Q&A with former Wyoming tight end Josh Harshman
CODY -- Former Wyoming tight end Josh Harshman said he didn't razz quarterback Sean Chambers too much for underthrowing the ball on what would have been a sure touchdown against Missouri during the first half of the 2019 season opener.
After all, the Cowboys did win the game.
"It would've been nice to score against an SEC team," Harshman joked. "He made up for it in the following weeks."
The Casper native enjoyed his best college season that fall, hauling in 20 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was a nice way to go out after an injury plagued five years in Laramie. A victory in the Arizona Bowl helped, too.
Now, as a fan, Harshman sat down with 7220sports.com at the Olive Glenn Golf & Country Club where he just golfed 18 holes in the Celebrities Against Cancer event held in Cody.
We chatted about the Pokes' current tight ends, the "it factor" of Chambers, his high school and college teammate, Logan Wilson, and plenty more.
Q: What's it like for you now to watch this team as a fan? I know COVID-19 messed everything up last year, but as a fan now, is it weird?
A: It is a little weird. I think it'll be even more weird this year, when actually fans start coming back to the games and we get back a little bit more normalcy. But during the COVID year, it just didn't ... It wasn't the same, I guess. So, I feel like it'll be a little different this coming year with the fans back in The War -- and it's hopefully packed. It'll feel a little different, but, you know, I still know a lot of guys on the team and wish them the best.
Q: Do you ever think, like I do, about that roster in 2016 and all the NFL guys on that team? Even in that Mountain West title game, all the NFL talent on the field, including San Diego State?
A: Looking back on it, it's pretty crazy. The amount of talent we had no wonder we were so good on offense. A lot of guys are still playing in the NFL from those teams. The Mountain West definitely has talent and there still is some talent. I think guys like (Xazavian Valladay) and Sean (Chambers) and Treyton (Welch) -- we still have some talent coming out of the Mountain West.
(Players on Wyoming's 2016 roster who have played in the NFL: Josh Allen, Marcus Epps, Austin Fort, Rico Gafford, Tanner Gentry, Carl Granderson, Tyler Hall, Brian Hill, Jacob Hollister, Cassh Maluia, Tyree Mayfield, Chase Roullier, Logan Wilson and Andrew Wingard.)
Q: Speaking of Treyton Welch, Craig Bohl talks a lot about him. Is he the real deal?
A: When Treyton came in you could tell right away he's an athletic kid. He's smart and a hard-working kid. So, I mean, to see him have success, especially this past year, it's no surprise to me. He's a great kid. He picked up the offense pretty quickly and he got put in a place where he was needed to play a little bit early with some injuries my last year. So, yeah, no surprise. I mean, he's an awesome kid. He can catch the ball and I think he's gotten a lot better at blocking.
Q: So, another guy who isn't new to Wyoming fans, but burst on the scene a little bit last year was Parker Christensen. How good can he be?
A: He seems like a freak athlete. I didn't get to play with him as much because he didn't play his true freshman year, but you know, I worked with him in the weight room a little bit and, yeah, he's freakishly strong, especially for a true freshman. I can see how he's going to adapt to the game well. He's a fast, strong, athletic kid. He's smart, too. To see him have success and play a little bit last year was no surprise, either.
Q: Did Austin Fort, Tyree Mayfield and Jacob Hollister pass anything down to you that you tried to pass on to these guys?
A: Jake was the biggest guy who kind of took me under his wing and helped me out. I think the biggest thing for me was he just gave me all these little intricate things to work on. He's such a hard worker and that's what I really saw, going into workouts and stuff. He'd lead by example. That's what I picked up on. I hopefully passed the same thing down to Treyton and those guys. It takes a lot of hard work. So, coming back from my injury, I I tried to do as much as I could and I just tried to pass it on to them. If you want to be great at this, you have got to put in the time.
Q: How important do you think it is for the tight end position to become a real go-to, especially for a -- it's hard to believe when you say this -- but a young quarterback like Sean? That would seem like a great outlet for a young, not-always-accurate QB.
A: I mean, the offense has obviously changed since (Brent) Vigen is gone, but the tight ends a lot of the times we're just doing little dig-down routes or whatnot. He needs somebody who's there who he can rely on just to get five yards here and there. It's such a big thing, especially for quarterbacks. I know we've got some great tight ends coming up, so to have that outlet is definitely a positive for the quarterbacks. I have no idea what this new offense is going to look like, but having a good tight end will definitely help out.
Q: What is it going to take for Sean Chambers and Levi Williams to take that next step and become more efficient passers?
A: I think the biggest thing is decision making for both of them. That's not saying they make bad decisions, but just knowing when it's OK to throw it away and don't get down. I think that's a big thing for a lot of young quarterbacks. It's a big thing that Josh Allen needed to learn and he ended up doing I mean, succeeding beyond what a lot of us thought he could. I mean, they have all the talent in the world and it's just developing that talent beyond just making the incredible throws, great runs and all those fantastic plays, it's just being consistent. Know when it's OK to take a slight loss on the play instead of making bad things worse.
Q: Everyone talks about Sean having that 'it factor." What is that?
A: I know Tyree (Mayfield) and Austin (Fort) talked about the year that I got injured when he came in, it was just like, everybody just had more calmness about them when he stepped in the huddle. He was like, you know, let's just get it going. So, I think his ability to bring a bunch of guys together and just trust in him is a big thing. He's a great dude, so dudes follow him on and off the field. He's the real deal.
Q: You have obviously played football with Logan Wilson forever. What is it like to see him on Sundays playing for the Cincinnati Bengals?
A: It's awesome. I still follow all the all the guys. I used to be a Patriots fan, but now I'm just a Wyoming Cowboy fan in the NFL. So, I just follow all those guys. Growing up with Logan, he's still the same kid. I still give him s--- about all the same stuff. It's awesome to see him succeed. Hopefully I'll be able to make down to Cincinnati and and watch him play this year.
Q: All spring Wyoming players have mentioned the word championship. Is it fair to say this season is championship or bust for the Cowboys?
A: It's always been the motto: Those who stay will be champions. We made it in 2016. I think (coaches) do a good job putting in everybody's mind like, this is what we're shooting for. I think they have the talent there, so we'll see what happens. It's all about execution, though and avoiding injuries and stuff like that. A lot of things have to fall into place, but I know before the season starts, they have enough talent to do it."
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