LARAMIE -- The early indicators didn't provide much optimism.

Now, we know why.

Craig Bohl confirmed Friday running back Dawaiian McNeely suffered a torn ACL in Wednesday's practice and will miss the entire 2023 season. The junior was listed as the Cowboys' No. 1 running back on Wyoming's initial depth chart.

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"Yep, it's a torn ACL," Wyoming's head coach said. "He'll be done for the year. So, major surgery. We were concerned about that, but that's what I thought. But that's where I want to support him and, you know, he'll get his surgery and then get in the rehab deal. Hopefully he'll be back for next year."

McNeely, who missed four games last fall with assorted ailments, including nerve damage in his right hand, rushed for 356 yards on just 63 carries in 2022. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound California native averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored one touchdown. That came on a 61-yard jaunt to the end zone in a 27-20 road victory over Hawaii.



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The Cowboys will also likely enter the season without another potential starter in the backfield, Harrison Waylee. The Northern Illinois transfer, who has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards during his three-year collegiate career, underwent knee surgery this summer. Bohl initially said the junior would miss the "first couple weeks" of the season. Friday, he left the door cracked on a potential early return to the lineup.

"I saw Harrison run up and down, I think he's running up to 3,000 yards today," he said. "So, whether we'd have him for the first game or not, I think that's somewhat doubtful. But we're going to get a couple guys ready to play against (Texas) Tech."

Who are those guys?

Bohl said DQ James is not quite 100% after suffering a torn right ACL late in the '22 season. He added he was "encouraged" with the performances of Sam Scott and Jamari Ferrell thus far in camp.

"When you lose a player like Dawaiian, who you're counting on, that's a concern," Bohl said. "You know, it's less than ideal, but it's not like something that we're going to alter our offense and things like that. I think we've got a pretty deep group of running backs and we'll sort those out."

Scott, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore from Omaha, Neb., was plucked from the linebacker room and inserted into the Cowboys' backfield before the Arizona Bowl last December. Ferrell is a transfer from Saddleback Community College (Calif.). The 5-foot-8, 190-pound junior is coming off a 453-yard rushing season in which he was named First Team All-National Division for the Southern League.

James carried the ball 40 times last season and rolled up 346 yards in the process. That's an eye-popping 8.6 yards per carry. Bohl also mentioned redshirt freshman LJ Richardson as an option.

Wyoming will hold an 84-play scrimmage Saturday afternoon inside War Memorial Stadium. That, he added, will be a chance for these backs to gain ground with the opener just 22 days away.

"A lot of those guys are going to be able to show what they can do as a running back in that situation," Bohl said. "Because you can practice, but who can break a tackle? Who can make somebody miss? Who goes down on the first contact? They can start to separate stuff out."

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