "He's learning how to play football. He's listening to coaching."
Taylor finished with just three tackles on his stat line in 2022.
You likely don't remember any of those. What you might recall is the one pass breakup that cost him more than three quarters of playing time.
A CJ Harris third-down swing pass to Sam Wiglusz early in the first quarter resulted in a helmet-to-helmet hit that sent Taylor to an early shower. It also gave Ohio an automatic first down. One play later the Bobcats were in the end zone.
"It was gut-wrenching," Bohl said. "I think we all know how close that game was."
Ohio eventually pulled off the 30-27 overtime victory on a 10-yard scoring strike to tight end Tyler Foster.
"It was tough," Bohl continued. "I think Kolbey is going to learn from that. You know that, OK, this is when you're about ready to engage and that would have been completely preventable. He could have done something different. I think it's a learning moment for him. Unfortunately, I think it had an impact on a game like that."
Here are some other tidbits from Bohl's meeting with the press:
* The Cowboys suffered yet another injury setback in camp. This time, it was one of the guys mentioned above. Hawkins, who transferred to UW from Ole Miss last winter, will miss the rest of camp after undergoing shoulder surgery. The Cowboys are also without linebackers Easton Gibbs, Shae Suiaunoa and Cole DeMarzo. The Pokes are thin on the offensive line. Bohl said only seven linemen suited up Thursday. One of the players missing time, though has been medically cleared to participate, is right tackle Frank Crum.
* Connor Shay, per Bohl, could be competing for a starting linebacker spot this fall. Gibbs is solidified in the middle, but Aaron Bohl, UW's linebackers coach, said the transition from the middle -- which Shay is lining up at right now in camp -- is much easier to the outside than the other way around. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior is taking full advantage of the extra reps with so many starters on the mend. Stay tuned to 7220sports.com for a feature on Shay.
* Bohl said the coaching staff is giving Evan Svoboda ample opportunity to solidify the back-up quarterback spot. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound sophomore transfer from Snow College is making "real progress," Bohl said. "Evan is a guy who we felt like had a real strong arm, but his refinement to play the quarterback position wasn't there ... There's going to be competition there. But, right now, you know, we're giving quite a bit of work to Andrew (Peasley), Evan is getting some and Jayden (Clemons) is getting the rest."
* Wyoming has two scholarship punters: Clayton Stewart and Ralph Fawaz. Is that an open competition? "I would say Clayton's got the edge right now," Bohl said. "It's great to have Ralph back ... He's probably our second-team punter right now." Stewart was the third-leading punter in the Mountain West Conference a season ago, averaging 44.1 yards per boot.
* Aren't we all waiting for Alex Brown to take off? If you're like me -- and Bohl -- you might have thought that moment was on the horizon after the then-sophomore hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass in a 14-13 victory over Border War rival Colorado State. That wasn't exactly the case. The 6-foot-4, 199-pound wide out would catch just three more passes over the final trio of games, all of which came in the Arizona Bowl. "I think it's his time to shine," Bohl said bluntly, adding that Brown has been limited this spring with a foot injury. "You know, he can really stretch the field. When he was younger, he was just as fast as that other guy (Isaiah Neyor). So, he's also a guy that, confidence is important. You know, I think he went through a transition where some days just weren't a chamber-of-commerce day. Certainly that play against CSU was a big play and I think it's going to add more to his inventory of confidence and will be fun. He's a big, tall target out there with a great catch radius." Brown caught six passes for 69 yards and that lone touchdown in 2022.
* Remember when Bohl kept it top secret who his running back would be during the Arizona Bowl with DQ James and Dawaiian McNeely out for the year with injuries, Titus Swen freshly booted from the program and Joey Braasch already in the NCAA Transfer Portal? In case you need a refresher, the player who transitioned into the backfield was linebacker Sam Scott. Well, the staff liked what they saw during that sample size and now that move is permanent. Stay tuned to 7220sports.com for a full story on Scott.
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