Who Will Be in Wyoming’s Backfield in Tucson?
LARAMIE -- Wyoming's once crowded stable of running backs can now almost cram into a single stall.
Titus Swen won't be in the Cowboys' backfield against Ohio Dec. 30 in the Arizona Bowl. The 1,000-yard back is no longer with the program after being dismissed last week for a "violation of team rules." Swen is now in the NCAA Transfer Portal, joining UW teammates Cam Stone, Oluwaseyi Omotosho and Joshua Cobbs.
DQ James and Dawaiian McNeely won't be available in Tucson, either. Both suffered season-ending injuries late in the 2021 campaign, UW Athletics Director Tom Burman confirmed Monday.
Those three backs accounted for 1,741 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 310 attempts this fall.
So, who is getting the call against the Bobcats?
That man is most likely Joey Braasch.
"I think Joey is going to have to take a step in these coming practices," Wyoming quarterback Andrew Peasley said on Monday. "... I think he has a lot of talent. Obviously, he hasn't played a lot, but I know he's excited. He's excited for his opportunity just to get out on the field and show what he can do."
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Braasch, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound redshirt freshman from Columbus, Neb., carried the ball 29 times for 91 yards in a reserve role. His most productive outing came in a 33-10 victory over Northern Colorado in September. That afternoon, Braasch finished with 39 yards on the ground on nine attempts. He also caught four balls out of the backfield for 25 yards during the 2022 campaign.
"He's a big back," Peasley continued. "He's actually really fast and runs the ball really well. So yeah, it'll be fun to see him going into the ballgame and showing people what he can do."
Redshirt freshman Jordon Vaughn could also be an option in the desert.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound three-star recruit was offered by 19 programs out of Manvel High School in the Greater Houston Area. He has yet to appear in a game during his two seasons in Laramie.
"Jordan is a big thumper," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said last April. "He's a great straight-line guy, not great maybe with his lateral movement, but he's a big, big strong guy."
Another option could be LJ Richardson.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound true freshman was rated the No. 13 prospect in the state of Nebraska by 247 Sports out of Bellevue West High School. There he earned Omaha World-Herald First Team All-Nebraska honors in both 2020 and 2021.
Here's Peasley's take on those two.
"They're all good. They're all learning," the junior signal caller said. "You know, Jordon, he's obviously another big back with a big body that can really take the next step in these next few weeks to show what he can also do. LJ is a young guy. He'll be getting some reps and I'm excited for that."
Peasley also said to look for Dalton Strouss to get some work during the team's 15 bowl practices. The 5-foot-8, 220-pound California product is listed as a fullback.
"We have multiple other backs on the roster, obviously with less experience," Burman said. "Joey will step into the role right away. There'll be a couple other kids that will get reps in practice. We'll find two or three running backs to play and they'll be good
"... We have plenty of running backs and we have a history here of being successful at that position. So, we'll miss Titus, but that's the nature of college football."
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