Spring football started yesterday for the Wyoming Cowboys as they began their official on the field preparations for the 2016 season. To get you ready for spring football here is the second of a two part series looking at a few key position battles to watch this spring, we finish up with the defense.
Wyoming lost two starting seniors to graduation in Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api both were big contributors and now Wyoming is searching for a starter and depth at both end positions. Sophomores Carl Granderson (left end) and Kevin Prosser (right end) enter the spring as the starters and both played as true freshman last season. They were woefully undersized though for Division I standards but both have put on some good weight in the off-season and will surely be able to add more in the summer. Behind them is redshirt freshman Josiah Hall at left end who was a linebacker last season and senior Trevor Meader is the back-up at right end after sitting out last season with a knee injury. Others in the roster who may get a look include: senior Adam Kinder (who is currently injured) and redshirt freshman converted linebacker Austin Lopez.
It is key that Wyoming improve greatly at these positions in the pass rush department. Wyoming ranked 11th in the MW and 127th nationally in sacks last season with just 10. A consistent pass rush will take some of the pressure off of the secondary. They will get some help in the fall as JUCO transfer Taniela Lolohea will join the team and there are a few more open scholarships left that could be used to strengthen this position over the summer.
As for this spring Granderson should keep his job at left end and at 6 foot 6 and now up to 227 pounds he is a physical specimen who can still add another 10 to 15 pounds of good weight. He could have used a redshirt year but now that he is approaching D-1 defensive end size he has the potential to improve quite a bit. Prosser was similarly undersized last season and he will be in for a battle with Trevor Meader who will definitely be in the rotation come this fall.
Weak-Side Outside Linebacker
Last season the weak-side outside linebacker position was filled by Tim Kamana and Will Tutein. Kamana is now a back-up at the strong-side linebacker/nickel back position and Tutetin has left the program. This was a spot of considerable weakness last season and Wyoming will be looking for a bigger and more athletic weak-side linebacker to play with middle linebacker Lucas Wacha and strong-side linebacker DJ May.
Starting the spring on top of the depth chart is German Luis Bach who is backed up by Casper Natrona product Logan Wilson. Both have good OLB size at 6-2 and 221 pounds and should add some much needed athleticism to the position. Due to a lack of size I do not see the other weak-side linebackers on the depth chart in walk-ons Waddie Love (205 pounds) and Ben Wisdorf (213 pounds) making much of an impact.
The competition between Bach and Wilson is wide open though as Bach only has limited experience recording two total tackles in just seven games as a true freshman. This is a very limited sample set and like most of these other position battles this competition will go to fall camp where two true freshman Jahmari Moore and Shiloh Windsor who both profile as weak-side linebackers could enter the picture.
Coach Bohl mentioned this position specifically as being open in his first spring interactions with the media but didn’t offer up any names. It is safe to say that between Bach and Wilson the Cowboys will be in better shape here than they were last season. The key is for them to stay healthy as the depth behind the two is quite thin as of right now.