From the desk of Tim Harkins
Wyoming Athletic Department
Laramie – Josh Hartman’s senior season was detoured by a torn knee ligament suffered in the Cowboys third game of the season, at Missouri. The silver lining is he has fully recovered, and because the injury limited him to three games in 2018 he is able to return to the gridiron as a fifth-year senior.
While he was still on restriction last spring, Harshman was medically cleared for the 2019 season and is making an impact in the early fall workouts in preparation for the Cowboys Aug. 31 season opener against Missouri at War Memorial Stadium.
He is the foundation for a tight end position that the Cowboys feel will be a definite strength. As well as the return of Hartman, the Cowboys also welcome back sophomore Nate Weinman and redshirt freshman Jackson Marcotte along with the addition of true freshman Treyton Welch.
Harshman, at 6’3” and 240 pounds, provides an experienced player who can be equally effective as a receiver and a blocker. Weinman, who measures 6’7” and 267 pounds, provides a big body to help in the running game, and Marcotte, at 6’7” and 250 pounds, provides both good size and good ability to get down the field. Welch is 6’3” and 207 pounds and provides good size and good speed for a tight end.
“Josh (Harshman) has really looked good,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “He’s running well. He’s blocking well. He’s going to be a great, great weapon for us this this year. We have a group that provides us a lot of versatility. Beyond being good blockers, they’re good receivers. Having those guys in our arsenal give us a lot of flexibility.
“Nate (Weinman) was from a smaller school in northeastern part of Ohio. We saw him on the basketball court, and we knew he was going to get bigger. He’s maturing. He’s up to almost 270 pounds. Jackson (Marcotte) was also a really good basketball player who was a potential tight end, and now we’ve got a guy who can really run at 250 pounds.”
Bohl is also encouraged about the options the Cowboys have at free safety.
Junior Braden Smith and redshirt freshman Rome Weber came out of spring listed as co-starters, but a third player has entered the competition in the fall workouts -- redshirt freshman Cameron Murray.
“Cam Murray has done some good things,” Bohl said. “We’re rotating them around, but he’s a little bit further along than what we may have expected. Braden (Smith) didn’t finish practice (Friday). He’s got a little bit of a hamstring strain.”
On the interior defensive line, the Cowboys return two juniors who played a lot over the past two seasons. Ravontae Holt at defensive tackle is a player who showed flashes last season as a sophomore of becoming a special player, and Javaree Jackson at nose tackle also has a lot of game experience. They are joined by sophomore defensive tackle Victor Jones, who played in 11 of 12 games last season as a redshirt freshman.
After those three, the rest of the group is made up of young players.
“Victor (Jones) is doing some good things from his defensive tackle position,” said Bohl. “I think Josiah Hall at the end position, could swing inside if we needed him to. We’re still probably a little thinner than what we would like. We’re not near as deep at that position as what we have been. But it’s early in camp, and we’ll know a little bit more as camp progresses.”
Bohl added that Holt was being evaluated to make sure a knee he injured on Thursday is okay.
Friday’s practice saw the Cowboys work on situations that put the quarterbacks under some added pressure, and the head coach was pleased with what he saw from his offense.
“We did a lot of pressure situations in practice today. We made some good progress on offense, particularly in the offensive line,” said Bohl. “They had a lot of things coming at them, but they did a better job and Sean (Chambers) did a better job of delivering the ball where he needs to.”
When asked if any other young players had impressed him this week, Bohl replied, “It’s been encouraging to see a couple of the younger players, particularly some of the younger receivers do well. Alex Brown and Isaiah Neyor are both doing some good things. Those guys I believe are beyond what we would normally see with freshmen.”
Asked for an overall assessment of what he has seen through the first seven practices of fall camp, Bohl said, “I think we’ve got more competition and we’re deeper at more positions than what we have been, so that has been encouraging. The other thing I’ve seen is a good progression of our quarterbacks. Sean (Chambers) is much further along, and Tyler (Vander Waal) is doing some good things, so I see real progress there.”
Bohl said the Cowboys would practice in full pads on Saturday, with the possibility of some scrimmaging in goal-line situations. He said they would continue with a rotation of practices that would include some full-padded practices, some in 1/2 pads and some in spiders.