TUCSON, Ariz., -- Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl announced Monday afternoon that true freshman Levi Williams will make his first career start under center against Georgia State in the Arizona Bowl.

Tyler Vander Waal, the redshirt sophomore, who entered the transfer portal last week, will serve as the Cowboys back-up Tuesday in Tucson.



"We've had a great competition," Bohl said of his two quarterbacks. "Both Levi and Tyler are team players. We'll see how the game unfolds, but we made the determination that going into this game, Levi gives us the best opportunity to win."

Why Williams? Bohl raved about the maturation of the freshman.

"He's continued to embrace our offense, and as we looked at a lot of the elements in our offense, he can continue to stress a defense," Bohl said of Williams. "He came off the scout team several weeks ago and integrated into our game plan ... He's a bright young man and has the advantage of being there for spring ball as an early enrollee."

Williams, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 208-pound quarterback from Canyon Lake, Texas, played in the Cowboys final two games of the regular season. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 109 yards and an interception.

Where Williams has really made an early impression is in the running game where he has carried the ball 28 times for 128 yards, including a long of 38 at Air Force. Williams scored his first collegiate touchdown in a victory over Border War rival Colorado State.

Vander Waal started Wyoming's final four regular season games, throwing for 428 yards and four interceptions. The Elk Grove, Calif., native did score four touchdowns on the ground while leading the Cowboys to a 1-3 record under center.

If Vander Waal wasn't in the transfer portal would this decision be different?

"No," Bohl said. "We just looked at the elements of our game plan and feel like he gives our team the best chance. There's different things each guy does well. Levi has continued to grow with our offense, and coach (Brent) Vigen has been able to expand the offensive play list."

Bohl added that Vander Waal has been very much a part of this bowl process and that there are no bad feelings considering his decision to leave UW.

"I want to be clear on this -- We are really thankful for Tyler," he said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do. Sometimes bad feelings occur one way or the other when it comes to transferring, but that's really not the case with our football team and Tyler ... We've got one more game with him. We are excited about his future.

"We are really excited about the future with Levi."