Wyoming has options at running back. Lots of them
LARAMIE -- Who is your favorite Wyoming running back?
There are plenty to choose from.
The obvious answer might be Xazavian Valladay.
For the past two seasons, the Cowboys' junior back has claimed the Mountain West rushing crown, amassing 1,815 yards and finding the end zone a dozen times. In Saturday's spring game, the Illinois native caught a pass short pass from Sean Chambers in the seem and went 40 yards untouched. He carried the ball just three times for 13 yards.
Maybe Trey Smith is more your speed.
The 25-year-old graduate transfer, who is on year three in Laramie, had his most productive season in 2020, rushing for 488 yards on 88 attempts. He scored five times while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
The son of former NFL All-Pro receiver, Jimmy Smith, carried the ball seven times in the spring game for 32 yards with his dad in the stands.
Titus Swen was a crowd favorite in 2019. Saturday, too.
The then-freshman rushed for more than 335 yards on 67 totes. He scored just once, but even in limited action showed the power, tenacity and breakaway speed to make him the ultimate change-up back from the two listed above. He proved that again Saturday inside War Memorial Stadium, gashing the defense for a 55-yard touchdown run. He also snagged a short screen pass and turned it up field for a 71-yard gain.
All three of these guys are solid options, but as infomercial star Ed Valenti would say, "But wait, there's more!"
Including Swen's favorite running back on the roster -- Jeremy Hollingsworth. Joseph Braasch would be a good answer, too.
Those two served as bright spots for the Gold team last Saturday in Laramie. The rookies combined for 79 yards on 18 carries -- Braasch had 44 yards on eight attempts, Hollingsworth went for 35 on 10.
So, who exactly are these guys?
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Hollingsworth, a walk-on, saw the field in two games in 2020, both on special teams. Braasch was a true redshirt.
Let's just start with Hollingsworth.
MaxPreps lists the 5-foot-9, 205-pound Colorado product as a receiving no interest out of Skyline High School in Longmont despite rushing for 130.9 yards per game. He averaged nearly seven yards per carry, too. 247sports doesn't give him a star rating. There was no "crystal ball" on what college he would attend.
Braasch, on the other hand, was a three-star recruit out of Columbus, Neb. The Huskers kicked the tires, but Northern Iowa and South Dakota State offered. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound freshman rushed for 700 yards on 107 carries and scored eight rushing touchdowns in nine games as a senior in high school.
An effective pass catcher and kick returner, Braasch racked up 3,413 all-purpose yards over his prep career. He found the end zone 24 times. He averaged 126.4 all-purpose yards per outing.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl wasn't thrilled about Braasch fumbling once during Saturday's game though it was covered up by a teammate. Other than that one blip, Bohl said the showing by these two confirms the Cowboys' have options in the backfield.
"There were some encouraging things from both of them," he said. "Hollingsworth did some good stuff. We've got good depth at the running back position ... Joey and Hollingsworth played, so we've got good depth at the running back position."
Cue Valenti again.
Wyoming also has redshirt freshmen Dawaiian McNeely and Alphonzo Andrews Jr. on the roster. McNeely has been dealing with an injury during spring camp, per Bohl, but did carry the ball 14 times for 55 yards in 2020 in his first collegiate action. Andrews has played in just one game.
The Cowboys will also welcome DQ James and Jordon Vaughn into the fold this summer. These two couldn't be more opposite, aside from being Texas products.
James stands 5-foot-7 and weighs in at 180. The speedster from Lancaster is a three-star recruit, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry as a junior. Vaughn is 6-foot-2, 220 pounder from the Houston area. The bruiser has also shown the ability to outrace corners and safeties in the Lone Star State's highest classification.
He was recruited heavily by Air Force, Army, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Rice. Another handful of Ivy League schools wanted the three-star recruit, too.
One thing Bohl saw in Saturday's contest was his veteran offensive line and its ability to move the line of scrimmage. He said that created plenty of creases.
Now, just imagine your favorite back finding one and hitting the gas.
You have options.
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