In the last installment of the offseason countdown we’ll be looking at the 1-9 guys. These guys may have single digits on their uniforms but their importance to the team is just as much as anyone else. There are legitimate stars in this group, guys who could see playing time at the next level of football. In this group you have Brian Hill who is making a switch in single digit numbers from 8 to 5. Hill has been named to the Mountain West all-preseason team, the Doak Walker award watch list, and has been named one of the top Group of 5 players in the country. His work horse style of football carried Wyoming many times last season when it looked like there would no one stepping up.
Tanner Gentry was on his way to a fantastic season and was leading the Mountain West in a couple of receiving categories until his season was cut short due to injury. As a senior he’ll be looking to put those injuries behind him and focus on building a solid resume and helping his stock at the end of the season. DJ May, a former running back converted to linebacker was named one of the top 50 players in the Mountain West this week by Mountain West Connection. The talent in his group is tremendous, maybe the most talented block on the team. Will they be enough to carry this team to more than two victories this season?
Robert Priester (2)
Alijah Halliburton (3)
Joseph Parker (3)
Tanner Gentry (4)
Rico Gafford (5)
Brian Hill (5)
Marcus Epps (6)
DJ May (7)
Jalen Ortiz (8)
Tyler Hall (9)
Robert Priester is a junior corner back from Tampa Florda. He has been a contributor to the Cowboys since his true freshman season and he now returns as one of the elder statesmen of the secondary. Priester finished sixth on the team in tackles last season with 50 tackles, 36 of them unassisted. He also had three pass breakups and one interception last season. This season he will be counted on to help the secondary keep the opposing offenses under control.
Alijah Halliburton is a freshman safety from Aurora, Colorado. This will be his first season with the Pokes and his playing time, if any, has yet to be determined. He was high school teammates with current Cowboy football players Kevin Prosser and Austin Conway.
Joseph Parker is a sophomore wide receiver from Castle Rock, Colorado. Last season Parker played in all twelve games for the Cowboys in limited action. He hauled in seven passes for 68 yards last season. This season he is starting fall camp second on the depth chart behind Tanner Gentry. He should see considerable playing time in his second season with the Pokes.
Tanner Gentry is a senior wide receiver from Aurora, Colorado. Gentry enters the season coming off of an injury that preemptively interrupted what was a stellar junior season. At the time of his injury Gentry was among the nation’s top receivers in yardage, and was near the top of the Mountain West in receiving yards. This season he expects to continue that upward trajectory that makes him one of the nation’s best receivers. Gentry is currently just outside the top in Wyoming’s all-time receiving yardage and receptions. Last season Gentry finished with 37 receptions for 678 yards and four touchdowns.
Rico Gafford is a junior cornerback from Des Moines, Iowa. He is a transfer from Iowa Western Community College. He will have two years of eligibility coming into this season. Gafford comes to the Cowboys from a very successful NJCAA program who played for one national championship during his freshman year and ranked as highly as number one in the polls during both of his seasons. Last season he finished with 44 tackles, 32 of them came solo. He should see considerable playing time with the Cowboys this season.
Brian Hill is a junior running back from Belleview, Illinois. Hill comes in as one of the most dangerous running backs in the country. Last season Hill finished ninth in the country in rushing yards, second in the Mountain West behind Donnell Pumphrey. For this upcoming season Hill has been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. Last season Hill made it as far as the semi-final round of the Doak Walker cut list. Hill is currently fifth on Wyoming’s all-time rushing yards list and barring any kind of injury should surpass Devin Hill’s all-time mark of 2963 yards.
Marcus Epps is a redshirt sophomore safety from Los Angeles. Epps currently sits at the top of the depth chart at strong safety. Last season as a redshirt freshman he played in all eleven games finishing third in tackles with 83, 59 of those tackles were solo. He also finished the season with two interceptions and four pass breakups. This coming season he will be leaned on to continue that role starting along side Andrew Wingard.
DJ May is a senior linebacker from Federal Way, Washington. May’s career started at running back alongside Shaun Wick but he was transitioned to linebacker during his junior season. His transition has gone very well for the Pokes and May. Last season May had 69 tackles, with 42 unassisted. He also had one sack and ten pass breakups. May also pulled double duty last season as being the primary kick returner. May finished fourth in the Mountain West and 24th in the country last season in kick return yards. He averaged 26.2 yards per return last season. May sits at the top of the depth chart at strong side linebacker and should have a productive senior season.
Jalen Ortiz is a junior safety from Peoria, Arizona. This is Jalen’s first season with the Cowboys after transferring from UCLA. Ortiz saw playing time at safety and at wide receiver while he was with the Bruins. With the Cowboys he will play some safety and nickel.
Tyler Hall is a freshman corner back from Hawthorne, California. This will be his first season with the Cowboys.
This group of Cowboys will be the most important group to the success of the Cowboy offense. Tanner Gentry and Brian Hill will be the two cogs that make this offense go. Hill’s importance to the team is vital has he accounts for a significant portion of the offense. Gentry will need to bounce back from his injury and continue where he left off this season. In doing so he will make the transition to starter for Josh Allen that much easier. On the defensive side of the ball DJ May will need another productive season from the linebacker spot. Last season was a very good effort from him, despite it being his first season playing that position.
Now that we’re out of number blocks I guess that means it’s time for football season, right?