There’s a new No. 30 in town
LARAMIE -- If all goes to plan Thursday night, another No. 30 in a Wyoming uniform could trot onto the field at War Memorial Stadium.
That was Logan Wilson's number.
That is Dawaiian McNeely's number.
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 203-point running back has yet to carry the football in a college football game, but that opportunity could be on the horizon if the Pokes -- who are 20.5-point favorites -- take care of business against visiting Utah State.
"I hope we’re in a position that he is playing this game and then kind of roll from there," UW running backs coach Gordie Haug said Monday. "He has been impressive and continues to get better every practice."
Craig Bohl and Co. used the unexpected bye week as a chance to get back to basics. Once it was deemed Air Force would not be able to visit Laramie Nov. 14, the Cowboys' coaching staff used that time for another reason -- to scout.
No, it wasn't about getting an early jump on preparation for Utah State. Instead, it was a chance to see what the current players on this roster could do, especially the young guys. Remember, more than 30 freshmen were forced to quarantine throughout the majority of fall camp.
"It was good to get them out there and teach some fundamentals," Bohl said.
Did anyone stand out?
No. 30 did.
"I thought Dawaiian did some things at the running back position." Bohl said. "We’re certainly more comfortable with him playing."
The redshirt freshman has served as the back-up to Xazavian Valladay and Trey Smith during the first three games of this season. With Titus Swen opting out this season, there was an opening. Last fall, McNeely was forced to the sidelines for eligibility reasons. The staff was high on him then.
They are now, too.
"It took him a little bit longer to be the third guy just because of fall camp, no spring ball and all those things, but he’s caught up to the point where I feel pretty good about him running the ball in a normal situation," Haug said.
McNeely, a Ceres, Calif., product, was a hot commodity our of Central Catholic High School. Pac-12 programs like Oregon State and Arizona State wanted a piece of the big back. So did Mountain West foes Nevada, Hawaii, Fresno State, Colorado State and the Pokes' next opponent, Utah State.
It's easy to see why.
McNeely rushed for 1,073 yards on 128 carries as a senior. That's an average of 8.4 yards per carry. The three-star recruit eclipsed the century mark six times that season to go along with 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Those stats earned McNeely the Valley Oak League's Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was also named to the FrontRowPreps.com All-Region First Team for large schools.
It's no secret that the Cowboys plan to feature plenty of Valladay and Smith when the Aggies come to town. Haug calls them the "two-headed monster." Utah State is giving up 205 rushing yards on the ground through the first four games. They are also surrendering 5.35 yards per tote.
Never hurts to add another head to that monster, right?
"That’s kind of always how we attack it is being able to have three guys ready to go," Haug said.
That third guy could be McNeely Thursday night.