I wonder what University of Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl was thinking Thursday night, sitting inside the brand new High Altitude Performance Center, watching Josh Allen quarterback the Buffalo Bills.
Outside of the obvious — “I wish we had Allen back for one more season” — I can’t help but think Bohl looked around the $44 million facility while one of his prized pupils was slinging the football in an NFL preseason game and thought, “We’ve come a long way as a program.”
They have, and in large part thanks to the 2015 recruiting class.
Bohl and his staff took over the UW football program in December of 2013. As with all new college coaching staffs, they hit the ground running, but also knew they were way behind when it came to recruiting.
So, the 2014 recruiting class was a mix of some players offered by the previous staff and some recruited by Bohl and his staff.
The 2015 class would be the first true class for the new Cowboys coaches. They say you never forget your first, and that likely will be the case with this class.
The 2015 recruiting class for Wyoming — as with most of the UW’s recruiting classes — wasn’t widely heralded among those that “know” college football recruiting. Like a lot of UW classes, this one was ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West.
Of the 23 recruits, six players received a three-star ranking, one got two stars, and the rest — 16 of them — had no stars behind their names.
It’s a little different today.
The 2015 class could well go down as one of the best in UW football history.
It starts, of course, with Allen. Coming to UW as an unheralded junior-college transfer out of California, Allen not only transformed himself into a first-round draft pick, he helped transform the program as well.
By the time Allen was picked No. 7 overall by Buffalo in April’s draft — the highest ever draft pick by a UW Cowboy — the program already had seen unprecedented national exposure.
And there’s plenty more to come, thanks to this 2015 class.
Just a reminder of what that class has produced:
In total, the 2015 class will see 11 players start this season (12 if Allen hadn’t left after his junior year) and a handful more on the two-deep depth chart, including C.J. Johnson and Josh Harshman.
Of that class, seven are no longer with the program, meaning you either became a program changer or you changed programs.
And only four — Wallace, Johnson, Overstreet and Prosser — were three-star recruits coming out of high school. The rest had no rankings and likely few Division I scholarship offers outside of UW.
It is, after all, the UW way, a builder program — take no stars and make them all stars.
It’s a safe bet some of these 2015-ers will be playing in the NFL next year alongside Allen, or the year after.
In introducing the 2015 signing class, Bohl said this was a group that fit the “Wyoming profile.” What’s that, exactly?
“A young man who wants to get a meaningful degree from the university, win a Mountain West championship and have a laser-like focus on accomplishing those two goals,” Bohl said.
Maybe there should be a third step added to that profile from here on out: Be like the 2015 recruiting class.
UW came within a couple of points of accomplishing the conference title two seasons ago, and went into the final two weeks of the regular season last year with a shot at winning the division title.
There’s likely little time now for Bohl and his assistants to stop and take a moment to enjoy what the 2015 class has meant to the UW football program. Stuff like that comes in the offseason, in those rare quiet moments between spring practices and recruiting trips.
But UW fans should take the time this fall to appreciate what this group has done for Cowboys football.
This was a class that said yes to a group of coaches who were trying to sell a program that had just gone 2-10.
Maybe it’s fitting they’ve all arrived at this same point together.
A bunch of no-star players took a chance on a no-star program in 2015. Now, there’s enough star power to light up the western sky.
Scott Nulph is the WyoSports assistant editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-755-3324. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottNulph.