Another signing day came and went Wednesday with Wyoming football garnering some more commitments for the 2018 season. The Cowboys picked up a few future players from California and Colorado. But one thing that’s remained constant in head coach Craig Bohl’s tenure, and become even more of a trend lately, is the amount of Wyoming-born players inking with their university.
Notice how I said, “their” university. That’s where Wyoming is unlike any other place. With UW residing as the only four-year university in the state, many kids grow up idolizing UW players and dreaming about one day suiting up in the brown and gold. No professional teams or other colleges can take away UW’s allure to the majority of its local youth.
And that’s why it’s been a sight for sore eyes to see Bohl make a conscious effort to recruit in-state high schoolers.
Now, with Wyoming being the least populated state in the country, there isn’t exactly an overflowing amount of in-state talent that can play at the Division I FBS level. But that doesn’t mean the state’s high school football scene should be ignored entirely. It almost felt that way during the old coaching regime headed by Dave Christensen.
Bohl hasn’t done that.
In Christensen’s last season as head coach, he had nine Wyoming-bred players on his roster. That is the same number of new Wyoming recruits that Bohl boasted in this most recent class to go on top of all the other returning Wyomingites on next year’s team. Christensen mainly focused his recruiting efforts on Texas and California, eyeing players that fit his spread-offensive system.
Bohl, with his blue-collar mindset and rural background, has made it a point to scour all four corners of the Cowboy State for local talent. Bohl’s preferred walk-on system allows Wyoming kids to have a guaranteed roster spot at their dream school and compete at the highest level of college football.
This Wyoming focus doesn’t end with the preferred walk-ons, either. Wyoming high schoolers like Logan Wilson (Natrona County) and Logan Harris (Torrington) earned scholarship offers and have produced. Wilson won Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year honors and Harris started every game at center as a true freshman.
It’s not a shock that Wilson and Harris have experienced a meteoric rise. In each Wyoming kid there’s an unquantifiable pride each holds with their home state and their university. I’ve worked in four other states and never seen anything remotely close to it.
There’s an infinite amount of pride to wear the brown and gold from Wyomingites. From talking to Torrington native Jason McManamen when I used to work at UW’s student newspaper, to speaking with Sheridan’s Blayne Baker, the response remains the same. These kids hold Wyoming and the University of Wyoming near and dear to their hearts.
The fans also beam with pride when a homegrown standout elects to play for UW. There were a few extra decibels within a roar when McMamamen used to get announced in the starting lineup for the basketball team, similar to current ones Wilson hears after he logs a tackle for loss.
Bohl calls his preferred walk-on program, which mainly involves Wyoming-born players, the backbone of his team. Wyoming is a special place with hearty and tough people. And a college football team that utilizes those types of individuals as the foundation to a roster is just fine by me.