LARAMIE — Wyoming has played a handful of true freshmen through eight games, but that amount could grow in the final month of the season.
That could be the case for many college football teams.
With four games left on Wyoming’s schedule, that means any true freshmen who have yet to appear in a game could play the rest of the way and not lose a year of eligibility. The redshirt rule amended by the NCAA before the 2018 season allows players to appear in up to four games without burning their redshirt.
So far, the Cowboys have played six true freshmen, some of whom have already surpassed that threshold. Titus Swen has been the biggest contributor among the group. He’s been part of the backfield rotation throughout the season and is third on the team in rushing with 347 yards in six games, though he’s missed the last two with a knee injury.
Attrition at cornerback has forced Jordan Murry into action. The 5-foot-10, 150-pounder is now the Cowboys’ top backup at the position and has played in each of the last five games with one start. Tight end Treyton Welch, offensive lineman Latrell Bible, linebacker Shae Suiaunoa and running back Alphonzo Andrews Jr. have also combined to appear in a handful of games.
Will there be more that make an appearance when Wyoming travels to No. 21 Boise State on Nov. 9 for a key Mountain Division tilt in Mountain West play? Wyoming coach Craig Bohl isn’t tipping his hand.
“You may see some new guys out there, and that’s why you’ll need to go to the game or watch it on ESPN,” Bohl said.
Already bowl-eligible at 6-2, there’s also a potential bowl game for Wyoming to consider, which could affect how soon Bohl decides to put other true freshmen on the field. But Bohl said he and his staff have had conversations about who might be able to help down the stretch as the Cowboys try to stay in contention for the division title.
“What we’re doing is anybody that can help us win, we play,” he said. “A lot of those guys who may be eligible to play just because there’s four games left, we will not insert them unless they bring value to giving us an opportunity to win. We do think at times as the season progresses with injuries and things like that, it certainly is an opportunity to play some guys, and there’s some guys we’ll take a look at during the course of this week.”
Of the other 17 scholarship true freshmen that began reporting to campus in January as part of Wyoming’s 2019 signing class, four aren’t available or are no longer part of the program. Cornerback Caleb Roberson and defensive lineman Alonzo Hall have missed the entire season with injuries while running back Dawaiian McNeely is taking an academic redshirt. Defensive back Allen Smith was dismissed earlier this month after being charged with two felonies.
As for the rest of the group, whether some or all of them get on the field could come down to if a need pops up at a certain position or on special teams. Wyoming has sustained multiple injuries along the offensive line, but not to the extent that tackle Jack Lookabaugh or guard Carlos Harrison have had to be pressed into action. Bible, who began the season on the two-deep depth chart, is the only true freshman who’s played a snap on the offensive line so far this season.
Wyoming is without two of its top three running backs with Swen and senior Trey Smith (ankle) both on the mend. Swen is expected back sooner rather than later, but with McNeely unavailable, the backfield attrition could mean more playing time for Andrews, who made his season debut last week against Nevada.
Tight end Parker Christensen, receivers Devin Jennings, Isaiah Neyor and Alex Brown, defensive backs Keonte Glinton and Jerome Cooper, linebackers Isaiah Abdullah and Easton Gibbs and defensive linemen DeVonne Harris and Jaylen Pate are all still in line to redshirt. Quarterback Levi Williams also hasn’t played this season.