Wyoming Moved Quickly When Harrison Waylee Hit the Portal
LARAMIE -- When Craig Bohl got word that Harrison Waylee had entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, he didn't hesitate.
He wanted the running back from Northern Illinois -- and he didn't need to review the film.
"It's embedded in my brain," Wyoming's ninth-year head coach joked on Wednesday.
He's referring to a humid September afternoon in DeKalb in 2021 when the then-freshman sliced and diced his way through the Cowboys' defense to the tune of 179 yards on 26 carries. One of those was a 75-yard dash that turned a once 42-16 deficit into a two-possession game early in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies would add two more touchdowns in the frame, including a 14-yard scoring jaunt from Waylee, and even take a brief 43-42 lead. In the end, however, Wyoming would march 75 yards in 10 plays and eventually escape The Land of Lincoln with the 50-43 victory.
Still, that game -- especially that 5-foot-10, 192-pound back -- was burned in Bohl's memory.
"We're excited about having him," he said. "He left an indelible impression on me when he raced down the far sideline and we couldn't catch him."
Waylee didn't just torch the Pokes, either.
During his true freshman campaign, Waylee eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground twice. Before NIU hosted UW, the Johnston, Iowa, product made light work of Georgia Tech, rolling up 144 yards and a touchdown in the 22-21 upset in Atlanta.
Last fall, Waylee rushed for 899 yards and found the end zone five times. His breakout performance came in a double-overtime loss to Ball State where he amassed 230 yards and scored three times.
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Bohl said his staff, particularly recruiting coordinator Gordie Haug, was "aggressive" in their pursuit of the tailback. Waylee was able to visit campus and Bohl visited his home in suburban Des Moines.
Haug, who also serves as UW's running backs coach, is looking to replace Titus Swen, who led the team with 1,039 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this fall. The Fort Worth product was dismissed from the program after the season finale for a "violation of team rules."
Swen initially entered the portal and recently changed course, declaring for the NFL Draft.
"I think he fits what we look for in the running back room with the dynamic explosiveness," Haug said. "And him being ready to roll, I mean, that's one thing that we're really excited about."
Waylee joins a stable of backs that includes Dawaiian McNeely and DQ James.
McNeely rushed for 356 yards and scored from 61 yards out in a road victory over Hawaii. The sophomore battled a right-hand injury throughout the year and was lost for the season with an undisclosed setback in the home finale against Boise State.
James reached 346 yards on the ground on just 40 attempts. That's an eye-popping 8.6 yards per carry. The 5-foot-7, 172-pound redshirt freshman suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the year. Neither he or McNeely will be available for the upcoming Arizona Bowl.
Jordon Vaughn and LJ Richardson are the lone healthy backs remaining on the active roster after Joey Braasch entered the transfer portal. Neither has appeared in a collegiate game.
Wyoming also signed a high school running back Wednesday, inking Keany Parks. The three-star recruit is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Wisconsin, according to Rivals.
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