Trey Smith liked the culture and family-like atmosphere of the University of Wyoming football program when he visited this spring.
That led the Louisville graduate transfer running back to choose UW to play his final year of college football. The 6-foot, 218-pound Smith arrived in Laramie in late May, went through summer workouts and had his first practice of fall camp Friday.
Smith said he didn’t know a lot about UW or the state of Wyoming prior to coming here. But things have gone well during just over two months in Laramie.
“All of my expectations have been met. It is time to work. It is time to give the coaches everything I got and give the city everything I got,” Smith said during UW’s fall sports media day Friday.
“I’ve really been enjoying it. I’m a big scenery guy. I love waking up looking at the mountains every morning, or the fog rolling up on the hills.”
But as Smith said, it is time to work as UW gets ready for the upcoming season, and he figures to play a big role. He and sophomore Xazavian Valladay are the only scholarship running backs on UW’s roster who have played in a Division I game.
Last season, at Louisville, Smith had 50 carries for 263 yards – both third-best on the team – and four touchdowns, including a long of 52 yards. He also caught 10 passes for 74 yards. Smith missed some games due to injury. His best game was against Wake Forest on Sept. 27, where he had 13 carries for 98 yards and three touchdowns.
Smith ran for 124 yards on 21 carries for the Cardinals in 2017, and had 11 carries for 28 yards in 2016.
Valladay is UW’s leading returning rusher with 71 carries for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Smith has the edge on Valladay in experience, but Valladay knows the offense better.
This is Smith’s last chance to play college football, but he doesn’t feel entitled based on his past, and has gladly accepted Valladay’s help in learning the offense.
“(Valladay) and I pretty much jelled from the first day we met,” Smith said. “He’s been teaching me pretty much all the technical details I need to know.”
UW coaches are excited about what Smith can do on the field, but that’s not the only thing.
“Recruiting isn’t an exact science, but we work hard at trying to evaluate character,” sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said. “Any time you are looking at a young man that is transferring, we have to really vet that. Is he going to fit in the locker room? Is he going to fit into our culture? That culture is really important to us.
“We had some real frank discussions with Trey, and told him what we were looking for and what we saw in him.”
Added UW running backs coach Gordie Haug: “He’s meshed in with the guys, and that’s really important to us. I think he’s a really good teammate. For him to be the oldest guy in the room, but also a new guy, he understands he still has to learn a bunch of stuff, and take that coaching at times from somebody that may be younger than him like (Valladay).”
While Smith may have some things to learn, he hopes he can help his teammates with what he’s learned as a college football player, which has seen its share of ups and downs.
Smith was teammates at Louisville with quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and a finalist for the award in 2017. Louisville was among the nation’s top teams with Jackson, who was a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. Last season, the Cardinals went winless in the Atlantic Coast Conference and finished 2-10.
“I want to try and give the young guys and anyone else the right information about what it is like to be a Division I football player,” Smith said. “I’ve seen a lot, and learned a lot from my experiences.
“But one thing I’ve learned about this team is the guys want to win. They’re not going to let anything slide. There are guys that will call you out, if necessary, if you let things slide. Everybody is on the same page, and I like that.”
The Cowboys held their first practice of fall camp Friday morning. It also was the first of five consecutive acclimatization practices mandated by the NCAA.
“I was encouraged,” Bohl said. “I think we have a little more athleticism. I thought our quarterback position looked better (Friday). I thought (redshirt freshman starter Sean Chambers) threw the ball with much more confidence, and fundamentally looked sharper. I thought our receivers caught the ball well.”
Bohl said there were no injuries during the first practice. UW returns to the practice field at 8:45 a.m. today. That practice is closed to the public and media.
Season ticket update
UW athletics director Tom Burman said season ticket sales for football were at 7,985 as of Friday. Burman also said the person who buys No. 8,000 will get a VIP experience for the home game with Idaho on Sept. 14. That experience includes pregame functions, sideline passes for the game, a private tour of the High Altitude Performance Center and some UW Adidas gear.
Burman said the person that gets UW to 8,500 in season tickets sold will also get a VIP game experience later in the season.
As for ticket sales for the season-opener Aug. 31 against Missouri, Burman said: “Missouri fans are buying tickets. Our fans need to make sure we have as good of a home-field advantage as we can.”