LARAMIE -- Jay Sawvel said he is optimistic about his roster in a lot of areas.

Not all areas.

Wyoming's rookie head coach knows there are holes, specifically in the depth department along the offensive line and in the cornerbacks room. Those things happen when you lose players like Frank Crum and Jakorey Hawkins to graduation.

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"We've got to get better at (those spots) before I can sit there and go, you know, I have real confidence in everything," he added.



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Jake Davies, a 6-foot-7, 286-pound redshirt freshman from Yorkville, Ill., saw plenty of time at tackle this spring. So did Nate Geiger. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Highlands Ranch, Colo., product is also only in his second season on campus. Neither saw any action last fall.

"Those guys have to turn around and have a really good offseason, a really good fall camp and continue to develop and improve," Sawvel said following the team's annual spring game last Thursday in Laramie. "The thing is, their improvement level is going to have to go faster.

"There's no time to waste. We have stuff to do."

Alex Conn, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound junior who spent last season at Iowa Western Community College after a two-year stint at Nebraska, was also in the mix before suffering an unspecified injury two weeks ago.

Wyoming will return starting center Nofoafia Tulafono, guard Jack Walsh and tackle Caden Barnett, who missed the Arizona Bowl and all 15 spring practices as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Wes King and Luke Sandy split time in 2023, appearing in all 13 games. Rex Johnsen played in seven.

Veteran edge rushers like DeVonne Harris, Sabastian Harsh, Braden Siders and others, have been giving newbies like Davies and Geiger a baptism by fire this offseason, often ending up in the backfield and in the laps of Cowboy signal callers.

That's just part of why, according to Harsh, offensive line coach Joe Tripodi asked the defensive ends to put in extra work with the offensive front during the summer.

"Just like going through meetings, watching tape over spring ball and we'll help give them stuff, tips and tricks, and all that stuff," the junior said. "They can give us the feedback right back. So, it will be a hand-in-hand relationship, just being able to talk and help each other out.

"We're going against each other now and during fall camp and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, when it gets to August, we're one team. So, I mean, anything to help another teammate out."

Tyrecus Davis has solidified himself as a starter at corner, coming off an initial season at Wyoming that saw the 5-foot-10, 186-pound Greenville, Texas native tally 27 tackles, break up seven passes and snag an interception in the Cowboys' home finale against Hawaii.

Sawvel said Davis was the team's best cover corner last season and he would've been a full-time starter if not for an MCL injury that cost the then-junior four-plus games.

The question now is, who starts on the other island?

Keany Parks would likely be that guy if the season started today. The former three-star running back made the switch to the secondary last season but only saw the field on special teams. Ian Bell appeared in three games at corner in 2023. He was on the fast track this spring, until suffering a lower-body injury. Caleb Merritt could also be a name to keep an eye on. The St. Louis native made the switch from wide receiver to cornerback during the final week of spring camp.

"We have three freshmen coming in," Sawvel said, referring to Markie Grant, Tyrese Boss and Charles Williams, "but I don't want a freshman to have to be No. 3. A freshman being your fourth corner, OK, I can live with that. When you start counting on freshmen to be any further up the chain, you're starting to live a dangerous life."



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What about the punter?

Keelan Anderson, a freshman from Cheyenne, averaged just 28 yards per punt on five attempts during the Cowboys' spring game. Erik Sandvik netted 40 per kick on three attempts last Thursday. Both are also listed as placekickers behind starter John Hoyland.

Help could be on the way.

"We had a punter in on a visit this past weekend," Sawvel said back on April 16. "It's a very good possibility that that's a direction we go. That's about as much as what I can say right now about it."

That kicker is Jack Culbreath from the Virginia Military Institute, who was seen on the sidelines inside War Memorial Stadium during Wyoming's second open scrimmage.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Charlottesville, Va., product is a two-time All-American and three times claimed First Team All-SoCon honors. The graduate transfer was named the FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week in late September after placing 5-of-9 punts inside the 20-yard line, including a long of 60 in a 17-14 victory over Wofford.

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